It was during this period that the Red terror began. Among the victims was Fr. Philosoph's brother-in-law, Fr. Peter Skipetrov, of whose murder Fr. Philosoph was himself a witness. However, all this violence could not shake the firm spirit of the pastor. The editor of New Times, Suvorin, wrote to him:
"You, Fr. Philosoph, are our only hope. Everyone around is silent."
And Batiushka continued fearlessly to denounce the Bolsheviks from the church ambon. It was clear to all that such bold preaching could not continue for long, and he himself noted not long before his death that he felt that his days were numbered.
Subsequently, a friend of Lydia Philosophovna who was on close terms with the Bolshevik elite, in a private conversation said:
"Why do you blame the Bolsheviks for the murder of Fr. Philosoph? It's all your priests who are to blame for it. Vvedensky [the future leader of the renovationist heretics] himself advised the Bolsheviks - 'get rid of Fr. Philosoph and Metropolitan Benjamin is yours.'"
It should be noted that Vvedensky later betrayed Metropolitan Benjamin to his death.
On June 1, his namesday, Fr. Philosoph was visited by Patriarch Tikhon, and the crowds were so great that the Patriarch and the future hieromartyr often had to come out onto the balcony to bless the people.
"On the 20th of July, 1918, on the eve of the feast of the Holy Prophet Elijah," Lydia Philosophovna recalls, Fr. Philosoph "was invited to serve the vigil in the church of St. Elijah in Okhta, which was close to a gunpower factory. This was one of the most rebellious parts of the city, and we could not understand why he had been invited to such a place. When Father returned home, we sat down to eat supper with Mother and my three brothers, Boris, Nicholas and Vladimir, along with the younger sister of my mother, the widow A.N. Skipetrova. Suddenly the bell rang and an armed sailor and two Red Army men appeared at the door. The sailor ordered that a search be made; the search was only cursory. Then he ordered Father to go with him, promising that he would return shortly. My older brother Nicholas, an army doctor, offered to accompany our father. The sailor then addressed my second brother, Boris, also an officer, telling him to accompany them as well. Not long after they had taken away Father and my two older brothers, Nicholas and Boris, the secret police from the Kazan district (of Petrograd) came to arrest Boris. We told them that Boris had already been arrested with Father, which greatly surprised them. Their gaze then fell upon my third brother, Vladimir, also an officer, and they arrested him. This was the first night that officers were being arrested.
"After waiting until five in the morning for their return, very troubled, I set off first of all for the Narva district, where my father had spent the greater part of his life. When I arrived at the commissariat, I met the commissar there and told him that my father, Protopresbyter Philosoph Ornatsky, had been arrested that night together with his two sons and that the person arresting them had said that he was taking them only for interrogation and that they would soon return home. In reply, the commissar told me that he knew of no Ornatskys and that they had not been there. Then I asked him where I might look for them.
"'Look for them in Kronstadt at "the Crosses", they are not here.'
"As I turned to leave, I met the sailor who had arrested my father and brothers, and said to him:
"'Was it you who came to us on Kazan street and took them questioning, saying that they would return soon? They have not come home yet. Where are they now?'
"The sailor also denied this, saying that he had not been to us and had arrested no one. I left the commissariat and walked on, wondering what I might do. Suddenly I heard steps behind me and a voice:
"'Sister Ornatsky, keep going, listen and do not turn around. Your father and brothers were here but were taken to be shot along with other prisoners at one of the dykes on the Gulf of Finland.'
"Then I heard the steps fading away. I turned and saw a person of short stature in a soldier's greatcoat hastening away.
"After hearing such terrible news, I hurried home where mother was waiting for me, alarmed by all that had transpired. When I saw her state, I could not find the courage to tell her what I had heard.
"The next day, I went to see Metropolitan Benjamin, who received me with great love. I related to him all that had taken place and he said:
"'We shall pray.'"
When they learned of the arrest of Fr. Philosoph, the parishioners of the Kazan cathedral organized several delegations, but the Bolsheviks would not receive them. Finally, one Sunday after the Liturgy, a crowd of many thousands, composed mostly of women, and with the chanting of prayers, carrying banners and icons, moved along the Nevsky Prospect to Gorokh Street in order to free Fr. Philosoph.
The Bolsheviks received a delegation from the crowd and gave assurance that Fr. Ornatsky would soon be released, and that he was in a cell on Gorokh Street, in no danger. The crowd, pacified, dispersed. That very night Hieromartyr Philosoph was shot.
"Various rumours concerning the fate of my father and my brothers constantly came to our attention, but no official word came from the Cheka. I decided then to write a letter in my mother's name to the Chekist Uritsky, appealing to him as a human being to tell us the whole truth about the fate of Protopresbyter Ornatsky and his sons, Nicholas and Boris, noting that a month had already passed and we still had received no notification concerning their lot. Only then did my mother receive a letter signed by Uritsky with news that citizen Ornatsky had been shot as a blatant counter-revolutionary, but of the fate of his sons he knew nothing. A lengthy pannikhida was then served in the Kazan Cathedral by Metropolitan Benjamin with the clergy of the cathedral, Fr. Philosoph's brother, Fr. John, and two young priests, Fr. Peter Balykov and Fr. Michael Yavorsky, the husbands of my sisters Mary and Vera, who later also became victims of the Red terror."
Protopresbyter Michael Polsky writes: "The author of these statements, during his wandering through Russia, happened to meet a former worker from the Obukhov factory, the locksmith Pavlov. He was also a driver, and had transported Fr. Ornatsky and a large group of others to the place of execution. Persuaded to speak openly, he said:
"'What could I do? I had to take people to their death - I was drafted for that purpose. But I could not do it when I was sober. I could not refuse to do it, for it would have been the end of me. Well, you drink a bottle of alcohol, as strong as you can get, and drive them. The agents of the Cheka were free with alcohol; when sober you couldn't take the car for such an assignment. I clearly recall the ride with Fr. Ornatsky... Fr. Ornatsky died like a saint. That night we picked up 32 men from different prisons. We were told they were all officers of the Imperial Army. Some were young, some were elderly. One said he was colonel of the guards and cursed the communists strongly:
"'"You will all perish, maybe in 20 years, but you will perish like dogs. Russia will be Russia again, but you will perish."
"'The escorts kept silent, listening. Fr. Ornatsky tried to quieten the colonel, saying that they were all going to the Lord.
"'"Here, accept my pastoral blessing and listen to the holy prayers."
"'And he began to read what was appropriate - the service for the dying. He was reading it clearly, in an unwavering voice, and blessing everyone.
"'It was a dark, rainy night. All those arrested started praying. Fear got hold of me and my head began to clear. I had been ordered to take them beyond Ligovo, to the bay. We drove a long time and Fr. Ornatsky said prayers all the time. At a spot on the shot, we unloaded and lined them up. The agents of the Cheka, already waiting, approached with revolvers and shot each one in the nape of the neck.
"'Batiushka was knocked down by a gun-butt and then shot in the head. All the bodies were thrown into the sea. Later, I was told that the body of Fr. Ornatsky did not sink and was thrown out by the waves, on the shore near Orienbaum. There, they say, it was secretly buried by the inhabitants.'"
The account Lydia Philosophovna heard tallies with that of the driver:
"An elderly watchman lived at the dyke on the Gulf of Finland. That day was his name day. My father was killed on the feast of the Prophet Elijah. The guest who had arrived heard in the night that someone had been brought; they heard the name Ornatsky mentioned and heard how Father chanted the funeral verses for those killed before him.
"One day an unknown woman called us on the telephone to tell us that she had seen a body that resembled my father in the morgue on the shore of the Gulf of Finland. I went there to see for myself, but the watchman said that any bodies thrown up by the waves were usually buried immediately."
Lydia Philosophovna had a younger brother Sergius whom the Bolsheviks did not touch. He was the godson of St. John of Kronstadt. He was born very weak and his parents, fearing for his life, requested that St. John be his sponsor. He remained behind in Soviet Russia. Soon after Lydia Philosophovna had succeeded in crossing the border, she had the following remarkable dream. She saw three boys running about and romping on a green meadow. It became clear to her somehow that these were her brothers. A fiery chariot, like that usually depicted on the icons of the "Ascent of the Prophet Elijah into Heaven", suddenly came down from heaven and in it was Hieromartyr Philosoph. He took one of the brothers with him and returned whence he had come. Soon after, news came from Russia that her brother Sergius had reposed...
Archpriest Alexis Stavrovsky was head chaplain of the Russian Army and Navy and superior of the admiralty cathedral in Petrograd, and was revered throughout Russia. He was arrested at the age of 84 and placed in a row with other prisoners, every tenth one of whom was to be executed, according to the whim of the Soviets. Next to him was a young priest, and the lot fell on him. Fr. Alexis turned to him and said:
"I am old, and in life I received everything. Go with God; I will take your place."
And so he received the crown of martyrdom in Kronstadt on August 15, 1918 (according to another source, in October, 1918), laying down his life for his neighbour.
Protopresbyter Gregory Pospelov, from the town of Kronstadt, was shot in 1918 for performing a burial service over some rebellious sailors. He was shot with his cross in his hands, from which he could not be parted.
Archpriest Roman Lukianov reports: "Near the Chapel of Blessed Xenia of Petersburg in the Smolensk cemetery, to this day the faithful point out to each other the place where 40 Petersburg priests were shot and buried, some of them while still alive. They were arrested at the time of the confiscation of church treasures [in 1922], and were executed without the fanfare of a public trial. The authorities do not permit any monument there, and crosses, when put up by the faithful, are quickly removed. Some pilgrims from abroad saw there a cross of two twigs, tied together and stuck into the ground."
36 Petrograd clergy of various ranks were killed by the Bolsheviks in connection with the requisitioning of valuables from the churches in 1922. One of them was the priest Fr. Basil Alexandrovich Akimov, who was born in 1862 or 1863 in the village of Borki, Livensky uyezd, Orel province. He was the superior of the Pokrov church in Petrograd. In 1922 he was arrested and imprisoned in the prison on Shpalernaya in connection with the requisitioning of valuables, and on July 5 he was condemned "for spreading the criminal appeals of Metropolitan Benjamin among the parishes and believers". He was sentenced to three years' deprivation of liberty in strict isolation.
Archimandrite Nicon, in the world Nicon (?) Leontyevich Belokobylsky, was tonsured into the mantia with the name Nicon, ordained to the priesthood and raised to the rank of archimandrite. He was igumen of a monastery. From 1928 to 1930 he served in the podvorye of the Kiev Caves Lavra in Leningrad. On the night of March 23, 1930 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Leningrad branch of the True Orthodox Church and sentenced to five years in exile.
Igumen Stepan (Alexandrovich Alexandrov) was born in 1864 in the village of Skita, Valdai uyezd, Novgorod province. He was tonsured into the mantia with the name Sophronius and ordained to the priesthood. From 1914 to 1930 he was an igumen in the Troitsa-Sergiev desert. On June 29, 1931 he was arrested in connection with the Leningrad branch of the True Orthodox Church, and on November 4 was sentenced in accordance with articles 58-10 and 11 to five years in the camps. The sentenced was commuted to five years in the northern regions.
Archimandrite James (in the world, Ivan Alexandrovich Arzhanovsky) was born in 1873 in Vologda province (in 1868 in Kronstadt according to an UFSB archive). He finished his studies at the Novgorod theological seminary. He was tonsured into the mantia with the name James. He was the spiritual father of St. John of Kronstadt. He was ordained to the priesthood and raised to the rank of archimandrite. He served in a church in the Kronstadt cemetery. On June 14, 1919 he was arrested, and on December 2 was sent to the Ivanovo camp near Moscow. In 1920 he was released, and until 1930 served in the St. Seraphim church in Oranienbaum. On April 13, 1931 he was arrested in connection with the Leningrad branch of the True Orthodox Church and was sentenced to be shot in accordance with articles 58-10 and 11. The sentence was carried out.
Archimandrite Sergius, in the word Sergius Petrovich Biryukov, was born in 1862 in Don province. He was tonsured into the mantia with the name Sergius, ordained to the priesthood and raised to the rank of archimandrite. He served in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in Leningrad. On April 17, 1932 he was arrested in connection with the Leningrad branch of the True Orthodox Church, and on June 16 was sentenced to three years' exile in the Urals.
Archimandrite Gerasimus (in the world Gerasimus Ivanovich Blinov) was born in 1866 in Kostroma. He was tonsured into the mantia with the name Gerasimus and ordained to the priesthood before being raised to the rank of archimandrite. In the 1920s he was igumen in the Trinity-Sergius desert. From November, 1931 he lived in Strelna. In 1931 he was arrested in connection with the Leningrad branch of the True Orthodox Church, and on March 14, 1932 was sentenced to three years' exile in the north.
Archimandrite Theodosius, in the world Theodosius (?) Fyodorovich Boldyrev, was born in 1873. In 1914 he was tonsured into the mantia with the name Theodosius, ordained to the priesthood in the Trinity-Sergius desert, and raised to the rank of archimandrite. He served in the church in Strelna. From 1930 to 1931 he was igumen. In 1932 he was arrested and sentenced to exile outside the Leningrad region.
Archimandrite Leo (Leonid Mikhailovich Yegorov) was born in 1889 in the village of Opechensky Posad, Novgorod province. In 1915 he was tonsured into the mantia with the name Leo, ordained to the priesthood and (in 1922) raised to the rank of archimandrite. From 1926 to 1932 he was superior of the St. Theodore church in Leningrad. On June 26, 1922 he was arrested and exiled (?). In April, 1927 he was arrested again and exiled (?). On February 17, 1932 he was arrested in connection with the affair of the Leningrad branch of the True Orthodox Church and was sentenced to ten years in the camps. He was sent to the camp in the village of Osinniki near Novokuznetsk. On January 25, 1942 he died in camp.
Archimandrite Barsonuphius (Verevkin) was born in Gatchina, St. Petersburg province. He was tonsured into the mantia with the name Barsonuphius, ordained to the priesthood and raised to the rank of archimandrite. From 1922 to 1932 he served in the St. Seraphim church of the podvorye of the Diveyevo monastery in Peterhof. In February, 1932 he was arrested in connection with the Leningrad branch of the True Orthodox Church, and on March 22 was sentenced to five (?) years in the camps. In 1939 he died in Novgorod.
Archimandrite Alexis (Nikitich Vyatkin) was born in 1880 in Vologda province. He received an elementary education. He was tonsured into the mantia with the name Alexis, was ordained to the priesthood and served as a secret archimandrite in Oranienbaum. On January 13, 1931 he was arrested in connection with the Leningrad branch of the True Orthodox Church, and on April 12 was sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out.
Archimandrite Misael (in the world Michael (?) Ivanovich Gorobenko) was born in 1871 in the village of B. Znamenka, Ekaterinburg province. From 1914 he was living in the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. He was tonsured into the mantia with the name Misael, was ordained to the priesthood and raised to the rank of archimandrite. On December 24, 1932 he was arrested in the village of Medushak, Oranienbaum region in connection with the affair of the Leningrad branch of the True Orthodox Church. On February 10, 1933 he was sentenced to five years in the camps, which was commuted to exile for the same term in the north.
Archimandrite Theodosius (Fyodorovich Masalitinov) was born on June 27, 1871 in Kursk province. He lived in the Alexander Nevsky Lavra, was tonsured into the mantia with the name Theodosius, was ordained to the priesthood and raised to the rank of archimandrite. On February 17, 1932 he was arrested in Leningrad in connection with the affair of a branch of the True Orthodox Church and was sentenced to three years in the camps. He was sent to Dmitrovlag. In October, 1935 he died in camp.
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