Still a mortal one

As I watched the first installment of Eisenshtein’s Ivan the Terrible last night I realized that I needed to know more about this tyrant of a tsar and the surrounding history of his reign beyond the fable of a story presented in the film. So I found this apropos quote in the life of St. Philip Metropolitan of Moscow:

On the week of the Veneration of the Precious Cross, March 21, 1568 before the beginning of the Liturgy, the Metropolitan was standing on the cathedra (the raised place in the middle of the church). Unexpectedly, the tsar entered the church accompanied by a drove of oprichniks. All of them, the tsar including, were dressed up in tall black hats, black cassocks, with daggers and swords glistening from under the clothes. Tsar Ivan approached the Prelate from the side and three times bowed his head for a blessing. The Metropolitan was standing still, looking at the icon of Christ the Savior. At last the boyars said, “Metropolitan, the tsar demands your blessing.” Philip turned to the tsar as if not recognizing him and said, “This strange attire makes our Orthodox tsar look unfamiliar to me, nor do I recognize him in what he is doing as our tsar. Oh, pious one, what pursuit led you to losing your grandeur? Since the beginning of times it was unheard of that a tsar would bring trouble to his own people. Tatars and heathens have order and fairness while we do not. We offer bloodless sacrifices even to our God, but beyond these walls the innocent blood of our Christians is shed. I lament not of the innocent murdered as martyrs and saints; it is your soul that I mourn over. Although a monarch blessed from above, you are still a mortal one, and you will have to account for all of your deeds before the Lord.”

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