The New Martyrs and Confessors
of Russia

by Vladimir Moss

Monastic Martyrs of Alexander Svir Monastery

     At the beginning of the revolution, the Bolsheviks tried to nationalise the Alexander Svir monastery, Lodeinopolye uyezd, Olonets province. A Union for the Defence of the Alexander Svir monastery was formed; as many as a thousand members of the Union gathered together and temporarily stopped the nationalisation. However, the five organisers of the Union were executed.

     Then a band of Bolshevik looters burst, with cursing and blasphemy on their lips, into the monastery. They demanded the keys for the monastery storerooms from Igumen Eugene, the treasurer and the steward. The leaders of the monastery objected as best they could and defended the monastery's heritage from the looters. The band did not like this, and they condemned the monks to execution by shooting. They forced six of the older, leading fathers to dig a pit-grave in the courtyard of the monastery. When the pit had been dug, they placed them on its edge and began to aim at them with their guns. It was the third day of Holy Pascha. The martyrs asked the executioners to allow them to chant "Christ is risen!". The executioners did not allow them, but they began to chant nevertheless. At the same time shots rang out. The monks fell into the pit. According to a witness, the Karelian novice John, who observed the whole scene from a trunk in which he had hidden himself, the steward had a big, black beard and it had immediately gone white when he stood in front of the pit.


     New Martyr Schema-Igumen Zosimas of the Svir desert said: "In the course of the whole Christian era not one heresiarch has introduced such destructive opinions [as Metropolitan Sergius], which besmirch the great Christian exploit of martyrdom and confession. Not one has yet called on people and taught them to rejoice at the overthrow of everything that was achieved by the Apostolic preaching, by the sufferings of the holy martyrs and confessors What a pity that the majority of hierarchs, keeping quiet about the essence of the question, go round it, not seeing a canon directly relating to this subject, and in this way they calm their conscience. But if there is no direct canon, then there is the Holy Gospel - the foundation of all the canons."

     (Sources: Protopresbyter Michael Polsky, Noviye Mucheniki Rossijskiye, Jordanville, 1949-57, part 1, p. 209; "First Epistle of Schema-Igumen Zosimas of Svir Desert" (1927), personal archive of V.K.; William Husband, "Godless Communists", DeKalb, Ill.: Northern Illinois University Press, 2000, p. 49)

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