HIEROMARTYRS ALEXANDER AND LEV OF KRASNOUFIMSK
By Vladimir Moss
Priest Alexander Malinovsky was born in 1890, had completed his studies at Perm theological seminary, and since 1916 had been studying in the Kazan theological academy. In his young years he had been a church activist and had expended much zeal on the prosperity of the parish in the village of Verkh-Suksunskoye. The reason for his arrest was his flaming sermons in the village church. The following fragments of one such sermon have been preserved on tape:
“Laymen, don’t you know what is happening now in Petrograd and Moscow? There the Bolsheviks are putting their horses in the churches and cathedrals and are mocking the Orthodox faith. Orthodox! Let us not allow our holy things to be mocked, let us stand for the Orthodox faith. Soon war will begin again, again there will be machine guns and cannons firing, let us not allow our Orthodox faith to be blasphemed!”
News of this sermon was immediately conveyed to Krasonufimsk, where the authorities decided to arrest Fr. Alexander. Red Guards were sent to Verkh-Suksunskoye. Someone informed Fr. Alexander, and he hid in the church after telling the bell-ringer to sound the alarm. Immediately the Red Guards arrived and the bell sounded, the inhabitants of the village gathered at the church. The commander with difficulty thrust his way through the crowd to the church doors, broke the lock and entered the church. Fr. Alexander was standing in the altar with a cross in his hands, wearing a rasa and saying his last earthly prayers to God. He made the sign of the cross over the commander and then, leaving the church at his command and giving his last blessings, he blessed everyone with the sign of the cross. The parishioners filled the whole square and would not allow the Red Guards to go forward or take their batyushka. But with their rifles they pushed them away, put Fr. Alexander in the cart and took him to Krasnoufimsk, while some parishioners ran after him hoping to catch a last glimpse of their beloved pastor.
In Krasnoufimsk Fr. Alexander met his brother in the faith, Fr. Lev, and together they went to meet their martyrdom.
Priest Lev Yershov was born in 1867 in an Old Ritualist merchant family. He left the Old Ritualists and was joined to the Orthodox Church by chrismation. Almost two years later he was ordained to the priesthood, after which he served as a teacher of the Law of God and diocesan missionary. His service in this post was so fervent that he was several times thanked by the ruling hierarch and given awards.
Fr. Lev was arrested on a Sunday in August, 1918. The Red Army men burst into the service, pushed away the worshippers and went into the altar. Fr. Lev asked the soldiers to wait until the end of the service, after which he promised to go with them and stand on trial. The soldiers agreed, and Fr. Lev completed the last liturgy of his life. Then, as the parishioners came up to kiss the cross, they dragged him out of the church. Moreover, they tore off the cross on his breast so forcefully that they injured him, and let off several shots to keep the excited crowd away.
On the porch Fr. Lev saw Fr. Alexander. The two priests embraced, kissed and, though surrounded by a tight ring of soldiers, took the opportunity to begin praying. This enraged the soldiers, and started to beat the priests on the head with the butt of their rifles.
There are no eye-witness accounts of their deaths, but documents state that Fr. Lev was beaten up and shot at the end of August, 1918. According to other sources, he was shot in the night from September 1 to 2 in Krasnoufimsk. According to one version, Fr. Lev was shot with twelve other priests in prison in Perm. Fr. Alexander was strangled by his own epitrachelion in Krasnoufimsk towards the end of 1918. One believer buried the bodies, which when uncovered were found to be wrapped in barbed wire. They were incorrupt. Now relics of these three hieromartyrs are to be found in the Omsk church of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia of the Russian True Orthodox Church.
Also shot with them were “the officers Skornyakov, Vasev and Nikiforov”. The prisoners “were bound to each other in groups of two and three and shot beyond the city in the so-called Cold Ravine…”