Hieromartyr Benjamin, Bishop Of Sterlitamak And Those With Him

Bishop Benjamin, in the world Alexander Vasilyevich Troitsky, was born in the village of Tysyatskoye, Novotorzhsky uyezd, Tver province, in about 1893 (or 1896 or 1901), into the family of the priest of the Novotorzhsky Resurrection women's monastery. He was the youngest of three brothers. One brother, Fr. Michael, was an archpriest, while the other, Paul, was an archimandrite who later served in the Catacomb Church. He finished his studies at the Tver theological seminary.

He was tonsured as a monk in 1922 or 1923 in the St. Nilus desert, and was the subdeacon of Bishop Theophilus (Bogoyavlensky), who ordained him to the priesthood. He entered the Novotorzhsky Borisoglebsk monastery in Tver diocese.

In 1922, not earlier than July-August, he was arrested together with Bishop Theophilus, and on February 23, 1923 was exiled for two years to Tashkent. According to one source, he was consecrated Bishop of Baikinsk in Ufa by Archbishop Andrew of Ufa and Bishop Nicholas (Ipatov) on November 16/29, 1922. After his release he went to Ufa, and from April, 1929 was Bishop of Sterlitamak. In May, 1929 he joined the Josephites. He continued the work of his spiritual father, Archbishop Andrew, was a fine preacher, and struggled with renovationism. According to one (dubious) source, he signed the acts of the so-called "Nomadic Council" of the Catacomb Church in 1928.

He was arrested on March 21 (January, according to another source), 1930 in connection with the Ufa branch of the True Orthodox Church. Many monastics and laypeople were arrested with him. They tried to present him as the leader of a peasants' rebellion in the Troitsky region and wanted to shoot him. But the accusation was not sustained. Instead, on December 3, 1930, they gave him ten years in the camps with confiscation of property, and sent him to the Vishera camps near Leningrad (or Krasnovishersk, Ural district, according to another source). There he remained for two years, doing general work. He fell ill with pleurisy and had only one lung left. He also almost died from appendicitis.

In 1932 (or 1933) he was exiled to the town of Melekess in Ulyanovsk region (Dimitrovgrad). He was visited there by his brother, Protopriest Michael and his family. He was also visited in exile by Natalya Pavlovna Nikolskaya, who had formerly been the headmistress of a gymnasium in Ufa. She sold her house in Ufa and bought herself a house in Melkess, where she lived with some nuns. She also gave Vladyka some money to buy a house. But in 1937 Vladyka Benjamin was again arrested and nothing more was ever learned about where, when and how he died. According to one source, he was arrested and shot in Melekess in 1937. According to another, he died on September 6, 1940 in Magadan district. And according to a third he died in 1963, while yet another asserts that he died in 1961 as head of the "Andrewites" in Yakutia.

Some people who were close to him were also arrested. They were kept in winter in cold cells with broken windows and with no hot food for eleven days. Then they were all taken for interrogation in one night. Bishop Benjamin's brother, Fr. Michael, was cruelly beaten until it was impossible to recognize him - his face was like a baked apple and one could not see his eyes. He was condemned by a troika. Fr. Michael was sent together with a 62-year-old nun Philareta to Archangelsk. There were rumours that he died there. Natalya Pavlovna Nikolskaya died in a transit prison.

One of the clergy close to Vladyka Benjamin, Fr. Theoctistus, settled in Irkutsk and served in the Catacomb Church until his death on January 13, 1978.

(Sources: M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyatejshego Tikhona, Patriarkha Moskovskogo i Vseya Rossii, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, pp. 850, 966; "Katakomby", Russkoye Vozrozhdeniye, 1982 (III), N 19, pp. 182-187; Pravoslavnaya Rus', N 14 (1587), July 15/28, 1997, p. 6; Bishop Ambrose (von Sivers), "Tajnaya Tserkov' priotkryvayet dveri" (MS); letter of January 7/20, 1996; "Katakombnaya Tserkov': Kochuyushchij Sobor 1928 g.", Russkoye Pravoslaviye, N 3 (7), 1997, p. 28; "Episkopat Istinno-Pravoslavnoj Katakombnoj Tserkvi 1922-1997g.", Russkoye Pravoslaviye, N 4(8), 1997, pp. 8-9; Ikh Stradaniyami Ochistitsa Rus', Moscow, 1996, p. 64; Za Khrista Postradavshiye, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1997, p. 241; I.I. Osipova, Skvoz' Ogn' Muchenij i Vody Slyoz", Moscow: Serbryanniye Niti, 1998, p. 278; M V. Shkvarovsky, Iosiflyanstvo, St. Petersburg: Memorial, 1999, p. 279)

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