Hieromartyr Joasaph, Bishop Of Bakhmut

Bishop Joasaph, in the world Peter Demetrievich Popov, was born on January 16, 1874 in Olkhovatka Slavyanoserbsky, Artemovsky okrug, Yekaterinoslav uyezd, in the family of a deacon. He finished his studies at the Ekaterinoslav theological seminary. He was tonsured into the mantia with the name Joasaph and ordained to the priesthood, serving in the village churches of the okrug: Karnaukhovsky khutor, Yekaterinsolav uyezd (1904-1910), the village of Selidovka, Bakhmut uyezd (1910-1911), the village of Nikolayevka, Pavlogradsky uyezd (1911-1916). From 1916 to 1920 he was superior of a church in Novomoskovsk. From 1922 to 1923 the was archimandrite and superior of the Nikolayevsky monastery in Samara. In 1924 he was consecrated to the episcopate as Bishop of Bakhmut, a vicariate of the Donetsk diocese, in Kharkov. In 1925, when the bishop who ordained him, Archbishop Joannicius (Sokolsky) joined the Lubensk schism, he retired and went to live in the city of Novomoskovsk, Dnepropetrovsk region. He did not recognize the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius and in November, 1928, after going to Leningrad and meeting Bishop Demetrius (Lyubimov), he joined the Josephites. In the same month, according to one source, he was appointed administrator of the Voronezh, Caucasus and Podolsk dioceses of the Josephites by Archbishop Demetrius. He was in charge of 60 parishes in all.

According to one (dubious) source, he attended the "Nomadic Council" of the Catacomb Church in 1928 through the priest Alexis Shishkin (?).

On returning to the Ukraine, Bishop Joasaph continued to live for a few months in retirement, but then began to act. In May, 1929 he went to live in Artemovsk (Bakhmut), but the local organs of the OGPU and the administrative department did not allow him to do this. A few days later he was summoned to the Kharkov OGPU, who suggested the conditions of his legal activity - when ten to fifteen parishes would recognize his authority he was to present a list of them for registration; after which he would be given an official certificate with the right of visiting these parishes. Bishop Joasaph refused, declaring that he was not intending to rule his diocese. However, in June he again went to Leningrad, where he remained for eight days, trying to persuade Archbishop Demetrius to hand over to his administration the Josephite parishes in the Artemovsk and Donetsk (Stalin) okrugs. The leader of the Josephite movement refused.

However, two months later the situation changed. In August, 1929 a part of the "Buyevtsy" parishes of the Voronezh diocese applied to Bishop Joasaph to receive them under his omophorion, and in December Bishop Alexis formally handed over the remainder of his parishes to him.

Also from the end of the summer he was looking after a Josephite community in the city of Rykov in the Stalin okrug. In this city at the beginning of 1929 Fr. John Protopopov and Hieromonk Anempodist had separated from Metropolitan Sergius. They served in the Pokrov prayer house and commemorated Bishops Paul (Kratirov) and Alexis (Buj), but then the prayer house was closed, the priests were arrested and Fr. John was shot in 1930. In August Bishop Joasaph went to Rykov, confesses, communed and buried believers. In the autumn the OGPU arrested several laymen, but soon released them, and the Josephite community continued to exist in the city for some more years.

Bishop Joasaph was hostile to the "Stephanovtsy" movement, and at the request of their community in the Donbass Bishop Barlaam (Lazarenko) wrote him a special letter in 1929 in defence of Elder Stephan. But the OGPU intercepted this letter and the conflict was not completely resolved at this time.

From the end of 1929 many parishes began to join Bishop Joasaph from the Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk and Podolsk dioceses, and from the Northern Caucasus. In 1930 their number had reached 70, including 23 in the Ukraine. Vladyka ruled several churches in the Artemov okrug: one in the village of Nikolayevka from September, 1930, and also a prayer house at Khanzhonovka station.

Vladyka ordained about ten priests, three at the request of Bishop Paul (Kratirov). He appointed between ten and twelve deans. He worked in a semi-legal situation - he did not go to the OGPU to register his parishes. At the same time Vladyka tried to avoid conflicts with the authorities. Characteristic was his reply to the letter of the dean of the Borisoglebsk okrug, Fr. Theodore Andreyev, who asked whether it was true that Metropolitan Joseph had formed a Synod in Ufa and taken certain decisions. Fr. Theodore also asked whether he needed to register in his capacity as a True Orthodox dean, whether he should commemorate Bishop Alexis (Buj), who was under arrest, since conflicts could arise with the authorities because of this, etc. Concerning Metropolitan Joseph, Bishop Joasaph said that he knew nothing. With regard to the second question, he advised Fr. Theodore to be registered, and allowed him not to commemorate Bishop Alexis in those places where it elicited conflicts.

If we discount the Central-Black Earth region, Vladyka had most parishes in the Tulchinsky okrug in Podolye, West Ukraine - fifteen in all. Podolye was the only place in the West Ukraine where the Josephite movement spread significantly. The first True Orthodox communities arose there in 1928 under the influence of the Kievan priests L. Rokhlits and B. Kvasnitsky. An active part in the development of the movement was played by the Johnnites. They appeared in Podolye before the revolution, and recognized Patriarch Tikhon, but after his death stopped visiting the churches. The centre of the activity of the Podolye Johnnites was the village of Palanka, Trostyanetsky region, where in 1925 they formed a skete in which there lived forty people. From there preachers went out to all the neighbouring villages. The Johnnites were principled opponents of Soviet power. They also supported the idea of one, undivided Russian empire, and for that reason spoke out against Ukrainianization (even the reading of the Gospel in Ukrainian). In 1927 the OGPU destroyed the skete in Palanka, and arrested and exiled six Johnnites. However, their leader, G. Nikitin, and the nuns Maria (Gusak), Anna (Shitko), Pelagia (Bojko) and others succeeded in hiding.

In 1928 the Johnnites made contact with the superior of the church in Ladyzhinskaya sloboda, Fr. Therapont Ignatyevich Podolyansky, and under his influence again began to visit churches. In 1928-29 secret meetings of clergy opposed to Metropolitan Sergius took place in Fr. Therapont's flat. He sent Nun Anna (Shitko) to Archbishop Demetrius (Lyubimov) and Metropolitan Joseph (Petrovykh), and received epistles from them, which he distributed among the believers. In the autumn of 1929 the Podolye Josephites heard from G. Nikitin of the existence of Bishop Joasaph, and in October Fr. Therapont and Nun Pelagia (Bojko) went to him with the request that he receive their group of five priests under his omophorion. Bishop Joasaph agreed, and appointed Fr. Therapont dean.

In March, 1930 the OGPU carried out arrests during an illegal meeting of Church activists of Ladyzhinskaya sloboda. Fr. Therapont was sentenced according to article 58-10 and sent to the camps for five years. Fr. Alexander Lototsky was also exiled.

But the movement continued to develop. Bishop Joasaph appointed a new dean, Fr. Macarius Nechievsky, who came to him in Novomoskovsk together with Nun Anna. Fr. Macarius attracted into the movement the exceptionally active superior of the church in the village of Ladyzhino, Fr. Macarius Lesik. The latter went to Novomoskovsk and in July, 1930 was appointed dean instead of Fr. Macarius Nechievsky. The number of Josephite parishes in Podolye rose from five at the beginning of 1930 to fifteen towards the end: in Ladyzhinskaya sloboda, and the villages of Palanka, Belousovka, Ladyzhino, Makovka in Trostyanetsky region, Ulyanovtsy, Kleban, Guta, Kinashevo, Kirkasovka in Tulchinsky region, Skrytskoye in Bratslav region.

In October, 1930 there came to Tulchinsky okrug from Novomoskovsk the brother of Bishop Joasaph, Fr. Andrew Popov. He served for several days in the churches of the villages of Lukashevka and Kirsanovka, and then left for the Caucasus. Vladyka often sent his epistles to the Ladyzhenskoye deanery, including, in September, 1930, an appeal, in which he exhorted the believers "to stand in defence of the Orthodox Church, and be faithful to her". "When difficult times come, the believers and pastors of the Orthodox Church should speak out in defence of Orthodoxy." Bishop Joasaph considered that the Johnnites were sectarians, and although he agree to look after them, he tried to convince the priest he had ordained for them, Fr. G. Nikitin, and the nuns who came to him, that they were in error. However, like the Podolye parishes, Bishop Joasaph was strongly opposed to the use of the Ukrainian language in services and even said that "he could not tolerate it".

At the beginning of the 1930s the True Orthodox of Podolye began to say that Soviet power was beginning "to annihilate religion" on Sundays and feastdays, forcing believers to work on them, and exiling those who refused to obey to the north. They drew the conclusion that "the kingdom of the antichrist" had come, against which it was necessary to struggle. At the same time, during the re-elections to the soviets, the church activists in some villages (for example, Mankovka) put forward their own candidates for the village soviets.

In 1930 and the beginning of 1931 the Podolye True Orthodox continued, as before, to maintain links with the Kievan True Orthodox. Thus Hieromonk Palladius (Gichka) of the Kiev Theophanov monastery, who at the beginning of 1930 had taken part in mass demonstrations of the inhabitants of the village of Dobrinsky in Kharkov okrug, from the summer began to serve in the village of Lukashevka. He often went to Kiev and met with Frs. L. Rokhlits and A. Zhurakovsky. Nun Maria also went to Fr. L. Rokhlits.

Arrests of the Podolye Johnnites took place from January 18 to February 17, 1931. Nine of the leaders were put in Vinnitsa prison, amongst whom were the priest M. Lesik, M. Nechievsky, S. Dzyubinsky, P. Yusupov, and Hieromonks Tikhon (Burdeiny), Palladius (Gichka), and Nun Maria (Gusak). However, many were able to hide, including the priests Basil Dubinyuk, Paul Matskevich, Hilarion Podopriga and Nun Anna (Shitko).

Fr. Macarius Vladimirovich Lesik was born in 1886 in the village of Kurenevka, Chechelnitsky uyezd. He was not well educated. In 1914 he became a reader in the village of Bogdanovka. In 1923 he was ordained to the diaconate, and in 1926 he was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Barlaam (Lazarenko). He served in the village of Globochek, and from 1930 in the village of Ladyzhinskoye. On January 17, 1931 he was arrested in Ladyzhinskoye as the leader of the Ladyzhinskoye cell of the Dnepropetrovsk branch of the True Orthodox Church. On December 14, 1931 he was sentenced according to article 58-10 to three years in the camps.

Fr. Macarius Ivanovich Nechievsky was born in 1885 in the village of Poyarovka, Umansky okrug. He finished his studies at a theological seminary. He was a priest and served in Ladyzhenskaya sloboda. He joined the Johnnites. On February 8, 1931 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Ladyzhinskoye cell of the Dnepropetrovsk branch of the True Orthodox Church. On December 14, 1931 he was sentenced according to article 58-10 to three years in the camps.

Fr. Stepan Nikolayevich Dzyubinsky was born in 1875 in the village of Shlyakovo, Poltava province. He finished his studies at a theological seminary. He served in the church of the village of Stepashka, Ladyzhinsky region. In February, 1930 he broke communion with Bishop Joasaph. On April 8, 1931 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Ladyzhinskoye cell of the Dnepropetrovsk branch of the True Orthodox Church. On December 14, 1931 he was sentenced according to article 58-10 to three years in the northern camps.

Fr. Paul Vasilyevich Yusupov was born in 1880 in the village of Novo-Dubrovka, Kuznetsky uyezd, Saratov province. He finished his studies at the Saratov theological seminary. He was a priest living and serving in the village of Skrytskoye, Bratslav region. In June, 1930 he joined the Josephites. On February 17, 1931 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Ladyzhinskoye cell of the Dnepropetrovsk branch of the True Orthodox Church. On December 14, 1931 he was sentenced according to article 58-10 to three years in the northern camps.

Hieromonk Tikhon Matveyevich Burdeiny was born in 1881 in the village of Lyakhovo, Baltsky okrug. He was not well educated. He was tonsured into the mantia and in 1923 was living in the skete of the church of the Exaltation of the Cross in the village of Mikhailovka, Grushkovksy uyezd. From 1929 to 1931 he served in the church of the village of Palanka. He was ordained to the priesthood. On February 8, 1931 he was arrested in the village of Lyakhovo in connection with the affair of the Ladyzhinskoye cell of the Dnepropetrovsk branch of the True Orthodox Church. On December 14, 1931 he was sentenced according to article 58-10 to three years in the northern camps.

Hieromonk Palladius (?) Stepanovich Gichka was born in 1879 in the village of Chervetinovka, Gaisinsky uyezd. He was not well educated. He was tonsured into the mantia and ordained to the priesthood. He joined the Johnnites. In 1929 he served in the village of Lukashevka, Ladyzhensky region. In 1930 he was under investigation for his role in the massive demonstrations in the village of Dobrinsky, Peshchansky region. He had constant communications with the Kievan priests. On February 8, 1931 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Ladyzhinskoye cell of the Dnepropetrovsk branch of the True Orthodox Church. On December 14, 1931 he was sentenced according to article 58-10 to three years in the camps.

Nun Maria Pavlovna Gusak was born in 1891 in the village of Skrytskoye, Bratslav uyezd. She was not well educated. She was tonsured into the mantia and joined the Johnnites. She lived in a skete near the village of Palanzha. On February 17, 1931 she was arrested in connection with the Ladyzhinsky group of the Dnepropetrovsk branch of the True Orthodox Church. On December 14, 1931 she was sentenced in accordance with article 58-10 to three years in the camps.

Nun Maria said the following daily prayer: "Annihilate and root out soon the abominable and blasphemous antichristian Soviet kingdom, hand it to the right-believing Russian tsars and raise the Christian horn."

In Novomoskovsk itself, only one priest openly joined Vladyka - Fr. I. Dobrinsky. But Archimandrites Peter (Poloznyuk) and Seraphim (Kravtsov) kept up close relations with him without formally breaking with Metropolitan Sergius. These clergy were opposed to the declaration and did not serve in the churches of the city. In Novomoskovsk region two parishes in the villages of Karabinovka and Kaznacheyevka came under Bishop Joasaph for two months only, but then returned to the sergianists. Thus Vladyka had only one parish in the Ekaterinoslav (Dnepropetrovsk) diocese - the church of St. Alexander Nevsky in the town of Sinelnikovo, which joined him in August, 1930 under the leadership of Fr. Peter Strelnikov. Bishop Joasaph himself served in his "unregistered" house church.

On January 16, 1931 Bishop Joasaph was arrested as the leader of branches of the True Orthodox Church in the Ukraine. Also arrested at this time were Archimandrites Peter and Seraphim, five laymen and Vladyka's cell-attendant Basil Dvorchenko, who had come to him from Podolsk diocese in October, 1930.

Archimandrite Peter, in the world Prochorus Pavlovich Poloznyuk, was born in 1890 in the village of Ekaterinka, Pervomaisky uyezd. He was not well educated. He was tonsured into the mantia and ordained to the priesthood, then raised to the rank of archimandrite. He served in the Kiev Caves Lavra. In 1920 he was under investigation on a charge of hiding church valuables, but was released. Before his arrest he did not have a parish, but lived in Novomoskovsk. On January 16, 1931 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Novomoskovsk group of the Dnepropetrovsk branch of the True Orthodox Church. On December 14, 1931 he was sentenced in accordance with article 58-10 to three years in the camps.

Archimandrite Seraphim, in the world Stepan Lavrentyevich Kravtsov, was born in 1883 in the village of Novo-Troitskoye, Sinelnikovsky uyezd, Dnepropetrovsk province. He was not well educated. He was tonsured into the mantia, ordained to the priesthood and raised to the rank of archimandrite in the Kiev Caves Lavra. In 1920 he was under investigation on an accusation of hiding church valuables, but was released. Before his arrest he did not have a parish, but lived in Novomoskovsk. On January 16, 1931 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Novomoskovsk group of the Dnepropetrovsk branch of the True Orthodox Church. On December 14, 1931 he was sentenced in accordance with article 58-10 to three years in the camps.

Fr. Seraphim said: "I consider myself an enemy of Soviet power. Being brought up in a monarchist spirit, I always considered the authority of the monarchy to be the most acceptable. I always hoped for the fall of Soviet power and helped towards this end, stirring up believers against Soviet enterprises."

Bishop Joasaph was sentenced according to article 58-10 to five years in the camps. He was sent to the Vishlag camps (Krasnovishersk). On February 16, 1933 he was released but deprived of the right to live in 12 cities. He was arrested again and on March 17, 1935 was sentenced to five years in the camps. He was shot in 1937.

(Sources: I.I. Osipova, "Skvoz' Ogn' Muchenij i Vody Slyoz", Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998, pp. 94, 272, 287, 289, 305, 314, 317, 320, 335, 339-40, 341-42, 372; M.V. Shkarovsky, "Istinno-Pravoslavniye khristiane na Ukraine", Pravoslavnaya Zhizn', 48, N 10 (586), October, 1998, pp. 14-18; Iosiflyanstvo: techeniye v Russkoj Pravoslavnoj Tserkvi, St. Petersburg: Memorial, 1999, pp. 286-287)





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