In 1886, after the death of his wife and child, the young priest entered the Kozlov Monastery where he was professed with the name of Vladimir. That same year he was consecrated as bishop of Staraya Russa, Vicar of the Novgorod Diocese, and five years later, when the country was afflicted by the epidemic of cholera and crop failure, he heeded the Samara See. In his sermons and appeals Vladyka Vladimir called upon the clergy and laity to help the needy and often conducted moliebens himself, beseeching the Lord to deliver people from calamities.
For six years, from 1892, His Grace Vladimir administered the Georgian Exarchate, paying special attention to the spiritual enlightenment of the multiethnic Orthodox population of the Caucasus, and opening new churches and parish schools.
In 1898 Vladyka Vladimir was appointed to the Moscow See. His Eminence Vladimir administered that see for fifteen years. In his opinion his main task was to step up pastoral work, and he gave every support to pastor confessors, startsy [elders] of the Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. Vladyka Vladimir had a hand in organizing general educational reading for factory workers, whose programme included theological lectures.
He was the spiritual mentor of Grand Princess Yelizaveta Fyodorovna.
In 1912 Vladyka Vladimir was appointed Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga. The three years he spent in St. Petersburg as its diocesan hierarch were extremely difficult. The metropolitan openly disliked Rasputin, for which he fell into disgrace and in 1915 was transferred to the Kiev See.
The October revolution provoked discord in the ecclesiastical life of the Ukraine. Opposing the establishment of an independent Ukrainian Church, Metropolitan Vladimir called upon pastors and laymen to avoid enmity. In January 1918, when the civil war came to Kiev, the metropolitan continued to conduct divine services even during shelling. On the evening of January 2S, when the Red Army captured Kiev, five armed men came to the Lavra, took the metropolitan out and shot him down. Before his martyrdom the Vladyka prayed and blessed his murderers. The place of his execution soon began to be visited by many worshippers.
Metropolitan Vladimir's martyrdom opened a new page in the history of Russian sanctity: it marked the beginning of a long period of persecutions, during which thousands of archpastors, pastors land laymen of the Russian Orthodox Church were martyred.
In 1895 was professed with the name of Veniamin [Benjamin].
From 1897 to 1910 he worked as an instructor at theological educational establishments, the rector of the Samara and then -- of the St. Petersburg Theological Seminary. On January 23, 1910, he was nominated as bishop of Gdov. Vladyka Veniamin accepted the hierarchal dignity as a duty to perform a feat and to engage in apostolic preaching: he could often be seen in churches and in workers' suburbs where he conducted moliebens, invariably attended by numerous worshippers.
In the spring of 1917 the diocesan congress elected Vladyka Veniamin to the Petrograd Metropolitan See. As he saw it, his main task was to improve parish life and free the Church from the political fetters, from which she often suffered in the past.
In 1921 Metropolitan Veniamin championed the handing over of church valuables to the starving population but under a strict control of the clergy and worshippers. Among the highest hierarchs of the Russian Orthodox Church he displayed the greatest tolerance of the Bolshevik government, yet his irreconcilable attitude to the Obnovlentsy (Renovationists) who usurped the administration of the Church, ultimately led to Vladyka Veniamin's arrest in May 29, 1922.
The metropolitan was accused of a collusion with the world bourgeoisie and of distributing statements, inciting worshippers against Soviet government. In spite of the fact that hundreds of thousands of Petrograd residents came daily to express their affection for their Vladyka, the court sentenced Metropolitan Veniamin, together with Archimandrite Sergius and laymen Yurii Novitsky and Ioann Kovsharov, to death by shooting. On the night of August 12, 1922, the sentence was carried out.
On February 18, 1905, Grand Prince Sergei Aleksandrovich was murdered by Socialist-Revolutionary terrorist I. Kalyaev. Yelizaveta Feodorovna staunchly bore her husband's death. Two days after the terrible tragedy she visited the murderer in prison and urged him to repent. She submitted a petition to the Tsar, asking His Majesty to pardon the terrorist, and prayed for the salvation of his soul till her last days.
After her husband's tragic death Yelizaveta Fyodorovna decided to devote the rest of her life to the Lord. Having sold the works of art and a great part of the valuables which belonged to her, she set up a cloister of charity in Moscow, naming it in honour of Sts. Martha and Mary. In the spring of 1918 Yelizaveta Fyodorovna was arrested by the Bolsheviks and together with two nuns, Yekaterina [Catherine] and Varvara [Barbara], was brought to Alapayevsk. Subsequently sister Yekaterina was released, whereas Varvara insisted on being left with the Grand Princess. Varvara was one of the first sisters of Sts. Martha and Mary's Cloister. She died a martyr's death together with Grand Princess Yelizaveta Fyodorovna at the age of 35.
On the night of July 17, 1918, Yelizaveta Fyodorovna and some other members of the House of Romanovs were thrown into a pit near Alapayevsk and pelted with grenades. Their remains were removed in October 1918. When they were being taken out of the pit, the singing of prayers was heard there. Yelizaveta Fyodorovna's body was found intact and undecayed. The remains of the Grand Princess and of Nun Varvara were brought from Russia to Jerusalem where they were interred under the arches of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene Equal-to-the-Apostles.
(Journal of Moscow Patriarchate, 1992:4)
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