Archbishop Pachomius, in the world Peter Petrovich Kedrov, was born on July 30, 1876 (according to another source, 1877) in Yaransk, Vyatka province, in the family of a priest (according to another source, his father was a psalm-reader). He was the elder brother of the holy hieroconfessor Abercius, bishop of Zhitomir. Another brother, Michael, taught theology at the Kremenetz and Vilna seminaries in Poland between the wars. After the Second World War he became a monk and was consecrated Bishop of Wraclaw, where he soon died.
By nature Peter was serious, humble and meek, pensive and church-oriented. After preparatory theological training, he entered the Kazan Theological Academy when Bishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky) was rector. He was given the office of candle-lighter. Being a little too zealous in his religiousness, Peter decided to fulfil literally the Lord's command: 'If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out' (Matthew 5.29), and one night he attempted to burn out his right eye with a candle. His roommate at this time was Basil Maximenko, the future confessor and archbishop of Jordanville. He was awakened in the middle of the night by the grinding of teeth of his roommate, who was trying in this way to endure the pain. Seeing what had happened, he put up a cry and saved his friend's eye. However, the burns were so serious that it required surgery on the eyelid and eyebrow, and the scar remained for the rest of his life.
In 1898 he was tonsured into monasticism by Bishop Anthony, who took him with him on his transfer to Volhynia. There Fr. Pachomius did missionary work while residing in the Derman Monastery near the Pochayev Lavra. In 1899 he was ordained to the priesthood, and in 1900 graduated from the Kazan Academy with the degree of candidate of theology. In 1905 he was raised to the rank of archimandrite. In 1906 he became superior of the Derman monastery. On August 30, 1911 he was consecrated Bishop of Novgorod-Seversky. In 1916 he became Bishop of Starodub, a vicariate of the Chernigov diocese. In 1917 he became Bishop of Chernigov.
In 1917-18 Vladyka Pachomius took part in the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, and on October 30, 1917 delivered a report concerning the procedure of electing the patriarch.
When the White Army retreated and the Red Army took full control of Russia, the country was in total collapse, with transportation paralyzed. But this did not stop Bishop Pachomius, who with his bishop's staff visited all the churches of his diocese on foot! Since the left bank of the Dnieper River, according to the new administrative division, belonged to the Chernigov diocese, he also had to visit the outskirts of Kiev, and so he visited the Kiev Caves Lavra also. Bishop Pachomius was also the abbot of a local monastery, where he resided.
At that time there lived in Chernigov the fool-for-Christ Michael the Blessed. In the world he had been a highly respected civil engineer. Once he was commissioned to build a large bridge. The bridge was constructed according to his specifications. One day the bridge collapsed killing several people. So profoundly was the engineer struck by the news of this tragedy that he took off his expensive business suit and, putting on a long shirt, left his home never to return. He became a fool-for-Christ's sake. He ate very little, had almost no place to sleep, knelt whole nights in prayer, and spoke very little, saying only: "Repent." The blessed Michael achieved great sanctity and frequently visited Bishop Pachomius. When he died in 1922, the whole city lamented his righteous death and took part in the burial, which was performed by Bishop Pachomius with tears in his eyes.
The same year the communist authorities made many attempts to arrest him. One day they stormed into the cathedral while the Divine Liturgy was being celebrated in order to arrest him on the spot. The crowd of believers, however, thronged straight to the altar and prevented the arrest of their beloved archpastor for a time. But the GPU was not easily dissuaded from its plan. The bishop had the habit of remaining for a long time in the altar after the service, and once, when only he and his cell-attendant remained, the GPU agents burst into the sanctuary and captured their holy victim. This was the first of many arrests of Bishop Pachomius. He was arrested and released time and again. This continuous nightmare finally began to undermine the bishop's peace of soul.
At about the same time, the communist authorities throughout the whole of Russia began a blasphemous "investigation" of holy relics, opening the shrines of many saints in an attempt to prove "scientifically" to the public the alleged falsity of the saints' incorruption. This movement produced frightful spectacles of sacrilege, evoking enormous protests and resistance by the people, many of whom suffered imprisonment and banishment. But the "scientific investigators" were themselves put to shame, for they themselves had to admit the incorruption of the relics, which they could not explain scientifically, and this was printed in all the newspapers. The believing Orthodox rejoiced at the outcome, but the authorities nevertheless did their work - they placed the saints' relics in anti-religious museums as "mummies". This campaign caused some conscientious bishops even to die from desperate sorrow at the mockery of the saints, as happened with Archbishop Anatolius of Irkutsk.
Bishop Pachomius also had to suffer in this campaign. It was demanded that the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov be stripped and exposed to the public. Usually the atheistic commission of "scientists" would shake and toss the relics, but Bishop Pachomius stood his ground, and, having put on epitrachelion and cuffs, did the unwrapping of the relics himself, shedding painful tears in the presence of a large crowd of believers, who also wept and sobbed, seeing the communists would not leave even the dead alone. The later Archbishop Leontius of Chile, a close friend of Bishop Pachomius, has preserved for us a rare photograph of the opening of the relics of St. Theodosius of Chernigov, showing the grieving Bishop Pachomius holding the relics and surrounded by his grief-stricken flock.
After this the relics were confiscated, brought to Petrograd and exposed in an anti-religious museum together with dead rats and fossilized bones. But the believers, having bribed the guards, secretly served catacomb services before the relics in the middle of the night. Evidently in connection with this, Bishop Pachomius was arrested.
After his release in 1923 he could not return to his diocese, but found shelter in the St. Daniel Monastery in Moscow, whose abbot was the future martyr, Archbishop Theodore of Volokolamsk. On November 29, 1923 (according to other source: 1927 or 1929) he was raised to the rank of archbishop.
According to one source, Vladyka Pachomius was in Kiev from 1923 to 1924 without right of departure, and from 1924 to November, 1925 - in Moscow without right of departure. On December 10, 1925 he was arrested in Moscow in connection with the affair of Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa, was imprisoned in Butyrki prison in Moscow and was sentenced to three years' exile in the camps.
According to one source, he was then (from June, 1926 to 1928) exiled to the Zyryansk region. But according to another source he was exiled to Solovki, transferred to Mai-Gub on the Baltic-White Sea canal in 1928 and transferred again to Zyryansk from 1928 to 1930.
In 1927, Archbishop Pachomius and his brother, Archbishop Abercius, wrote an epistle attacking Metropolitan Sergius' traitrous "declaration". They wrote: "There can be no union between Church and State, when it has to do with our Orthodox Church and the Soviet Union, by reason of the fundamental difference in the basic views of the two sides. The only thing that is possible is a conditional agreement as to practical mutual relationships, solely on the foundation of the principle of the separation of Church and State.
"In actual fact, can one even conceive of the Soviet State in union with the Church? A State religion in an anti-religious State! A government Church in an atheist government! This is an absurdity; it contradicts the nature of the Church and the Soviet State; this is unacceptable both for a sincerely religious person and for an honest atheist."
Professor Nesterov relates that Archbishop Pachomius arrived at the camp almost an invalid, with paralysis of the facial nerves. Because of his physical weakness he could not be used in the building and was therefore sent in 1932 to a camp for invalids at Kuzema. But even here he was sent out to physical labour which was very difficult for him: carrying water, baking bread, etc.
Professor Nesterov relates an incident from this period which is very characteristic of the archbishop. One of the imprisoned professors was working in the office of the Kuzema camp as a scribe. He had to compile a list in quick order of those who had been sent to a different work point in the Kuzema camp and had to work all night. The professor was tormented and irritable. In the morning Archbishop Pachomius came into the office and asked the professor whether he knew where and when they were being sent.
The professor replied sharply:
"You bother me, Vladyka!" -
and added a crude comment.
Archbishop Pachomius humbly bowed down to his feet, asking forgiveness for irritating him by his question. The professor became upset and in his turn asked forgiveness of the archbishop for his crudeness.
In personal conversation with Professor Nesterov, Archbishop Pachomius often condemned the church policy of Metropolitan Sergius even more sharply and categorically than he had done in his epistle. By this time the results of Metropolitan Sergius' policy had become clear, both with regard to the fate of the Church herself in general, and with regard to the banished bishops in particular. In place of the promised legalization, the liquidation of churches and clergy was proceeding at an increasing tempo. Bishops and priests languished in prison without any hope of liberation. Exiles and arrests not only did not cease, but even increased.
In the absence of Archbishop Pachomius, all the churches in the Chernigov diocese commemorated Metropolitan Sergius until 1930, and so the True Orthodox who refused to accept "legalization" had to go to Kiev, to the community of Abbess Sophia, to receive the Holy Mysteries.
On his arrival in Chernigov from prison, there was a meeting between Vladyka Pachomius and the "antisergianist" clergy. During this meeting Igumen Laurence (Proskura), Hieromonk Smaragdus (Chernetsky) and Hieromonk Michael (Tyshkevich) expressed themselves strongly against the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius. (When Igumen Laurence heard the name of Metropolitan Sergius commemorated he would put his hands over his ears! But he later joined the sergianists, and is now considered to be a saint by them.) Also strongly against the declaration were Igumen Alypius (Yakovenko) and Hieromonk Michael (Korma), who said that they would break communion with Vladyka Pachomius if he accepted the declaration. Vladyka accepted the point of view of these priests, although, according to Bishop Damascene of Glukhov, a vicar of Archbishop Pachomius, he did not openly and actively oppose the declaration. However, it is evident from the "affair" of the "counter-revolutionary activity" of a group of Chernigov clergy in 1936, that in the middle of the 1930s Metropolitan Sergius' name was not commemorated in the churches of Chernigov, but only the names of the Orthodox Patriarchs and Metropolitan Peter.
On October 3/16, 1930 (according to another source, 1932) Archbishop Pachomius was arrested in Chernigov for the last time. He was charged according to article 54 (10) of the Ukrainian criminal code of "counter-revolutionary activity" and "inciting the priests to organize resistance to Soviet power by joining forces, and his flat was searched. He was also accused of having continued his religious activity during his exile in Zyryansk region in 1925-28, by serving in the local church, corresponding with Chernigov clergy, and "corrupting" children by giving them sweets and crosses and not blessing them to enter the pioneer organization. On November 4 he was sentenced to five years in the camps, which he spent in Kotelnich, Vyatka district.
According to one source, Archbishop Pachomius was killed on May 15, 1937 (old style), according to another - on November 11, 1937 in Kotelnich. According to Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, he served his last sentence in his homeland in the city of Yaransk, living under house arrest in the home of his brother, the protopriest. Once when the GPU came to arrest his brother, Vladyka Pachomius could not stand it, had a nervous breakdown and died soon after in hospital.
According to some oral witnesses, on sensing the approach of death, Vladyka took upon himself the podvig of foolishness for Christ...
(Sources: M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyateishego Patriarkha Tikhona, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, pp. 877-78; Russkiye Pravoslavnye Ierarkhi, Paris: YMCA Press, 1986, p. 58; Ivan Andreyev, Russia's Catacomb Saints, Platina, Ca.: St. Herman of Alaska Press, 1982, ch. 12; Lev Regelson, Tragediya Russkoj Tserkvi, 1917-1945, Paris: YMCA Press, 1977, pp. 543, 550; Ikh Stradaniyami Ochistitsa Rus', Moscow, 1996, p. 73; G. Stankevich, "Budyet zhe Vam dlya Vsidetel'stva", Troic'kij Visnik (Chernigov), N 9 (18), 1995, p. 4; Bishop Ambrose (von Sievers), "Episkopat Istinno-Pravoslavnoj Katakombnoj Tserkvi 1922-1997g.", Russkoye Pravoslaviye, N 4(8), 1997, p. 5; I.I. Osipova, "Svoz' Ogn' i Vody Slyoz", Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998, p. 263)
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