HIEROMARTYR ANDRONICUS, ARCHBISHOP OF PERM
and those with him (+ 1918)
By Vladimir Moss
Archbishop Andronicus, in the world Vladimir Nikolsky, was born on August 1, 1870. He was the son of a deacon of the church the village of Povodnevo, Myshkin uyezd, Yaroslavl diocese. In 1885 he finished his studies at the Yaroslavl theological school. In 1891 he finished his studies at the Yaroslavl seminary and entered the Moscow Theological Academy. On August 1, 1893, with the blessing of St. John of Kronstadt, he was tonsured into monasticism with the name Andronicus, and was ordained to the diaconate on August 6. In 1895 he graduated from the Academy, and was awarded the degree of candidate of theology for his work "The Early Church's Teaching on the Eucharist as a Sacrifice in connection with the Question of Redemption". On July 22, 1895 he was ordained to the priesthood.
Fr. Andronicus began his pastoral service in the Caucasus, being assistant inspector of the Kutaisi theological seminary from 1895 to 1896. From 1896 to 1897 he was a teacher of homiletics and inspector of the Alexandrovsky missionary seminary in Ardon, Ossetia. In 1897 he was appointed a member of the Russian Orthodox mission in Japan. This appointment, in his own words, "made me so sorrowful that I wept and would have been very glad if it had not happened... It was sad to part... But this led me to the thought that one should not live as one wants, but as God commands..."
Hieromonk Andronicus described his journey to Japan in his book, A Missionary Journey to Japan (Kazan, 1899). On September 21, 1897 he left St. Petersburg, and on October 26 he left Odessa with Archimandrite Sergius (Stragorodsky) and arrived in Japan on December 26 after stopping in Greece, Italy, France, England and the U.S.A. In 1899 he was released from service in Japan.
On March 5, 1899, at the request of Bishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky), Fr. Andronicus was appointed rector of the Alexandrovsky missionary seminary in Ufa with the rank of archimandrite. He stepped down from this post on January 13, 1900, and on October 18 was appointed rector of the Ufa theological seminary. In 1901 he was awarded the order of St. Anna, second class, and in 1905 - the order of St. Vladimir, fourth class.
In 1905, after the publication of the Tsar's manifesto on civil liberties, Archimandrite Andronicus appealed to the population of the province to return to peaceful work. Later, he would say the following about the events in Russia: "It is a question... of a struggle between faith and faithlessness, between Christianity and Antichristianity... Masonry… will openly drive out Christianity… and pour into one man of iniquity, the son of perdition, the Antichrist. This is the clue to our most recent liberties: their aim is the destruction of Christianity in Rus'."
"It is necessary to work in such a way as to organize the whole people into one family, firmly and consciously standing for the holy, historical heritage of the people - the Christian Faith and the autocratic Tsar. It is necessary obstinately and assiduously to steer clear of all parties, and to preserve the people precisely as a people, foreign to all party spirit, for wherever there is party spirit, there is division, there is struggle, there order is not to be looked for, and the whole is bound to disintegrate. And for that reason, when they say that amongst the parties there is a Russian party, this is either a lie or a misunderstanding. No, it is the Russian people itself, plucking up courage, consciously looking round on all sides and deciding firmly to stand for its treasure and not give in to the cunning schemes of its enemies...
"Stand aside from all flattering parties, who want to rob you of your most holy feelings; know God and His autocratic Tsar, so that through your striving and unanimity he may truly be an autocrat, so that he may be the source of righteousness on earth. Remember that all these parties that have appeared do not have your good in mind, but are aiming only to rule over you: the Cadets will be in the majority in the Duma, as they were in the previous Duma - and they will rule by force over everyone; there will be Socialists and other leftists - and they will do the same; no one will be able to restrain them until some other party wins a majority. But the main thing is that all these parties are trying to destroy the Faith in your land - that Faith by which you have been living for a thousand years now; and at the same time they are trying to separate you from your Tsar. And then they will completely get rid of him - that Tsar whom you have placed over you before God, and who rules you according to conscience..."
On November 5, 1906, Archimandrite Andronicus was consecrated Bishop of Kyoto and appointed assistant to the head of the Russian spiritual mission in Japan, St. Nicholas of Japan.
On March 28, 1907 he was greeted by the Orthodox flock in Tokyo. On May 27, he petitioned to be released from service in Japan because of illness, which was granted on July 5. On October 26, 1907, he became the deputy of Bishop Eulogius of Kholm and took temporary control of the diocese, appearing in a session of the State Duma in Kholm. On March 14, 1908 he was made Bishop of Tikhvin, a vicariate of the Novgorod diocese.
A contemporary remembered: "Already at first sight his thin figure, assiduous prayer and cordial words made a most pleasant impression... Vladyka mixed his zealous, tireless service with heartfelt sermons, his lofty position - with simple, close relations with the Orthodox worshippers. Fear of society's displeasure did not embarrass the bishop-preacher. In his sermons Vladyka often reproved the frenzy of worldly spectacles with great boldness."
Bishop Andronicus continued to be a firm supporter of the Orthodox Tsar: "While among the other peoples of Europe the power of the princes and kings conquered the peoples and in relation to them was the enslaver of the disobedient, but weak [people] - we, on the other hand, ourselves created our own power and placed the princes - the prototypes of our tsars - over ourselves. Thus was it at the recognition of Ryurik and his brothers, whom our forefathers here, near Ilmen lake, placed over themselves to rule at a time when we had only just begun to be conscious of ourselves as a people, when our statehood was founded. With the acceptance of Christianity this power entrusted by the people to the princes received a Divine sanctification from on high: the princes became the anointed of God, receiving high authority over the people from God, so as to rule the people under God. Moreover, as Great Russia grew and became stronger, the power of the princes, who were later called Autocratic Tsars, became higher, being bound to answer for the power that was given them over the people before God and their conscience. Then, when by the permission of God we had no Tsar in Rus', having survived the terrible years under various kinds of administrations, and not finding in any of them salvation from the destruction that threatened, we quickly and unanimously (with the exception of a few power-seekers and intriguers) restored our tried and tested form of power over the kingdom: having elected Michael Fyodorovich to the kingdom, we entrusted the whole Tsarist Autocracy over ourselves to him before God and in the name of God the Omniscient. And we were not mistaken in our wise reasoning this time: our half-destroyed and exhausted kingdom quickly gathered strength and was regenerated and strengthened in all respects, even attaining incomparably greater glory and prosperity than in the times prior to the time of troubles. We came out onto our historical road.
"In what was this autocratic power of the Tsar strong? In that fact that it was based on the conscience and on the Law of God, and was supported by its closeness to the land, by the council of the people. The princely entourage, the boyars’ Duma, the Zemsky Sobor - that is what preserved the power of the Tsars in its fullness, not allowing anyone to seize or divert it. The people of proven experience and honesty came from the regions filled with an identical care for the construction of the Russian land. They raised to the Tsar the voice and counsel of the people concerning how and what to build in the country. And it remained for the Tsar to learn from all the voices, to bring everything together for the benefit of all and to command the rigorous fulfilment for the common good of the people of that for which he would answer before the Omniscient God and his own conscience. When applied to the present situation, this was our original Russian constitution worked out by the people itself, but as different from the constitutions from beyond the seas, about which our Red Hundreds of various shades rave, as heaven is from earth. This, our constitution, our Tsarist Autocracy rests not on faithfulness to the Tsar of a chance party majority, which sometimes changes in accordance with various, sometimes purely fortuitous or artificially created conditions, but on faithfulness to the Divine, eternal Law that is supreme both for the Tsar and the people, and to its echo - the law of the conscience, which dies only with the death of its bearer, man."
On the national question Vladyka wrote: "We [the Russians] have not violated and do not violate any of the peoples which are subject to us; we give to all, as before, freedom in all affairs of life on the basis of a common law that is equal for everyone, as also freedom of confession of his native faith for everyone. But we are the masters of the country and we wish to be such in fact, and therefore nobody must dare to mock us, or acquire power over us, or encroach on our higher rights. Still less shall we allow the dignity of our spiritual wealth and most important heritage - the Orthodox Faith and the Autocratic Tsar - to be mocked... In past times the Georgians themselves asked to be received into submission to Russia; for they saw that otherwise they would perish in intestinal warfare in the Caucasus or would be seized by their neighbours, the Turks or the Persians. And let the other nationalities of our great Kingdom remember that if they separate from Russia they will perish, being seized by their very strong neighbours, who are just waiting for this. And what kind of power these neighbours have let the Poles sincerely describe, remembering their brethren in Germany. A special word concerning the Jews: we did not accept them in our land and did not even conquer them. We cannot and will not give them equal rights, in accordance with the prophetic word of warning of the great writer of the Russian land, F.M. Dostoyevsky: 'The Jews will destroy Russia.' They do not want to use our tolerating them in our midst - so let them go wherever they want: we will not detain them at the gates; and we can live freely and prosperously without them. But if they remain among us, they will be as foreigners for us, not having the right to participate in the building of the people and the state."
On March 8, 1913 Vladyka Andronicus received the independent see of Omsk; and his ascent up the Urals Golgotha began on July 30, 1914 with his appointment as Bishop of Perm and Solikamsk (renamed Perm and Kungur on July 1, 1916). That summer Great Princess Elizabeth Fyodorovna made a pilgrimage to the relics of St. Symeon of Verkhoturye in his diocese. On July 19, 1914, the feast of St. Seraphim of Sarov, World War I began.
In August Perm heard the voice of Bishop Andronicus: "Amidst today's terrible events the Lord has decreed that I should occupy the see of the enlightener of Perm, St. Stephen. There, in the west, blood-red clouds have already gathered… Yes, this war is terrible, it will demand much blood, many victims. But truly it is allowed by the Providence of God...
"This is a great mercy of God after all the heavy trials and humiliations which our Homeland has undergone in recent times. And it is all our fault, because we have willingly given our souls into captivity to every kind of foreign import, as if we even rejoiced to become complete Europeans and were leaving behind our so-called Russian backwardness. Now we see from bitter experience that this foreign forwardness is in fact complete barbarism, moral bankruptcy and spiritual perversion."
Vladyka Andronicus set about building up the huge region with its one and a half million inhabitants and 570 churches and monasteries with apostolic zeal.
In November, 1914 he made his first visit to the Belogorsky monastery, to the cave church and to the Seraphimo-Alexeyevsky skete near the monastery. The skete was the cherished dream of some young Christian souls. It published some profound booklets on the monastic life, and the patriotic publication The Voice of Duty. The skete superior, Igumen Seraphim, published a unique chronicle of the 300th anniversary of the House of the Romanovs.
The bishop applied himself zealously to missionary work, to concerts of church music, to spiritual discussions and to patriotic exhortations to serve the Fatherland. He paid particular attention to the monasteries. In the summer of 1915 he again visited the Belogorsk monastery. He went far beyond Kungur to consecrate a place for the Shamarsky missionary monastery, which was founded in memory of the visit to the province of Great Princess Elizabeth Fyodorovna. In June he made a pilgrimage to the Tabor hermitage. There thousands of worshippers had assembled from Perm.
"And so, beloved," said Vladyka to his flock, "do not complain about sorrows as if they were a terrible misfortune. They wash away our sins, while giving extra holiness to virtue. It is not sorrows that are terrible, but carelessness, which destroys the man even while he remains at rest."
In 1916 he travelled to army headquarters and on August 12 had a conversation with the Tsar in which he warned him about Rasputin - to no effect. The Tsar very much liked the gift that Vladyka brought him - a pair of soldier's boots. (The province of Perm provided the army with boots.)
On March 3, 1917, the day after the Tsar's abdication, Vladyka Andronicus invited the leading citizens of the city to a meeting in the bishop's residence. Vladyka read out a draft “To All Russian Orthodox Christians”, in which he called the present situation an “interregnum”. Calling on all to obey the Provisional Government, he said: “We shall beseech the All-Generous One that He Himself establish authority and peace on our land, that He not abandon us for long without a Tsar, as children without a mother. May He help us, as three hundred years ago He helped our ancestors, that we may unanimously and with inspiration receive a native Tsar from His All-Good Providence.”
The new over-procurator wrote to Andronicus demanding an explanation for his actions in support of the old regime and “aimed at the setting up of the clergy against the new order”. The correspondence between them culminated on April 16 with a detailed letter from Archbishop Andronicus, in which he said:
“The act on the refusal of Michael Alexandrovich which legitimises the Provisional Government declared that after the Constituent Assembly we could have a monarchical government, or any other, depending on how the Constituent Assembly will pronounce on this. I have submitted to the Provisional Government, I will also submit to a republic if it will be established by the Constituent Assembly. But until then not one citizen is deprived of the freedom of expressing himself on the form of government for Russia; otherwise a Constituent Assembly would be superfluous if someone could irrevocably predetermine the question on the form of government in Russia. As I have already said many times, I have submitted to the Provisional Government, I submit now and I call on all to submit. I am perplexed on what basis you find it necessary to accuse men ‘of inciting the people not only against the Provisional Government, but also against the spiritual authorities generally”.
Later in 1917 Vladyka became one of the seven hierarchs in the preconciliar council of the Local Council of the Russian Church in Moscow. From August 15/28, 1917, until the end of the second session on April 7/20, 1918, Vladyka Andronicus took an active part in the Council, being deputy president of the section on the Old Ritualists and Yedinovery, deputy president of the publishing section and president of the section on the legal and property qualifications of the clergy. He was called “Burning Fire” at the Council. After the Bolsheviks seized the printing presses, Vladyka Andronicus did everything possible to see that the documents of the Council and its epistles should be published.
On December 13/26, 1917, he returned to Perm and made an appeal to his flock to stand firm in defence of the Church. On January 28 / February 8, 1918 the Bolsheviks of Perm published the decree on freedom of conscience and the separation of the Church from the State. Thus the lawless robbing of Church property which had taken place in 1917 was replaced by the "lawful" confiscation of the Church's possessions. On January 25 Vladyka Andronicus made a written appeal to the Orthodox people in all the churches and monasteries of the diocese to defend the heritage of the Church from the aggressors and looters.
In February the blood of unarmed defenders of the Faith flowed in Perm. Under the cover of machine-guns the Bolsheviks looted the podvorye of the Belogorsk monastery, killing many. On February 19 Bishop Andronicus wrote: "May the Lord give rest to, and forgive the sins, voluntary and involuntary, of all the Orthodox monks and laypeople killed in the city of Perm for the Holy Faith and Church in the Belogorsky podvorye. May the Lord bless the zeal of all those who at that time stood firmly for the holy things of the Church, fearing only God, and not the enemy terrors. May all Orthodox Christians be encouraged to stand [zealously] for the Holy Church, so as not to allow the enemy of our salvation [to desecrate] our holy heritage. [All] those who rise up against the Holy Church and mock her and her servants I curse in the name of God... If they do not repent, then I reject them, as enemies of the Church, from Holy Communion and from the hope of eternal salvation. And if any of them secretly or by deceiving the priest receives Communion, then that Communion will be for him with Judas Iscariot for eternal condemnation. This is to be proclaimed in all the churches of the city of Perm and Motovilikhi."
At the end of the second session of the Council, on April 11/24, Vladyka arrived in Perm. On April 16, Holy Thursday, a search was carried out in Vladyka's residence and chancellery by the Cheka. While expecting arrest at any moment, Vladyka was remarkably calm. He confessed and received the Holy Mysteries every day, and his radiant mood never left him.
On April 22 / May 5, he was raised to the rank of archbishop by Patriarch Tikhon. On April 26 / May 9, there was a cross procession in Perm in honour of St. Stephen of Perm, during which the archbishop first read the epistle of the Moscow Council on the subject of the Bolsheviks' decree on the separation of Church and State and then instructed the archdeacon to anathematize "all those who encroach on the temple of the Lord, until they correct themselves."
On April 27, the Friday of Bright Week, Great Prince Michael Alexandrovich Romanov, the brother of the Tsar, was in the old Peter and Paul cathedral in Perm. He noted in his diary: "Archbishop Andronicus served the Paschal Vespers; he served very well." In the night from the 30th to the 31st of May the great prince was seized by the authorities and disappeared.
On April 28, there was a search in the consistory and certain documents were taken. On the same day Vladyka wrote to Patriarch Tikhon: "I am for the time being in freedom, but I shall probably be arrested soon... In the event of my arrest I am leaving instructions concerning the closing of all the churches of the city of Perm. Let them reckon with the people itself."
The Bolsheviks accused Vladyka of calling on the people to armed resistance to Soviet power. He replied: “My faith and the laws of the Church order me to stand on guard for the faith and the Church of Christ and her dignity. If I do not do this, I shall cease to be not only a bishop, but also a Christian. Therefore you can hang me now, but I will not give you a penny of the Church, you can take it over my dead body, but while alive I will give you nothing that belongs to the Church. That is what I believe and how I act, and I call on the Orthodox people to stand for the faith even unto death.”
Those close to him urged him to hide, fearing his arrest, but he said that he was ready to accept death for Christ, but would not abandon his flock. While he awaited arrest, he was calm and received communion every day. On May 9 there took place a great cross process headed by the archbishop. This was a true Triumph of Orthodoxy. Turning to the concealed agents of the Bolsheviks in the crowd, he said: “Go and tell your chiefs that if they can come to the doors of the churches and vestries only over my dead body, and with me they will not get a church farthing.”
The Bolsheviks increased their pressure on the archbishop throughout May. On June 1 he gave a written order to his vicar, Bishop Theophanes, to enter upon the administration of the diocese in the event of his violent death. Just before Vladyka Andronicus’ arrest the chekists arrested the president of the “Union of the Russian People” in Perm and shot him in the wood.
Shortly before his arrest, a priest tried to dissuade Vladyka from his martyric course: “How can you save the flock from the wolves who are destroying it and yourself not fall into despondency from the brutality in the people and the coming defilement of the holy things?” Vladyka replied: “Believe me, Father, all this atheism and robbery is an assault of the enemy, a foul abuse of the good and God-fearing Russian soul. For the time being, because of their violation of their oath [to the tsar], God has removed the people’s reason and will, until they repent… But when they do repent, at first gradually, then they will completely their spiritual sight, will feel their strength and like Ilya Muromets will cast off this horror which has enshrouded the whole of our country… Perhaps I will not longer be in this world, but I will never abandon the hope and certainty that Russia will be resurrected and will return to God.”
1,500 Red Army soldiers were summoned by the Bolsheviks for the arrest of Vladyka Andronicus. At three o'clock in the morning on June 4/17 he was arrested and put into a droshky taking him to the police in Motovilikhi. All those in the hierarchical house were also arrested.
On the next day, June 5/18, he was taken to the Perm Cheka, where he spent the night. In reply the superiors of all the churches of Perm and Motovilikhi carried out the order of their archpastor: "I am closing down for Divine services all the churches of Perm and Motovilikhi, and I forbid the carrying out of any Divine services except baptism and the last rites for the dying." From the night of Vladyka's arrest the Perm clergy went on strike. The city was in turmoil. Orthodox Christians gathered on the streets, demanding the release of Archbishop Andronicus and cursing the Bolsheviks.
Meetings organized by the Bolsheviks blamed the clergy for everything, and the Bolshevik press claimed that Vladyka had called on the worshippers to shoot the Bolsheviks, and that he was only trying to save his own skin.
Vladyka had been arrested by an armed detachment of Bolsheviks under the leadership of the former convict Myasnikov, who surrounded the home of the archpastor. "On the third night [June 6 to 7]," recalled Myasnikov, "we went for five versts along the Siberian highway, turned left into the forest, went on for about a hundred metres and stopped the horses. I gave Andronicus a spade and ordered him to dig a grave. Andronicus dug out as much as was required - we helped him. Then I said: 'Go on, lie down.' The grave turned out to be short, he dug out a bit more at his feet and lay down a second time. It was still too short, he dug some more - the grave was ready. I allowed him to pray. Andronicus prayed in all directions for about ten minutes. Then he said he was ready. I said that I would not shoot him, but bury him alive unless he repealed his decrees, but he said that he would not do this and would not refrain from attacking the Bolsheviks. Then we covered him with earth and I shot a few times."
Myasnikov's account more or less accords with the testimony of two Perm chekists Dobelas and Padernis, both of them Latvians, and was corroborated by a baptized Jew, a former communist party member who became a priest and was shot by the Bolsheviks. According to them, Vladyka Andronicus was buried alive and shot near the road from Perm to Motoviliha (the workmen's suburbs) on June 7/20. According to another account, he had his cheeks hollowed, his ears and nose cut off, and his eyes gouged out, and was then thrown into the river to drown.
One of the archbishop's executioners, Lashevich, was once dying in a hospital in Harbin, China. As he turned restlessly on his bed, he was heard shouting: "Why are you standing here, Andronicus, what do you want? I didn't bury you, I was ordered to do it. You've come for me, don't oppress me. You know, I'm not guilty." And again he would say: "Andronicus, blood, Perm... Don't. Go away! Don't torment me!"
Shortly before his death, on May 5, 1918, Archbishop Andronicus said: "Perhaps I will no longer be in this world, but I am not deprived of the hope and certainty that Russia will be resurrected and return to God. Exhort everyone and reconcile the embittered with life, pour into them the principles of the radiant life according to the Gospel of Christ. Our work is to gather the flock of Christ... so that those who have become disillusioned with every kind of party here might find a living haven and good repose in the Church and amidst believers. The soul of the people will be resurrected - and its body, our healthy statehood, will also be resurrected. May the Lord help us. Forgive and pray for the sinful Archbishop Andronicus who invokes the blessing of God upon you..."
Among the archbishop’s papers after his death was found the following plan for a speech:
“1. My speech will be short: I rejoice to be condemned for Christ and the Church. You are worth a lot, but my life is – spittle.
“2. Counter-revolution! Politics is not my affair. For perishing Russia will (not) be saved through our mutual backbiting out of desperation.
“3. But my treasure is the Church. Calling on everyone everywhere, I excommunicate and anathematise those who rise up against Christ and encroach on the Church…”
(Sources: M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyatejshego Tikhona, Patriarkha Moskovskogo i Vseya Rossii, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, pp. 839, 965, 995; L. Regelson, Tragediya Russkoj Tserkvi, 1917-1945, Paris: YMCA Press, 1977, p. 243; V. Korolev, "'Eti Partii Starayutsa Izvyesti Vyeru v Zemlye Tvoyej...'", Radonezh, NN 13-14 (31), July, 1996, p. 3; "'... Da Ukrotit Gospod' Yarost' Ikh na Nas'" and "'Tserkov'... ob'yavlena nyelegal'noj'", Grebnevsky Listok, 11, 1996, pp. 1, 13-14; "Andronik- Pobyeditel' Muzhej", Pravoslavnaya Moskva, 13 (73), May, 1996, p. 7; Lyubovyu Pobezhdaya Strakh, Fryazino, 1998; Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, Noviye Mucheniki Rossijskiye, Jordanville, vol. I (1949), chapter 5, vol. II (1957), p. 283; The New Martyrs of Russia, Montreal: Monastery Press, 1972, pp. 31-32; Russkiye Pravoslavniye Ierarkhi, Paris: YMCA Press, 1986; Metropolitan Manuel, Die Russischen Orthodoxen Bischofe von 1893-1965, Erlangen, 1989, volume 6; Richard Pipes, Russia under the Bolshevik Regime, 1919-1924, London: Fontana Press, 1995, p. 355; Vladimir Rusak, Pir Satany, London, Canada: "Zarya", 1991, p. 29; Hieromonk Damascene (Orlovsky), Mucheniki, Ispovedniki i Podvizhniki Blagochestiya XX Stoletiya, Tver: Bulat, volume 2, 1996, pp. 82-112; Archbishop Andronicus, O Tserkvi Rossii, Fryazino, 1997, pp. 132-133, 136, 137; Za Khrista Postradavshiye, Moscow: St. Tikhon’s Theological Institute, 1997, pp. 87-88; M.A. Babkin, “Sviatejshij Sinod Pravoslavnoj Rossijskoj Tserkvi i Revoliutsionnie Sobytia Fevralia-Marta 1917 g.”, http://www.monarhist-spb.narod.ru/D-ST/Babkin-1, p. 8;