Last week, a student at International University told Maya and I that he liked Protestantism because it believes that “God says the rich should rule.” I won’t debate the theological veracity of his statement. His honesty was refreshing enough as was his desire to “earn money honestly” after he graduates with a degree in business management. There seems to be a widespread belief here that most money is nechistyi, or dirty, that is earned through crime or corruption.
The belief that God says that the rich should rule appears to be a belief held by many of Russia’s entrepreneurs. So much so that when the economic crisis wiped away much of their fictitious wealth, they turned to the Orthodox Church to find out why He had smitten them.
According to the Moscow Times, they will now get some extra help from the divine by turning to St. Iosef of Volotsk, the recently named patron saint of entrepreneurs.
The patriarch [Kirill] acted after Orthodox businessmen, hit hard by the financial crisis, appealed to the church to select a patron saint. The selection of St. Iosef of Volotsk, who lived in the 15th and 16th centuries and had no obvious link to business, sends a clear signal to businessmen that the church expects them to contribute generously to receive the saint’s favor, religious scholars said.
Iosef may have had no direct business ties, but he was, in the words of Izvestiia, “a fighter against heretical “Judaizers” and an active supporter of increasing monasteries’ material wealth,” which I guess makes him a good patron for Russia’s bourgeoisie.
For some, the move is merely a way to boost the Church’s coffers. “With his choice, the patriarch says only those businessmen who share with the church will be favored by St. Iosef,” said Alexander Soldatov, a scholar and editor of the religious web site Portal-credo.ru, quotes MT.
Collecting indulgences from various social groups and institutions seems to be an entrepreneurial endeavor in and of itself. Businessmen are not the only ones that have a patron saint. St. Varvara watches over the Strategic Missile Forces. St. Serafim Sarovsky tends to the souls of nuclear researchers. Prophet Elijah is the protector of paratroopers. The Russian tax police pray to the Apostle Matfeya. The border guards have Ilya Muromets of Kievo-Pecherskii. Alexander Nevskii (and the Name of Russia) is the patron of the FSB. Perhaps Nevskii’s FSB connection might explain his out of the blue victory.
As a advocate of increasing the Church’s wealth, I assume that St. Iosef will also beget good financial blessings for a price. Think of him as a holy financial consultant.
Anointing patron saints to encourage tithing is not a bad move on the part of Patriarch Kirill. But that is expected from a clergyman who is known as the “Tobacco Metropolitan” for his alleged profiteering off the church’s duty free cigarette imports in the 1990s.
Photo: Moscow Times.