“The Best Day of My Life”
On December 9-10, 2017, the Church of the Resurrection of Christ in Zurich, Switzerland (Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church), an unprecedented event took place: for the first time, a reliquary containing relics and the belt of of St John of Shanghai and San Francisco the Miracle-Worker came to Europe from California. The faithful of Zurich were given the opportunity to venerate this great saint of the 20th century.
The relics were brought to the church on Saturday evening and greeted by Protopriest Mikhail Zeman, Rector of the church, along with Deacon Daniel Scherer and the church’s choir. A large gathering of faithful from the neighboring Serbian parish along with worshipers from Geneva, Bern, Lausanne, Milan, Cologne and other European cities were on hand. After polyeleos, the worshipers were anointed with oil from the crypt of St John. Two priests listened to confessions from the very beginning of evening service until deep into the night. Parishioners say that there were as many worshipers at the service as during Pascha.
Protopriest Peter Perekrestov, Senior Priest of San Francisco’s Cathedral of the Mother of God “Joy of All Who Sorrow,” celebrated Liturgy the next day, along with Protopriest Mikhail Zeman and Hieromonk Siluan (Yaroslavtsev) from Milan’s Church of SS Sergius, Seraphim and Vicente. Deacon Daniel and Hierodeacon Epifany of Holy Trinity-St Sergius Lavra also served. Protopriest Peter Sturm of Protection Church in Zurich arrived at the end of service along with a group of his parishioners. A moleben to St John was performed after Liturgy.
Fr Peter then spoke with the parishioners at a trapeza luncheon about the life of Bishop John, and presented his new book on the saint. His first book on St John was biographical, while the second, titled Pastor. Teacher. Friend, offers touching and endearing memories of others. “Everyone can find something close to his heart from this book,” said the author. The book includes events in St John’s life and moments from the divine services performed by this man of God. Did the bishop ever sleep? How could he find time to answer thousands of letters, what perturbed other teachers about him at the seminary he taught in when his students love him so? These and other little-known details were discussed by Fr Peter, who tried to “present the image of a contemporary saint as seen in the eyes of various people.” Documentary footage of St John was also shown.