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From: VladMoss@aol.comDate sent: Wed, 23 Aug 2000 14:49:52 EDTSend reply to: orthodox-tradition@egroups.comSubject: Re: [paradosis] New Martyr of the Day: St. Victorin of Petrograd[ Double-click this line for list subscription options ]HIEROMARTYR VICTORIN OF PETROGRADArchpriest Victorin Mikhailovich Dobronravov was born on January 29 /February 10, 1889 in the Moldavian city of Kishinev. His father, MichaelDobronravov, was a priest, and he had a brother, Leonid. In 1910 Victorinfinished his studies at the Kishinev theological seminary and thetechnical institute.The two boys' father died when they were still young, and theirmothermarried a second time. She had other children from her second marriage,including an albino girl. She could not see very well, which severelyinhibited her studies. When the fame of St. John of Kronstadt first beganto spread, Victorin's mother decided to go to Kronstadt with herhandicapped daughter in the hope that Fr. John would cure the girl. Asthey approached the cathedral of St. Andrew, they saw the entire square infront of the cathedral filled with people. The Divine Liturgy had justfinished, the doors of the cathedral swung open, and Fr. John steppedoutside. Then, searching the crowd, Fr. John signalled the young albinogirl to come closer. As she approached, he said,"Well, little white girl, step closer to me."When she came up to him, he laid his hand on her head, blessed her,andsaid,"You will be able to see, little girl."On the journey home she was able to see more and more clearly.Eventually she received enough sight to be able to finish secondaryschool. This incident with Fr. John profoundly affected Victorin,strengthening his faith. Having finished the seminary in Kishinev, hewanted to enter a monastery, but his mother did not allow this either.Finally, she convinced him to become an engineer, and he joined theeconomic department of the Petersburg Polytechnic Institute.He successfully finished his studies, but his desire for thespirituallife was overpowering. Not asking the blessing of his mother, he leftschool before finishing his final exams and went to see the Metropolitanof Moscow in order to get a blessing to become a monk. The metropolitangreeted him hospitably, but did not bless him to carry the cross ofmonasticism. The metropolitan said he would give his blessing for thepriesthood, and convinced him to get married. The Metropolitan said,"You are too handsome for the monastic life, you may be a stumblingblock for many."The question arose of whom to marry. After much prayer and reflectionhemarried a twenty-two-year-old Old Believer, Anna Constantinovna, thinkingthat she would be strong in her faith, and on October 4/17, 1914 he wasordained to the diaconate in the Transfiguration Koltovsky church on thePetersburg side. In 1915 he was ordained to the priesthood.Fr. Victorin led a strict life. At home his word was law. Hismatushkaused to say,"My batiushka is heavenly, but I am earthly."They had four children, but all died during Fr. Victorin's lifetimeexcept for one daughter, Zoya. The eldest daughter, Irene (born 1915),died after Fr. Victorin was arrested. Thus all the cares of the familyfell on Zoya. She went to work, but her frail health finally gave way.Nicholas (born 1927) died while Fr. Victorin was still alive, and hisother son, Seraphim, was killed at the front in 1942 at the age of twenty.Unfortunately, all traces of Zoya disappeared after the war.Fr. Victorin was an exceptionally spiritual man, though not a verygoodspeaker. His fame as a spiritual director was such that even the futureHieromartyr Bishop Demetrius of Gdov spoke well of him.Fr. Victorin always spoke with authority. He always insisted that hisspiritual children adhere strictly to the fasts, and commune every Sunday.He advocated abstention from meat and attending church services as oftenas possible.From 1917 to 1930, Fr. Victorin served in the church in a refuge forelderly artists on Petrovsky island in St. Petersburg. He especiallyhonoured the Derzhavnaya icon of the Mother of God. Every Friday eveningin the house-chapel where he served, he used to serve a moleben and anakathist to the icon.On September 25, 1918 the Cheka arrested Fr. Victorin and detainedhimfor a month in the Peter and Paul fortress. On being released, he took onextra work to feed his family. In 1918-19 he served on an auditcommission, and in 1921-22 - in a repair workshop.On February 25, 1919 Fr. Victorin was appointed priest of theNikolskychurch attached to the home for elderly stage workers on Petrovsky island.One of the worshippers there was A.E. Molchanov, the husband of the famousRussian actress M.G. Savinaya, who founded the home and did much for thechurch, being buried under the altar. Molchanov was buried next to her in1922.Soon a community consisting of about 20 people formed round the youngand zealous priest. Most of them were from the intelligentsia: thelaypeople Tatyana Tarasova, Anna Pavlova, Maria Bok, Nadezhda Vasilyeva,Olga Mitskevich, Olga Grigoryevna, Ivan Meyer, Basil Lvov, VictorBarabanov and Alexis Morozov, and the nuns Vera Roshkina, OlgaGrum-Grzhimailo, Seraphima Sinichkina and Martha Bogdanova. The chekistswere alarmed because they "arranged pilgrimages to the churches in thesuburbs and villages, where they spread counter-revolutionary brochuresand leaflets in defence of True Orthodoxy." The investigator remarked that"a large quantity of anti-semitic literature of a pogrom character hasbeen discovered.. together with various pre-revolutionary publicationswith a counter-revolutionary content."Fr. Victorin's parish "was small, but his spiritual children werescattered throughout the city. He was very attentive to each soul. Hesaved many of his children from perishing."The Nikolsky church was visited by the members of the OrthodoxBrotherhood of St. Seraphim, which gathered in the nearby flat of itsfounder, Ivan Mikhailovich Andreyev. When the Brotherhood was founded inJanuary, 1927, Deacon Cyril Ivanov, Fr. Victorin's assistant, took part inthe moleben, while a year later the moleben on the feast of St. Seraphimwas served by Fr. Victorin himself. One of the members of the Brotherhood,Edward Rozenberg, had converted from Lutheranism to Orthodoxy. Most of thebrothers were opponents of Metropolitan Sergius and received various termsin the camps in the autumn of 1928.When Metropolitan Sergius issued his notorious declaration in July,1927, Fr. Victorin immediately joined his opponents, for he was "unhappynot only with the political position of the declaration, but also withMetropolitan Sergius' canonical transgressions in his formation of theSynod". Fr. Victorin said that "Metropolitan Sergius issued thedeclaration at the demand of Soviet power, under Tuchkov's dictation, andin this way sinned against the Church... Being in communion withMetropolitan Sergius meant selling out to Soviet power." And again:"Before writing his declaration calling for a loyal attitude to Sovietpower, Metropolitan Sergius should have demanded rights for the Churchfrom this power."Bishop Demetrius of Gdov greatly valued Fr. Victorin as a good workerand propagandist and parish organizer. And in November, 1927, Fr. Victorinwas part of the Petrograd delegation headed by Bishop Demetrius that wentto Moscow to try and persuade Metropolitan Sergius to renounce hisdeclaration. During the interview with Sergius, Fr. Victorin said:"Truth is not always where the majority is; otherwise the Saviourwouldnot have spoken of the 'little flock'. And the head of a Church has notalways turned out to be on the side of Truth. It is sufficient to recallthe time of St. Maximus the Confessor.""By my new Church policy I am saving the Church," MetropolitanSergiusreplied."What are you saying, Vladyka!" all the members of the delegationexclaimed with one voice."The Church does not need salvation," added Fr. Victorin; "the gatesofhell shall not prevail against her. You yourself, Vladyka, need salvationthrough the Church.""I meant that in a different sense," replied Metropolitan Sergius,somewhat disconcerted.Attacks on the faithful increased, and Fr. Victorin's parishionersfeared for his life. Every parishioner used to read Psalm 90 at the sametime, at eleven o'clock every evening. On February 8, 1930 the Nikolskychurch was closed, and batyushka with most of his flock moved to thePanteleimon church on Piskarevka.Fr. Victorin was against the registration of parishes, considering it"criminal and sinful". He went to see Metropolitan Joseph about thisquestion together with the superior of the Panteleimon church, Fr.Nicholas Ushakov and Protopriest Alexis Voznesensky from Posolodino.However, Metropolitan Joseph did not take such a radical position,andthe parish was registered without the qualifications demanded by thepriests. So from April, 1930 Fr. Victorin stopped going to the church onPiskarevka and served only in flats. Together with the above-mentionedpriests, and supported to some extent by Fr. Michael Rozhdestvensky fromStrelna, he formed a group which desired "the speedy destruction of theBolsheviks", which rejected Soviet registration and even reproached BishopSergius of Narva for compromising too much with the Bolsheviks. Under theinfluence of this group Metropolitan Joseph sent Bishop Sergius some"commandments" which to some extent limited his rights.During the last summer that Fr. Victorin was free, in 1930, he wentbyhimself to Sarov and Diveyevo. When he left he was sick with gangrene inhis foot, but was healed at the spring of St. Seraphim, and he came backfrom Sarov in good health. He used to tell his spiritual children:"Visit the monasteries while we still have them. Fill yourselves withthe prayerful spirit of the monastery."Thus his spiritual children used to spend their summer vacation inmonasteries.Fr. Victorin felt that his days were numbered and he could not go oneserving from house to house. His premonitions were realized on the day ofthe Archangel Michael, September 6/19, 1930. The secret police came forhim and twenty other parishioners, all of whom had been betrayed,according to one source (but denied by another), by Marfusha Bogdanova.They were all arrested in connection with the so-called"counter-revolutionary monarchist organization of the True Orthodox". Justbefore his arrest, Fr. Victorin gave his antimins and the holy vessels totrusted friends. Besides his parishioners who were summoned forinterrogation, Deacon Cyril Ivanov spent several months in prison.Fr. Victorin was held in the "Crosses" prison (according to anothersource, in the Arsenal prison), and was interrogated three times in all.He conducted himself with great firmness and refused to recognize hisguilt. After a very long investigation lasting over a year, Fr. Victorinwas sentenced on October 8, 1931 to ten years in the camps.At this time he was allowed to see his matushka. A year later, hisdaughter Irene died from tuberculosis. Thus his prediction that Irenewould be a bride of Christ was fulfilled.Fr. Victorin was sent to the White Sea canal, where he worked as amedical assistant. On December 7, 1936 he was released and returned to hisfamily, who were living in the Valdai, in the settlement of Oksochi inNovgorod region. There, in a pine forest, was the regional home formentally ill children, where I.M. Andreyev, who had completed his term onSolovki, was the chief doctor, and Fr. Victorin's wife, AnnaConstantinovna, was a medical sister. Matushka would not let even thosewho were close to him see him, she was afraid they would betray him. Hewas arrested a second time. A Gospel was found in his pocket which madehis sentence doubly harsh.Fr. Victorin was arrested in Novgorod on August 6, 1937, andaccordingto one source was sentenced to hard labour tree-felling in the Komi SSR,where he died by being torn apart by wolves. However, according to anothersource, he was shot after a purely formal investigation on December 28 inthe prison of the town of Borovichi. His relatives were given the standardmessage for those condemned to death: "10 years in the camps without rightof correspondence".After his arrest Fr. Victorin's family moved to Novgorod, where I.M.Andreyevsky had also been transferred. There Anna Constantinovna livedwith her daughter Zoya until the retreat of the Germans. Then, under theprotection of Andreyevsky, and together with the famous philosopher S.A.Askoldov, they were evacuated to Germany, and from there to the U.S.A. InAmerica Andreyevsky became a teacher in the Holy Trinity Monasteryseminary in Jordanville, and eventually married Anna Constantinovna andadopted Zoya. (Sources: "Life of New Martyr Archpriest Victorin", Orthodox Life, vol. 41, no. 1, January-February, 1991; Victor Antonov, "Dva PetrogradskikhIspovyednikov", Russkij Pastyr, 25, II, 1996, pp. 21-27; Za KhristaPostradavshiye, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1997, pp.383-84)-------------------------------------------------------------------- -





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