This icon depicts four prominent clerics of Moscow standing in supplication before an icon of Christ. Above them are Blessed Basil and Maxim, homeless men known as “fools for Christ’s sake.”
The Metropolitans of Moscow were real historical figures who contributed to Moscow’s centralization of power in the 14th through 17th century. Peter moved his residence from Vladimir to Moscow, Alexis steered the Moscow princes to assume leadership in defeating the Tartars, Jonah made the Russian church independent from Byzantium, and Phillip defied Ivan the Terrible by publicly exposing the injustices of his rule.
Not only the powerful were canonized by the church. Basil and Maxim were homeless visionaries who walked around half-naked and spoke truth to the mighty. Tsar Ivan the Terrible reportedly feared the vagabond Basil as he did no one else. After Basil’s death, the Tsar had Basil buried by the Kremlin walls near a church that is now known as St. Basil’s Cathedral on Red Square, Moscow
All persons on the icon: Saints Peter, Alexis, Jonah, Phillip, Metropolitans of Moscow, pictured with the Blessed Basil and Maxim.