Basil Bellavin was born into the family of a village priest near Pskov on January 19, 1865. He graduated from the St. Petersburg Theological Academy in 1888. When he was 27 years old, Basil was tonsured a monk — taking the name Tikhon. For the next five years he taught at the seminaries of Kholm and Kazan.
At age 32 Archimandrite Tikhon was consecrated Bishop of Lublin in Poland but was soon appointed as Bishop of the Aleutians and Alaska. This included the United States and Canada. The cathedral was located in San Francisco. Bishop Tikhon was the only Orthodox bishop on the North American continent. His flock was made up of a melting-pot of ethnic groups: Native Americans, Russians, Serbs, Greeks, Arabs, Romanians, etc. Bishop Tikhon spent nine years as archpastor of the American Church. He came to realize that the Church in America must not be an extension of the Church of Russia, but must evolve into what St. Innocent had earlier envisioned: an autocephalous Church.
Bishop Tikhon established a seminary in Minneapolis and a monastery at South Canaan, Pennsylvania. He oversaw episcopal consecration of (later Saint) Raphael Hawaweeny, the first bishop consecrated in America. He called for the translation and publication of the divine services into the English language. He moved the diocesan center from San Francisco to New York City, and called the first General Church Council in America.
In 1907 Bishop Tikhon was transferred to the Russian Diocese of Yaroslavl. At the outbreak of the First World War he was appointed to the Diocese of Vilnus often travelling to the front lines to minister to the sick and wounded soldiers.
Bishop Tikhon was elected Metropolitan of Moscow in 1917, presided at the All-Russia Council and was enthroned Patriarch of All-Russia. He faced the tremendous difficulties defending the faithful and the Church from Bolshevik terrors. After the murder of the Royal Family Patriarch Tikhon boldly spoke out against the athiests while attempting to provide a strong national “fatherhood” amid the tempest of revolution and upheaval.
The communists did whatever they could to demoralize him and undermine the Church. Patriarch Tikhon’s health began to fail and after a period of house arrest he was admitted to a hospital where he suffered from heart attacks, kidney disease, sclerosis and asthma. On the Feast of the Annunciation, March 25th, 1925 the Patriarch was given an injection of morphine, “to ease his pain”. The dose proved to be fatal. He died at the age of 60.
In 1989 the Russian Orthdoox Church proclaimed Patriarch Tikhon a saint of the Church, designating him “Enlightener of North America and Confessor of Moscow.”