Cyril fell with his head toward Lydia, who was stretched out with thongs. The Lord gave him the opportunity of hearing once more words of hope from the martyr. And looking straight into Lydia's eyes, Cyril, with blood gushing from him, gasped his union to the Lord:
"Saint, take me with you!"
"I will take you," Lydia smiled, radiant.
The sound and meaning of this conversation as it were opened a door to the other world, and terror darkened the consciousness of the two GPU men who remained alive. With insane shouts they began to shoot the helpless victims who threatened them, and they shot until both their revolvers had been emptied. Those who had come running at the shots led them away, shouting insanely, and themselves fled from the room, seized by an unknown terror.
One of these two GPU men became completely insane. The other soon died of nervous shock. Before his death this second one told everything to his friend, Sergeant Alexis Ikonikov, who turned to God and brought this account to the Church. For his zealous propagation of it, he himself suffered a martyr's death.
All three - Lydia, Cyril and Alexis - have been canonized as saints in the religious consciousness of the Catacomb Church.
(Sources: Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, Noviye Mucheniki Rossijskiye, Jordanville, 1957, part 2, pp. 249-253; I.M. Andreyev, Russia's Catacomb Saints, Platina, Ca.: St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, 1982, chapter 20)
Two brothers declared: "We have not refused to serve in that army which goes with Christ, but to serve in an army which is against God and Christ, that we cannot and will not do - we are Christians!"
First they placed them under arrest in the town of Sharlyk, Orenburg province. Then they took them to Alexandrovka, in the same province. This was where their parents lived, and the God-fighting authorities hoped that they would influence their sons, since otherwise death awaited them. But the God-fighters were mistaken. The parents, being convinced Christians, not only did not dissuade their sons from refusing to serve in the Red army, but also, quite the reverse, supported them in their decision. Knowing that death threatened their sons, the parents said, with tears in their eyes:
"Children, dear children, you are our hope. Apart from you we have no children. You know what awaits you... But remember that you have received Holy Baptism. And that is an oath of faithfulness to the Lord God Himself... We are your parents, and you are our beloved children. We bless you to be faithful Christians both in life and in death for Christ, the Lord of glory. The blessing of God is with you, and our fervent prayers are with you and for you... Go, dear ones, to eternity!"
The military command was by no means expecting this. Instead of dissuasion, a blessing... And both the sons and their parents were weeping tears of tender feeling. And even those of the command who were present were not themselves... But the Soviet system is such that people do only what they are ordered to do. And the fate of these valiant soldiers was decided accordingly.
A horse-mounted convoy drove them, on foot and in summer clothes in a fierce Siberian frost, from Alexandrovka to the town of Orenburg. This is about 150 kilometres. It is not surprising that they did not reach Orenburg. So as not to freeze, they had to run, but neither their hearts nor their legs could sustain them and they both fell and froze to death on the way.
Their parents, who had showed such exemplary firmness in confession, died on the same day, so they say, at the very same hour, suffering for their sons and knowing that in such a hard frost they were being driven down the road to Orenburg. And perhaps they killed their parents... Be that as it may, on the same day and hour the whole of this Catacomb Church family - two sons, father and mother - died a martyr's death in 1937.
Fr. Nicetas was a catacomb priest from Orenburg who was in hiding until his death. But during this period he continued to fulfil his priestly duties. He was constantly on the move, going from village to town, from town to village, from house to house, celebrating services in "house churches", confessing people and communicating them in the Holy Mysteries. He had to suffer very much for the Church, but he showed himself to be a true, exemplary, self-sacrificing pastor, bringing up his only son, Theodore, not so much by word and instruction as by his own example without words, teaching him to be a firm, self-sacrificing Christian.
The young Theodore was called up and went into the army. He knew beforehand that there awaited him an impious oath, not to the Lord God, but to the God-fighting Soviet authorities who had come in the spirit and the name of the Antichrist. And Theodore decided in advance not to accept it. He prayed to the Lord to strengthen him for the feat of martyrdom. In tears he said goodbye to his parents, knowing that he would never see them again. He took a blessing from his father, Fr. Nicetas, and from his mother. He besought them to pray fervently for him, that he would not weaken...
When all the other soldiers obediently swore the oath to the Soviet authorities, he alone refused. Boldly in front off everyone he declared that he could not swear such an oath to the God-fighting authorities because he was a Christian. There was a big stir. They forced all the soldiers to come out against the confessor of Christ. And the son of the catacomb priest Fr. Nicetas, the martyr for Christ Theodore, was shot in front of all the soldiers of the unit in 1937. He was an inhabitant of Orenburg.
In the same external circumstances as the soldier of Christ Theodore, there was also shot the soldier of Christ Peter Gerasimovich Zamesin, who fearlessly confessed his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in His Holy Gospel announced to men for their salvation.
"So you say that your God, Christ, came 'for the salvation of men'? But what 'salvation' can there be for you personally if we shoot you tomorrow as criminal for breaking the law?" said the chief to Peter. "Your 'law' is not law. There is only one law in the world which everyone must obey. That is the Law of God. But God allows man both to break His Law and reject the Gospel Law of love and to accept an evil law, the law of diabolic hatred. Which is what you do... I believe in eternal life in Christ and I accept death for Christ with great joy!.."
The soldier of Christ Peter was shot in 1944 or 1945.
The martyred servant of God Michael Vasilyevich Avdeyev came from a strongly Orthodox peasant family, and he was directed by pastors who were confessors and martyrs of the Catacomb Church. He lived in Orenburg, and worked as a lorry-driver. At the time of his violent death, which took place in 1977, he was 35 years old.
Because of something wrong in the lorry he was forced to lie down under it and carry out repairs. As a result he caught a chill in his kidney and was admitted into a therapeutic hospital with the diagnosis: nephritis. He felt very ill and began to do what is "not allowed", even "in thought only", in the Soviet Union - to pray out loud in front of everyone, and, according to the Christian custom, to ask forgiveness of all those in the dormitory, saying that he was going to die. And he was not mistaken...
The Soviet doctors were called to this "disorder in the ward", and, of course, since he believed in God and prayed to Him, they certified "sudden insanity", "madness" in the sick man. For the Soviet State recognizes as completely normal only those people who do not pray and do not believe in God. And in the given case, evidently, there was clearly seen such an "impudent demonstration" of religious feelings and convictions. Therefore Michael Vasilyevich was quickly transferred to the psychiatric section of the hospital with the label: "socially dangerous patient".
But here he showed himself to be the same as in the therapeutic hospital. He continued to pray in front of everyone in the ward, and he asked everyone's forgiveness, saying:
"I'm dying, I'm dying!"
The rest of the story was recounted by a boy who was in this ward. To the question: what happened that Avdeyev so suddenly, on the first day of his stay in the hospital, died?, he replied:
"A doctor entered with a big syringe and said:
"'You're feeling ill? We shall give you an injection, and it will immediately make you feel better!'
When he had given this injection, the sick man didn't even move. He died immediately!"
With what cold-bloodedness did they kill the young man! As if he were an inanimate object. But the town of Orenburg has for long been "glorified" for its cold cruelty, both in the prison regime and in the hospitals subject to chekist supervision.
(Source: Schemamonk Epiphanius (Chernov), Tserkov' Katakombnaya na Zemlye Rossijskoj)
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