During the February revolution, on March 2, 1917, when the Tsar was in Pskov, two of the stations nearest to Petrograd, Luga and Gatchina, were seized by revolutionaries, as a result of which the royal train could not arrive in Petrograd. On March 2, in Luga, a crowd of soldiers led by revolutionaries wanted to force the commander of the Cavalry Guards regiment stationed in Luga, Count George Georgievich Mengden, to renounce the Tsar. In spite of all their threats, his reply was the same:
"I have sworn allegiance to his Majesty, and I will not betray him."
Then Count George Georgievich was killed.
(Source: Russkij Pastyr', 22-23, II/III - 1995, pp. 195-196)
Count Paul Mikhailovich Grabbe was an officer in the Guards Cavalry regiment, and on retirement was appointed Stallmeister in the Tsar's Court. After moving to Moscow province he was elected marshal of the nobility of Zvenigorod uyezd, Moscow province. During the First World War he returned to military service as a volunteer and was commander of two Kuban Cossack regiments in turn - the Fourth Black Sea and the Third Taman. After the revolution he refused to swear allegiance to the Provisional Government and was placed in the reserves. In 1917 he was elected as a delegate to the All-Russian Church Council from Vladikavkaz diocese, and thanks to his theological education and energy very quickly became a leading member of the Council. Immediately the communists took power into their hands, Paul Mikhailovich composed an address to the Council and collected signatures for the proposal that arguments over the expediency of restoring the patriarchate should cease and the election of the Patriarch should go ahead straightaway. This proposal was accepted by the Council, and the election of the Patriarch was appointed for the very next day.
During the Second World War, while living on his estate in Poland, Paul Mikhailovich attempted to flee from the hands of the Bolsheviks, leaving his estate before the invasion of Soviet units. However, he was arrested by them and imprisoned in the town of Sambor in Galicia. From there he was despatched to a concentration camp in Perm district, where he died a martyr's death at some time unknown to his family.
(Source: Bishop Gregory (Grabbe), Zavyet Svyatogo Patriarkha, Moscow, 1996, pp. 3-4)
Natalia Dyachenko relates:- "In the autumn of 1917, in St. Petersburg, in the orphanage on Kovensky pereulok, there appeared three young brothers: Ilya, Kolya and Petya Murashov. They were brought there from the Mariinsky hospital, where their mother had died from tuberculosis. The father of the boys had disappeared without trace on the front line, and they had no relatives in the city.
"Usually those who land up in orphanages are homeless children who have been wandering the streets. But the Murashov brothers were distinguished from the others by thier good Orthodox upbringing and piety. The eldest, 10-year-old Ilya, prayed morning and evening, and taught the younger ones to do the same. The educators noticed, for example, that the boys did not sit down to eat without first crossing themselves. Ilya kept a Gospel as a precious relic; the teacher of the Law of God at his school had given it to him as a memento.
"After the October revolution the orphanage fell on hard times. The orphans were hungry, and did not have enough clothing or shoes. During the winter it was cold in the rooms. Some children again went onto the streets; the free life of a thief seemed to them to promise more food. The educators, fearing for the boys, tried to put them up with good believing people.
"The priest Fr. Alexander Chernigovsky was on his way to the Novoladozhsky uyezd; he took five of the orphans with them. At first they lived in the Old Ladoga Nikolayevsky monastery, where they were lovingly looked after by the brotherhood. Among these five were the Murashov brothers. The main treasure of the monastery was a wonderworking icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. Fr. Alexander remembered how their faces were transfigured with joy when they fell on their knees in prayer before this icon. It seemed that during those minutes they forgot about their orphaned state and all the sorrows they had suffered. Their childlike souls grew cold to the world's evil and became warm with the unearthly warmth of God's blessing.
"7-year-old Kolya had a wonderful, angelic voice. And he loved to sing the following spiritual song:
When anyone loves Nicholas, When anyone serves Nicholas, He is helped by St. Nicholas At every hour...
"Civil war was raging in the country, and the Orthodox monastery was itself under threat of being liquidated by the Bolsheviks. Fr. Alexander, who was preparing to go south to the White army, decided to find the brother-orphans a reliable refuge.
"Glory to God, the world is not without kind people. The Orthodox peasant family of the Logunovs from the village of Losevka responded to the priest's appeal. They took the brothers in. And although they themselves were poor, they treated the orphans as their own family. Fr. Alexander, convinced that the boys were happy in the new place, set off with a calm heart.
"The civil war destroyed the greatest Orthodox state, breaking the lives of millions of simple people. Fr. Alexander spent the following years wandering. He was imprisoned by the Bolsheviks, and was then in exile in Siberia. Only in 1927 was he able to make contact with the Longunovs through his cousin Barbara when she was in Losevka. She sent him the bitter news of the death of the Murashov brothers.
"It happened in 1919. The chekists were going wild, carrying out massive arrests. Whoever was not to their liking was immediately declared to be a 'contra'. They threw behind iron bars an 80-year-old village priest, old women who were his parishioners, the local teacher, a medical orderly and some well-off peasants. They were all kept in a school building, men and women in one place. The prisoners were tortured by hunger and thirst, but the Red Army soldiers were only amused by their cries and groans. The adults felt compassion for the prisoners, but were unable to help them. But the children decided on a bold move.
"During the night Ilya and Kolya crept into the school so as to give the prisoners bread. Secretly, without the sentry seeing, they managed to open a window and pushing a bottle of water and some bread through the crack. The next day, apparently, during a search of the building, the chekists discovered this bottle and understood that someone was helping the unfortunates. They laid a trap. And the children fell into it. Without warning the Red Army soldier opened fire on the merciful brothers. Kolya was immediately hit in the heart by a bullet. But Ilya was seriously wounded in the chest, and he died in torment an hour later. The Red Army soldiers, on seeing their victims, were amazed by the unchildlike courage of the boys. They questioned the peasants for a long time, being convinced that the brothers must have come to the help of their relatives. Their logic was: they wouldn't have risked their lives to relieve the lot of people unrelated to them. But the Murashov brothers were complete orphans! And the atheists could not understand the behaviour of children brought up in the Orthodox faith. Their simple and kind souls led them into the Kingdom of Heaven. For the Saviour says: 'Truly I say to you, he who does not receive the Kingdom of Heaven as a child shall in no wise enter into it.'
"The little Petya did not survive his brothers long. After their martyric deaths he fell ill, lay in bed and literally wasted away. Their was no doctor in the area, so he was treated by with old women's remedies. He quietly died in his sleep one morning, without opening his eyes. The Lord was merciful to the boy, said the peasants, and cut off his torments and called him to Himself.
"The cousin wrote to Fr. Alexander that the whole Longunov family had suffered persecution. The adults, with the exception of the very old grandmother, were arrested, and they did not return to their native land. The grandmother looked after two young grandsons and every day, while her legs could carry her, visited the grave in the village cemetery where the brother-orphans were at rest.
"Until the war Fr. Alexander served in a village church near Saratov. He told his parishioners about the feat of mercy of the Murashov children. My relatives also heard this story. My father, who was at that time a schoolchild, remembered this story the whole of his life so as to pass it on to his children, and I - to you. Christian mercy was truly forbidden in the USSR, and Orthodox people passed this story to each other in a semi-whisper. During that period Pavlik Morozov, who betrayed his father, was considered a hero. It was forbidden to speak aloud about the victims of the regime who had suffered for the faith and mercy.
"In the 1930s the family of my father moved to Leningrad. On the eve of the war, my father heard from a fellow-countryman who arrived there that Fr. Alexander had again been repressed and shared the fate of millions of 'enemies of the people'.
"Every Orthodox family in Russia preserves memories about executed, tormented pastors and their spiritual children. Pray together with us for the repose of the soul of Fr. Alexander and the servants of God Elijah, Nicholas and Peter."
(Source: Pravoslavnaya Zhizn', 48, no. 6, June, 1996, pp. 18-20)
A. Shingarev and F. Kokoshkin were delegates to the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church. They were arrested and taken to Peter and Paul fortress, and from there to the Mariinsky hospital. On the night of January 6, 1918 a group of Red Army soldiers and sailors went to the hospital and shot them.
Archpriest Peter Skipetrov was the rector of the church of Saints Boris and Gleb, which was next to the famous chapel of the Theotokos, "Joy of All Who Sorrow", in the Kalashnikov district of Petrograd. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flocked to the miracle-working icon of the Mother of God. Father Peter enjoyed great influence among the people and was a strong enemy of the communists, whose regime he boldly denounced in his sermons.
Early in 1918, the aged Father Peter had just returned from a diocesan council meeting. As he bade them farewell, Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd had advised the clergy not to go home alone, but in groups. Fr. Peter and his brother-in-law, the future hieromartyr Fr. Philosoph, went off together in one of these groups. Outside the cathedral of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra they were met by a large detachment of Red soldiers and sailors. The agents of the secret police, the Cheka, wanted to inspect the silver coffin in which lay the relics of St. Alexander Nevsky. One of the soldiers crudely addressed Fr. Peter with insulting language. According to one account, Fr. Peter was standing on the porch of the church wearing vestments and carrying a hand cross. His eyes flashed with anger, his long white hair, like an ancient prophet's, waved in the breeze. In vain did he try to stop the armed men, exhorting them not to do violence to the believers. A command sounded out, and Fr. Peter was shot in the mouth. He fell to the ground, covered in blood. The agents coolly stepped over the body and entered the church. Fr. Peter was taken to a small military infirmary on the Nevsky Prospect, but when the doctors came, they could do nothing more than a tracheotomy. The following morning he reposed.
The funeral was solemnly triumphant, for it occurred during the Paschal period and "Christ is risen!" was chanted. The burial service was led by Metropolitan Benjamin, accompanied by a large number of clergy. The sermon was delivered by Fr. Philosoph.
Fr. Philosoph (Ornatsky) was born in the Cherepovetsky region of Novgorod province to the family of a village priest. From his earliest childhood the Church and her Divine services became for St. Philosoph an inherent part of his life. All of his brothers chose the path of service to the Church. Two became priests and one, a deacon. One of these brother-priests, Fr. John Ornatsky, married the niece of St. John of Kronstadt, served in St. Petersburg and was especially beloved of the great pastor of Kronstadt for his meek and gentle manner. The other brothers stayed to serve in their home town.
Hieromartyr Philosoph himself, after finishing the Novgorod seminary with honours, decided to continue his education and enter the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. This was during the period of the flourishing of this school. At that time scholastic theology had seen its last days in the halls of Russian theological schools. With the return to true patristic theology, based upon the works of the Holy Fathers of the East, the "Latin" period in Russian theological thought had become a thing of the past.
This was during the first years of the reign of Emperor Alexander III and the period of the greatest influence of the Over-Procurator of the Holy Synod, Constantine P. Pobedonostsev, who brought about the spiritual renewal of the St. Petersburg Academy and appointed as rector and dean persons of monastic calling.
The rector during this time was Bishop Arsenius (Brantsev) and the dean was Archimandrite Anthony (Vadkovsky), who would become the famous Metropolitan of St. Petersburg. The new dean was a person of good heart, eager to deny himself and unaccustomed to regarding his students with condescension; he was especially distinguished by his brotherly love. He introduced into the Academy a new direction - that of the learned monk. Students, disposed toward becoming monastics gathered around him and he encouraged their attraction to the Church.
Two classmates of the future Hieromartyr Philosoph subsequently became metropolitans: Anthony (Khrapovitsky) and Seraphim (Meshcheryakov), and one of the professors of the Academy was the future Bishop of Tauris, Michael (Gribanovsky), the most impressive theological mind of the day. He hoped, along with his students, in the eventual restoration of the patriarchate in Russia.
This monastic, scholarly atmosphere left its impression on the soul of Philosoph and remained with him throughout his life. In reading his sermon delivered in Sarov on the day of the glorification of St. Seraphim, one is involuntarily struck by how well a married priest, who lived all the time in the world, could know all the complexities and subtleties of the monastic struggle. However, one need only recall what kind of spiritual, academic life the hieromartyr had led.
Upon ordination, he remained in St. Petersburg to serve, initially as chaplain of a school for boys and girls called the "Hostel of Prince Oldenburg", and then as rector of the church of the Office for Preparation of State Papers built in memory of the miraculous deliverance of Emperor Alexander III during the train wreck in Borki; this church was dedicated to St. Andrew of Crete.
In 1912 Metropolitan Anthony (Vadkovsky), desiring to infuse young blood into the clergy of the capital, broke with the usual traditions of succession by seniority in positions of leadership in the cathedrals and appointed as head of the Kazan Cathedral (second to St. Isaac's Cathedral in size) the relatively young priest Fr. Philosoph Ornatsky. The faithful greeted this appointment with enthusiasm, for the people knew and loved him. His immense talent for preaching drew crowds who sought after living words. This God-given gift did not remain unnoticed by the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II; for the sermons delivered in Sarov during the glorification of St. Seraphim of Sarov the Tsar awarded Fr. Philosoph a gold pectoral cross.
The activities of Fr. Philosoph were not limited only to the confines of his parish, but were very widespread. He was either a member or president of many philanthropic religious societies. He was the founder of the "Society for the Spread of Religious and Ethical Education in the Spirit of the Orthodox Church", to which Hieromartyr Benjamin, Metropolitan of Petrograd, belonged from his student years. He was the president of the "Temperance Society" and the "Society of the Queen of Heaven" and also took active part in the construction of hostels in the city, was a voting member of the City Council as a representative of the Church and was president of the Commission for Popular Education and Philanthropy in Narva district, the region in which the Office for the Preparation of State Papers was located.
During the troubled days of 1905, when disorder spread throughout the city and a propagandizing mob with weapons in their hands dominated the city streets, Fr. Philosoph fearlessly advised his flock to maintain faithfulness to the sovereign and pay no heed to the travelling "preachers of equality". He gave these sermons in the most dangerous parts of the city - in the Narva district. Subsequently, when he was arrested, the secret police who conducted arrest came not from his district, that of Kazan, but from the neighbouring one of Narva - evidently the memory of his activities in the first revolution continued to linger.
During this rebellious period, St. John of Kronstadt was almost forcibly dragged out of revolutionary Kronstadt by his adherents. Once, when he was conversing with Fr. Philosoph in his home, he said:
"So, Philosoph, try to figure them out! They led me out of Kronstadt, fearing for my life, and now they denounce me in the papers. You remained and admonished them, and you are likewise denounced!"
St. John of Kronstadt had a great love for Fr. Philosoph and would often visit his home. "When Fr. John would come," his daughter Lydia recalls, "we children would usually line up in the parlour and he would come to each of us and give us his blessing, laying his hand on our heads and kissing our foreheads. Then we would sit down to eat in silence. After the meal, when we were drinking tea, St. John would drink half a cup of tea and give the remaining undrunk tea to Mama and she would divide it up into little glasses and give one to each of us. In this way he shared with us as it were the grace of God that dwelt always with him. After lunch he would rise from the table and usually say, 'Well, Philosoph, come, tell me..' But the conversations would not last long, since St. John was always expected somewhere else and was reminded of this by his devotees who accompanied him everywhere. Once he stayed the night with us. As we were going to bed, we clearly heard him reading a canon alone in his room in a loud voice. He spent the entire night reading canons, not once closing his eyes."
With the coming of the Bolsheviks, Fr. Philosoph increased his labours of preaching, serving and delivering sermons in the most dangerous locations. He often spoke out against the abolition of religious education for children in schools. He fought not only with words, but with actions. On Sundays he would organize church processions which would come from several churches and proceed to the square in front of the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra. There they would meet the procession coming from the Lavra, head by Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd, who was soon to be murdered. The last church procession was composed of members of all the parish churches of St. Petersburg and its environs. The day before, Fr. Philosoph had received an order from the secret police stating that all church processions must proceed to the Lavra by a special route precisely dictated by the police, that responsibility for this rested solely with himself, and that anyone who deviated from this route would be shot. The situation was quite serious, since the trolleys in many places were not working and telephone communications were quite difficult. So informing people of the change in route was no easy task. But with the help of the young people everything was arranged. One after the other, chanting hymns and carrying banners, the processions reached their destination, the square in front of Alexander Nevsky Lavra. There Metropolitan Benjamin with a host of clergy served a solemn moleben.
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