Metropolitan Philaret, in the world George Nikolayevich Voznesensky,
was born in the city of Kursk on March 22 / April 4, 1903, into the family of
Protopriest Nicholas. In 1909 the family moved to Blagoveschensk‐on‐Amur
in the Far East, where the future hierarch finished high school.
In a sermon at his nomination as Bishop of Brisbane, the future
metropolitan said: “There is hardly anything specially worthy of note in my
life, in its childhood and young years, except, perhaps, a recollection from my
early childhood years, when I as a small child of six or seven years in a
childishly naïve way loved to ‘play service’ – I made myself a likeness of a
Church vestment and ‘served’. And when my parents began to forbid me to
do this, Vladyka Evgeny, the Bishop of Blagoveschensk, after watching this
‘service’ of mine at home, to their amazement firmly stopped them: ‘Leave
him, let the boy “serve” in his own way. It is good that he loves the service of
God.’” In this way was the saint’s future service in the Church foretold in a
hidden way already in his childhood.
In 1920 the family was forced to flee from the revolution into
Manchuria, to the city of Harbin. There, in 1921, George’s mother, Lydia
Vasilievna, died, after which his father, Fr. Nicholas, took the monastic
tonsure with the name Demetrius and became Archbishop of Hailar. Vladyka
Demetrius was a learned theologian, the author of a series of books on the
history of the Church and other subjects.
In 1927 George graduated from the Russo‐Chinese Polytechnical
institute and received a specialist qualification as an engineer‐electrical
mechanic. Later, when he was already First Hierarch of the Russian Church
Outside Russia (ROCOR), he did not forget his friends at the institute. All
those who had known him, both at school and in the institute, remembered
him as a kind, affectionate comrade. He was distinguished by his great
abilities and was always ready to help.
After the institute he got a job as a teacher; he was a good instructor,
and his pupils loved and valued him. But his instructions for the young
people went beyond the bounds of the school programme and penetrated
every aspect of human life. Many of his former pupils and colleagues after
meeting him retained a high estimate of him for the rest of their lives.
Living in the family of a priest, the future metropolitan naturally
became accustomed, from his early years, to the church and the Divine