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.
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.
Archimandrite Eugene (Emelyanovich Matveyev) was born in 1852 in St. Petersburg. In 1886 he was tonsured into the mantia with the name Eugene, was ordained to the priesthood and raised to the rank of archimandrite. From 11925 to 1932 he served in the chapel of the podvorye of the Valaam monastery in Leningrad region. In 1922 he was arrested. On February 17, 1932 he was arrested again in connection with the affair of the Leningrad branch of the True Orthodox Church. He was sentenced to three years' exile.
In one night, February 17-18, 1932, all the monastics remaining in prison, together with the clergy and laity linked with the monastics, 500 people in all, disappeared into the prisons of Leningrad.
On February 17-18, 1932, in the midst of a nation-wide swoop on monastics, the monks in Slavyanka were arrested, and all the above-mentioned monks were sent to the prison on Shpalernaya. The investigation continued for a month, and on March 22 the monks and nuns from Leningrad and its surrounds were condemned for counter-revolutionary and anti-Soviet activity. The Athonite monks received a sentence of three years' exile in Kazakhstan. Monk Victor died in prison.
The monks who remained in freedom left Slavyanka and began to petition the Greek embassy in Moscow for Greek citizenship. Archimandrite Macarius already had this citizenship, and he went to Moscow to plead for his monks. The embassy gave him a document saying that the Athonite podvorye was an offshoot of the St. Andrew skete on Mount Athos.
However, on October 4, 1932, Archimandrite Macarius was arrested together with Hieromonk Joseph (Mramorny), who had been a monk for 27 years, Hieromonk Dorotheus (Gutynin), who had been a monk since 1894, Hieromonk Glycerius (Sorokin), who was from the Ryazan peasantry and had been tonsured on Athos in 1896, Hieromonk Raphael (Zhivotov), who had been a monk since 1902 and a priest since 1922, Hieromonk Damian (Otryganyev), who had been a monk already for 33 years, Hierodeacon Hilarion (Andreyev), who was from the Novgorod peasantry and had come from the Odessa podvorye, Hierodeacon Jason (Basov), 57 years old, who had also been in Odessa from 1910 to 1923, Hierodeacon Hermogenes (Krylov), who had been a monk since 1902, and Monk Bissarion (Kolchin), who had been tonsured on Athos in 1900. This group, who were all from 50 to 60 years old and had lived on Athos in their youth, called themselves "supporters of the Church of the old monarchist orientation". They recognized neither the renovationists nor the sergianists. Although it seems that they were not formally united to the Josephite Catacomb Church, they were arrested in connection with the affair of "the followers of the True Orthodox Church" who "were exclusively oriented towards Metropolitan Joseph of Petrograd, who has remained until recently their sole authority in the whole of their activity". Apart from the standard accusations of anti-Soviet activity, the Athonite monks were accused of helping their imprisoned brothers and of contacts with foreign diplomats, to whom, it was alleged, they gave information on the Church situation in Petrograd. Since they were linked in this way with the Josephites, the Athonite monks received stricter sentences on December 8, 1932. Archimandrite Macarius was given ten years in the camps, and evidently perished there in 1937 or 1938. Some of the monks were exiled, others were sent to Svirlag, where Hieromonk Raphael died on May 8, 1935 and Hieromonk Dorotheus - on March 5, 1937. Hierodeacon Jason died in 1936 after returning from exile, in Novgorod. Hieromonk Glycerius survived in the Gulag, and died after the war at the age of 84.
According to one source, in 1929 Archimandrite Macarius.was secretly consecrated to the see of Pskov by Josephite bishops.
Hieromonk Tikhon (his surname is not known) spent fifteen years in prison for the faith of Christ, and after his release was forbidden from living in Moscow or Leningrad. He settled in Okulovka, where Catacomb Christians came to him from Leningrad, Sukhumi, Central Russia and Ukraine for confession, communion and strengthening in the faith. They arrived alone or in small groups to avoid betraying the secret of their pastor's dwelling-place.
Fr. Tikhon died on January 31, 1976. His spiritual children did not know about his death immediately, and the day of his death was not spread abroad because of the danger involved. After his death the Petersburg community of the Catacomb Church sought out the priest Fr. Michael Rozhdestvensky, who looked after them until his death in 1987.
Fr. Tikhon's cell-attendant, Alexis Petrovich Solovyev, died in December, 1998 and was buried on December 12, 1998 in St. Petersburg by ROCA Bishop Michael of Toronto.
(Source: Vertograd-Inform, N 2 (47), February, 1999, p. 4)
The priest Fr. Andrew Savitsky, the son of the priest Fr. Vladimir Savitsky from Saint Petersburg, was killed shortly after joining the Russian Church Abroad in 1995.
On September 1/14, 1997, the feast of the Church's New Year, Protopriest Alexander, of the Russian Church Abroad, was shot and killed near his flat in Gatchina, near St. Petersburg.
He was born on February 12, 1946. After graduating from the Leningrad Theological Academy, he served in parishes of the Leningrad district of the Moscow Patriarchate in Luge and Siversk. In 1981 he was transferred to the church of St. Alexander Nevsky, Shuvalovo, on the outskirts of Leningrad, where he became superior in 1990 with the rank of protopriest.
Fr. Alexander was very simple in speech, he did not like to talk for a long time or in a rhetorical manner. He spoke briefly, but amazingly to the point. He served simply, without pomposity. His faith was deep, and there were many among his parishioners who had been converted to Orthodoxy after a short talk with him after a burial or some other service. He lived with his wife and children in a small flat in Gatchina. Every day, dressed very humbly, he would go into the city by train.
Since he did not mix with the "venerable" priests of the diocese, or try to ingratiate himself with the diocesan leadership, he was little known among the people. He did not succumb to the temptation of making himself out to be an "elder", and when some of his spiritual children tried to treat him like one of the Optina elders, he would say: "You know, I'm not an elder, I can't take on myself what they did." However, he never refused requests for advice, and those who were led by him can witness that they received great spiritual benefit from his advice, and that his prayers were powerful to help.
By his own efforts, and without any help from the diocese or rich sponsors, he built a church dedicated to New Martyr Great Princess Elizabeth Fyodorovna attached to city hospital number 3 in the Kalinin district. This church was consecrated in February, 1993, building began on December 6, 1994, and on Christmas Day, 1996/97, services began. Batyushka built the church mainly on loans; the builders agreed to wait for their remuneration out of love and respect for him.
From about 1993 Fr. Alexander began to get concerned about the heresy of ecumenism, in which the Moscow Patriarchate is deeply immersed. He did not go very deeply into dogmatic discussions; he just felt intuitively that uniting with the heterodox was wrong. He thought that when the time came to leave the patriarchate, he could leave with the new church he was building.
On the night of May 31, 1996, the church of St. Alexander Nevsky in Shuvalovo was set on fire. Batyushka succeeded in putting out the fire, but the damage was considerable. It was necessary to repair the major damage at least before the rains set in. Although he had no money, batyushka succeeded in this; the rains began on the day after the most essential repairs had been carried out.
At the request of Fr. Alexander a new superior was appointed to the church of St. Alexander Nevsky. It was at about this time that the first evil rumours about Fr. Alexander began to be circulated; he was accused of stealing, and then of covering up his thefts by setting fire to the church. On hearing this, batyushka was so upset that he fell ill.
In January, 1997 another priest was appointed as second priest in the church of St. Elizabeth. Soon he demanded a salary of 15 million rubles a month from batyushka; he was refused. Then some young people came to the church and tried to go into the altar in search of the second priest. A few days later, on March 5, this priest's Ford automobile (a 1996 model) mysteriously blew up. On the television that day they said that the car "belonged to the superior of the church". This was not true; batyushka never owned a car. But the rumours now spread that batyushka was linked with the mafia.
That spring, batyushka was recovering for three weeks in hospital after an operation. While he was there, another priest was sent to serve in the church under the supervision of the diocesan secretary, Fr. Alexander Kudryashov. Then the diocese received a denunciation against batyushka, saying that he was making huge profits in the hospital morgue, and was not sharing them with the metropolitan. It was claimed that he was carrying out on average eighteen burial services a day, and receiving $200 dollars for each one. In actual fact, there were far fewer services, and not every day, and batyushka received much less money from them. Sometimes he served for nothing.
However, Metropolitan Vladimir (Kotlyarov) of St. Petersburg believed the slander, and at the end of May he summoned batyushka. Using very crude language and thieves' slang, he accused him of swimming in money, of keeping all the money from burial services for himself, and of building nothing at all. He wanted to send batyushka to Bsevolozhsk, and when batyushka disagreed, he said that he could send him anywhere he liked. A new superior was appointed for the church - Valery Dorokhov, a close friend of the metropolitan's from his Rostov days. Batyushka was transferred to Volkhovstroy, four hours from the city.
However, batyushka immediately retired, and began studying ways of leaving the patriarchate. But he had no intention of abandoning his spiritual children. When they, seeing the persecution he was undergoing, asked him whether he was abandoning them, he always replied: "No, I'm going nowhere, I'm staying here until I die!"
Dorokhov came to the parish, and after examining its financial situation, was deeply disappointed. He and the metropolitan began to threaten
batyushka - jokingly, at first, so that batyushka in his simplicity did not at first believe that these were real threats. But then Dorokhov began working on individual members of the parish, first making various promises, and then threatening them. They were disturbed and frightened, but did not desert batyushka. Seeing this, Dorokhov resorted to more radical measures. At the beginning of July he dissolved the whole parish assembly. However, on June 11/24, 1997, batyushka had already been received into the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad...
The slanders against him immediately increased. Valery Dorokhov waged a vigorous propaganda campaign against batyushka, and in spite of the fact that he drove around in a new Opel car and every day stuffed all the parish's receipts into his own pocket, he managed to win some of the parishioners to his side. It was quickly forgotten who had built the church. It was said of batyushka that he had "built the church on money from the Church Abroad, had fallen into debt, and they had forced him to move". He had "sold himself to foreigners", "gone to serve burial services for foreigners for dollars", "linked up with the American church", "linked up in the morgue with the Mafia, who were trading in internal organs".
Batyushka exclaimed: "What spite there is all around!" But he got less upset now on hearing the latest slander. He just waved his hand.
However, on August 15 the builders sealed the church because of the non-payment of the debts on the building work. They agreed to wait while batyushka gradually paid off the debts, but Valery Dorokhov had no intention of paying, nor did he want the building to continue. Then Dorokhov with some parishioners who were loyal to him tried to break into the church. But the builders did not let him in; they just allowed him to take away some personal things before sealing the church again.
Immediately after joining the Church Abroad, batyushka tried to get the parish registered. But in spite of all the efforts of the lawyer, the department of justice rejected the application. They were constantly demanding new documents, and it was obvious that they were dragging their feet. Meanwhile, the police received denunciations against batyushka, as a result of which they sealed the chapel in the morgue where burial services were carried out on the pretext that since the parish had not been registered, batyushka did not have the right to carry out burial services. Metropolitan Vladimir sent a letter to the head of the hospital demanding that he close the chapel on the grounds that "banned priests who slander the patriarch are serving there". The chapel was closed, to the sorrow of the hospital workers and the patients, for whom it was the almost the only comforting place in the institution. It was there that the Liturgy was served on Sundays, there it was possible to have Confession and Communion, to pray, to put out a candle, and to take some booklets to read.
Nevertheless, it looked as if the matter of the registration of the parish with the Russian Church Abroad was approaching a successful conclusion. The attitude of the morgue workers and hospital management to batyushka did not change; if anything it improved when they say the campaign of slander that was being waged against him by the patriarchate. The builders firmly decided that batyushka would continue to serve in the church that had been the work of his life. Everyone was waiting just for the registration, after which the parish could again begin to live a normal life. Batyushka was making plans for the construction of a church house, for the opening of a Sunday school attached to the church...
On September 6, following a denunciation, officials from the department for the struggle against economic crimes of the Petersburg GUVD came to the chapel at the hospital and interrupted the Divine Liturgy. At first they acted very roughly, forcing one priest, Fr. Alexis Tarkhov, to put his hands up against the wall while they searched him - all in front of the relatives who had come to the burial service. The other priest, Fr. Alexander, was threatened with violence if he did not give up the keys to the chapel. The militia claimed that their goal was to shut down this parish of the Russian Church Abroad. They confiscated all the finances of the parish, claiming that it was unregistered.
After a long interrogation, the two priests the woman at the desk for candles were taken to the local police precinct, where they were further
interrogated for several hours in an attempt to make them reveal details about other communities of the Church Abroad. Finally they were released, but told that they could not participate in any financial operations, including selling religious literature or candles, or receiving remuneration for their services. The interrogators stated that this action was taken on the initiative of the local diocese of the Moscow Patriarchate. The two priests were told that their future activities would be closely scrutinized by government authorities.
At one point the investigator declared that he was putting them in a cell. "Good, we'll serve there," said batyushka. "Serve whom?" asked the
investigator in amazement. "The Lord God." "How?!" "According to the rule." Already the policemen had begun to soften towards batyushka. One of them told him: "We don't need you, it just that you're hindering someone there."
They sealed the room of the priest in the morgue, but not the chapel. However, the hospital management was forced to seal the chapel because of a special letter of some kind from the metropolitan. Not long before this some supporters of the patriarchate had been collecting signatures from the patients. They asked some people who had no connection with the church: "Do you want an Orthodox chapel to be occupied by the Church Abroad?" The majority, on hearing the word "abroad", replied in the negative.
Then the quite irrational rumour began circulating that batyushka controlled the whole of the city's trade in honey!
At about six o'clock on Sunday, September 14, Fr. Alexander left his home in Gatchina, saying to his wife that he would return in the afternoon. When he had not arrived by the evening, she became worried. She phoned the information service of the morgues and was told that a corpse answering to his description had been discovered at 10.30 and placed in the morgue in the city of Pushkin. There had been a traffic accident. In the morning she went to the morgue and identified the body of Fr. Alexander. She immediately saw that he had been murdered. The pathological examination revealed bullet wounds and the story about a traffic accident was rejected.
It seems that some people had been lying in wait for batyushka on his way to the train that would take him from Gatchina to St. Petersburg. He was not killed immediately, but after a serious struggle - he had been shot in the head and the chest, and then run over by a car in order to make his death appear accidental. The ruse worked for a while, because it was two days before the police coroner noticed the bullet wounds. The police ruled out random crime or theft. It is clear that this was a professional hit.
One of Fr. Alexander's spiritual children writes: "Batyushka has gone to a better world, where, we hope, he will receive from the Lord his just reward for all the labours and sufferings he endured during his earthly life, for the humility, lack of spite and avarice for which he was always distinguished, for that light which he gave to people, and for his martyric end.
"He has left us, and we remain. There is no doubt that this was a planned murder. Who will be the next victim? And for how long will we continue to sleep? O Lord, enlighten and have mercy on us all!"
(Sources: Vladimir Rusak, Pir Satany, London, Canada: "Zarya", 1991, p. 71; Orthodox Life, vol. 34, no. 4, July-August, 1984, pp. 9-18; Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, Noviye Mucheniki Rossijskiye, Jordanville, 1949-57, part 1, pp. 185, 203, 213, 216, part 2, p. 227; The Holy New Martyrs of Russia, Montreal: Monastery Press, 1972, pp. 79-80; Timothy Fisher, Pravoslavnaya Rus', N 21, 1983, pp. 3-6; The Orthodox Word, vol. 10, no. 6 (59), November-December, 1974; "The New Martyrs of Russia", The Orthodox Word, vol. 16, no. 93, July-August, 1980, p. 175; M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyateishago Patriarkha Tikhona, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, p. 88; Moskovskij Paterik, Moscow: "Stolitsa", 1991, p. 61; Vladimir Rusak, Pir Satany, London, Canada: "Zarya", 1991, p. 24; M.V. Shkarovsky, "Iosiflyanskoye Dvizheniye i Oppozitsiya v SSSR (1927-1943)", Minuvsheye, 15, 1994, p. 453; Za Khrista Postradavshiye, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1997, p. 43; I.I. Osipova, "Skvoz' Ogn' Muchenij i Vody Slyoz", Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998, pp. 282, 328; Victor Antonov, "Razgrom Afonskogo Podvorya v Leningrade", Vozvrashcheniye, N 4 (8), 1996, pp. 27-28; "Noviye Mucheniki Gonimoj Rossijskoj Tserkvi", Vertograd-Inform, NN 8-9 (29-30), 1997, p. 7; "Protoierej Aleksandr Zharkov", Vertograd-Inform, special issue, September 17, 1997 and NN 8-9 (29-30), 1997, pp. 4-7; Protopriest Alexander Lebedev; Nevskoye Vremya; Church News, vol. 9, no. 9, September, 1997, pp. 1-2; I.I. Osipova, "Skvoz' Ogn' Muchenij i Vody Slyozâ€¦", Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998, pp. 283, 284-287)
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