The first to speak was Fr. Alexis. He rebuked Fr. Macarius for not recognizing or commemorating Metropolitan Sergius and thereby disobeying him as the rector of the church, and for creating a division and a schism. Then Fr. Macarius took the floor. He explained to the believers that through his declaration Metropolitan Sergius had betrayed church truth and had entered into union with the atheists, the enemies of the Church. For that reason he could not commemorate him for fear of becoming an accomplice in the sin of betraying the Church. This was why he did not agree with, and could not serve together with, Fr. Alexis.
Finally, Fr. Alexis suggested to everyone that those who agreed with him should go to the right part of the church, while those agreed with Fr. Macarius should go to the left. He was hoping for a majority, since he had been a priest for many eyars and was the rector of the parish. But then something unexpected took place: the left part of the church filled up with parishioners, more than two thirds of those present. Thus did the parishioners express their trust in Fr. Macarius and he became the rector of the church of St. Seraphim. Immediately a thanksgiving moleben was served with great prayerful enthusiasm. Many of the worshippers had tears in their eyes.
It seemed as if everything had gone according to the will of God and the parish had been pacified. But the devil, in the person of the Soviet authorities, was not pacified. In order to force the parishioners to close the church, they imposed an unbearable tax burden on them, and increased it after each payment. Usually the taxes were paid quarterly, but after a general meeting the authorities decide to increase the tax each month. At first the parish somehow managed to pay the tax, but then the authorities began to seize the gold and silver rizas and frames from the icons, together with the Gospels and other precious objects as if in payment of the tax. Then, in 1930, they closed the church on the excuse that the tax had not been paid.
By this time Fr. Macarius had four children: his daughter Olga and Raisa, and his sons Vladimir and Nicholas. His eldest son Sergius, who was a reader in the village of Chorny Otrog, Orenburg region, lived separately. With this family Fr. Macarius took refuge in a small old bath-house which had been adapted for living in.
This had come about as follows. On arriving in Orenburg in 1925, batyushka and matushka and their children had settled temporarily in the house of three sister nuns. Then they had rented a flat from a widow. However, the widow's son, who was a communist, had come and demanded that his mother throw the "pope" out of the flat. Meanwhile, Fr. Macarius had bought a small plot of land with a bath-house, intending to build a small house there later. They threw all the bath things out of the bath-house, installed a Russian stove with benches, put in a small table for meals, a bed for the parents and a trunk with clothes. The children slept on the trunk and the stove, and sometimes simply on the floor. They were all in one room with their parents. This small room, which could be entered only one at a time, served as their kitchen, dining room and bedroom. It was from this bath-house that Fr. Macarius was evicted and taken to prison...
The family lived on alms from the parishioners. They would creep up bringing bread and potatoes and furtively looking on either side as they entered the courtyard in case outsiders noticed them. The Kvitkins had no other kind of support since they were "depriveds" (deprived of civil rights, a category to which the families of clergy belonged).
The bath-house where they lived was located four or five blocks from the church. Every time Fr. Macarius and his children went to church in the morning for the Liturgy, or in the morning for the all-night vigil, they were met on the street by pioneers who threw sand and sometimes even stones at them. Batyushka ordered his children never to reply to these pranks, but to walk calmly on, for they could not expect support from anyone.
From the time that Fr. Macarius remained alone in the church of St. Seraphim, they began to terrorize him and summon him to the GPU. His first summons was supposedly in connection with his non-commemoration of Metropolitan Sergius as patriarchal locum tenens, and also because under his rectorship the parish did not pay the "lawful" tax. The second summons was accompanied by a warning: if the parish did not pay the indicated sum, they would close the church. The atheists suggested to Fr. Macarius that since they would close the church come what may, he should renounce God and his priestly rank in the columnns of the district newspaper. He was to admit that he had "drugged" the people with "religious obscurantism". In return, they promised him a place as a teacher, perhaps even as a school director. Fr. Macarius replied with a categorical refusal. Then they began to try and convince him that in this way he would save his own life and the life of his children. But Fr. Macarius replied that he did not fear death, and that he entrusted his children to the will of God, but that he would never, under any circumstances, break the vow he had given to God. The Lord did not disappoint the hopes of the martyr: all his children grew up to be honourable, believing and pious people.
The chekists advised him to think well about their proposition and to give them a final answer when they next summoned him.
And so, on January 21, 1931, they came at midnight to search the bath-house. The search laster until four in the morning. Of course, they found nothing. Before leaving, Fr. Macarius said goodbye to his family, blessed his matushka and children, and was taken to prison. On March 26, 1931 he was sentenced to be shot in accordance with article 58-11.
In the prison they accepted - rarely, but at any rate sometimes - small parcels of provisions and clean clothing. As always, on March 31, matushka with her elder daughter Olga brought a small parcel, but on that day they did not accept it. On asking why, she received no reply. Then matushka, Olga and some other people who had also brought parcels for their relatives, began to wait for the moment when they would be able to hand over their parcels. And then, at about three in the afternoon, all of them were driven away, the doors of the prison were opened and they led out the arrestees - between 25 and 30 people, among whom was Fr. Macarius. On seeing his wife and elder daughter, he waved at them from a distance. He looked completely healthy. The group were led to the building of the GPU and taken inside, while the relatives who ran after them were ordered to go home. They were told to come the next day at nine o' clock, and everything would be explained to them.
But some did not obey, and surrounded the GPU building waiting. They were given several warnings by the guards, and then some of them were arrested. Among these was the wife of Fr. Macarius and his daughter. Having held them in the basement until morning, they were given a certificate saying that Fr. Macarius had died in prison. Then they were very severely forbidden, under threat of arrest, not to tell anyone where they had been or what they had seen.
Fr. Macarius' wife asked:
"Where is the body of my husband? I would like to bury it."
The prison boss who issued the certificate swore and said:
"There's nothing to worry about, Soviet power will give him the burial he deserved."
Then he ordered them to go away before it was too late. Then they learned that this group had contained, basically, the priests of Orenburg and the surrounding district who had been the most popular among believers, as well as some steadfast true Christians who had got in the way of Soviet power. And all these people, who the previous day had been healthy and fit, and who had walked calmly and quickly from the prison to the GPU building, suddenly, the next day, "died in prison", a fact that was confirmed by certificates given out to the relatives. Later the rumour spread secretly that all of them had been herded into a basement room in the GPU and gassed. That was why no body was given to any of the relatives.
Fr. Macarius departed to the Lord on April 1, 1931, Palm Sunday. According to another source, he was shot on April 5, 1931 at 4.30 in the morning. In this way he gave his life for the true faith as a steadfast martyr and true pastor, loved by his parishioners, a true faithful server in the pastures of Christ.
Miracles were performed by the future hieromartyr even during his lifetime.
When Fr. Macarius' son Vladimir was ten years old, he fell ill first with measles, then with scarlet fever, and then with some unknown disease which the doctors could not cure. He had been ill for more than eight months, and already displayed hardly any signs of life. His mother only poured several spoonfuls of broth into his mouth each day. To put it briefly, he was just skin and bones. And then, one evening, Efrosinya Kondratyevna, with tears in her eyes, sat down and began to sow a garment from the remains of a sheet so that Volodya could be put in the grave in clean clothing. But Fr. Macarius went into the other room to pray and beseech God that He grant either death and an end to the sufferings of his son Volodya, or healing and health. In this depressed state, they all, with the exception of matushka, lay down to sleep. Then suddenly, at two in the morning, the bell sounded in the corridor. Matushka opened the door and met a friend of Fr. Macarius from his school days, a doctor now, whom they had neither seen nor corresponded with for more than five years. How he knew their address and what made him drop in on them at such a later - noone knows. In reply to Fr. Macarius' question, he replied that he was passing through on his way to Tashkent and had decided to visit his old friend. Matushka told him about the illness of her son and showed him Volodya. He immediately declared that he should be given cupping-glasses. Matushka told the doctor that this was almost impossible because of Volodya's thinness, but he himself applied several, albeit with great difficulty. And then a miracle took place. In the morning the boy began to give some signs of life, to move and even to open one eye. The doctor showed them how to apply cupping-glasses and told matushka to apply them every day, as many as possible. He left them at seven in the morning, and after this the family of Fr. Macarius neither saw nor heard of him again. By the mercy of God Volodya recovered, grew up, went through the war, and is alive now. This miracle, which was accomplished by the Lord God by the prayers of Fr. Macarius, is confirmed by his son Vladimir.
Again, in the madhouse in Orenburg there was a ten-year-old boy who was suffering from an illness that the doctors pronounced incurable. Fr. Macarius often used to go to this house and pray fervently for the boy's recovery. For two months he visited him - and then the illness passed. The doctors, to their amazement, recognized that the boy was completely healthy. He is now a grown man, and has been in sound mind ever since. This miracle was also accomplished by the prayers of Fr. Macarius.
This incident was recounted by Matushka Euphrosyne to her son Volodya before the Second World War, when they took Vladimir into the army.
The third incident took place already after Fr. Macarius' martyric death. Vladimir himself was a witness and remembered it all his life.
After the arrest of Fr. Macarius, his family continued to live in the same converted bath-house, in hunger and cold. They were not allowed ration cards. Matushka went to the country to exchange their remaining things for something to eat. She brought everything they had in the house, to the last towel. The parishioners tried to support the family in secret, but everyone was in difficult circumstances at that time.
Batyushka's daughters were not given jobs since they were "children of an enemy of the people". Nevertheless, in the summer of 1934 the second daughter, Raisa, succeeded in getting some work in an agricultural commune in the suburbs, and thanks to this, the family stocked up for the winter on dry potato tops, which they later used as fuel for the stove. Kindling wood for the stove was obtained by Vladimir and his younger brother Kolya, who went with sleds into the woods and gathered branches, standing up to their knees in the snow. Once all they had was taken away from them and they were nearly beaten to death...
Next to the bath-house was a communal household with several heads of cattle with a reserve of fuel. Once, when matushka was away and only the children were at home, a fire started in the neighbouring yard. The fuel ignited, the flames spread, and the sparks flew into the Kvitkins' yard, which was all covered with dry potato tops. The children crowded in front of the icons and fervently prayed to God. They also asked their deceased father to help them - and, by the prayers of the new martyr, God protected them.
(Source: "Novomuchenik Protoierej Makary Kvitkin", Pravoslavnaya Zhizn', N 7 (547), July, 1995, pp. 2-9; Priest N.E. Stremsky, Mucheniki i Ispovedniki Orenburgskoj Eparkhii XX Veka, Saraktash, 1998, pp. 113-120, 185)
Lydia, the daughter of a priest in the city of Ufa, was born on March 20, 1901. From childhood she was sensitive, affectionate, loved by all, fearing sin and everything forbidden by God. Upon completing girls' school, at the age of nineteen she married and lost her husband in the Civil War with the departure of the White Army.
Her father joined the schism of the renovationists in 1922. The daughter, prostrating herself at her father's feet, said:
"Bless me, father, to leave you, so that I will not bind you in the salvation of your soul."
The old priest knew his daughter, just as he was aware of the wrongness of his action. He wept, and, blessing Lydia for an independent life, prophetically said to her:
"See, daughter, when you win your crown, that you tell the Lord that although I myself proved too weak for battle, still I did not restrain you, but blessed you."
"I will, papa," she said, kissing his hand, thus herself also prophetically foreseeing her future.
Lydia succeeded in entering the Forestry Department, and in 1926 she was transferred to the Collective Lumber Industry for work with the lower-paid labourers. Here she immediately came into contact with simple Russian people, whom she warmly loved and who responded in the same fashion.
The lumberjacks and drivers, who had been hardened by the work they did under difficult conditions, related with amazement that in the officer of the Lumber department, where Lydia met them, a feeling came over them similar to the one, now almost smothered, which they had felt when before the revolution they had gone to meet the venerated icon of the Mother of God from the village of Bogorodskoye near Ufa. In the office foul language, insults and quarrels were no longer heard. Evil passions were extinguished, and people became kinder to each other.
This was amazing and was noticed by everybody, including the party chiefs. They kept watch over Lydia, but discovered nothing suspicious: she did not go at all to the churches that had been legalized by the Bolsheviks, and she attended catacomb services rarely and carefully. The GPU knew that members of the Catacomb Church existed in the diocese, but they could find no way of uncovering and arresting them.
With the aim of uncovering those who had not yet been arrested, the GPU suddenly returned Bishop Andrew of Ufa from exile. He was deeply revered by the people; but at his command he was received openly by only one church in Ufa, although secretly the whole diocese came to him. The GPU was mistaken: instead of being uncovered, the Catacomb Church deepened and spread, remaining as before inaccessible to spies. Convinced of the failure of its plan, the GPU again arrested Bishop Andrew and sent him into exile.
Lydia was arrested on July 9, 1928. The secret-operations department had long been seeking a typist who had been supplying the workers of the Forestry Department with typewritten brochures containing lives of the saints, prayers, sermons and instructions of ancient and recent hierarchs. It had been noticed that on this typist's typewriter the lower stem of the "k" was broken; and thus Lydia was discovered.
The GPU understood that there had fallen into their hands a clue for uncovering the whole Catacomb Church in the region. Ten days of uninterrupted questioning did not break the martyr; she simply refused to say anything. On July 20 the interrogator, having lost all patience, gave Lydia over to the "special command" for interrogation.
This "special command" worked in a corner room in the cellar of the GPU. A permanent guard was stationed in the cellar corridor. On this day the guard was Cyril Atayev, a 23-year-old private. He saw Lydia as she was brought into the cellar. The preceding ten days' questioning had drained the strength of the martyr, and she could not go down the steps. Private Atayev, at the call of his chiefs, held her and led her down to the interrogation chamber.
"May Christ save you,"
said Lydia, sensing in the Red Army guard a spark of compassion for her in the delicate gentleness of his strong arms.
And Christ saved Atayev. The words of the martyr, her eyes full of pain and perplexity, fell into his heart. Now he could not listen with indifference to her uninterrupted screams and cries, as he had previously listened to the same cries from others being interrogated and tortured.
Lydia was tortured for a long time. The tortures of the GPU were usually fashioned so as to leave no particularly noticeable marks on the body of the tortured one, but at Lydia's interrogation no attention was paid to this. The screams and cries of Lydia continued almost uninterruptedly for more than an hour and a half.
"But aren't you in pain? You're screaming and crying, that means it's awful?" asked the exhausted torturers in one of the intervals.
"Painful! Lord, how painful!" replied Lydia with a broken moan.
"Then why don't you talk? It will be more painful!" said the perplexed torturers.
"I can't talk... I can't... He won't allow..." groaned Lydia.
"Who won't allow?"
"God won't allow!"
Then the torturers devised something new for the martyr: sexual assault. There were four of them - one more was needed. They called the guard to help.
When Atayev entered the room, he saw Lydia, understood the means of her further torture and his own role in it - and there was worked in him a miracle similar to the unexpected conversions of the ancient torturers. Atayev's whole soul was repelled by the satanic abominableness, and a holy enthusiasm seized him. Totally unaware of what he was doing, the Red Army guard killed on the spot the two torturers who stood before him with his own revolver. Before even the second shot had echoed the GPU man who had been standing behind hit Cyril on the head with the handle of his gun. Atayev still had the strength to turn and seize his attacker by the throat, but a shot from the fourth one knocked him to the floor.
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