Bishop Joasaph, in the world John Ioannovich Udalov, was born on April 5, 1886, in the pious family of a watchmaker in the city of Ufa. He finished his studies at the Ufa theological school and the Ufa theological seminary. Wishing to become a priest, John Ioannovich entered the Kazan Theological Academy in August, 1906, and graduated with the degree of candidate of theology in 1910. On August 2, 1910, he was tonsured into the brotherhood of the monastery of the Theophany in Zhitomir by Archbishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Volhynia and Zhitomir, and on the next day was ordained to the diaconate by Bishop Gabriel of Ostrog, the vicar-bishop of the diocese. On August 14, by a decree of the Holy Synod, he was appointed a teacher in the Zhitomir pastoral school in the name of John of Kronstadt. Fr. Joasaph was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Anthony, whose influence helped his rapid rise up the ecclesiastical hierarchy. However, he was helped even more by his righteous life and firm confession of the Orthodox Faith.
On September 24, 1911 Fr. Joasaph was appointed assistant inspector of the Kazan Theological Academy at the request of the rector of the Academy, Bishop Alexis (Dorodnitsyn). He was appointed president of the Council of missionary courses. He then worked in the Tatar mission and with the yedinovertsy. On July 11, 1912, by another decree of the Holy Synod, he was appointed acting superior of the Kazan Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery with promotion to the rank of igumen. With his fine mind and administrative flair and ability to get on with all kinds of people, the young igumen soon brought the community to a flourishing state. Here he began building a chapel in the Old Russian style over the relics of St. Ephraim, metropolitan of Kazan. (The chapel was destroyed to make way for a garage in 1972.)
In 1915 he was raised to the rank of archimandrite and appointed teacher of the Pedagogical Council and the Economic committee of the Kazan missionary courses.
In September, 1918 the Bolsheviks conquered Kazan. At that moment there were no bishops in the city: Metropolitan James (Pyatnitsky) of Kazan and Bishop Boris (Shipulin) had left with the Whites, while Bishop Anatolius of Chistopol, the rector of the Academy, was in Moscow at the All-Russian Church Council. It was at this critical moment that Archimandrite Joasaph took upon himself the burden of leading the church administration in the city. Arrests and shooting were taking place everywhere, and the majority of the churches were closed because of the departure of a significant proportion of the parish clergy - they were all terrified by the bestialities perpetrated by the Bolsheviks. Besides, almost all the members of the diocesan council were out of the city at that moment. So Archimandrite Joasaph was forced to take on the administration of the Kazan diocese alone.
On September 20, while he was celebrating the Liturgy in the Spassky monastery, a red commander burst into the altar and declared that the Kremlin was to be closed to the public and declared a military citadel. The Kremlin churches were closed on September 22, and Archimandrite Joasaph decided to remove the most venerated holy objects. The authorities allowed this on condition that a list of those taking part in the removal should be submitted to them, and that no chanting take place during the transfer.
Finally, with the help of the nuns of the Monastery of the Mother of God, the relics of Saints Gurias and Barsonuphius, the icon of St. Barbara with part of her relics, the icons of the All-Merciful Saviour and other holy objects were transferred in a silent procession to the Kazan monastery.
The Bolsheviks then began looting the churches in the Kremlin and shooting several priests in the Kazan region. News of these shootings reached the diocesan council headed by Archimandrite Joasaph, and he inscribed the martyrs' names into the martyrologies and diptychs. These acts were confirmed by Bishop Anatolius, who returned to Kazan on September 26 and took over the leadership of the diocese.
With the approach of Kolchak's armies, the Kremlin was again opened to the public. Archimandrite Joasaph took a leading part in the restoration work which then began. And it was he who served the first service in the cathedral church on March 25, 1920 (old style).
In April, 1920, Patriarch Tikhon learned that Metropolitan James was not intending to return to Kazan, so he appointed Metropolitan Cyril (Smirnov) to take his place. Metropolitan Cyril was met with great joy by the citizens of the city.
On July 12, Archimandrite Joasaph was consecrated bishop of Mamadysh, a vicariate of the Kazan diocese, by Metropolitan Cyril and Bishop Peter (Zverev) of Balakhinsk. He was appointed to live in the Kizichesky monastery and remained superior of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery.
On August 6 Metropolitan Cyril was arrested in his chambers and taken to Moscow. This greatly sorrowed the citizens of Kazan, but they were able to form links with Moscow and supply the metropolitan with all that he needed. The Orthodox in the region were now led by Bishops Anatolius and Joasaph, and on November 8 they consecrated Archimandrite Athanasius (Malinin), a lecturer in the Kazan Theological Academy, as Bishop of Cheboksary.
In the spring of 1921 the Cheka learned that the Theological Academy was still in existence under the guise of theological courses. So they arrested Bishop Anatolius, the rector of the Academy, and all the professors on the charge of organizing an unlawful academic organization. The professors were soon freed, but Bishop Anatolius was detained in prison in Moscow.
This left Bishop Joasaph once again in charge of the Kazan diocese. With the agreement of Metropolitan Cyril, with whom he maintained contact in the Taganka prison, he and Bishop Athanasius proceeded to consecrate Archimandrite Andronicus of the Seven Lakes Hermitage to the episcopate, transferring him to the monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Kazan. Moreover, in November he obtained the authorities' permission in effect to reopen the Kazan Theological Academy under the rectorship of Professor Protopriest Nicholas Petrov, the superior of the church of St. Barbara. The institute continued in existence for another two years until Bishop Joasaph's exile from Kazan in 1924.
Early in 1922 Metropolitan Cyril was released from prison and was met in Kazan by Bishops Joasaph and Athanasius and a large crowd of Orthodox, for whom Metropolitan Cyril already had the aura of a confessor of the faith.
In April, 1922 the Bolsheviks carried out a requisitioning of the valuables in the Kazan churches. Bishop Joasaph was able to save many valuable and ancient holy things from the Spassky monastery, but not the beautiful royal doors made of silver. In 1922, in connection with the confiscation of church valuables, 24 clergy of all ranks were killed by the Bolsheviks in Kazan province.
On July 12, 1922 Bishop Joasaph was appointed Bishop of Chistopol, a vicariate of the Kazan diocese.
On August 21 Metropolitan Cyril was exiled to Ust-Sysolsk, after which a representative of the renovationist schism appeared in Kazan. Hoping to overcome their "differences" with the renovationists, Metropolitan Cyril and Bishop Joasaph did not opposed the renovationists E. Sosuntsov and S. Spirin from joining the diocesan council on October 1. However, their attitude changed when they sent their "Archbishop" Alexis (Bazhenov) to Kazan to take the place of the exiled Metropolitan Cyril.
"Archbishop" Alexis arrived in Kazan on Great Thursday, April 5, 1923. First he occupied the metropolitan's residence, then he set off for the winter church of the monastery of the Mother of God and stood in the altar to the left of the royal doors. Vladyka Joasaph, who was celebrating the Liturgy and the washing of feet on that day, entered the church at "Glory...", vested and went into the altar during the little entrance. Here for the first time he saw Archbishop Alexis. He continued to serve the Liturgy, censing Alexis at the appropriate times as a hierarch. During the singing of the communion verse, Alexis went up to Bishop Joasaph, called himself Archbishop of Kazan and Svyazhsk and asked whether he would serve with him. Vladyka categorically refused, justly pointing out that such an appointment of a new hierarch in the place of the still-living Metropolitan Cyril contradicted the church canons. That was why he, as an Orthodox bishop and vicar of the Kazan diocese, being in obedience to Patriarch Tikhon and Metropolitan Cyril, considered such a decision of the renovationist authorities to be uncanonical. The firmness of Vladyka Joasaph made a strong impression on Alexis, who had expected nothing of the sort.
Meanwhile, Protopriest N.M. Vinogradov and other priests of the Kazan monastery went up to seek the blessing of "Archbishop" Alexis. At the end of the Liturgy Vladyka Joasaph carried out the rite of the washing of feet. That was a truly tragic moment, when the priests sang the verses about the traitor Judas and themselves prepared to betray their hierarch. For when Bishop Joasaph, in imitation of Christ Who washed the feet of His disciples at the Mystical Supper, washed the feet of these pastors, they had already agreed to submit to the false hierarch Alexis. In the evening the renovationist archbishop was already reading the twelve Gospels in the monastery, while Vladyka was serving the all-night vigil in the Vladimir cathedral, where Fr. Peter Grachev had immediately invited him. Most of the parish priests recognized Alexis, and after Pascha the Orthodox Bishops Joasaph and Athanasius were already serving in secret, commemorating the most holy Patriarch and Metropolitan Cyril. After Bishop Joasaph left the diocesan council, it became completely renovationist, and immediately reports were sent to the GPU denouncing him as an "old churchman, counter-revolutionary and ardent Tikhonite", who was not only anti-renovationist but also anti-Soviet.
Only two churches remained faithful to Orthodoxy in Kazan - the Pokrov church, where Fr. Alexander Gavrilov served, and the Peter and Paul cathedral, where Fr. Alexander's father-in-law, Protopriest Andrew Bogolyubov, served. Also faithful to Orthodoxy at this time were Hieromonk Theophanes (Yelansky) of the Saviour cathedral in the Kremlin, several academically trained disciples of Metropolitan Cyril from the monastery of St. John the Forerunner: Igumen Pitirim (Krylov), Hieromonks John (Shirokov) and Paul, and Hierodeacon Seraphim (Shamshev), the nuns of the Raithu and Seven Lakes Hermitages and the St. Theodore convent, and some of the nuns of the Svyazhsk monastery. By contrast with the parish clergy, the laity of Kazan refused to recognize Alexis. They appealed to him, as to a senior hierarch and a professor of the Academy, to return to the True Church, but all in vain. He began to serve in the parish churches.
On the night of May 25 to 26, on the eve of Alexis' first visit to the church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the whole city was filled with notices stuck to houses and telegraph posts declaring that Alexis was a wolf in sheep's clothing and appealing to the citizens of Kazan not to accept him. Alexis then wrote to the renovationist "Metropolitan" Eudocimus: "I am personally begin to regret that I came to Kazan. Since the council negative reactions to me, as to the usurper of Cyril's see, have increased... As long as Bishops Joasaph and Athanasius live here, I supposed that we shall not be able to create a single vicariate..."
Alexis also complained that the Soviet authorities were not helping him enough against his opponents. However, when, on May 24, the renovationist diocesan council petitioned the authorities for the removal of Igumen Pitirim, Hieromonk John, Hierodeacon Seraphim and Hieromonk Theophanes, the authorities responded by arresting them on June 14 for writing and spreading anti-renovationist proclamations and for maintaining links with Metropolitan Cyril in Ust-Sysolsk. A report to the GPU put the real reasons for the arrests as follows: "The whole of this Black Hundreds company headed by Archbishop Joasaph is the headquarters of every possible kind of counter-revolutionary intrigues. After them trudge all of the reactionary clergy and the believing masses, which is to the highest degree dangerous from a political point of view." It is interesting that Bishop Joasaph is named "archbishop" in this document; this showed how great was his authority among the believers.
Bishop Joasaph was for a long time Metropolitan Cyril's deputy in the Kazan region, and in the opinion of the Kazan renovationists he was "the undeclared administrator of the whole of the Kazan, Mari and Chuvash regions". The victory of the Orthodox over the renovationists in the Kazan region was in large part owing to him. Thus it was through Vladyka Joasaph's exhortations and his own sermons that Protopriest Theophanes converted almost the whole of the city of Yelabuga (his native town, where his father was protopriest in the Pokrov church) from renovationism to Orthodoxy. Again, when Bishop Andronicus was summoned to the renovationist diocesan council to explain his refusal to accept them, he said: "I don't want to separate from Bishop Joasaph." From 1923, according to one source, Bishop Joasaph was a member of the strictly anti-renovationist (and later, anti-sergianist) "Danilovtsy" and "Andrewite" groups, led by Archbishops Theodore (Pozdeyevsky) and Andrew (Ukhtomsky) respectively.
On June 30, the arrested monks were released; all of them had conducted themselves bravely under interrogation, and none of them said a word against Bishop Joasaph. The position of the renovationists was further weakened when Patriarch Tikhon was released from prison and issued his anathema against them in July. On July 17 an assembly of all the believers of the parish churches of Kazan was held in the main cathedral. It was organized by the circle of the zealots of Orthodoxy, led by the Academy Professor Plato Ivanovich Ivanov and the 28-year-old lawyer Alexander Sergeyevich Kozhevnikov, who were trusted followers of Bishop Joasaph. At the meeting it was resolved: "The community considers that the only lawful, canonical authority in the Kazan diocese is the deputy of Metropolitan Cyril, Bishop Joasaph of Chistopol..."
On July 19 about twenty of Bishop Joasaph's closest friends among the clergy and laity met in his flat. From 7 to 11 o'clock the new situation of the Church was discussed, and a rite of repentance was worked out for those returning from the renovationist heresy to Orthodoxy. Then, the next day, which was the eve of the feast of the Kazan icon, Bishop Joasaph served the first open service in the Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery together with the clergy who had been faithful to Orthodoxy during the persecution. Many people attended the triumphant service, during which flowers were strewn under the feet of the confessing clergy. Similarly triumphant services were served by Bishop Athanasius in the Theophany church and Bishop Andronicus in the monastery of St. John the Forerunner.
During the next two or three days almost all the renovationist clergy offered repentance for their sin and were received back into the Church by Bishop Joasaph. At the insistence of the laity, Bishop Joasaph served a lesser blessing of the waters in those churches which had been defiled by the services of "Archbishop" Alexis. When the main cathedral was blessed, the people rejoiced and wept. Alexis immediately ran to complain to the GPU. The last of all to repent were the priests of the monastery of the Mother of God, who were particularly compromised before the citizens of Kazan. The four of them came to Vladyka and were accepted benevolently, with the promise not to humiliate them in front of the diocese; and on July 21 Vladyka was already serving in their monastery.
The local GPU, annoyed at the defeat of the renovationists but not having clear instructions about what to do from the Moscow authorities, arrested Plato Ivanov and Alexander Kozhevnikov on the basis of denunciations by secret GPU agents who had been present at the parochial assembly.
After Patriarch Tikhon had repented of his previous anti-Soviet activities, Bishop Joasaph was in the difficult position of having to explain his own position to the GPU. (After all, it was said, if the Patriarch had repented, then his followers should also repent). He also wanted to help bring about the release of Ivanov and Kozhevnikov. So he composed an "address to the clergy and laity of the Kazan diocese", in which he said: "Insofar as I, as a religious follower of Patriarch Tikhon, in the conditions of life in our diocese in recent times have, by force of circumstances, been linked to the concept of 'Tikhonism', I shall with all the strength of my moral authority stand on guard for the practical realization of the [apolitical] direction of church activity that I have mentioned above".
This was considered enough by the GPU, and within a month Ivanov and Kovezhnikov were released.
On September 15 (NS) the authorities obtained Bishop Joasaph's signature to a statement that he would not leave the bounds of Kazan. But this did not prevent him blessing monks and nuns from the Kazan monasteries (who numbered more than 150 people) to go to the villages with sermons against the renovationist heresy. And he sent to the Patriarch a list of clergy and monastics petitioning that they be awarded for "firmly witnessing their devotion to the Orthodox Church", including: Protopriest Andrew Bogolyubov of the Peter and Paul cathedral; Protopriest Paul Mansurovsky from the village of Nikolsky, the only person to come out openly against the renovationists in the Arsky canton; the priest Fr. Anatolius Romanovsky of the Annunication church in Svyazhsk, who already in 1922 had been summoned to the authorities with Archimandrite Ephraim for teaching children the Law of God; and monks from the St. John, Raithu and Seven Lakes monasteries.
At the end of November Archimandrite Pitirim, Hieromonks John and Theophanes and Hierodeacon Seraphim were again arrested and sent to Solovki for three years. In January, 1924 Plato Ivanov and Protopriest Alexander Gavrilov of the Georgian church were exiled to Tashkent. And in March Alexander Kozhevnikov was sent to Moscow and imprisoned in the Taganka prison.
In December, 1923, the GPU intercepted some correspondence from Patriarch Tikhon to Bishop Joasaph about the awards he had asked for and other administrative matters and banned him from serving on the basis of the fact that "although he does not have permission from the civil authorities to organize a diocesan administration, he in fact rules the diocese". The nominal administration of the diocese now passed to Bishop Athanasius, although Bishop Joasaph did not cease to serve in secret and in fact remained at the helm of the diocese. But the GPU forbade Bishop Athanasius to perform any ordinations.
At the end of February, 1924, "Archbishop" Alexis consecrated some married priests as "Bishops" of Chistopol and Cheboksary - the sees occupied by Bishops Joasaph and Athanasius. So, on March 16 (OS), the Sunday of Orthodoxy, Bishops Joasaph and Athanasius, accompanied by a multitude of priests, deacons and laity, delivered these new false bishops to anathema in the monastery of St. John the Forerunner. By March 23, Tuchkov himself had been informed of the news, and on April 20, 1924 Bishop Joasaph was summoned to the GPU.
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