A Navy Officer and Saint: the Blessed Warrior St. Fyodor Ushakov

July 23/August 5 is the day of commemoration of the glorification of St. Fyodor Ushakov, an admiral of the Russian navy of a brilliant undefeated career who lived a life devoted to the teachings of Christ and the services of the Church, and finished his life in the quiet peace of the Sanaksary Monastery. Below is an account of his life and glorification from Sputnik/The Voice of Russia.

* * *

On August 5th, 2001 at the Monastery erected in honor of the Nativity of the Mother of God in Sanaksar, they glorified the blessed holy warrior Fyodor Ushakov, canonized as a local saint of the Russian Orthodox Church. This was the first appearance of a saint in shoulder-straps—a navy officer—in the Russian church calendar. For what spiritual valor did our Lord thus pay homage to this legendary admiral, who brought glory to the Russian Navy with many a victory at the end of the 18th century? To tell us this is a layman, writer Valery Ganichev, author of a number of books about Fyodor Ushakov, and in actual fact, one who stood at the source of that which led to his glorification. Asked what inspired him to turn to the life story of the great navy officer, Valery Ganichev replied:

“Upon graduating from Kiev University I worked in the town of Nikolaev, a shipbuilding center in the south of the country. This was in the distant 50’s –60’s. These places are linked with the activity of Admiral Ushakov, who participated in the grand-scale epopee of opening up the virgin southern territories—Novorossiya and the Crimea; built up the Black sea Fleet and its base—Sebastopol. In scope, this epopee could be compared to the conquering of the American Wild West or the discovery of Australia.

I was greatly interested in the personality of Fyodor Ushakov. So I started collecting material on him. Working on the books devoted to Fyodor Ushakov, I marveled at his whole-hearted nature, unwavering conformity to the Lord's commandments and selfless dedication to his homeland. I began to see farther than his military valor, recognizing the valor of the spirit, thanks to which he, in effect, became the great navy officer he was.

What kind of a man was Fyodor Ushakov? He was born in 1744 on the Volga, in the family of a military man. He was baptized in the Church of the Epiphany-on-the-Isle, as if receiving from above a blessing to “serve on water.”

His birthday, February 13th, falls between the commemoration days of two warrior-martyrs—Fyodor Stratilat, and Fyodor Tiron. This, likewise, is an omen of Ushakov's military calling. So it is hardly surprising that as a youth, he chose to join the naval corps. By God's will he was sent to the Black Sea, where in battles with the Turks the Russian Black Sea Fleet was born. It was here that his God-given talent as a naval commander was manifested in full measure. For a number of spectacular victories during the second Russian-Turkish war of 1789-1791 Ushakov was elevated to the rank of Rear Admiral and placed at the head of the Black Sea Fleet. The Turks feared him, calling him, deferentially, “Ushak-Pasha.” Finally, in the celebrated battle of Tendre in 1790 he routed the Turkish fleet and thus put an end to the Turkish domination on the expanses of the Black Sea. Thus, Russia was able to hold its own among other great seafaring nations.

In the course of his service, Ushakov participated in forty campaigns and never once suffered defeat. This is unparalleled in world history. To us today this might seem a miracle, an unbelievable stroke of good fortune. Indeed, it was a miracle, but, from the point of view of an Orthodox believer, one worked by God.

Ushakov was a profoundly religious man, always staunchly believing in our Maker's providence, convinced that He granted victory to the Orthodox warriors while all of man's skills were "nothing without divine intervention.” After each victory he ordered a service in church to thank the Lord for yet another victory granted him. Even Ushakov's ships bore names of the Saints—"Saint Pyotr", "Saint Pavel", "The Nativity of the Mother of God", etc. According to the witness of contemporaries, despite an extremely busy schedule Ushakov daily went to the church services and never undertook any activity of importance without first attending the Liturgy. And indeed, busy he was. Ushakov was involved in not only navy matters proper, but in the construction of the naval base Sebastopol. Due to his excellent administrative skills the latter was turned into a real city, with attractive stone buildings, gardens and churches.

A true Christian, Ushakov closely followed the biblical commandment "love thy neighbor as you love thyself" in all of his deeds. It is true he was at times obliged to severely reprimand his subordinates for violating naval discipline, fighting their weaknesses: inclination to heavy drinking, slatternliness, idleness, and idle talk. And yet, there was no other commander in the whole of the Russian fleet who showed such concern for the sailors, their health and proper diet. "An ill sailor will be unable to serve the Navy as he should," he would say. There were times when the fleet experienced great hardships, not receiving money from the state coffers on time, and at such moments the Admiral would dip into his own pocket. History has preserved a decree dated October 18th 1792, where it is written: "Due to lack of funds and in view of a need to ensure the good health of the men, I allot, out of my own means, thirteen thousand and five hundred roubles, of which I order that ten thousand go towards buying fresh meat, and the remaining three and a half thousand be used for the needs of the hospitals.”

We do not know if the generous impulses of the great man were ever fully reimbursed by the state from its coffers, yet Ushakov was indeed repaid for his generosity in the love and complete devotion of his sailors, ready to follow him in the face of any danger...

Read the full article here: http://www.orthochristian.com/81187.html



Post a Comment