To the Ends of the Earth

Orthodox Christian Missions

St. Makarii Glukharev, Missionary to the Altai

leave a comment »

Commemorated May 18

I am a little late, but still wanted to share this post put together by Fr. Oliver Herbel, at his blog Frontier Orthodoxy.

I thought I would share with you a summarized timeline of the life of St. Makarii Glukharev. Those wishing to know more should consult Kharlampovich, Konstantin Vasil’evich, Archimandrite Makarii Glukharev–Founder of the Altai Mission, Translated and edited by James Lawton Haney (Edwin Mellon Press, 2001). Haney is a past professor of mine and a friend. The book is well worth reading. You may also wish to check out the Orthodox Wiki page:

It is important to remember, when reflecting upon the life of St. Makarii, that he was greatly influenced by the reforms within ecclesiastical schools that occurred between 1808 and 1817. Essentially, these reforms focused upon academic theological integrity and translation work. St. Petersburg Academy was the epicenter of such activity and was the headquarters of the Russian Bible Society, which was involved in translating the Bible into the contemporary Russian at the time. The academy even had the first modern Russian Hebraist at the time, Gerasim Pavsky.

On July 18th, 1817, Glukharev graduated from St. Petersburg Academy, where Filaret is the rector. Filaret later became Metropolitan of Moscow.

In September, 1817 Glukharev is appointed professor of Church history at the Ekaterinoslav Seminary. In July, he is tonsured a monk, taking the name “Makarii” and goes to the monastery at the Caves in Kiev. In 1819, he returns to Ekaterinoslav Seminary in order to be the dean of students. He didn’t get along with Bishop Iov.

On April 20th, 1821 he is transferred to Kostroma seminary where he is raised to the rank of archimandrite and appointed rector of the seminary. In 1824, he leaves and goes to the Caves of Kiev briefly and then eventually to Glinsk Hermitage in the Kursk Province.

In 1826, the Russian Bible Society closes down as a reaction to western influences within Russia.

In 1829, Makarii requests to be a missionary and is transferred to the Tobol’sk Diocese, where he is head of the mission in that region. On September 7th, 1830, Makarii baptizes his first convert. During his time in Tobol’sk, Makarii learns several Turkic Dialects and receives permission from the Synod to translate parts of the Bible, the Divine Liturgy, and prayers into the native language. This resulted in Makarii translating most of the New Testament, the Psalms, other pericopes from the Old Testament, and creating a dictionary of the various dialects of the region.

Throughout all of his mission work, Makarii had a large, progressive vision. He believed that the mission needed to start schools and seminaries which would include women teaching orphans how to read and write and would even involve women translating works. This is at a time in which women professors or teachers were not the norm in the Russian academic world. He also believed the office of the deaconess must be re-established, not as some sort of pseudo-academic recreation, but to fulfill the needs of teaching the orphans life skills and serving as missionary nurses and Church cantors/readers. These proposals were, unfortunately, ignored by the Synod.

St. Makarii gave the missionaries under him three instructions. First, instruct the natives in the important dogmas and doctrines of the Church, including the distinction between veneration and worship (in reference to icons). Second, work with the natives lovingly and patiently without coercion or threats. Third, begin converting people from the nearest locations and settlements and then work beyond that sphere, all the while learning about the people themselves.

One quote that stood out for me was: “Jesus crucified is our righteousness, our justification, and our sanctification.”

During his fourteen years as a missionary in the Altai region, St. Makarii converted 675 natives and laid the groundwork to later conversions, resulting the conversion of 25,000 of the 45,000 residents. This later work was performed by Makarii’s followers, the priests Landishev and Vladimir. Makarii created one of the most organized missionary activities in the history of the Christian Church.

In 1839, he goes to St. Petersburg to discuss the financial situation of the mission and his work at translating the Bible into the Russian vernacular as well. He is sent to Moscow where he finds a major benefactor named Sofiia de Val’mon, the daughter of a Russian noblewoman and a French army officer who converted to Orthodoxy.

In 1840, he goes to Kazan to study the Tartar language even further before returning to the Altai region. In 1841, the Synod considers Makarii’s belligerent attempts at getting the Synod to publish his Russian translation of the Bible actions deserving of a mild punishment. He spends time at the house of his friend Bishop Afanasii, where he is technically under “house arrest.”

In 1844, Makarii leaves the Altai region (having requested transfer) and arrives in Bolkhov, where he is installed as the abbot of the monastery there.

In 1846, Makarrii publishes a book of poems with musical notations.

On May 18th, 1847, St. Makarii dies. In his dying moment, he rises up in his bed and cries, “The Light of Christ illumines all!”

In 1848, three of his sermons are published posthumously and in 1854 these same sermons are republished along with the publication of three others.

On August 20th, 2000, Makarii is canonized as a saint.

Source: Frontier Orthodoxy
I assume there are icons of St. Makarii available, but I couldn’t find one online. For some pictures, though, of the Altai, and Orthodox missionaries to them, you can view this page by Professor Andrei Znamenski.


Written by Stephen

May 20, 2010 at 8:30 pm

Posted in European Saints, Saints

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: