Archbishop Andronicus, in the world Vladimir Nikolsky, was born on August 1, 1870, the son of a deacon of the church the village of Povodnevo, Myshkin uyezd, Yaroslavl diocese.
In 1891 he finished his studies at the Yaroslavl seminary and was appointed to the Moscow Theological Academy. On August 1, 1893, with the blessing of St. John of Kronstadt, he was tonsured into monasticism with the name Andronicus, and was ordained to the diaconate on August 6. In 1895 he graduated from the Academy, and was awarded the degree of candidate of theology for his work "The Early Church's Teaching on the Eucharist as a Sacrifice in connection with the Question of Redemption". On July 22, 1895 he was ordained to the priesthood.
Fr. Andronicus began his pastoral service in the Caucasus, being assistant inspector of the Kutaisi theological seminary from 1895 to 1896. >From 1896 to 1897 he was a teacher and inspector of the Alexandrovsky missionary seminary in Ardon. In 1897 he was appointed a member of the Russian Orthodox mission in Japan. This appointment, in his own words, "made me so sorrowful that I wept and would have been very glad if it had not happened... It was sad to part... But this led me to the thought that one should not live as one wants, but as God commands..."
Hieromonk Andronicus described his journey to Japan in his book, A Missionary Journey to Japan (Kazan, 1899). On September 21, 1897 he left St. Petersburg, and on October 26 he left Odessa with Archimandrite Sergius (Stragorodsky) and arrived in Japan on December 26 after stopping in Greece, Italy, France, England and the U.S.A. In 1899 he returned briefly to Ardon because his friend and instructor at the missionary seminary, Elijah Ivanovich Alexeyev, had been consecrated a bishop..
In October, 1900, at the request of Bishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Fr. Andronicus was appointed rector of the seminary with the rank of archimandrite. In 1901 he was awarded the order of St. Anna, second class, and in 1905 - the order of St. Vladimir, fourth class. In 1905, after the publication of the Tsar's manifesto on civil liberties, Archimandrite Andronicus appealed to the population of the province to return to peaceful work.
Later, he would say the following about the events in Russia: "It is necessary to work in such a way as to organize the whole people into one family, firmly and consciously standing for the holy, historical heritage of the people - the Christian Faith and the autocratic Tsar. It is necessary obstinately and assiduously to steer clear of all parties, and to preserve the people precisely as a people, foreign to all party spirit, for wherever there is party spirit, there is division, there is struggle, there order is not to be looked for, and the whole is bound to disintegrate. And for that reason, when they say that amongst the parties there is a Russian party, this is either a lie or a misunderstanding. No, it is the Russian people itself, plucking up courage, consciously looking round on all sides and deciding firmly to stand for its treasure and not give in to the cunning schemes of its enemies...
"Stand aside from all flattering parties, who want to rob you of your most holy feelings; know God and His autocratic Tsar, so that through your striving and unanimity he may truly be an autocrat, so that he may be the source of righteousness on earth. Remember that all these parties that have appeared do not have your good in mind, but are aiming only to rule over you: the Cadets will be in the majority in the Duma, as they were in the previous Duma - and they will rule by force over everyone; there will be Socialists and other leftists - and they will do the same; no one will be able to restrain them until some other party wins a majority. But the main thing is that all these parties are trying to destroy the Faith in your land - that Faith by which you have been living for a thousand years now; and at the same time they are trying to separate you from your Tsar. And then they will completely get rid of him - that Tsar whom you have placed over you before God, and who rules you according to conscience..."
On November 5, 1906, Archimandrite Andronicus was consecrated bishop of Kyoto and appointed assistant to the head of the Russian spiritual mission in Japan, St. Nicholas of Japan. On March 28, 1907 he was greeted by the Orthodox flock in Tokyo. On May 27, he petitioned to be released from service in Japan because of illness. On October 26, 1907, he became the deputy of Bishop Eulogius of Kholm and took temporary control of the diocese, appearing in a session of the State Duma in Kholm. On March 14, 1908 he was made bishop of Tikhvin, a vicariate of the Novgorod diocese.
A contemporary remembered: "Already at first sight his thin figure, assiduous prayer and cordial words made a most pleasant impression... Vladyka mixed his zealous, tireless service with heartfelt sermons, his lofty position - with simple, close relations with the Orthodox worshippers. Fear of society's displeasure did not embarrass the bishop-preacher. In his sermons Vladyka often reproved the frenzy of worldly spectacles with great boldness."
Bishop Andronicus continued to be a firm supporter of the Orthodox Tsar: "While among the other peoples of Europe the power of the princes and kings conquered the peoples and in relation to them was the enslaver of the disobedient, but weak - we, on the other hand, ourselves created our own power and placed the princes - the prototypes of our tsars - over ourselves. Thus was it at the recognition of Ryurik and his brothers, whom our forefathers here, near Ilmen lake, placed over themselves to rule at a time when we had only just begun to be conscious of ourselves as a people, when our statehood was founded. With the acceptance of Christianity this power entrusted by the people to the princes received a Divine sanctification from on high: the princes became the anointed of God, receiving high authority over the people from God, so as to rule the people under God. Moreover, as Great Russia grew and became stronger, the power of the princes, who were later called Autocratic Tsars, became higher, being bound to answer for the power that was given them over the people before God and their conscience. Then, when by the permission of God we had no Tsar in Rus', having survived the terrible years under various kinds of administrations, and not finding in any of them salvation from the destruction that threatened, we quickly and unanimously (with the exception of a few power-seekers and intriguers) restored our tried and tested form of power over the kingdom: having elected Michael Fyodorovich to the kingdom, we entrusted the whole Tsarist Autocracy over ourselves to him before God and in the name of God the Omniscient. And we were not mistaken in our wise reasoning this time: our half-destroyed and exhausted kingdom quickly gathered strength and was regenerated and strengthened in all respects, even attaining incomparably greater glory and prosperity than in the times prior to the time of troubles. We came out onto our historical road.
"In what was this autocratic power of the Tsar strong? In that fact that it was based on the conscience and on the Law of God, and was supported by its closeness to the land, by the council of the people. The princely entourage, the boyars Duma, the Zemsky Sobor - that it what preserved the power of the Tsars in its fullness, not allowing anyone to seize or divert it. The people of proven experience and honesty came from the regions filled with an identical care for the construction of the Russian land. They raised to the Tsar the voice and counsel of the people concerning how and what to build in the country. And it remained for the Tsar to learn from all the voices, to bring everything together for the benefit of all and to command the rigorous fulfilment for the common good of the people of that for which he would answer before the Omniscient God and his own conscience. When applied to the present situation, this was our original Russian constitution worked out by the people itself, but as different from the constitutions from beyond the seas, about which our Red Hundreds of various shades rave, as heaven is from earth. This, our constitution, our Tsarist Autocracy rests not on faithfulness to the Tsar of a chance party majority, which sometimes changes in accordance with various, sometimes purely fortuitous or artificially created conditions, but on faithfulness to the Divine, eternal Law that is supreme both for the Tsar and the people, and to its echo - the law of the conscience, which dies only with the death of its bearer, man."
On the national question Vladyka wrote: "We [the Russians] have not violated and do not violate any of the peoples which are subject to us; we give to all, as before, freedom in all affairs of life on the basis of a common law that is equal for everyone, as also freedom of confession of his native faith for everyone. But we are the masters of the country and we wish to be such in fact, and therefore nobody must dare to mock us, or acquire power over us, or encroach on our higher rights. Still less shall we allow the dignity of our spiritual wealth and most important heritage - the Orthodox Faith and the Autocratic Tsar - to be mocked... In past times the Georgians themselves asked to be received into submission to Russia; for they saw that otherwise they would perish in intestinal warfare in the Caucasus or would be seized by their neighbours, the Turks or the Persians. And let the other nationalities of our great Kingdom remember that if they separate from Russia they will perish, being seized by their very strong neighbours, who are just waiting for this. And what kind of power these neighbours have let the Poles sincerely describe, remembering their brethren in Germany. A special word concerning the Jews: we did not accept them in our land and did not even conquer them. We cannot and will not give them equal rights, in accordance with the prophetic word of warning of the great writer of the Russian land, F.M. Dostoyevsky: 'The Jews will destroy Russia.' They do not want to use our tolerating them in our midst - so let them go wherever they want: we will not detain them at the gates; and we can live freely and prosperously without them. But if they remain among us, they will be as foreigners for us, not having the right to participate in the building of the people and the state."
In another place Bishop Andronicus wrote: "It is not a question of the struggle between two administrative regimes, but of a struggle between faith and unbelief, between Christianity and antichristianity. The ancient antichristian plot, which was begun by those who shouted furiously to Pilate about Jesus Christ: 'Crucify Him, crucify Him: His blood be on us and on our children' - continued in various branches and secret societies. In the 16th century it poured into the special secret antichristian order of the Templars, and in the 18th century it became more definite in the Illuminati, the Rosencrucians and, finally, in Freemasonry it merged into a universal Jewish organization. And now, having gathered strength to the point where France is completely in the hands of the Masons, it - Masonry - already openly persecutes Christianity out of life there. In the end Masonry will be poured out into one man of iniquity, the son of destruction - the Antichrist (II Thessalonians 2). In this resides the solution of the riddle of our most recent freedoms: their aim is the destruction of Christianity in Rus'. That is why what used to be the French word 'liberal', which meant among the Masons a 'generous' contributor to the Masonic aims, and then received the meaning of 'freedom-loving' with regard to questions of faith, has now already passed openly over to antichristianity. In this resides the solution of the riddle of that stubborn battle for control of the school, which is being waged in the zemstvo and the State Duma: if the liberal tendency gains control of the school, the success of antichristianity is guaranteed. In this resides the solution of the riddle of the sympathy of liberals for all kinds of sects in Christianity and non-Christian religions. And the sectarians have not been slumbering - they have now set about attacking the little children... And when your children grow up and enter university - there Milyukov and co. will juggle with the facts and deceive them, teaching them that science has proved man's origin from the apes. And they will really make our children into beasts, with just this difference, that the ape is a humble and obedient animal whereas these men-beasts will be proud, bold, cruel and unclean...."
On March 8, 1913 Vladyka Andronicus received the independent see of Omsk; and his ascent up the Urals Golgotha began on July 30, 1914 with his appointment as bishop of Perm and Solikamsk. That summer Great Princess Elizabeth Fyodorovna made a pilgrimage to the relics of St. Symeon of Verkhoturye.
On July 19, 1914, the feast of St. Seraphim of Sarov, World War I began.
In August Perm heard the voice of Bishop Andronicus: "Amidst today's terrible events the Lord has decreed that I should occupy the see of the enlightener of Perm, St. Stephen. There, in the west, blood-red clouds have already gathered.. Yes, this war is terrible, it will demand much blood, many victims. But truly it is allowed by the Providence of God...
"This is a great mercy of God after all the heavy trials and humiliations which our Homeland has undergone in recent times. And it is all our fault, because we have willingly given our souls into captivity to every kind of foreign import, as if we even rejoiced to become complete Europeans and were leaving behind our so-called Russian backwardness. Now we see from bitter experience that this foreign forwardness is in fact complete barbarism, moral bankruptcy and spiritual perversion."
Vladyka Andronicus set about building up the huge region with its one and a half million inhabitants and 570 churches and monasteries with apostolic zeal. In November, 1914 he made his first visit to the Belogorsky monastery, to the cave church and to the Seraphimo-Alexeyevsky skete near the monastery. The skete was the cherished dream of some young Christian souls. It published some profound booklets on the monastic life, and the patriotic publication The Voice of Duty. The skete superior, Igumen Seraphim, published a unique chronicle of the 300th anniversary of the House of the Romanovs.
The bishop applied himself zealously to missionary work, to concerts of church music, to spiritual discussions and to patriotic exhortations to serve the Fatherland. He paid particular attention to the monasteries. In the summer of 1915 he visited the Belogorsk monastery. He went far beyond Kungur to consecrate a place for the Shamarsky missionary monastery, which was founded in memory of the visit to the province of Great Princess Elizabeth Fyodorovna. In June he made a pilgrimage to the Tabor hermitage. There thousands of worshippers had assembled from Perm.
"And so, beloved," said Vladyka to his flock, "do not complain about sorrows as if they were a terrible misfortune. They wash away our sins, while giving extra holiness to virtue. It is not sorrows that are terrible, but carelessness, which destroys the man even while he remains at rest."
In 1916 he travelled to army headquarters and on August 12 had a conversation with the Tsar in which he warned him about Rasputin - to no effect. The Tsar very much liked the gift that Vladyka brought him - a pair of soldier's boots. (The province of Perm provided the army with boots.)
In 1917 he became Bishop of Perm and Kungur.
On March 3, 1917, the day after the Tsar's abdication, Vladyka Andronicus invited the leading citizens of the city to a meeting in the bishop's residence. Vladyka read out a draft address in which he called on the Orthodox "with ardent and sincere zeal to turn in prayer to the Lord God... We shall beseech Him not to leave us for long without a Tsar, as children without their mother."
In 1917 Vladyka became one of the seven hierarchs in the preconciliar council of the Local Council of the Russian Church in Moscow. From August 15/28, 1917, until the end of the second session on April 7/20, 1918, Vladyka Andronicus took an active part in the Council, being deputy president of the section on the Old Believers and Yedinovery, deputy president of the publishing section and president of the section on the legal and property qualifications of the clergy. In December, 1917, he made an appeal to his flock in Perm to stand firm in defence of the Church. On January 28, 1918 the Bolsheviks of Perm published the decree on freedom of conscience and the separation of the Church from the State. Thus the robbing of Church property which had taken place in 1917 was replaced by the "lawful" confiscation of the Church's possessions. On January 25 Vladyka Andronicus made a written appeal to the Orthodox people in all the churches and monasteries of the diocese to defend the heritage of the Church from the aggressors and looters.
In February the blood of unarmed defenders of the Faith flowed in Perm. Under the cover of machine-guns the Bolsheviks looted the podvorye of the Belogorsk monastery, killing many. On February 19 / March 4 Bishop Andronicus wrote: "May the Lord give rest to, and forgive the sins, voluntary and involuntary, of all the Orthodox monks and laypeople killed in the city of Perm for the Holy Faith and Church in the Belogorsky podvorye. May the Lord bless the zeal of all those who at that time stood firmly for the holy things of the Church, fearing only God, and not the enemy frights. May all Orthodox Christians be encouraged to stand [zealously] for the Holy Church, so as not to allow the enemy of our salvation [to desecrate] our holy heritage. [All] those who rise up against the Holy Church and mock her and her servants I curse in the name of God... If they do not repent, then I reject them, as enemies of the Church, from Holy Communion and from the hope of eternal salvation. And if any of them secretly or by deceiving the priest receives Communion, then that Communion will be for him with Judas Iscariot for eternal condemnation. This is to be proclaimed in all the churches of the city of Perm and Motovilikhi."
At the end of the second session of the Council, on April 11/24, Vladyka arrived in Perm. On April 12/25 he was raised to the rank of archbishop by Patriarch Tikhon. On April 16, Holy Thursday, a search was carried out in Vladyka's residence and chancellery by the Cheka. While expecting arrest at any moment, Vladyka was remarkably calm. He confessed and received the Holy Mysteries every day, and his radiant mood never left him.
On April 26 / May 9, there was a grandiose cross procession in Perm in honour of St. Stephen of Perm, during which the archbishop first read the epistle of the Moscow Council on the subject of the Bolsheviks' decree on the separation of Church and State and then instructed the archdeacon to anathematize "all those who encroach on the temple of the Lord, until they correct themselves."
On April 27, the Friday of Bright Week, Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich was in the old Peter and Paul cathedral in Perm. He noted in his diary: "Archbishop Andronicus served the Paschal Vespers; he served very well." In the night from the 30th to the 31st of May the great prince was seized by the authorities and disappeared.
On April 28, there was a search in the consistory and certain documents were taken. On the same day Vladyka wrote to Patriarch Tikhon: "I am for the time being in freedom, but I shall probably be arrested soon... In the event of my arrest I am leaving instructions concerning the closing of all the churches of the city of Perm. Let them reckon with the people itself."
The Bolsheviks increased their pressure on the archbishop throughout May. On June 1 he gave a written order to his vicar, Bishop Theophanes, to enter upon the administration of the diocese in the event of his violent death. At three o'clock in the morning on June 4 Vladyka Andronicus was arrested. In reply the superiors of all the churches of Perm and Motovilikhi carried out the order of their archpastor: "I am closing down for Divine services all the churches of Perm and Motovilikhi, and I forbid the carrying out of any Divine services except baptism and the last rites for the dying."
From the night of Vladyka's arrest the Perm clergy went on strike, and the strike ended only on June 13. However, on the morning after Vladyka's death, June 7, they were forced to summon his vicar Bishop Theophanes from Solikamsk. The city was literally seething. Orthodox Christians gathered on the streets, demanding the release of Archbishop Andronicus and cursing the Bolsheviks. Meetings organized by the Bolsheviks blamed the clergy for everything, and the Bolshevik press claimed that Vladyka had called on the worshippers to shoot the Bolsheviks, and that he was only trying to save his own skin.
There are different accounts of the martyric death of Vladyka Andronicus.
According to one, Vladyka was arrested by an armed detachment of 1500 Bolsheviks under the leadership of the former convict Myasnikov, who surrounded the home of the archpastor. The Bolsheviks gouged out his eyes and cheeks and cut off his ears and nose before leading him along the streets of Perm. He was then buried alive and shot on June 7/20, 1918.
According to another account, Vladyka was led out to the Motoviliha factory on the outskirts of Perm. After refusing food, he was led away as if to work in the mine. According to a third account, he was thrown into the river to drown.
Myasnikov wrote in his memoirs: "On the third night [June 6 to 7], we went for five versts along the Siberian highway, turned left into the forest, went on for about a hundred metres and stopped the horses. I gave Andronicus a spade and ordered him to dig a grave. Androncius dug out as much as was required - we helped him. Then I said: 'Go on, lie down.' The grave turned out to be short, he dug out a bit more at his feet and lay down a second time. It was still too short, he dug some more - the grave was ready. I allowed him to pray. Andronicus prayed in all directions for about ten minutes. Then he said he was ready. I said that I would not shoot him, but bury him alive unless he repealed his decrees, but he said that he would not do this and would not refrain from attacking the Bolsheviks. Then we covered him with earth and I shot a few times."
Myasnikov's account more or less accords with the testimony of two Perm chekists Dobelas and Padernis, both of them Latvians, and was corroborated by a baptized Jew, a former communist party member who became a priest and was shot by the Bolsheviks. According to them, Vladyka Andronicus was buried alive and shot near the road from Perm to Motoviliha (the workmen's suburbs) on June 7/20.
In his Memoirs, Nicholas Zhuzhgov claims to have personally arrested both Archbishop Andronicus and Great-Prince Michael Romanov.
One of the archbishop's executioners, Lashevich, was once dying in a hospital in Harbin, China. As he turned restlessly on his bed, he was heard shouting: "Why are you standing here, Andronicus, what do you want? I didn't bury you, I was ordered to do it. You've come for me, don't oppress me. You know, I'm not guilty." And again he would say: "Andronicus, blood, Perm... Don't. Go away! Don't torment me!"
Shortly before his death, on May 5, 1918, Archbishop Andronicus said: "Perhaps I will no longer be in this world, but I am not deprived of the hope and certainty that Russia will be resurrected and return to God. Exhort everyone and reconcile the embittered with life, pour into them the principles of the radiant life according to the Gospel of Christ. Our work is to gather the flock of Christ... so that those who have become disillusioned with every kind of party here, in the Church and amidst believers, might find a living haven and good repose. The soul of the people will be resurrected - and its body, our healthy statehood, will also be resurrected. May the Lord help us. Forgive and pray for the sinful Archbishop Andronicus who invokes the blessing of God upon you..."
(Sources: V. Korolev, "'Eti Partii Starayutsa Izvyesti Vyeru v Zemlye Tvoyej...'", Radonezh, NN 13-14 (31), July, 1996, p. 3; "'... Da Ukrotit Gospod' Yarost' Ikh na Nas'" and "'Tserkov'... ob'yavlena nyelegal'noj'", Grebnevsky Listok, 11, 1996, pp. 1, 13-14; "Andronik- Pobyeditel' Muzhej", Pravoslavnaya Moskva, 13 (73), May, 1996, p. 7; M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyatejshego Tikhona, Patriarkha Moskovskogo i Vseya Rossii, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, pp. 839, 965, 995; V. Korolev, in Novomucheniki i Ispovedniki Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1997 (in press); Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, Noviye Mucheniki Rossijskiye, Jordanville, vol. I (1949), chapter 5, vol. II (1957), p. 283; The New Martyrs of Russia, Montreal: Monastery Press, 1972, pp. 31-32; Russkiye Pravoslavnye Ierarkhi, Paris: YMCA Press, 1986; Metropolitan Manuel, Die Russischen Orthodoxen Bischofe von 1893-1965, Erlangen, 1989, volume 6; Richard Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919-1924, London: Fontana Press, 1995, p. 355; Vladimir Rusak, Pir Satany, London, Canada: "Zarya", 1991, p. 29; Hieromonk Damascene (Orlovsky), Mucheniki, Ispovedniki i Podvizhniki Blagochestiya XX Stoletiya, Tver: Bulat, volume 2, 1996, pp. 82-112; Archbishop Andronicus, O Tserkvi Rossii, Fryazino, 1997, pp. 132-133, 136, 137; Russkij grazhdanskij stroj zhizni pered sudom khristianina, Fryazino, 1995, pp. 24-25; Vitaly Shumilo, "Preterpevshij do Kontsa", Vestnik I.P.Ts. (Odessa), April-June, 1997, N 2 (8), p. 36)
This life was originally published in "Living Orthodoxy".
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