Elder Ignatius of Harbin: his prophecy about America

Orthodox Christian prophecies include one attributed to the monk Elder Ignatius of Harbin (d. 1958): ‘What started in Russia will end in America.’

The prophecy is worth examining because it illustrates both the controversial appeal and the ambiguity of certain Orthodox prophecies.

Though the original source of the quotation is a mystery, Elder Ignatius’ words are often cited by Orthodox Christians, despite lack of consensus on what he may have meant.

Little is known about Elder Ignatius himself. According to Natalia Volkova’s memoir ‘Children of Harbin, Part Three’ (English translation by Katherine Ilachinski), at http://www.orthodox.cn/localchurch/harbin/2009childrenharbin_en.htm , his family name was Melekhin, and he resided at the Kazan Mother of God monastery in Harbin, China, starting in 1922. He is said to have been both blind and clairvoyant, as well as a confessor.

Various interpretations of his alleged quotation are possible. For example:

1. A cautious and conservative interpretation is that Elder Ignatius foresaw America becoming increasingly socialist in character, in a convergence with Soviet Russia.

2. Another interpretation is that Elder Ignatius expected religious toleration to diminish in America as it did in Soviet Russia, perhaps with the result of martyrdoms.

3. In a third and highly pessimistic view, Elder Ignatius is thought to have meant that America eventually would become a totalitarian state of the same brutal character as Stalin’s USSR, though still more oppressive and violent.

For a lengthy discussion of selected interpretations of Elder Ignatius’ words, see http://www.orthodoxchristianity.net/forum/index.php?topic=21091.0.

Despite his reputation for clairvoyance, there is disagreement about whether or not the words attributed to Elder Ignatius represent an actual prophecy (that is, a private revelation) or, instead, a mere extrapolation of trends observable in his lifetime.

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Comments from readers are welcome. Email OrthoProph@angelic.com. If you find this weblog of interest, then please invite friends to join the ‘Orthodox Prophecies’ group at Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/273025882803984/.

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