The Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union gave a new meaning to the 1927 declaration of Metropolitan Sergii (Starogorodskii). The hardships encouraged a patriotic meaning of his statement that the joys and sorrows of the Soviet motherland were also the joys and sorrows of the Russian Orthodox Church. This was demonstrated on the fi rst day of the war with Nazi Germany in a proclamation signed by Moscow’s locum tenens . The document remembered the heroic deeds of Russian Orthodox saints and warriors, such as Alexander Nevskii and Dimitrii Donskoy, who had rescued their country in the past. In the face of the new trial, Sergii (Starogorodskii) declared:

Our Orthodox Church has always shared the destiny of her people. Together with them she has suffered in times of trouble and has been consoled by their success. Nor will she abandon her people now. She gives heavenly blessing to their forthcoming heroic deeds. 1

His fi rst wartime proclamation pointed to the duty of the Russian Orthodox Church to reassume her responsibilities for the consolidation of the Orthodox Russians in the fi ght against the Nazi invaders. At the same time, an analysis of the text raises some questions. On the one hand, the proclamation was addressed to the clergy and fl ock of Christ’s Orthodox Church, that is, to the church in its global and catholic dimensions. Instead of “Russian Orthodox Church,” the text speaks of “our Orthodox Church” and ends with the blessing of “Christ’s Church to all Orthodox to defend the sacred borders of our motherland.” 2 On the other hand, it was signed by a particular hierarch-Metropolitan Sergii (Starogorodskii), then acting as the locum tenens of the canonical Russian Orthodox Church. Most probably this approach pursued specifi c goals. By blurring the difference between the Sergian Church as an administrative body, dependent on the Soviet authorities, and Christ’s Church as a universal entity, created by God, the phrase “Christ’s Orthodox Church” called for the empathy not only of the believers in the Soviet Union but also of all those abroad who associated their faith with

Union points to a strengthening of the position of Metropolitan Sergii (Starogorodskii) as the legitimate administrator of the Russian Orthodox Church in that state. His status of locum tenens was precisely the quality that empowered him to bless the Orthodox defenders of the Soviet lands.