HIEROMARTYR CONSTANTINE OF DUNILOVO (+ 1936)
By Vladimir Moss
Priest Constantine Vasilyevich Tretyakov was born in 1877 in the village of Elyunino, Shuya uyezd, Vladimir province in the family of a priest. He went to a church-parish school and to a gymnasium in the village of Kokhma. In 1900 he finished his studies at the Vladimir theological seminary and married a girl from Kokhma who had been in the Vladimir institute of noble girls – Sophia Alexandrovna. In 1902 their first daughter was born, and the young family moved to the village of Dunilovo, Shuya uyezd, where Fr. Constantine served in the Annunciation church. In time 17 children were born to the pious couple, of whom four were twins. All were baptized in the Annunciation church. Some of them died in childhood. There are still some old people in Dunilovo who remember Fr. Constantine. “He was a holy man,” they say, “he had a large soul.” He was ready at any moment to come to the help of the suffering. In his free time Fr. Constantine loved to read the books of Russian authors to his children. The favourite author of the whole family was N.A. Nekrasov. The family loved to sing Russian folk songs – the children sang well. After the revolution, things changed. The servants of the Church were declared to be enemies of the people. Fr. Constantine was no exception. In 1931 he was arrested in Dunilovo and convicted of “declining from labour duties of state significance”. In accordance with article 61-4, he was sentenced to three years’ exile to Kargopol in Arkhangelsk province. His wife and the children living with them Nicholas and Alevtina were deprived of their civil rights and expelled from the house. Their property, books and icons were burned. The family moved to Shuya, where the elder daughters lived. Meanwhile, Fr. Constantine appealed against his sentence, and in 1933, after he had spent eighteen months in exile, he was released. On returning from exile he went to serve in the Resurrection cathedral in Shuya. His spirit had not been broken by exile, he became still stronger in the Orthodox faith and in his conviction of the rightness of his chosen path. Sophia Alexandrovna felt that this would not turn out well either for him or for the family (their eldest son Basil had already been expelled from a military school when they learned that he was the son of a priest). On her knees she begged Fr. Constantine to stop serving in church, but he was unbending. The authorities did not leave Fr. Constantine in peace. In 1935 he was summoned to the NKVD in Shuya three times. The first time they offered that he renounced his priesthood and his faith in God. The second time they insisted that he work for them and betray the secrets of the confessional. The third time they tried to force him to shave his beard and whiskers. Each time he refused. At the end of November, 1935 arrests of the Shuya clergy began – unlike many of the clergy in Ivanovo, they had not become renovationists or agreed to work with the authorities. In December many of Fr. Constantine’s colleagues, who thought like him, were arrested. He was left alone in the Resurrection cathedral. Early in February, 1936 he was summoned to Ivanovo by the head of the third secret-political administration of the UGB for Ivanovo province. He signed a document that he would not leave the city and was told that he was being accused in accordance with articles 58-10 and 58-11. A search was carried out in his flat. There were interrogations almost daily. Fr. Constantine replied shortly and clearly. He refused to name any names except those who had already been arrested and given testimonies. He was convicted of “belonging to an anti-Soviet group of clergy of the city of Shuya”, of “taking an active part in prayers for the former Romanov Tsars and for slaughtered White Guards” and for “giving material help to prisoners”. In accordance with articles 58-10 and 58-11, he was exiled for three years to the north. He saw his family for the last time on April 24. The next day he was sent to a camp in Arkhangelsk province – perhaps Solovki, but this is not confirmed. In the camp Fr. Constantine fell gravely ill. He was coughing violently, but there was no medical help. He did not live to the autumn. He died sitting on a chair in the canteen. His last words were: “Well, brothers, forgive me.” He was buried in the local cemetery. On his grave was his surname and his number, 319. The news of his death was relayed to Sophia Alexandrovna. She was able to get to Solovki, bow down to the little mound, kiss the cross, pray a little and take away a bit of earth from the grave, from which she was not parted until her death.