Martyrs Of Kostroma Region

In 1921 the St. James of Zheleznoborovsk monastery in Bui district, Kostroma region, was closed. The monks went over to an illegal situation in the form of a community following the monastic typicon and headed by the former superior, Fr. Seraphim (Gusev). The spiritual father of the monastery was Hieromonk Joasaph, in the world Gregory Merkuryevich Sazanov, in schema Seraphim, who enjoyed great authority both in the monastery and among the inhabitants of the neighbouring villages. He had been ordained in May, 1917 and soon became spiritual father of the brotherhood. In 1923 he became dean, and in the same year he was accused of "creating a counter-revolutionary group" (according to article 120) and was exiled to the camps. He was released. In 1929 the monks were arrested and exiled beyond the boundaries of the province. Fr. Joasaph was exiled to Solovki. However, he escaped from exile and managed to hide from the persecutors with his spiritual children. In Kostroma he became close to the priests Gruzdev, Krylov and Borisov, and joined the True Orthodox Church. Later, some former monks of the monastery joined this Kostroma group. Thus Hieromonk Peter (Serov) returned to Kostroma in 1930 after serving for several months in the Josephite church of the Mother of God, the Joy of all who Sorrow in Leningrad. Another member of the Zheleznoborovsk monastery, Hieromonk Seraphim (Borisov) also served in the same church as deacon and then returned to Kostroma.

One of Fr. Joasaph's spiritual children was the clairvoyant Matushka Angelina, in the world Alexandra Vladimirovna Borisova. She was born in 1887 in the village of Krasnikovo, Solikamsk uyezd, Kostroma province. During the First World War she lived as a desert-dweller in the woods ten versts from Adler. In 1916 she returned to her native village and lived in a cell in the woods not far from her village. She had a cell-attendant, Nun Seraphima. She was secretly tonsured with the name Angelina.

Mother Angelina was known to be clairvoyant and many came to her for spiritual support and instruction. She also had the gift of casting out demons. The Bolsheviks came many times to her cell with the intention of burning it down. They would come, set light to it and see that it was burning. Then they would go away, but the cell would continue to stand as it did before. Through the prayers of Mother Angelina it was only the appearance of a fire! They arrested her many times, but could do nothing to her. Finally, on July 26, 1923 they arrested her in the village of Krasnikovo on a charge of "religious propaganda and spreading slanderous rumours about the speedy end of the world and the coming of the antichrist amidst the population", and took her to Soligalich. The whole village came out to see her as she passed. On February 22, 1924 she was sentenced to administrative exile for two years in Narymsk region, Tomsk province in Siberia.

Mother Angelina suffered much from the communists, but she returned from exile to die. She fell ill and prepared for death. Many priests came together at her funeral, including Fr. Joasaph and matushka's brother, Hieromonk Seraphim. When they let her coffin into the ground there was thunder and lightning. Everyone was frightened - after all, it was a clear day. Everyone wept. Batyushka blessed us and said: "Soon will come an iron time, it will be difficult for all the believers."

Matushka Vera, in schema Michaela, was a fool for Christ and clairvoyant. She foretold to Fr. Seraphim his whole future life. They tortured her by placing her with naked feet on a red-hot plate. During her tortures she looked indescribably beautiful. She suffered in the town of Soligalich.

Through Fr. Joasaph up to 300 more people joined the True Orthodox Church, which remained under the direction of Archbishop Demetrius of Gdov and was in contact with other members of the Church in Leningrad, Vyatka, Penza and the Kuban. Most of the True Orthodox Christians of Kostroma region lived in the Sandogorsky, Fominsky and Pustynsky village councils. They were peasant women who had been secretly tonsured by Fr. Joasaph - about 112 people, who lived a strictly monastic life. We know the names of Anisia Yegorova, whose brother had been exiled, and a certain Shiryaeva. Others who suffered were the clairvoyant Mother Ioanna and Mother Sergia, and the parents of Maria Pavlonva Skvortsova, who became a novice with Fr. Joasaph at the age of 14, was arrested, and is still alive.

In 1932 17 of the most active members of this group were arrested, including priests and nuns. On July 7, 1932 Hieromonks Seraphim (Borisov) and Peter (Serov) were sent to the White Sea - Baltic canal, at Bear Mountain station on the Murmansk railway. The rest were sent to Arkhangelsk, Kazakhstan and Gorodets.

We know that a community of the True Orthodox Church continued to exist in the Kostroma region in the 1940s, but that several of its members later joined the Moscow Patriarchate.

(Source: Michael Khlebnikov, "Dvizheniye istinno-pravoslavnykh v Kostromskoj gubernii", Pravoslavnaya Zhizn', 49, N 5 (569), May, 1997, pp. 1-5; "Pustynnitsa Angelina, o. Ioasaph i blazhennaya skhimnitsa Vera", Russkij Palomnik, 18, 1998, pp. 153-157; Za Khrista Postradavshiye, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1997, pp. 79-80)

Fr. Nicholas Georgievich Zazarin was born in November, 1882 in Vologda province. After finishing school he entered Vologda theological seminary. Then he served in one of the churches in Siberia when the area was occupied by the armies of Admiral Kolchak. Towards the end of the 1920s he moved to the village of Zavetluzhye, Pyshchugsky region, in what is now Kostroma province. He was in spiritual obedience to Hieromartyr Bishop Victor of Vyatka.

In 1930 Fr. Nicholas was arrested and condemned in accordance with article 74, point 2, and served his sentence for two years in Arkhangelsk before returning to Zavetluzhye village. However, the NKVD did not stop harrassing him after his return from exile.

On March 3, 1932 the NKVD of the village of Pyshchug accused him of antisoviet opinions and of passing on these opinions to believers. He was accused of calling Soviet power satanic, of calling for resistance to it since it persecuted the Church, and of calling the collective farms antichristian institutions whose members had given themselves into the power of the Antichrist.

Fr. Nicholas was arrested, but released again after a short period. In his interrogation the following letter written by him to the local dean was cited: "Venerable Fr. Protopriest Nicholas Arsenyevich!!! Having become acquainted with your latest address to the church council, I am answering you personally after conversing with, and at the request of, the church council. You consider that we are schismatics who have broken with church unity. I reply: no. With all our soul and body we belong to the Russian Orthodox Church headed by the Lord Saviour Himself and ruled by the patriarchal locum tenens Metropolitan Peter, who is in temporary exile. We only refrain from recognizing the church orientation formed as a result of the division introduced by Metropolitan Sergius and headed by him. We would like to ask you and Vladyka Neophytus, instead of sending us various threats and bans, to give clear and accurate replies to the following questions:

"1. What does the canonical or legal succession of the deputyship of Metropolitan Sergius depend on?

"2. Is Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod in correspondence with Metropolitan Peter?

"I do not know what opinion Metropolitan Peter now has of Metropolitan Sergius, but I know that in 1930 he was against him. I have personally read his letter to Archbishop Demetrius, where Metropolitan Peter gives a negative appraisal of Metropolitan Sergius and his deeds, calling them crypto-renovationism, and he counselled his Orthodox children to refrain from recognizing Sergius.

"In conclusion I shall say what I think personally: the whole sergianist orientation is based only on deception, woe to those leaders who keep the masses in deception and fear for the time being; in the end, you know, the believers, all the believers, will learn the truth when Metropolitan Peter returns from exile, and then what?

"And here's something more. Tell me how to explain the doubling of Metropolitan Peter's term. Was this not with the cooperation of Metropolitan Sergius?

"That, at least, was the opinion of all the rectors and hierarchs who were in exile in Arkhangelsk.

"May the God of peace and love be with us. We await your reply. Nicholas Zazarin."

In March, 1935 Fr. Nicholas was again arrested in connection with his opposition to the closing of the church in Zaveluzhye and his protests against the attempts of the authorities to force the peasants to sign up to the closure. On June 21, 1935, the NKVD sentenced him to three years in the camps. He was sent to Karaganda, while his church was closed.

(Sources: Michael Khlebnikov, "Dvizheniye istinno-pravoslavnykh v Kostromskoj gubernii", Pravoslavnaya Zhizn', 49, N 5 (569), May, 1997, pp. 15-18; M.V. Shkarovsky, Rasprostraneniye iosiflyanskogo dvizheniya po strane, in Pravoslavnaya Zhizn', 49, N 5 (569), May, 1997, p. 29)

Fr. Alexander V. Bogoslavsky was the superior of the church in the village of Sidorovskoye in Krasnoselsky region. He condemned the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius, but was arrested only on 24 December, 1941. At that time he had in his flat an illegal chapel where he served in secret. A military tribunal of the NKVD of Yaroslavl region sentenced him on April 10, 1942 to execution by shooting, and the sentence was carried out on May 14, 1942.

(Source: M.V. Shkarovsky, Rasprostraneniye iosiflyanskogo dvizheniya po strane, in Pravoslavnaya Zhizn', 49, N 5 (569), May, 1997, p. 29)

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