"The church of the village of Kalinovsky, Stavropol province, was led by the Priest John. The parishioners asked him not to serve at such a frightening time, but the pastor remained faithful to his duty. In the autumn of 1918 on the day of his heavenly protector, St. John the Theologian, bandits rushed into the altar during the service. Taking hold of Fr. John, they mocked him. Beyond the village fence they thrust the passion-bearer through with a sword. For a long time the bloodstains on the earth did not dry up.
"In the neighbouring village there served the priest Fr. Peter. He did not allow them to destroy the church: 'Burn me, but do not touch the church.' For these words he was arrested and disappeared without trace. In the same year Fr. John (Ryabukhin) from Yessentuki stanitsa, Stavropol province, was cut to pieces for serving a thanksgiving moleben
"Hieromonk Sasonius (Mironov) lived in Sukhumi monastery. After the destruction of the monastery he settled with his sister in Vingradny khutor. He did not leave the house, but prayed at night for the Russian land suffering under the yoke of antitheism. He was arrested following a denunciation by neighbours who had noticed a little light at midnight. While leading away the warrior of Christ, the chekists mocked the Reserved Holy
Gifts which were found during the search."
(Source: Anna Ilyinskaya, Tajna Startsa Feodosiya, Moscow: "Pravoslavnij Palomnik", 1997, pp. 81-82)
In Grozny a priest was killed after a service with a cross in his hands.
(Source: Vladimir Rusak, Pir Satany, London, Canada: "Zarya", 1991, p. 26)
In August, 1928, Hieromonk Dionysius told the following story to a pilgrim to the Caucasus: "Quite recently in the town I come from there was a priest, a difficult man. He liked cards, drank a good deal and was rude towards his parishioners. Punishments from the church authorities were in
vain. In the beginning of the new regime he was summoned by the authorities of the government and told: 'We know you do not believe in religion and that your children are studying at our universities. It will be better for youand for them if you give up deceiving the people, leave the priesthood and work with us for the welfare of the people. You can make speeches in the factories against religion. Think it over. You know that we do not joke, but think also of your children!' Father Nicholas was so frightened that he gave up drinking. But he was not able to reject this satanic temptation. He left the priesthood. Time passed, and gradually his conscience awoke; he could not
look his former parishioners in the face. Then he had a dream in which hewas surrounded by utter darkness and he saw no possibility of going in any direction at all, but he had the urge to go somewhere. Then he heard someone weeping, but he could not move his head to see who it was. Suddenly he knew it was the voice of his mother weeping over his lost soul. He was ready to weep with her as he had done as a child, but he was unable to move. When he awoke his pillow was wet with tears, whose we cannot say. He used to say of himself that it was impossible for him to weep. He dressed as quickly as he could and ran to his former church which was at that time not yet closed.He ran to the altar steps. The frightened people thought he had come to close the church. But he crossed himself and turned to the people:
"'Orthodox Christians! The Lord has said: 'Fear not those who kill the body, but fear those who kill the soul.' These people have killed my souland left my body. I beg you: pray to God that He raise my soul to new life. Judas, after having betrayed his Lord, went out and hanged himself. After
having betrayed my Saviour, I pray that He will give me strength to suffer for Him. I can no longer lead the life I have led till now. Forgive me!'
"Then he left the church. Of course, in the evening he was arrested. A week later his parishioners met in the church and prayed for the servant of God, the martyr Nicholas. You see how God helped a human soul to rise above despondency and attain great glory, and clad in garments whiter than snow, to celebrate victory over evil. Have strong faith, for without God's will not a single hair can fall from the head of any man. Remember that God will never give you a cross beyond your strength... Always pray to the Holy Virgin: 'Most Holy Virgin, I commit to thee my body, soul and spirit.'"
(Source: "In the Caucasus Mountains: a visit to New Athos", Orthodox Life, early 1950s)
During the persecution of the Church and its clergy, in 1923 there came to the Caucasus a holy recluse. He appeared in the territory of Vladikavkaz, in a deserted place 20 miles from a small railroad station by the name of
Podgorny. He was from Central Russia but no one knows exactly where.
The territory where he chose to dwell was in the foothills of the Caucasus. In a deep forest of gorges and cliffs, he dug a cave for himself where he lived and also had a small church. The altar table was hewn out of rock and there were a number of icons. It was all very poor and yet everything necessary for Divine services was there. The recluse, Elder Macarius, conducted services in this church. When the local people found out about him, they began to flock to him. There they would receive confession and Holy Communion, and the elder would also provide for their other spiritual needs. The number of his visitors constantly increased; with a short time he was receiving pilgrims almost every day.
Elder Macarius was 65 years old, a genuine ascetic whom God glorified in answering his prayers and granting him the gift of clairvoyance: he would
tell people their secret thoughts and deeds. The elder would always meet his visitors about two miles away from his cave and would then conduct them to his dwelling. No one forewarned him about their coming - he would discernit in his spirit. True pilgrimages began to take place, people coming from the vicinity of Kuban and local towns. The believers found there spiritual repose and they felt that they were cared for. After all, there were almost no churches left in the entire area and people were as sheep seeking shepherds.
Father Macarius lived in seclusion until 1928. In this frightful year the Bolsheviks decided to put an end to his church. They had known about it for some time but for some reason had never reached it. At last they cameand arrested the holy recluse. They wanted to take him away secretly, but the believers found out about his arrest and rushed to see him for the last time. As Father Macarius was walking away under guard, he blessed the people onall sides and bid them his final farewell. This holy pastor of the persecuted Catacomb Church was finally martyred in the far north.
(Source: The Orthodox Word, vol. 17, no. 4 (99), July-August, 1981, pp. 185-186)
Protopresbyter Michael Polsky writes: "In 1928, or early 1929, a group of monk ascetics was discovered in the Caucasus and executed by shooting.
They were adherents of the teaching known as 'Name-worshipping', originally expelled from Mount Athos to the Crimea in about 1912. Their leader was Paul Dometich Grigorovich, a noble Kievan landowner who, after twenty years of monasticism, was drafted into the army where he held a high rank during the First World War. After the revolution he returned to the Caucasus and was known as Fr. Pantaleimon. The compiler of this book personally knew him as well as other 'name-worshippers' because in 1918, during the Civil War and the White Army movement in the Kuban, a group of Orthodox missionaries conducted several conferences with the adherents of this teaching with the aim of bringing them back into unity with the Orthodox Church. They hopedto accomplish this by conducting doctrinal debates concerning the Name of God. I was one of these missionaries. A whole list of dogmatic resolutions was developed and signed by both sides. The former name-worshipping monk Methodius was lawfully ordained hieromonk for those who rejected the heresy, and sent to them into the mountains. But unfortunately a disagreement soon sprang up among them. Fr. Methodius remained loyal to Orthodoxy and left the mountains. On his way back, at one of the railway stations, he was shot by the Bolsheviks. In ten years' time the rest of the desert-dwellers were also shot. They were described by the Bolshevik press as a dangerous, counter-revolutionary organization. In 1930 the writer of these lives himself wished to remain in Russia and live in the Caucasus, but having met the desert-dwellers and having learned more about their situation, he became convinced that to remain there would be impossible: all were kept under secret surveillance by the nearby village authorities."
(Source: I.M. Andreyev, Russia's Catacomb Saints, Platina, Ca.: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1982, p. 439)
On Chugush, in the Caucasus mountains, there lived the Schema-Monk Fr. Daniel and his disciple, Fr. Oleg Pol. Constantine Sergeyevich Rodionov visited the two monks in about the year 1928 and wrote: "Fr. Daniel's cell was consecrated to the Dormition of the Mother of God. I had a wonderful icon of the Dormition, a gift to my great-grandfather, Alexis Ivanovich Trubetskoy, from Metropolitan Philaret of Moscow. I gave this icon to Fr. Daniel, since he had no such icon in his cell.
"Fr. Daniel told me about a place called Pskhu, eighty kilometres from New Athos beyond the Zelenchug pass, where some hermits who had found it crowded and noisy in New Athos lived in the remote wilderness. On his advice I bought on the market some buff shoes - in them your feet don't get sorein the mountains - and walked to the hermits. I lived with them for a month.
They tried to persuade me to stay. One of them wrote for me the Prayer tothe Cross, which the desert-dwellers always read before after their evening rule. Since that time there has not been a single day when I have not read this prayer before going to sleep.
"Two years later, mounted patrols came to Pskhu and drove the desert-dwellers out of their cells with whips. The hermits - there were about a hundred of them - walked chanting psalms and thanking God for their trial. The old men died on the road. They were driven to Sukhumi prison, and from there were driven on foot to Tbilisi. And so Pskhu was liquidated with whips.
"When the hermit-elders had been driven out of their cells, they had been led under convoy to Sukhumi prison on foot, along the stony road. Every kind of footwear except buff shoes gets worn out on it - and they had none of them. On the road to Tbilisi the hermits' feet became very sore. And then, I don't remember when, thirty pairs of shoes appeared in my Moscow flat. Onmy way to work at the Military-field construction site, I used to leave my keys with a woman who cleaned the flat. This woman - she was called Marevna - had been my grandmother's maid-servant, and she had also looked after my mother. She was from a village near our estate. She had been driven out of the sovkhoz, and I had suggested that she move to Moscow. She lived with a postwoman. It was clear that they had brought the footwear to her, leaving it for me. I sent all thirty pairs to Tbilisi prison in pairs. I'm amazed they didn't come for me!
"Before their arrests Oleg Pol managed to collect the icons which were in his cell, sew them into a sack and send them from Chugush in a parcel to the monastery at New Athos. In the monastery they first received a telegram-notification: "Roses being sent," and then came the icons. Soon Oleg Pol and Fr. Daniel and Boris Gordi were arrested on Chugush and sent to Novorossiisk. Fr. Daniel's cell was burned. My icon of the Dormition was also consumed in the flames.. Oleg Pol and Fr. Daniel, being monks, had long hair, which those who arrested them demanded that they cut. Oleg said to them:
'Take my head as well.'
"Oleg Pol and Boris Gordi were united in one thing. They were both accused of created the counter-revolutionary society of the Archangel Michael.
"Valerie Demetrievna Liorko [the former secretary of Bishop Mark Novoselov] was at that time in Moscow. When she heard about the arrest, and that Oleg, Fr. Daniel and Borya were sitting in Novorossiisk prison, she asked me to find about the fate of Oleg from the husband of her sister, who was a chekist and lived in Novorossiisk. At that time I had to go through Novorossiisk on my way to Armavir, where I was going to give evidence on behalf of my arrested friend Stepan Petrovich Gamayunov. He was condemnedas a kulak since he had a big apiary, and I had to witness that he was a good worker and member of a cooperative. All this took place in spring at Pascha,..1930. On arriving in Novorossiisk, I went straight to Alexis Vasilyevich Lebedev, the husband of the sister of Valerie Demetrievna. On entering, I saw another chekist through the open door. That was why I didnot say anything substantial during our meeting and only chatted about trivialities. But I handed Lebedev a letter in which Valerie Demetrievna asked to know something about Oleg. I went to Armavir and in a few days again came to them, but this time to their house. They lived in Sadovaya street. Valerie Demetrievna's sister was alone. She said that she had asked her husband to find out about Oleg. Her husband had asked them. They had said nothing.
'Understand it as you like,' she concluded.
"After Armavir I went to Valerie Demetrievna, who was living at that time.. and told her everything. The silence of the chekists was eloquent.We both understood that Oleg and Fr. Daniel had been shot. Boris Gordi, who was a deacon, had been sent into exile..."
(Source: "Vospominaniya Konstantina Sergeyevicha Rodionova (1892-1991), Vestnik Russkogo Khristianskogo Dvizheniya, 164, I-1992, pp. 282-284)
Natalya Urusova tells the following story.
In the Vladikavkaz, not far from the railroad station was a convent dedicated to the holy icon of the Iviron Mother of God. I used to visit this monastery every day. I became very close to many nuns, especially to the kind-hearted Matushka, Abbess Theophania. She was not highly educated and evidently came from a peasant family, but she was a wonderful humble soul.
It was early in the year 1922. One day I came to her and she said to me:
"I want to share with you a secret, about which no one knows save for myself, the nun who is the treasurer, and my cell-attendant [a rassophore nun]. Come, let us go."
Abbess Theophania conducted me through several rooms, and in the last one - from which a spiral staircase led to the attic - there was sitting another abbess. I instantly understood that she was an abbess because she was wearing a gold cross. She was unusually attractive, not only in her friendliness and spiritual loveliness, but in her rare outward beauty as well. She looked very young and one could never have guessed that she was already forty. For three months, despite the freezing cold of winter, they had been hiding her in the attic and only rarely would bring her down to this room so that she could get warm. The secret was well kept. Only cell-attendant would ascend to the attic when she brought her food and other necessities. Soon I too became very close to her for we had much in common and we became quite attached to one another. She was well educated and from a good, noble family.
It was not long before she told me her story. She was the Abbess of a women's convent in the town of Kizliar in the Caucasus. In the beginning of the revolution, when the plundering of monasteries was a common occurrence, a crowd of Bolshevik bandits broke into their convent destroying everything, robbing, and shooting to death several nuns who resisted. When for a short time the White Army took the town of Kizliar, somebody unknown indicated to them the persons who had destroyed the monastery and killed the nuns. The murderers were shot by the Whites. When the White Army retreated and the Bolsheviks took control of the town, they began to search for the person who had told the Whites. The Abbess, totally innocent, was accused and sentenced - an act of pure revenge. However, the Lord helped her to flee and at night she walked to Vladikavkaz, to this convent where Abbess Theophania hid her. All over the whole of the Caucasus there were posted proclamations and 'wanted' posters: 'He who will shows the whereabouts of the former Abbess of Kizliar Convent, Antonina, will receive a reward of 3,000 gold rubles.'
For a whole month and a half I had the good fortune of seeing Abbess Antonina almost every day. Once, on a freezing cold night, when there was an unusual amount of snow, at one o'clock at night someone knocked at my window. Everyone woke up frightened. Who would knock at night except for the GPU? I lifted the curtain and couldn't believe my eyes. I saw Abbess Antonina in a white sheep-skin coat; on either side of her stood the nun-treasurer and the cell-attendant Anfisa.
"Hurry up, hurry up. Open and hide Matushka."
They came in. We turned off the lights so as not to attract attention and what did we hear? We heard the following incredible, obvious miracle of God.
Just a few days before this, about which I had no idea, a certain young girl came to the convent, calling herself a daughter of the noble Troubetskoy family. With tears she begged the Abbess to receive her, stating that her father and mother had been killed and their estate robbed, and she remained alone in her grief. She played the part so well that she managed to gain the confidence of the Abbess who, in the simplicity of her heart, not only accepted and was very kind to the girl, but soon even confided to her the secret of Abbess Antonina. The girl disappeared at once - she was an agent of the GPU looking for Matushka Antonina. That same night the convent was surrounded by militia so that no one could escape. They broke in to search, demanding that the abbess be surrendered. When the cell-attendant ran upstairs to inform Abbess Antonina about this, she said:
"Well, what can we do? If it is pleasing to the Lord that they find me, let it be so. But if it is not His will, He will close people's eyes, and they, seeing will not see. Come, we shall go out in front of them."
The nuns put the sheep-skin coat on her and the three of them went down the stairs and simply walked out of the convent gate before the eyes of all the Red Army soldiers. They had not gone far when they heard the commander shout,
"Who just went out of the gate? Who was led out?"
The Red Army soldiers answered: "We didn't see anybody."
"What do you mean," retorted the angry commander, "someone just left in a white sheep-skin coat accompanied by two nuns."
Everyone denied it and only thought that the commander was imagining things. They searched everywhere, turned everything upside-down and were forced to leave empty-handed. A miracle!
And so she was brought to me. I, of course, was overjoyed that I could hide her, although even in our place it was very risky for her, since we ourselves could be arrested at any time. I asked the nuns:
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