Proclamation of the Holy Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church


of the Metropolitan of Kiev and Halich VLADIMIR (Bogoyavlensky) (1848-1918),
of the Metropolitan of Petrograd and Gdovsk BENJAMIN (Kazansky) (1873-1922) and of the Archimandrite SERGIUS (Shein) (1866-1922), IURY Novitsky (1882-1922), and JOHN Kovsharov (1878-1922), who were murdered with him,
of the Grand Duchess ELIZABETH (1864-1918) and the nun BARBARA (Ý1918)

The Council of Bishops,
March 31 - April 4, 1992, Holy Danilov Monastery

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!

Martyrdom is bearing witness to the Truth of Christ and God's Church to the death, and Christ Himself, the "Faithful Witness" (Rev., I, 5), "to this end was born, and for this cause came into the world, to bear witness unto the truth" (John XVIII, 37), and to give up His life through suffering on the Cross for the redemption of many.

In the words of the Apostle, we have been redeemed "with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter I, 19). To bear Christian witness is to give glory to God in living and in dying: "If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord" (Romans XIV, 8).

The persecution of Christ's Church which arose in Russia in our time was God's will. And once again, as in ancient times, the blood of martyrs was shed in witness to the victory of Christ. Holy Patriarch Tikhon of All Russia, in considering the trials which had been visited upon his flock, courageously called upon them to share with him the cup of martyrdom. "If it becomes necessary to suffer for the sake of Christ, we call upon you, beloved sons and daughters of the Church, we call upon you to suffer together with us. If a redeeming sacrifice is required, the death of the innocent sheep of Christ's flock, I bless the faithful servants of the Lord Jesus Christ to pain and death for His sake."

It would be impossible to name all the new martyrs of the Russian Church in the twentieth century. Nevertheless we express the hope, that the proposed canonization of these first witnesses to the Truth, who in martyrdom shed their blood for Christ, will form the beginning of a further churchwide process of glorification of the many confessors of the Orthodox faith in our Church.

Metropolitan Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky) of Kiev and Halich was the first bishop to become a hieromartyr in the new era of persecution. With spiritual majesty and evangelical simplicity in his episcopal office he confirmed the remarkable unity of an upright life and a martyr's end, bearing witness to the faith of Christ "unto the death" (Rev. XII, 11). He completed his earthly service to God and the Church on January 25, 1918, in the city of Kiev-the cradle of Christianity in Russia, ascending here to his Golgotha.

Another bishop and inspired man of prayer-Metropolitan Benjamin (Kazansky) of Petrograd and Gdovsk, spiritually nourished his faithful children, while persecution from without and factions from within threatened to shake Christ's Church. Faced with imminent death he said, "I am a faithful son of my people, whom I love and have always loved. I have given my life for them and I am blest in that the common people have repaid me with that same love, placing me in that position which I now hold in the Orthodox Church. I do not know what sentence you will pass upon me - life or death - yet whatever your pronouncement, I will raise my eyes upward with the same reverence, make the sign of the Cross and say, "Glory to Thee, O Lord God, for all things!"

The Archimandrite Sergius and the faithful, Iury Novitsky and John Kovsharov, who were murdered along with Metropolitan Benjamin as his faithful fellow warriors, went to the slaughter along with their bishop.

The Grand Duchess Elizabeth, founder of the Martha-Mariinsky Convent in Moscow, consecrated her pious Christian life to charitable works, helping the poor and the sick. Together with her cell attendant the nun Barbara she received the crown of martyrdom on the feast of St. Sergius of Radonezh, July 5, 1918 o.s.

The Holy Council, having considered their deeds and convinced that their sufferings constitute martyrdom for Christ, unanimously decrees:

  1. That Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev, murdered in Kiev by those who persecuted the Church on January 25, 1918 o.s., Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd and Archimandrite Sergius, Iury and John who suffered with him in Petrograd July 31, 1922 o.s., Grand Duchess Elizabeth and the nun Barbara, who were murdered near Alapayevsk July 5, 1918 o.s. shall be numbered among the holy martyrs.
  2. That their precious remains, should they have been found, shall be considered holy relics.
  3. That special services be composed to these new Russian martyrs, but until such time as such be written after this day of glorification of their memory that the general office for martyrs be served.
  4. That their feasts be celebrated: Hieromartyr Metropolitan Vladimir on January 25; Hieromartyr Metropolitan Benjamin, Archimandrite Sergius and the martyrs Iury and John on July 31; Venerable Martyrs Grand Duchess Elizabeth and the nun Barbara on July 5 according to the Julian Calendar.
  5. That the celebration of the Synaxis of the new Russian martyrs and confessors be celebrated on January 25 (should this day be a Sunday) or on the Sunday following. The following saints' names are to be commemorated: Tikhon, Patriarch of all Russia, Vladimir, Metropolitan of Kiev, Benjamin, Metropolitan of Petrograd, Archimandrite Sergius, Iury and John who suffered with him, Grand Duchess Elizabeth and the nun Barbara, and in the future all canonized new Russian martyrs and confessors. The general office for martyrs will be served until the composition and acceptance of a special service, making as well the necessary additions to the office of All Russian Saints.
  6. That holy icons of the newly canonized martyrs be written for veneration in accordance with the instructions of the 7th Ecumenical Council.
  7. That their lives be published along with the written works of the holy Metropolitans Vladimir and Benjamin and Grand Duchess Elizabeth for the edification and instruction in piety of the faithful.
  8. That the joyful and blessèd announcement of the glorification of these new martyrs be made on the part of the Holy Council to all the Russian flock.
  9. That their names be communicated to the heads of the fraternal national churches for inclusion into their calendars.
  10. That the Synodal commission on canonization in studying the deeds of the new Russian martyrs be charged with commencing research on materials connected with the martyrdom of the imperial family.
  11. That canonization commissions be established in all dioceses of the Russian Orthodox Church and within the confines of such to collect and study materials for the purpose of elevating models of faith and piety to sainthood, especially twentieth century martyrs and confessors.

Through the intercession and prayers of the glorified new Russian martyrs may the Lord strengthen our faith and that of the flock of the Church, redeemed by His precious Blood, and may the blood of the new martyrs become for the faithful of the Church a seed of faith which will spring forth to life eternal. Amen.

Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

Members of the Holy Council of Bishops

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