Russia's Catacomb Saints


And from the days of John the Baptist until now
the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence and
the violent take it by force. St. Matthew 11:12
He that hath ears to hear,
let him hear. St. Matthew 11:15

   The present book is an offering to the English-speaking reader from the deep experience of Orthodox Russia in the 20th century. This experience is one that has touched in some way almost every Orthodox Russian, whether in the homeland or in exile, but it is something that is almost impossible to communicate fully to those who have not known it at first hand.
    While an attempt has been made in these pages to give also an outward history of the tragic events of Russian Church life in the 1920's and '30's, the main emphasis has been to present as directly as possible the actual testimony of the suffering Christians themselves. This testimony, which often lays bare an intense experience of life in Christ, is the best gift Orthodox Russia has to offer to the West. It will not prevent similar things from happening in the West—one can already feel them coming towards us—but it will help us to face the sufferings of our godless age with strength and true Christian conviction.
    May this testimony serve to wake us up out of our sleep of self-satisfaction and all-too-often pretended (or at least untested) Christianity!
    Although the whole book was inspired by Professor Andreyev, only Part I, strictly speaking, was actually written by him. For the rest the editor bears full responsibility.
    Most of the material has been compiled from articles which have appeared at various times from 1965 to the present in the periodical The Orthodox Word. Therefore, some inconsistencies of style may well be noticed, in particular in the spelling of Christian names: sometimes the Russian form will be given, and sometimes the English equivalent. Here a few of these variant forms are given to alert the reader that they refer to one and the same name (the Russian name is given here first):
Agafangel—Agathangelus;    Alexey—Alexis;    Averky—Abericus (Avericus);    Damaskin—Damascene;    Onouphry—Onuphrius;    Sergy—Sergius;    Vassily—Basil;    Veniamin—Benjamin
    The fact that almost all the material was written or translated before the glorification of the New Martyrs in 1981 also accounts for the fact that these New Martyrs are not called "Saint" in the text of the book—a title which is now given them by the believing Russian Church.
Abbot Herman
St. Herman of Alaska Monastery Pascha, 1982

Act of Glorification
of the New Martyrs of Russia
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

  The Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, representing the only free part of the Russian Orthodox Church, with reverence discussed the exploit of the martyrdom and confession of the innumerable believers in the Russian land who have suffered from the hands of the godless—the persecutors of the Faith of Christ.
    From the days of the Great Prince Vladimir, the Russian people with all its heart has accepted the holy Orthodox faith. This faith inspired numerous holy princes, hierarchs and ascetics, sanctifying the Christian order of Russian culture. These were founded on the Christian principles set forth in the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Orthodox Church. Being realized in Russian national life in various degrees in various periods of history, these principles have continued to exist in all layers of the Russian people, from the Tsar to the last pauper, for the course of more than 900 years. However, during the past two centuries, instigated by the enemy of our salvation, the antichristian principle of revolutionary atheism has directed all its strength and means towards the annihilation of these principles in the Russian people.
    From 1917, beginning with the sin of the whole people in violating the oath, given before the Cross and the Gospel, of loyalty to Faith, Tsar, and Fatherland—there began to be put into practice the uprooting by the atheists of the whole Orthodox spirit in the government and in the people's way of life, both of which had turned away from God. This evil was attained by means of a cruel persecution of faith and of the Orthodox way of life; all layers of the population were made victims of this process, from the Tsar and the hierarchy to the simplest believers.
    Right away, from the very beginning of the Revolution, there began a persecution and mockery of the imprisoned Tsar and his family and, almost simultaneously, an assault against the representatives of the Church, bishops, pastors, and believers. In the very first year of the Revolution our Church was made purple with the blood of the overthrown Tsar with all his family and the members of royal blood who were within the boundaries of Russia, as well as of numberless believers. Later, to them were joined the victims of persecutions from the renovationist schisms and the confessors who did not agree to any compromise with the anti-christian authority in the attempt of the leaders of the Moscow Patriarchate at that time to serve at one and the same time both Christ and Belial. An innumerable choir of many millions of martyrs and confessors was formed. During the 64 years of Soviet dominion tens of thousands of churches and monasteries were destroyed and millions of people were martyred because they preserved their Orthodox faith and did not bow down to the idol of materialism.
    Bowing down in prayer before all of them, the Council of Bishops decrees that there should be joined to the choir of the saints all the martyrs and confessors who have suffered from the godless in Russia: hierarchs, clergy, monks, nuns, and all Orthodox people who have been tortured and killed for the Orthodox faith and the principles of Holy Russia.
    The names of these saints are so numerous that they can be fully known only to the All-knowing God, and the Council of Bishops will have to supplement the list of names with those of other people who have struggled for the faith to the glory of God.
    A special place in the choir of holy New Martyrs is occupied by the Tsar-martyr Nicholas II, as the anointed of God, the bearer of the idea of the Orthodox state, and his family. Therefore, a special service is to be dedicated to them on the day of their murder, the day of sorrow, July 4/17, together with the reading at the Liturgy of the prayer of repentance established earlier to be read at pannihidas.
    To all these holy martyrs and confessors we shall offer praise, entreating them that by their intercession at the Throne of God they might obtain for Russia deliverance from the godless and a rebirth of Orthodox life, and that by their example they might inspire other children of the Russian Church also to enter on the path of struggle for faith and piety.
    The general feast of the Russian New Martyrs and Confessors is to be celebrated on the Sunday between the 22nd and 28th day of January, according to the Orthodox (Old) Calendar. The memory of separate martyrs and confessors should be performed on the day of their blessed repose, when it is known, and otherwise on the day of the general feast of the New Martyrs.
Chairman of the Council of Bishops
Metropolitan Philaret
and Members of the Council.