Hieromartyrs Nicholas And John Of Verkhniye Marki

In the village of Verkhniye Marki, in the church of the Exaltation of the Cross, there served the protopriest, Fr. Nicholas Silchenko. He was a strict priest, who always fulfilled the rules of the church and demanded the same from others. In 1914 he asked the local prince to build a new school where the parishioners and their children could study. The prince built it out of his own money, and the school survives to this day. He taught his parishioners to live a good life, work hard and love the poor. Not long before his arrest Fr. Nicholas' son asked him to leave, but the good pastor did not want to leave his flock:

"Here is my flock and the church where I was appointed," he said. "Let them do what they want, but I myself will not leave my fatherland."

In October, 1918 after a service he was seized by representatives of the new power. All his teeth were knocked out. He was put head down into a lavatory and then lifted up, half alive, so that he could breathe. Finally, he was forced to dig his own grave, placed on the edge of it, and shot point-blank. Before his death he crossed himself and said:

"You are killing my body, but my soul belongs to God. But for God's sake stop your lawlessnesses and murders of people. For God will exact a penalty from you for everything!"

Fr. Nicholas was buried in such a way that his hands and feet were still showing. His spiritual children secretly reburied him by the fence of the church in the village of Verkhniye Marki.

In the neighbouring village of Marki Fr. John was serving in the church of the Resurrection. He was a man of lofty spiritual life: he fed orphans, cared for widows and called on his parishioners to do the same. Once when the Red Army was in retreat he gave shelter and food to ten soldiers in a barn. He did this out of love for man, so that no human blood should be shed. But the reds returned and killed Fr. John in a bestial manner before the eyes of the whole people. The people wept and the children begged the soldiers to spare their batyushka. But in vain. Fr. John was shot after terrible tortures in a severe frost.

(Source: Ikh Stradaniyami Ochistitsa Rus', Moscow, 1996, pp. 10-11)

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St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas