The New Russian Martyrs
Saints and Ascetics
This section of the site is dedicated to the New Martyrs of Russia. This page will be updated regularly with new lives of Russian martyrs and confessors along with other related information.
Icon of the Holy Royal and New Martyrs of Russia.
Depicted are the Royal Family(Tsar Nicholas II, Alexandra, Olga, Marie, Tatiania, Anastasia, and Tsarevich Alexis- placed in the center)along with the countless others who gave their lives for the Orthodox faith under the communist yoke.
"Flowers of the spiritual meadow of Russia,
who shone forth in the hour of evil persecutions,
O countless New Martyrs and Confessors,
hierarchs, Royal Passion-bearers and pastors,
monastics and laymen, men, women and children,
who brought forth good fruit to Christ in your patience,
pray to Him, as the One Who planted you,
that He may deliver His people from the godless and evil ones,
that the Russian Church may be established
upon your blood and sufferings
unto the salvation of our souls."
During the Russian Communist era the clergy, monastics, and laity of the Church faced severe persecutions the likes of which Christianity had never seen. Surpassing the death toll of even the earliest Christians, Russian Orthodox believers faced imprisonment, torture, and death by the atheistic communist regime. It is nearly impossible to give an accurate number of those who died for their faith during this horrific period, but some would argue that the number reaches in the tens of millions. The lives of these Christ-like confessors and martyrs of the 20th century serve as an inspiration and source of strength for us today. For "the blood of the martyrs' is the seed of the Church".
EXCERPT FROM BISHOP KALLISTOS WARE'S, THE INNER KINGDOM.
"The first thing, then, that distinguishes a martyrdom from a murder or a miscarriage of justice is the element of voluntary acceptance: 'if you agree'. An exercise of free will is required. Martyrdom signifies not just suffering but self-offering. The martyr offers himself or herself, thereby changing a death into a sacrifice; for the verb 'to sacrifice' bears precisely the meaning 'to sanctify something by offering it to God.' whether through a death or in some other way. The martyr is the one who chooses to say at the moment of crisis, 'Here am I'(Is 6:8), 'Lo, I come to do thy will, O God"(Heb 10:7). True martyrs do not draw punishment upon themselves by any gesture of willful and agressive provocation, but equally they do not tell lies or run away."
THOUGHTS FROM THE ROYAL MARTYRS
"...Life here is nothing - eternity is everything, and what we are doing is preparing our souls for the Kingdom of Heaven. Thus nothing, after all, is terrible, and if they do take everything from us they cannot take our souls..."
(Quote by Tsaritsa Alexandra from the book "Memories of the Russian Court" written by Anna Viroubova.)
"But there is nothing to be done, God knows what is good for us, we must bow down our heads and repeat the sacred words 'Thy will be done.'..."
"I tried to pray very fervently last night and this morning and that has also brought comfort to the soul."
(Letter from Nicholas to Alexandra - From the book "A Lifelong Passion" by Maylunas & Mironenko.)
"Father asks to . . . remember that the evil which is now in the world will become yet more powerful, and that it is not evil which conquers evil, but only love. . . "(Olga, in a letter from Tobolsk)
"On dear Olga: On her chest she wore an image of Saint Nicholas. A poem copied out in Olga's hand and inserted into her book reflected her father's thoughts in their long days together in Ekaterinburg. It remained there like a legacy, hers and his, to those who would come to the looted house:
Send us, Lord, the patience
In this year of stormy, gloom-filled days,
To suffer popular oppression
And the tortures of our hangmen.
Give us strength, oh Lord of Justice,
Our neighbor's evil to forgive
And the Cross so heavy and bloody
With Your humility to meet.
And in upheaval restless,
In days when enemies rob us,
To bear the shame and humiliation,
Christ our Saviour, help us.
Ruler of the world, God of the universe,
Bless us with prayer
And give our humble soul rest
In this unbearable, dreadful hour.
At the threshold of the grave
Breathe into the lips of Your slaves
Inhuman strength -
To pray meekly for our enemies."
(From the book "The Last Tsar" written by Edvard Radzinsky)
Excerpts from a talk given at the Dickinson College Conference in July, 1981 by James McLellan
"We must be true to the clergy we read of. 8100 clergy shot and tortured to death in 1922 alone! of Archimandrite Benjamin burned alive by the communists in his hut; we must hold fast to the true faith delivered to the saints. We read also of Archimandrite Matthew slashed with swords; of Fr. Kuturov frozen to death in winter frost with water poured over him until he turned into a stone statue; of 100 priests shot by communists in Tobolsk; of Fathers Peter, John, Alexander, Michael and Seraphim disappearing without a trace; of Father Mitrophan shot to death in front of his parents and children-and we marvel at the unsung crucifixion of Christ in our century.
Thus, in the Russian New Martyrs, as in our true pastors, we see the same image longing for its prototype, the Orthodox way of life, the secret work of our Saviour knocking at the doors of our hearts, the Church pure and unspotted, the way of peace, the rich soil in which we and our children can gain nourishment and growth. Blessed are we who find the never failing power of the Cross."
More info, prayers, sermons, and miracles related to the Royal and New Russian Martyrs.
Homily Before A Memorial Service For The Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II given by Archbishop(now Saint) John Maximovitch(1896-1966) of San Francisco
Forty years ago, a single day saw the collapse of the greatness and glory of the Russian State, a bulwark of peace throughout the whole world. The signature of the Sovereign,the Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich, on the act of abdication from the Throne,is a historical boundary separating Russia's great and glorious past from her present dark and cruel circumstances.
The entire weight of the present regime's evil and its reordering of life is aimed at honest, well-intentioned and devout people, and the whole nation lies in oppression and constant fear. People are afraid of their own thoughts, thoughts they have not expressed aloud; they are afraid that what they are thinking might be reflected in their facial expressions.
What happened that day, forty years ago? Apostasy from God's Anointed, apostasy from an authority submissive to God, apostasy from the oath of fidelity to the Anointed Sovereign, given before God, and the giving over to him to death.
He who had devoted all his strengthin God's name to the service of Russia was deprived of authority, and then also of freedom.
For decades the dark forces of evil carried on a struggle against God's Anointed, against the ruling authority faithful to God. These same forces also killed the Emperor Alexander II,the Tsar-Liberator.
This crime sobered the people, it shook the entire country, and that moral up surge gave Emperor Alexander III, the Peacemaker, the opportunity to rule Russia with a strong arm. Russia enjoyed two decades of peaceful life and development. Then a new conspiracy arose for the overthrow of the Royal Throne. It was a conspiracy of Russia's enemies.
Within Russia itself there was a struggle against her very essence, and, having destroyed the Throne, Russia's enemies even obliterated her name.
Now the whole world can see the close connection between the Royal authority, faithful to God, and Russia. When the Tsar ceased to be - Russia ceased to be.
The struggle against the Tsar and Russia was carried out by concealed godlessness, which later revealed itself openly. Such was the essence of the struggle against the Tsar and Russia, against the foundation of her life and historical development. Such are the meaning and aim of that struggle, which perhaps not everyone realized - those who were its accomplices.
Eveything filthy and paltry and sinful which could be found in the human soul was summoned against the Tsar and Russia. All of this, with all its might, rose up in struggle against the Royal Crown, which was crowned by a cross, for Royal service is bearing of the Cross.
People always rise up against the Cross by means of slander and falsehood, doing the devil's work, for, according to the word of the Lord Jesus Christ, "When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own; for he is a liar, and the father of it " (St. John 8:44).
Everything was roused up against the most meek, pure and abundantly-loving Tsar, so that at the terrible hour of the struggle against him he would remain alone. Filthy slanders were spread before hand against the Tsar and his family, so that the people would grow cool towards him.
Faithfuless allies took part in the conspiracy. When the Sovereign was in need of moral support, his closest associates did not provide it and violated their oath. Some took part inthe conspiracy; others, out of weakness, counseled abdication. The Tsar remained completely alone, surrounded by "treachery, baseness and cowardice."
From the day of the abdication, everything began to collapse. It could not have been otherwise. The one who united everything, who stood guard for the Truth, was overthrown. A sin was committed, and now sin had easy access. In vain do some wish to separate February from October,* the one was a direct consequence of the other.
In those March days, Pskov became the Tsar's Gethsemane, and Ekaterinburg-his Golgotha. Tsar Nicholas died as a martyr, with unshakeable faith and patience, having drunk the cup of suffering to the dregs.
The sin against him and against Russia was perpetrated by all who in one way or another acted against him, who did not oppose, or who merely by sympathizing participated in those events which took place forty years ago. That sin lies upon everyone until it is washed away by sincere repentance.
In raising up prayers for the repose of his soul, we pray also for Tsars Paul I and Alexander II, who were likewise slain in March. And we pray for the forgiveness of the Russian people of the grave sin of betrayal and regicide. Woe to those who call evil good and good evil. Before us, before the Russian people, lies the path of resurgence-which is the path of consciousness of sin and repentance.
For the rebirth of Russia, all political and other programs of unification are in vain: what Russia needs is the moral renewal of the Russian people.
We must pray for the forgiveness of our sins and for mercy on our homeland, just as the Lord God freed Israel from the Babylonian captivity and restored the ruined city of Jerusalem."
*Many attribute the Russian Revolution to the Bolsheviks, who seized power in October (.S.) 1917. Archbishop John and others point out that the groundwork for the Revolution was laid much earlier, as evidenced by the lack of support given the Tsar the time of the February uprisings, which precipitated his forced abdication in March. -pub.
(Source: "MAN OF GOD SAINT JOHN OF SHANGHAIAND SAN FRANCISCO", Nikodemos Orthodox Publication Society, Redding,Ca., 1994., pp. 131-133).
Compiled by Fr. Demetrios Serfes
Video of the glorification of the Royal and New Russian Martyrs at Christ the Savior Cathedral in Moscow.(Second video from bottom). Also included are clips of the desctruction(by the communists), rebuilding, and consecration of the newly reconstructed cathedral.
God's Anointed Sufferer- Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II
"The battle against Tsar Nicholas II was clearly bound up with the battle against God and faith . . . He became a Martyr, having remained faithful to the Ruler of those who rule, and accepted death in the same way as the martyrs accepted it." - Archbishop St.John Maximovitch.
Very soon after Russia accepted the seed of the Gospel (in the year 988) her soil was sanctified by the blood of martyrs. The pure young sons of Grand Duke Vladimir, Boris and Gleb, accepted death at the hands of a political assassin in order to save their people from civil war and terrible upheaval. They became sufferers for righteousness (I Peter 3:14); being conformed to the innocent suffering of Christ, they became true "Passion-Bearers.
As in the beginning of Holy Russia, so at the end: it pleased God to reveal Himself to the Russian people through the innocent suffering of Saints Boris and Gleb; now, in these latter times, He has again unveiled Himself through the purifying suffering of a Tsar, the Anointed of God and supreme Protector of Christ's Church in Russia, Nicholas II.
Western writers do not understand Orthodox monarchy. And because America rebelled against the King of England; Americans in particular have no sympathy for the idea of Monarchy. Indeed, it is almost a sacred tradition to applaud any nation that "comes to its senses" and overthrows its king! The Tsars of Russia are viewed in this same man- centered rather than God-centered light.
But; in Orthodox Russia there once existed a society composed not of "church and state" (such as existed in medieval Europe) but of "government and priesthood" - a holy commonwealth. The Tsar was never placed outside the Church or "above the law," but always within the Church and subject to the law of Christ. He was very much the "servant of the Gospel": he was required to live by it and rule by it in order to be worthy of the blessings of God upon himself, his family, and his nation. Such a righteous Father to his people was the last Tsar, Nicholas II. And now, in this year of grace, 1981, in spite of more than 60 years of Marxist deception, it pleases God to reveal Nicholas and those that suffered with him, to the Church and to the whole world (if only the world will hear it!).
Blessed Archbishop John Maximovitch has written: "Why was Tsar Nicholas II persecuted, slandered and killed? Because he was Tsar, Tsar by the Grace of God. He was the bearer and incarnation of the Orthodox world view that the Tsar is the servant of God, the Anointed of God, and that to Him he must give an account for the people entrusted to him by destiny..."
In Orthodox teaching, Tsar Nicholas was the last representative of lawful Christian authority in the world, the last one to restrain the mystery of iniquity (2 Thess. 2:27). (And, indeed, from the time of his martyrdom can be dated the unprecedented lawlessness, godlessness, and apostasy of this final age: the complete unleashing of the forces of darkness, which now threaten to complete ly engulf the world as a preparation for the reign of Antichrist.).
An Orthodox monarch receives his authority from God, but by what means and in what manner does it come to him? Authority to govern in the Name of God and perform the highest earthly ministry descends upon a Tsar in the Sacrament of Anointing, at the time of his coronation. After the crowning he is told that "this visible and material adornment of thy head is to thee a manifest sign that the King of Glory, Christ, invisibly crowneth thee." The Anointing takes place after the reading of the Gospel in Divine Liturgy. The chief hierarch anoints the Tsar with Holy Chrism on the brow, eyes, nostrils, lips, ears, breast, and hands, saying each time: "The Seal of the Gift of the Holy Spirit."
Thus, Nicholas II received his authority through a Sacrament. The Holy Spirit was upon him! "By rejecting the Tsar, the people blasphemed the Sacrament and trampled upon the grace of God" (Illustratted History of the Russian Peop1e).
In 1917 Metropolitan Macarius of Moscow saw in a vision the Saviour speaking to Tsar Nicholas: "You see," said the Lord, "two cups in my hands: one is bitter for your people, and the other is sweet for you." In the vision the Tsar begged for the bitter cup. The Saviour then took a large glowing coal from the cup and put it in the Tsar's hands. The Tsar's whole body then began to grow light, until he was shining like a radiant spirit. Then the vision changed to a field of flowers, in the middle of which Nicholas was distributing manna to a multitude of people. A voice spoke: "The Tsar has taken the guilt of the Russian people upon himself and the Russian people is forgiven." Nicholas him self once said: "Perhaps an expiatory sacrifice is needed for Russia's salvation. I will be that sacrifice. May God's will be done!
He had a very strong sense of his destiny as an Orthodox ruler. Although he had an opportunity to flee the country with his family and seek refuge outside Russia, he and his Empress deliberately chose to stay and accept whatever awaited them. He had been born on the feast of the Prophet Job and because of this he often remarked to his advisors: "I have a secret conviction that I am destined for a terrible trial, that I shall not receive my reward on this earth." No wonder that our Russian Bishops Abroad wrote (in 1968): "Job the Much-Suffering, on the day of whose commemoration the Tsar was born, said in his grievous suffering, concerning the day of his conception: 'As for that night, let darkness seize upon it; let it not be joined unto the days of the year" (Job 3:6). Terrible was the night of the murder of the Tsar"!
On that unspeakable night, "the prisoners were all in a deep sleep when they were awakened and ordered to dress in order to leave the city... The Imperial Family descended to the basement where the Sovereign sat down, with his ill son, on a chair in the middle of the room. The Duchesses, the doctor, and three dedicated servants were seated around him. Every one was waiting for the signal to depart. At the executioner's announcement (which stunned all the prisoners) of the impending execution, the Empress succeeded in crossing herself. She was killed instantly, together with the Sovereign. God spared them from hearing the groans of the Tsarevitch and the cries of the wounded Grand Duchess Anastasia. The first bullets did not bring death to the youngest ones and they were savagely killed with blows of bayonets and gun-butts and with shots at point-blank range. The most innocent and holy had suffered the greatest torture" (Illustrated Russian History).
In the words of Fr. Dimitry Dudko, one of the first of that wave of modern confessors to speak out against the betrayal of the Church in Russia: "The Tsar is a saint and, moreover, one of the greatest saints. O great saint of Russia, Great-Martyr Nicholas, pray to God for us!"
New Martyr Grand Dutchess Elizabeth
Ryabov (the assassin) -4/17 July -Alapaevsk
We knew that the fate of the tsar and his family Ekaterinburg, and of the other members of the imperial family in Alapaevsk, had already been decided in Moscow, and were only waiting for the order to carry out the sentence.
We had already been searching for a suitable place. We quickly found such a place, some tweleve versts from the town, where the bodies would not be found immediately. We chose an abandoned half-flooded mine. Upon receiving the news of the execution of the tsar and all his family from Ekaterinburg we immediately put our plan into action, without losing a moment's time.
It was night of the 17th to 18th July, 1918. When we were sure the whole town was asleep, we quietly stole through the window into the school building. Nobody there noticed our presence, they were already all asleep. We entered through the unlocked door into the building where the women were sleeping, and woke them up, telling them quietly to get dressed at once, as they were to be taken to a safe place because of the possibility of an armed attack.
They obeyed without a murmur.We tied their hands behind their backs there and then, blindfolded them, and led them out to the cart, which was already waiting by the school, sat them in it and sent them off to their destination.
After that, we went into the room occupied by the men. We told them the same thing, as we had to the women. The young grand dukes Konstantinovich (KR's sons) and Prince Paley (Vladimir) also obeyed meekly. We took them out into the corridor, blindfolded them, bound their hands behind their backs and put them in another cart. We had decided earlier that the carts should not go together. The only one who tried to oppose us was the grand duke Sergei Mikhailovich.
Physically he was stronger than the rest. We had to grapple with him. He told us catagorically that he was not going anywhere, as he knew they were all going to be killed! He barricaded himself behind the cupboard and our efforts to get him out were in vain. We only lost precious time. I finally lost my patience and shot at the grand duke.
However I only fired with the intention of wounding him slightly and frightening him into submission. I wounded him in the arm. He did not resist further. I bound his wound and covered his eyes. We put him in the last cart and set off. We were in a great hurry: the dawn already harolded the morning.
Along the way, grand duke Sergei Mikhailovich again repeated he knew they were all going to be killed.
'Tell me why' he asked me. 'I have never been involved in politics. I loved sport, played billiards...was interested in numismatics.'
I reassured him as best I could, although I was myself very agitated by everything I had been through that night.
Despite his wounded arms and the pain, the grand duke did not complain.
At last we arrived at the mine. The shaft was not very deep and, as it turned out, had a ledge on one side that was not covered by water.
First we led grand duchess Elizabeth (Ella) up to the mine. After throwing her down the shaft, we heard her struggling in the water for some time. We pushed the nun lay-sister Varvara
St. Barbara The New Martyr
down after her. We again heard the splashing of water and then the two women's voices. It became clear that, having dragged herself out of the water, the grand duchess had also pulled her lay-sister out. But, having no other alternative, we had to throw in all the men also.
None of them, it seems, drowned, or choked in the water and after a short time we were able to hear all their voices again.
Then I threw in a grenade. It exploded and everything was quiet. But not for long.
We decided to wait a little to check whether they had perished. After a short while we heard talking and a barely audible groan. I threw another grenade.
And what do you think - from beneath the ground we heard singing! I was seized with horror. They were singing the prayer: 'Lord, save your people!'
We had no more grenades, yet it was impossible to leave the deed unfinished. We decided to fill the shaft with dry brushwood and set it alight. Their hymns still rose up through the thick smoke for some time yet.
When the last signs of life beneath the earth had ceased, we posted some of our people by the mine and returned to Alapaevsk by first light and immediately sounded the alarm in the cathedral bell tower. Almost the whole town came running. We told everyone that the grand dukes had been taken away by unknown persons!
(Source: "A LIFELONG PASSION, NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA THEIR OWN STORY"., Andrei Maylunas and Sergi Mironenko., Doubleday, New York., February 1997., pp. 638-639).
THE SIXTY PRIEST MARTYRS
The following is a first-hand account of how believers in the face of the atheist authorities stood immovably in their faith before the face of death. Here are the words of the witness:
In the 1930s I traveled through the whole of Siberia on a scientific expedition. The road we were on was completely in the middle of nowhere, there were no inhabitants, only prisoners. In the camps round that area there reigned an unheard of tyranny. For no reason at all people were shot, beaten, and flogged. It was the time of communism in Russia -the atheistic state.
Living conditions in the camps were terrible, there were sixty to eighty people in the barracks, with two layers of boards for sleeping. In case one of the prisoners didn't fulfill his daily assignment, the camp guards had the right to do what they wanted with them. People were dying of hunger and cold.
It was a clear, quiet night. As long as I live I will never forget this valley. I will remember it always! Our sweet morning sleep was interrupted by a kind of mournful human moan. We all got up quickly. We saw a crowd moving in our direction; because of the undergrowth it was difficult to see what was going on.
It was sixty prisoners, and as they got closer we could see clearly that they were all wasted from starvation and overwork. Each of them had a rope on his shoulders. They were dragging a sleigh -a sleigh in the month of July! And on the sleigh was a barrel of human excrement.
We heard the precise words of the guards' command: Lie down and don't move. Already a ditch had been prepared for them. The sixty martyrs were priests. In the quiet of the July morning, the weak voices of many of the priests were clearly audible. One of the executioners asked the priests standing by the ditch, one by one: You're taking your last breath; tell us, is there a God or not? The reply of the Martyrs was firm and confident: Yes, there is a God!
The first shot rang out. Sitting in the tents, our hearts pounded. A second shot rang out, a third, and more. The priests were led up one by one to the ditch; the executioners standing by the ditch asked each priest: Is there a God? The answer was the same: Yes, there is a God!
(Account taken from 'Youth of the Apocalypse' by Monks John Marler and Andrew Wermuth)