Hieromartyrs, Martyrs And Confessors Of The Caucasus Mountains 2 of 3

Entire Story in one File  | Page  1     3  

"What shall I feed Matushka, for our meals are very poor?"

The nuns answered: "We shall bring her meals twice a day, lunch and dinner."

They sat with us until morning. Abbess Antonina remained with us and they returned to the monastery. Soon they brought the food, which they continued to do twice a day in the course of the two weeks she lived with us.

Noone could help but love her. The children just adored her, and even my husband, usually indifferent to so many things, respected her and conversed with her with unfeigned pleasure. In those days it was still possible to acquire for a certain sum a secret shelter in the mountains from the local hill-folk, known as the Ingush. The convent wanted to do that, but such an enormous sum of money was demanded that even if all the possessions of the convent - what little remained after the Bolshevik plunder - could have been sold, even then it would not have sufficed. We decided that she would stay with us and did not make any plans for the immediate future, leaving her in God's hands, as we had all come to love her very much. She, however, suffered terribly at the thought that if she were discovered, then not only she would pay severely for it, but we also would be forced to suffer. Her whole case, of course, was a miracle and sheer Providence of God. After all, ever since that night of searching for her in the monastery, in spite of all the hideous designs of the GPU investigations, no one had detected where and why the nuns walked twice a day carrying hot dinners.

Two weeks went by. Meanwhile I put up a gauze curtain separating a place in a corner for her in the only room, where there were already five children. There was a bed for her, and a hanging lampada brought from the monastery which was always burning. Once I noticed that Matushka spent the whole night kneeling and fervently praying with tears. I could see through the thin curtain and I couldn't sleep; I could not help but be affected by her sorrow. Early in the morning she turned to me and said,

"Please do me a favour. Go to the Blessed Anastasia Andeyevna and, without saying anything else, tell her: Matushka Antonina is asking for your blessing."

Anastasia Andreyevna, a righteous fool-for-Christ's-sake, well known throughout all of the Vladikavkaz region for her gift of clairvoyance, lived in a small hut located in the backyard of a good Christian. I went to her. She asked me what I needed and I told her that Matushka Antonina asked for her blessing.

"Yes, yes!" she answered. "Tell her that she should fear nothing; what she has decided and prayed about she should fulfill; yes, she should fulfil it. She should go to the large red government house; yes, she should go!"

I told Abbess Antonina her answer and her face lit up...

"I decided to give myself up to the GPU today. I suffer terribly because you will have to answer for me, and even though I prayed, I still had fears and doubts about going through with this. But now, after the words of the blessed one, nothing and nobody can stop me."

The children and I burst into tears. What could we hope for? The GPU - why, this was an unutterable horror! She left, having parted with us in tears, but with an amazingly tranquil face which became even more glowing and more beautiful than before. She was in her monastic garb and wearing the gold cross of an abbess. In spite of all the hindrances and dangers, she never took off her monastic attire. A little more than an hour passed. We all sat in silence, given over to grief and the thought of her fate. All of a sudden my eleven-year-old daughter, looking out of the window, cried out:

"Matushka Antonina is coming!"

She came in full of such extraordinary joy that it is impossible to describe. And this is what she told us:

"I came to the house of the GPU. The guard on duty asked why I had come. I answered that I would tell and give my name only to the chief. Others joined, demanding subordination to the rules and regulations and that I should register. I said,

"'Tell the chief that I wish to see him and will not subordinate myself to anybody else.'

"They went and reported this to him. He ordered them to inform me that no one was allowed to violate the rules of admission. I again insisted that I would talk only to him. At this time the door opened into the corridor and the chief himself peered out. Seeing me he said,

"'Come in.'

"So I entered.

"'What do you want?'

"'You are offering 3,000 rubles for my head. Well, I have brought it to you myself.'

"He was so dumbfounded that he got up and said,

"'You, you are Abbess Antonina, and you came to us yourself?!!'

"I said yes, and that I had brought my own head. He took out my photograph from his desk. I took from my pocket one just like it. He looked at me and said,

"'You are freed. Go wherever you want!'

"As I was leaving he said,

"'In a year's time, according to the law, I will be obliged to give you some punishment.'"

No one investigated where she went after leaving the GPU and no one touched us. She settled openly in the convent where she lived peacefully for another year. Later I learned that she was ordered to work for a year as a maid in a communist hotel in the city of Rostov-on-Don. But even then she did not take off her monastic attire. Not a single communist, however, would demand service from her; all dealt with her without malice or insults; all paid her the utmost respect and would even slightly bow to her. In 1923 such things could still occur.

Some twelve years later, when I was in Kazakhstan in the city Akhtyubinsk where I lived with my son who was exiled there, I met Archimandrite Arsenius who was also exiled there. He was a close friend of Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd, and through him I had the pleasure of meeting the holy hierarch. I found out that Fr. Arsenius knew Abbess Antonina well and he told me the following about her:

When her time of sentence was over, a group of twelve nuns formed a monastic community under her direction and went to the town of Tuapse with the aim of founding a secret skete high up in the mountains. In those days many monks from the ruthlessly destroyed monasteries hoped to settle in the mountains as hermits to avoid persecution from the Bolsheviks. But the minds of the GPU were sly; they placed their secret agents disguised as forest rangers all over the mountains, and one by one they discovered the secret sketes and dwellings of these hermits - almost all of them were shot on the spot.

When Abbess Antonina climbed up to the top of one high mountain, she met a monk from the skete where Fr. Arsenius was living. In that windswept, craggy wasteland, way up high and far removed from the world, she discovered a whole monastic settlement with caves and churches and enough provisions to live and serve God daily for some time. The monks there offered to help and at once set about digging caves beneath the roots of huge trees, which became dwellings for the nuns. The monks lived in similar dwellings. They likewise constructed a church there and with joy helped the nuns in their needs. But this hidden community was not to last long.

Soon both sketes were discovered. Out of fourteen monks, only one, Fr. Arsenius who was the youngest, was spared and not shot as were the others; he was exiled for eight years to a concentration camp far away in outermost Siberia, and upon completion of these eight years, he was sent to a settlement in Alma Ata. At this time Abbess Antonina was also arrested with all her nuns. She was not shot on the spot but exiled to an unknown place.

(Source: I.M. Andreyev, Russia's Catacomb Saints, Platina, Ca.: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1982, pp. 433-439; Za Khrista Postradavshiye. Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1997, p. 99)

The monk Fr. Alexander, in the world Alexis Vasilyevich Artemyev, was born in 1876 in the village of Yanovishchi, Pskov province. He struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prison in Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was shot on October 26 and buried in the old quarry behind the city cemetery in Novorossiysk.

The monk Fr. Alexander, in the world Alexis Vasilyevich Chikanov, was born in 1878 in the village of Nikolo, Tikhvin uyezd, Novgorod province. From 1923 to 1924 he was a monk in the New Athos monastery in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prison in Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was sentenced to ten years deprivation of liberty. In 1936 he was on the White Sea canal in Karelia, but was released before the end of his sentence.

The monk Fr. Antonin, in the world Alexis Ivanovich Golovko, was born in 1880 in the city of Alexandria, Kherson province. From 1903 to 1924 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prisonin Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa" in accordance with article 58-10. Hewas shot on October 26, 1930 and buried in the old quarry behind the city cemetery in Novorossiysk.

The monk Fr. Bartholomew, in the world Vladimir Platonovich Kovalevsky, was born in 1874 in Novocherkassk. From 1902 to 1924 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prison in Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was shot on October 26, 1930 and buried in the old quarry behind the city cemetery in Novorossiysk.

Hieromonk Victorin, in the world Basil Andreyevich Belyaev, was bornin 1881 in the village of Verkhnyaya Khava, Voronezh uyezd, Voronezh province. >From 1907 to 1924 he struggled in New Athos monastery, Abkhazia. After its closure in 1924 he settled nearby in Serberyanij, where he was arrested on April 23, 1930 and imprisoned in Novorossijsk. On October 8 he was condemned in connection with the affair of the so-called "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and on Lake Ritsa." He was shot on October 26, 1930 and buried in the old quarry behind the city cemetery in Novorossiysk.

Schema-Monk Gideon, in the world George Nikiforovich Malyshev, was born in 1873 in the village of Grigoryevskaya, Moshkinsy uyezd, Yaroslavl province. From 1913 to 1924 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930he was arrested and cast into prison in Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was shot on October 26, 1930 and buried in the old quarry behind the city cemetery in Novorossiysk.

The monk Fr. Demetrius, in the world Dionysius Artemyevich Ovsyuk, was born in 1876 in Chernigov province. From 1898 to 1924 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. In April, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prison in Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was shot on October 26, 1930 and buried in the old quarry behind the city cemetery in Novorossiysk.

The monk Fr. Hilarion, in the world Heraclius Timofeyevich Potapov, was born in 1868 in the village of Listopadka, Yaroslavl uyezd, Yaroslavl province. From 1885 (or 1895) to 1924 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery,he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prison in Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was sentenced to ten years' deprivation of liberty.

The monk Fr. Elijah, in the world Ivan Pavlovich Mironenko, was bornin 1891 at Novij, Izyum uyezd, Kharkov province. From 1915 to 1924 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near

Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prisonin Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was sentenced to ten years' deprivation of liberty. From April, 1930 to February, 1933 he was in prison in Novorossiysk, and was released before the end of his term.

The monk Fr. Ioann, in the world Joseph Pavlovich Mikhailenko, was born in 1863 in the village of Kuguru, Podolsk province. From 1905 to 1924 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prisonin Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was sentenced to ten years' deprivation of liberty.

The monk Fr. Ioann, in the world Ivan Mitrofanovich Romanovsky, was born in 1880 in Podolsk province. From 1912 to 1924 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prison in Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was shot on October 26, 1930 and buried in the old quarry behind the city cemetery in Novorossiysk.

The monk Fr. Joseph, in the world Alexis Vasilyevich Chubchenko, was born in 1877 in the village of Petropavlovka, Slavyanoserbsky uyezd, Ekaterinoslav province. From 1900 to 1924 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prison in Novorossijsk. On October8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was sentenced to ten years' deprivation of liberty.

The monk Fr. Ignatius, in the world Ivan Pavlovich Abakumov, was born in 1860 in the village of Poschanka, Konstantinogradsky uyezd, Poltava province. From 1895 to 1922 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. >From 1924 to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prison in Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was shot on October 26, 1930 and buried in the old quarry behind the city cemetery in Novorossiysk.

The monk Fr. Hesychius, in the world Ivan Semyonovich Kechkin, was born in the village of Zaitsevo, Krasnoslobodsky uyezd, Penza province. Fom 1898 to 1924 he struggled in the monastery of New Athos in Abkhazia. From 1924to 1930, after the closure of the monastery, he settled in the valley of the

river Psou near Rigza in Abkhazia. On April 24, 1930 he was arrested and cast into prison in Novorossijsk. On October 8, 1930 he was condemned in connection with a "monarchist terrorist organization which was active in 1927-30 in the valley of the river Psou and at Lake Ritsa". He was sentenced to ten years' deprivation of liberty. From April, 1933 to February, 1933 he was in prison in Novorossiysk, but was released before the end of his term and exiled to the Urals.

(Source: Za Khrista Postradavshiye, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1997, pp. 45, 49, 99, 219, 250, 301, 376-77, 492, 494, 506, 507, 525, 525, 529-30; I.I. Osipova, "Skvoz' Ogn' Muchenij i Vody Slyoz", Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998, pp. 335, 337, 338, 342, 348, 349, 353, 355, 56, 357, 362)


Protopriest M. Donetsky relates that in the foothills of the Caucasus, not far from Sochi, there was a state dairy farm. It was exemplary. Much was said and written about the farm in the local newspapers, as about one of the best state farms in the country. But in 1937, at the beginning of the Yezhov terror, the leadership of the farm and all the workers were arrested. Some of them, including the director of the farm, were shot, and others were exiled to the north. It turned out that the director of the farm was a bishop, while all the workers were priests and monks. They were accused of concealing their social position and providing secret religious services for the nearby stanitsas and farmsteads.

It is possible that this farm was formed out of the monks of the Drandy monastery, in which several monks from Novy Afon had taken refuge after the closing of that monastery. If so, then the bishop may have been Bishop Nicon of Sukhumi.

Hieromonk John the Romanian (+1960) told a story related to him by a refugee from Russia, Archimandrite Athanasius. This archimandrite had been in a Bolshevik prison awaiting death with one other prisoner. This prisoner told how he had once been hunting in the woods of the Caucasus and had accidentally come upon a whole group of Christians, including a bishop, priests and deacons, who had not seen another Christian for four years.

(Source: Protopriest M. Donetsky, Pravoslavnoye Slovo, N 18, 1952; in Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, Noviye Mucheniki Rossijskiye, Jordanville, 1949-57, part 2, xix; Fr. Alexander Chesnokov, Glinskaya Pustyn' i yeyo startsy, Holy Trinity Lavra, Sergiev Posad, 1994, p. 106; I. Gindis, "Nyevidimaya Obitel'", Pravoslavnaya Rus', N 22 (1595), November 15/28, 1997, pp. 5-6)


End of part 2
Entire Story in one File  | Page  1     3   NEXT





Redeeming the Time

↑ Grab this Headline Animator





We confidently recommend our web service provider, Orthodox Internet Services: excellent personal customer service, a fast and reliable server, excellent spam filtering, and an easy to use comprehensive control panel.

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas