HIEROMARTYR HERMOGENES, BISHOP OF TOBOLSK
and those with him
Bishop Hermogenes, in the world George Ephraimovich Dolganov, was born on April 25, 1858, in Chersonese province, in the family of a yedinoveriye priest who later became a monk. He received his early and intermediate education in Church academic institutions, and had a classical education in Ananyevo before entering the juridical faculty of Novorossiysk University. On graduating from there, George did a course in the mathematical faculty and listened to lectures in the historico-philosophical faculty. Then, in 1889, he entered the St. Petersburg Theological Academy, graduating in 1893. Being a religious child from his early years, he was helped to make the decisive step in devoting himself to God by Archbishop Nicanor (Brovkovich) of the Chersonese. On November 28, 1890 he was tonsured into monasticism. Then on December 2, 1890 he was ordained to the diaconate, and on March 15,1892 – to the priesthood. He worked hard as a preacher and took an active part in the circle of student-preachers. He served frequently in the academy church and acquired a large number of admirers, who saw in him a future pillar of the Russian Church. In 1893 he was appointed inspector of the Tiflis theological seminary, where he more than once had to punish the young Stalin. In 1898 he was appointed rector of the seminary with promotion to the rank of archimandrite. In Georgia he founded church schools and assisted the spread of missionary work among the population.
On January 14, 1901, in the Kazan cathedral in St. Petersburg, he was consecrated Bishop of Volsk, a vicariate of the Saratov diocese by Metropolitans Anthony (Vadkovsky) of St. Petersburg, Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky) of Moscow and others. In this see he paid particular attention to missionary work. On March 21, 1903 Bishop Hermogenes became Bishop of Saratov, and in the same year was summoned to attend the Holy Synod. He built many churches, sketes, prayer houses and chapels in his diocese. Regular services and chanting according to the typicon was introduced into the monasteries, monks of strict life came from Athos and other places. The bishop attracted many people to missionary work, including many with higher education. There began the publication of brochures and pamphlets on questions of the faith which were widely distributed. The bishop himself led religious readings and discussions on religious subjects outside the services.
Bishop Hermogenes took an active part in the struggle against the growing revolutionary fervour. During the disturbances of the 1905 revolution, in spite of poor health, he served almost every day and preached with great inspiration. He called on the people to exhort and rebuke the disturbers of the peace, and if this did not work, to depart from them. At the request of the
Orthodox population he led cross processions, which soon came to embrace almost the whole city.
He used to say: “Orthodox flock, hold strongly onto the Faith of Christ as the anchor of salvation, and He will lead you to your new fatherland… Do not forget your Mother, the Orthodox Church. She will not teach you bad things, she will guard you from the wolves which are appearing in sheep’s clothing among you… They promise much, but in fact give nothing except trouble and the destruction of the state structure. Always remember that prayer and labour are the true hope of the true sons of the Holy Church and the native land of Russia. Always remember also that it is not joys and satisfactions that lead to the blessed life, but sorrows; it is not through the wide gates that we can reach the Heavenly Kingdom, but along the narrow path, through the magnanimous bearing by each of his cross.”
On February 6, 1905 Vladyka served a pannikhida for the murdered Great Prince Sergius Alexandrovich, saying that it was not only the terrorists who were responsible for his death, but also Russian society, many of whose members had little faith and even rejected the State order.
Saratov was a very “progressive” city in those years, and in 1908 the Saratov Duma decided to name two primary schools after the novelist Tolstoy. Vladyka asked the governor to revoke the Duma’s decision, but was refused. He also asked for the Orthodox to be protected from the plays “Anathema” and “Anthisa”, but was again refused.
Bishop Hermogenes was greatly admired by St. John of Kronstadt, who said that he did not fear for the destiny of Orthodoxy after his death, knowing that Bishop Hermogenes would continue his work and struggle for Orthodoxy. In 1906 he wrote to Bishop Hermogenes foretelling his martyric death: “The Lord is opening the heavens [for you] as He did for Archdeacon Stephen, and is blessing you.”
Bishop Hermogenes prepared and read out to the Holy Synod a report calling for the expulsion of certain Russian writers from the Church. On the initiative of the author the report was published and distributed to the members of the State Duma and many influential people. The reaction of the State officials was one of universal indifference. They were all afraid of touching the public’s idols, although many State officials considered themselves to be Orthodox.
At a session of the Holy Synod at the end of 1911, Bishop Hermogenes had a sharp difference of opinion with V.K. Sabler, the procurator of the Synod, with regard to the attempt to introduce a corporation of deaconesses into the Orthodox Church and the rite of a funeral litany for the heterodox. The bishop spoke in defence of the church canons against the procurator and the
Synodal officials, who were often completely indifferent to the fate of Orthodoxy. The procurator, with the silent acquiescence of the hierarchs in session, insisted on his opinion. On December 15, 1911 Bishop Hermogenes sent a telegram to the Tsar as the supreme defender and preserver of the foundations of the Orthodox State. The procurator responded by sending a report to the Tsar asking him to suspend the bishop from participation in the Holy Synod and to order him to return to his diocese. On January 3, Vladyka was removed from the Holy Synod and ordered to return to his diocese. He received this order on January 7, but asked permission to stay in St. Petersburg for three days in view of his illness. The procurator refused. On January 12 the Synod under the presidency of the procurator condemned the bishop’s “dishonouring of the Holy Synod’s decrees and judgements before his Majesty the Emperor”.
Concerning his suspension Bishop Hermogenes wrote: “I consider the reason for my suspension to have been, in the main, those differences of opinion which emerged between myself and the majority of the members of the Synod during an examination of the most important questions that have arisen during the present session of the Synod. I have often pointed out to the members of the Synod that it is necessary to examine the matters raised by the over-procurator, and not just pass over them in accordance with the wishes and views of the secular authorities. For now, when the Church is seen to be in a state of complete disintegration, the voice of the Synod must be firm, clear, definite and in strict accordance with the canons and teachings of the Church. In my speeches in the Synod I began a struggle not with the hierarchs in session in the Synod – I understand their position – but with that bureaucratic attitude to the affairs of the Church which has recently been observed in the Synod. And my critical attitude to the projects put forward by the over-procurator were displeasing above all to the over-procurator himself, and it was at his request that I was suspended. If my suspension is linked with a telegram, then it is with the telegram sent to the Higher authority [the Tsar]. I expounded in detail my view on those questions which were examined in the Synod, and I demonstrated the necessity of deciding them on the basis of the strict application of the canonical rules of the Church.”
On January 15, in a telegram to the procurator, the Tsar demanded that Vladyka Hermogenes immediately leave the city. The procurator told the bishop that he should leave for Saratov not later than the following day. Towards evening on the same day Archbishop Nazarius (Kirillov) of Poltava and Bishops Nicon (Rozhdestvensky) of Vologda and Seraphim (Chichagov) of Kineshma came to Bishop Hermogenes and tried to persuade him to leave immediately. On learning that the bishop had not left, the procurator asked the Tsar to suspend him from ruling the Saratov diocese and send him to the Zhirovitsky monastery of the Dormition. The Tsar agreed, and on the same day, January 17, signed an ukaz for his suspension from the diocese with his residence in the Zhirovitsky monastery.
Another, probably more important, reason for the bishop’s suspension was his opposition to Rasputin. Vladyka had originally considered Rasputin a true man of prayer, but came to change his mind. For the man who had originally introduced Rasputin to him, Bishop Theophan (Bystrov), the confessor of the royal family, suddenly came to see who Rasputin really was, and began writing his friend Bishop Hermogenes letters, trying to enlist this courageous fighter against freethinking in his fight against Rasputin.
When Rasputin’s bad actions began to come to light in the course of the year 1910, Bishop Hermogenes vacillated for a long time. However, having made up his mind that Vladyka Theophan was right, and having the notorious Monk Iliodor (Truphanov) on his side now too, he decided to bring the matter up before the Holy Synod, of which he was a member, at its next session. Before that, however, he determined to denounce Rasputin to his face. This took place on December 16, 1911. According to hiodohs account, Hermogenes, clothed in hierarchical vestments and holding a cross in his hand, “took hold of the head of the ‘elder’ with his left hand, and with his right started beating him on the head with the cross and shouting in a terrifying voice, ‘Devil! I forbid you in God’s name to touch the female sex. Brigand! I forbid you to enter the royal household and to have anything to do with the tsarina! As a mother brings forth the child in the cradle, so the holy Church through its prayers, blessings, and heroic feats has nursed that great and sacred thing of the people, the autocratic rule of the tsars. And now you, scum, are destroying it, you are smashing our holy vessels, the bearers of autocratic power… Fear God, fear His life-giving cross!”
Then they forced Rasputin to swear that he would leave the palace. According to one version of events, Rasputin swore, but immediately told the empress what had happened. According to another, he refused, after which Vladyka Hermogenes cursed him. In any case, on the same day, December 16, five years later, he was killed.
Then Bishop Hermogenes went to the Holy Synod. First he gave a speech against the khlysty. Then he charged Rasputin with khlyst tendencies. Unfortunately, only a minority of the bishops supported the courageous bishop. The majority followed the over-procurator in expressing dissatisfaction with his interference “in things that were not of his concern”.
Vladyka Hermogenes was then ordered to return to his diocese. As the director of the chancery of the over-procurator witnessed, “he did not obey the order and, as I heard, asked by telegram for an audience with the tsar, indicating that he had an important matter to discuss, but was turned down.”
The telegram read as follows: “Tsar Father! I have devoted my whole life to the service of the Church and the Throne. I have served zealously, sparing no effort. The sun of my life has long passed midday and my hair has turned white. And now in my declining years, like a criminal, I am being driven out of the capital in disgrace by you, the Sovereign. I am ready to go wherever it may please you, but before I do, grant me an audience, and I will reveal a secret to you.”
But the Tsar rejected his plea. On receiving this rejection, Bishop Hermogenes began to weep. And then he suddenly said:
“They will kill the tsar, they will kill the tsar, they will surely kill him.”
As he approached Zhirovitsy, Vladyka heard the sound of church bells from afar. The superior and the whole brotherhood came out to meet the hierarch. The monastery courtyard was full of people, and Vladyka addressed them saying:
“I do not consider myself to be an exile, but a man who wishes to devote himself entirely to the service of the Lord God.”
On settling in two small rooms on the second floor of the stone building, he took up the ascetic life to which he was accustomed. He went to bed late, and got up unfailingly at seven o’clock. He often served. Many people came to his services from the villages and from the city of Slonim.
The summary dismissal of the holy hierarch without a proper trial or conciliar decision of his case, as if the Church was just one of the institutions of State, grieved not only Vladyka Hermogenes but also many believers. But Vladyka sorrowed not for himself, but for the future of the Orthodox Church, of Russia and of the Royal Family. He would cover his face with his hands, weep long and bitterly and then say:
“It’s coming, the highest wave; it will crush and sweep away all the rot, all the rags. A terrible thing will happen, terrible enough to make the blood run cold. They will destroy the Tsar, they will destroy the Tsar, they will destroy him without fail.”
It was during his stay in the Zhirovitsky monastery that the gift of clairvoyance was revealed in the bishop. Metropolitan Manuel (Lemeshevsky) recounts the following incident. With the permission of God, the daughter of one woman had died as a result of sorcery, and the other had fallen ill. The mother decided to go to Bishop Hermogenes and ask for his advice and prayers.
In the morning she went into the church where Vladyka was serving. The service had finished. He left the altar and walked straight towards her. Before she had had the opportunity to express her woe, he said to her:
“You have come with a great sorrow, one young daughter of yours has died and the other is ill. My dear one, you know, this was done by evil people, and the Lord allowed it to happen. Some days will pass, and then this ill daughter of yours will also die. Before her death a woman will come to her; she will silently enter the room, and then this ill daughter of yours will also die. But do not be upset, nothing can happen unless God allows it.”
His words were fulfilled exactly. The mother returned home. In a few days an unknown woman visited her and immediately left. After this her sick daughter died.
On August 25, 1915, Vladyka was assigned to the Nikolo-Ugreshsky monastery in Moscow diocese. On March 8,1917 he was assigned to the see of Tobolsk. But the Provisional Government was not pleased with the courageous bishop, and on September 7, 1917 the minister of confessions asked the Holy Synod not to allow Bishop Hermogenes to go to Tobolsk, and gave him some task which would keep him in Petrograd or Moscow. This meant that Vladyka was able to take part in the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Eventually, however, on December 6, 1917, Vladyka arrived in Tobolsk and wrote later to the patriarch that he thanked the Lord from the bottom of his heart for sending him to this “city-skete enveloped in silence”. Vladyka called on his flock “to preserve faithfulness to the faith of the Fathers, not to bow the knee before the idols of the revolution and their contemporary priests, who demand from Russian Orthodox people the distortion of the Russian national soul with cosmopolitanism, communism, open atheism and disgusting, animal-like debauchery.” He wrote the following resolution on the decrees of his diocesan congress: “I do not bless the coup that has taken place, I do not celebrate the hitherto chimerical ‘pascha’ (or rather: tormenting Golgothat) of our much-suffering Russia and its exhausted in soul clergy and people. I do not kiss the dark and ‘stormy7 face of ‘the revolution. I will not enter into friendship or unity with it, for I still do not know for sure who and what it is today, and what it will give our Homeland, and especially the Church, tomorrow.”
At about the same time, by Divine Providence the exiled Royal Family arrived in Tobolsk on their way to eventual martyrdom in Yekaterinburg. On Christmas Day they were in the church of the Protecting Veil. At the end of the service the deacon, for the first time since the February revolution, chanted “Many Years” and wishes for a long life to the Royal Family. The senior officer in charge of the Family, Commissar Pankratov, was enraged, and when told that the deacon had said this on the instructions of his superior, Fr. Alexis, he ordered: “Drag him out of the church by his braids!”
The next day a commission of inquiry formed by the Tobolsk Soviet criticised Pankratov, and demanded that he harshen the regime of his prisoners: “To prison with the Romanovs!” They also tried to arrest Fr. Alexis. However, Bishop Hermogen refused to give up his priest, and sent him to a remote monastery. Moreover, he challenged the Soviet: “Russia is not a republic, it can be declared a republic only by the planned Constituent Assembly. From history and from canon law we know that monarchs, emperors and tsars who for some reasons leave the throne and cease to carry out their duties, are not deprived of their imperial or tsarist dignity. Therefore I see nothing prejudicial in the behaviour of the priest and deacon.”
Thus did Vladyka Hermogenes imitate his namesake, Patriarch Hermogenes (canonized in 1914) in standing for the legitimate Tsar of Russia. As the Dowager Empress wrote to him: “Vladyka, you bear the name of St. Hermogenes. That is a sign.”
Vladyka paid special attention to the soldiers returning from the front. The powers that be looked on them as on people who could again be driven under gunfire and dragged to acts of looting and pillaging, so as to bind them to themselves more strongly through bloody crimes. At the end of February, 1918, Bishop Hermogenes presided over a meeting of the St. John – Dmitrievsky brotherhood in his hierarchical quarters. In an ardent speech he described the psychology of the soldier, and pointed out that the soldier expected, not condemnation, but help from society. It was decided to organize a special section attached to the brotherhood to help the soldiers. The bishop’s care for the soldiers returning from the front drove the Bolsheviks to distraction; they were trying to fill the soldiers with spite, but here under Bishop Hermogenes’ influence the people were beginning to worry and care for them.
On January 18 Patriarch Tikhon blessed cross processions throughout Russia. Vladyka Hermogenes also blessed one in Tobolsk. On the eve he was ordered not to go ahead with it, otherwise he would be arrested. The next day he served the liturgy and a moleben in the Tobolsk Kremlin. Everybody knew that the cross procession had been banned. But the bells rang out, and Vladyka and the clergy came out of the cathedral for the procession. Huge crowds flowed along the wall around the Kremlin chanting: “Lord, save Thy people…”
The Tobolsk Kremlin is above the city, while the house of the Tsar and his family was below it. From the walls there was a good view of their house. Vladyka went up to the edge of the wall. He raised the wooden cross in his hand and blessed the Royal Family.
It was in this period that the breach between the Tsar and Vladyka Hermogenes was healed. The Tsar sent Vladyka a bow to the earth, asking him to forgive him for allowing his removal from his see. He could not have done otherwise at the time, but he was glad to have the opportunity of asking the bishop’s forgiveness now. Bishop Hermogenes was very touched, and sent a bow to the earth to the Tsar together with a prosphora, asking for his forgiveness. And every day he continued to hold services for the Royal Family.
The next day, January 19, Patriarch Tikhon anathematized the Bolsheviks, and a few days after that the Bolsheviks passed a decree on the separation of Church and State which placed believers outside the law, and which gave excuse for all kinds of excesses against the Church and Christians. Bishop Hermogenes wrote about the decree: “The atheist composers of the decree have found executors of their will amidst our soldiers, who, through the ignorance and at the instigation of their leaders, have dared to raise their hands against the holy things of their forefathers and accomplish a work worthy of God’s great condemnation. They have done what those who crucified Christ did – but may the prayer of Christ be fulfilled also on them: ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!’
“Orthodox Christians! If the Holy Church is dear to you, if in your hearts the faith in Christ which your parents inspired in you and which was handed down to us by a whole array of Russian saints has not been completely crushed in your hearts, listen to the voice of reason and Christian conscience and understand that the decree on the Church contains within itself a clear sermon of unbelief and a declaration of irresponsible and merciless struggle with the Orthodox Faith and all believers.
“The antichristian decree declares that ‘religion is a private matter’ – the personal matter of each separate person, but not of society or the State. In these words is contained the greatest untruth and the greatest harm for every religion in general, and especially for the universal religion of Christianity and for the Universal Church of Christ. In actual fact, the Christian faith is a public, conciliar, universal faith.
“The Christian cannot be saved on his own, in separation from others. ‘Where two or three are gathered together in My name,’ said Christ, ‘there am I in the midst of them.’ The Christian is saved in the Church – in the society of believers: it is to this society of the Church that the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, which acts and is bestowed upon believing people only in the Church, for the sake of the common Church faith and love, for the sake of the common good.
“The society of the Church is like the body of a man: in the body all the members are linked together, they live and act together. If the link between the separate members is broken, the body is destroyed and perishes. A man perishes in exactly the same way if he departs from the society of the Church, if he does not want to be saved together with the others, if he wishes to be an autonomous person, not subject to the spirit and rules of the lawful Church union of all the believers.
“Christians cannot be saved without common prayer, without the carrying out of public services, without the participation of the whole people in the sacraments, without doing good works with the participation of all: panecclesiastical charity, education, and care for each other, etc.
“The decree declares religion to be a private matter, because its composers do not want to recognize the Orthodox Church as a Divine institution; they are striving to disunite and disperse the Christians; they even want to place all of them under suspicion and subject them to house arrest, forbidding them to go to the churches for common Church prayers; they want to kill faith in their hearts and make them atheists!
“Knowing that the Orthodox Church cannot teach and save believers without churches, and that the faith of the Russian people is closely bound up with the veneration of the holy things of the Church, the decree removes from the Orthodox Church the right to acquire property and dispose of it, and thereby deprives the Church of the possibility of building and maintaining churches, and keeping them in a beautiful condition. If the decree is carried out, the Russian land will soon be deprived of the churches by which she was formerly adorned and glorified amidst the other peoples: her churches will be turned by the hands of the atheists into places of entertainment or will come into a state of complete poverty and dilapidation: in their place, according to the word of the Scripture, will be ‘the abomination of desolation’! Did our forefathers build the holy churches with great labour and at great expense so that we, their unworthy descendants, should turn them from the beautiful habitation of God into a den of thieves, and so that instead of the Divine services they should arrange various spectacles and games in them to the shame and corruption of the Russian people, so that Russia should be mocked and laughed at in the eyes of all the people of the world?!
“The antichristian decree declares the heritage of the holy churches to be ‘the heritage of the people’. But was not the property of our churches the heritage of the people up to now? Everything that is in the church always was and is the heritage of the whole believing people; all the believers have contributed their mite from a pure heart, voluntarily and lovingly, they have given it to God, to the work of God, for the sake of the salvation of their souls. They knew that the gift of their love was pleasing to Christ, Who accepted the pouring out of the myrrh from the adulterous woman; they knew that this gift of their sweat and labour would go to the salvation of their souls, that it would have no other purpose. They were right: all the offerings have been preserved, have been multiplied and have been used only on the needs of the Church.
“Let the heritage of the churches be now, as it was before, the heritage of all believing people, let them – the believers – dispose of this heritage in accordance with its purpose. They were given this right by the Church authorities, and the Church Council, half of which was composed of laymen, in a detailed manner defined and strengthened the rights of the laypeople to participate in the disposal of Church property under the leadership of the Church authorities. But we cannot permit the heritage of the Church to be used by people who do not belong to the Church or are even complete unbelievers. The enemies of the Church slander the clergy; they say that the heritage of the Church was seized by them, that they used it on their own needs. This is a witting lie. The clergy has not used the offerings to the church, although they could, according to the word of Scripture, ‘feed from the altar’; they have existed on the reward for their labour which they have received from the parishioners. They have disposed of the heritage of the Church with the knowledge and agreement of elected people from the parish – the Church wardens, the members of the trusts, in accordance with the 72nd canon of the Holy Apostles and the 10th canon of the First-and-Second Council of Constantinople. In accordance with these canons the heritage of the Church is the heritage of God and is can be used only on Church needs – on deeds aimed at the salvation of people; its use for worldly needs is recognized to be the greatest of crimes.
“The antichristian decree violates the Church canons: it removes the heritage of God from the churches and hands it over into the hands of the secular authorities, thereby turning the sacred heritage of God’s churches into a secular heritage!
“Brother Christians! Raise your voices in defence of the Church’s Apostolic Faith, the holy things of the Church, the Church’s heritage. Defend your right to believe and confess your faith as you learned it in days of old, as you were taught it by the holy apostles, the holy martyrs, the God-wise fathers of the Church, the Christian ascetics. Take care of the holiness of your souls, the freedom of your consciences. Say loudly that you have been accustomed to pray and save yourselves in the churches, that the holy things of the Church are dearer to you than life itself, that without them salvation is impossible. No power can demand from you that which is against your faith, your religious conscience: ‘We must obey God rather than men’, said the holy apostles. That is what we, too, must say. The apostles joyfully suffered for the faith. Be you also ready for sacrifice, for podvig, and remember that physical arms are powerless against those who arm themselves with powerful faith in Christ. Faith moves mountains, ‘the faith of the Christians has conquered the pagan boldness’. May your faith be bold and courageous! Christ destroyed hades. He will also destroy the snares of the enemies of our Church. Believe – and the enemy will flee from before your face. Stand in defence of your faith and with firm hope say: ‘Let God arise, and let His enemies be scattered!'”
Vladyka blessed the distribution of this leaflet, and the next day he heard that the authorities were in a rage because of it. On April 24 a threatening article against him was published in a local newspaper, and he was told by those close to him that something was being planned against him. But Vladyka was as always joyful and paid no attention to the Bolsheviks’ spite.
At 11 o’clock on April 26, Latvian Bolsheviks carried out a search in Vladyka’s residence, mocked the holy things and even lifted up the altar, but did not find him. The same night another search was carried out in the Znamensky monastery, in the residence of Bishop Irinarch, and in the Mikhailovsky skete, which was some eight versts from the city.
On Lazarus Saturday, the authorities told Vladyka that they didn’t want to arrest him, just interrogate him, and they would put that off until the Monday after the feast. But they demanded that he keep quiet about the search they had carried out. Vladyka refused to keep quiet and said he did not believe them. And at the all-night vigil for the feast he said: “Whatever they say or do against me, let God be their judge: I forgave them and forgive them now… And once more I declare that my hierarchical activity is alien to all politics. My politics is faith in the salvation of the souls of believers. My platform is prayer…”
That night Vladyka said: “I do not expect clemency from them. They will kill me; more than that, they will torture me. I am ready, I am ready even now. I do not fear for myself, I do not sorrow for myself. I sorrow for the city, I fear for the inhabitants. What will they do with them?”
The next day, Palm Sunday, after the Liturgy, Vladyka celebrated Vespers, during which he said: “The days of the sufferings of Christ the Saviour on the Cross are drawing near. The Soul of the Divine Sufferer, waiting for the coming terrible torments, was tortured by a great anguish, and He sought strength for Himself not only in prayer to God the Father, but also asked His disciples to keep vigil and pray with Him, in order thereby to relieve the great torment which lay with all its weight on His shoulders.
“I, too, feel that the days of my passion and martyrdom are drawing near, and for that reason my soul, in expectation of the coming sufferings, is in great anguish and torment. Therefore I fervently beseech you all to support me, too, in these days by your holy prayers…”
After the cross-procession on Palm Sunday, which ended at five o’clock, the bishop was arrested and taken to the headquarters of the Red Army. Meanwhile, to prevent a possible uprising, soldiers patrolled the streets and scattered groups of citizens. Bishop Irinarch went to the authorities for an explanation. They said that the cross-procession had angered the local Jews, who had begun to incite the soldiers against the bishop. The next day the authorities told the citizens that the arrest had been carried out for political reasons in order to preserve public order. But later, in response to an official request from a commission set up by Patriarch Tikhon to investigate the matter, the president of the executive committee said that Bishop Hermogenes had been arrested on the orders of the Central Executive Committee as a black-hundredist and pogrom-inciter; but they had no documentary evidence to prove his criminal activities.
At one o’clock at night Vladyka was taken under convoy to Tyumen and then to Ekaterinburg. The convoy mocked him throughout the journey. On April 18 he arrived in Ekaterinburg and was put in prison near the Sennaya square, next to the Simeonov church. In prison, Vladyka either read (mainly the New Testament and the lives of the saints) or wrote; but he mainly prayed and chanted church hymns.
In May, a special delegation from the Diocesan Congress was sent to Ekaterinburg to petition for the liberation of the bishop before the local soviet of soldiers’ and peasants’ deputies. The soviet demanded a 10,000 roubles’ ransom, which was then raised to 100,000 roubles. In spite of the protests of the bishop, the money (the authorities lowered their demands to 10,000 again) was collected by the merchant D.I. Polirushchev and paid as ordered, and the authorities issued a receipt.
The delegation consisted of Bishop Hermogenes’ brother, Protopriest Ephraim Ephraimovich Dolganov, the Tyumen priest Fr. Michael Makarov and the lawyer Constantine Alexandrovich Minyatov. Fr. Ephraim was born on January 28, 1874 in Kherson province and served in the cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul in St. Petersburg from January 28,1908 to 1918.
The next day the delegation went in full force to the soviet, hoping for the liberation of Bishop Hermogenes. However, they never returned to the flat they had rented. Instead, they were arrested and shot on June 29.
On the third day of Trinity, Bishop Hermogenes was taken by train to Tyumen together with Priest Peter Ivanovich Karelin from the settlement of Kamensky factory, the dean of the second district of Ekaterinburg diocese, and the laymen Nicholas Knyazev, Mstislav Golubev, Henry Rushinksy and the officer Yershov.
On the night of June 26 the train arrived in Tyumen, and the prisoners were put on the steamer “Yermak”. On the evening of June 27 the steamer stopped at the village of Pokrovskoye (Rasputin’s home village). Fr. Michael joined them there. The next evening, at 10 o’clock, the prisoners were transferred to the “Oka”, from where they were to go on to Tobolsk for the trial of Vladyka. As he went towards the gangway, Vladyka quietly said to the pilot:
“Baptized servant of God, tell the whole great world that I ask them to pray to God for me.”
The arrested men were placed in the dirty, dark hold of the steamer, which headed down the River Tura towards Tobolsk. At about midnight on June 28 or 29, the Bolsheviks took Fr. Peter out onto the deck, tied two heavy granite stones to him and threw him into the water. Fr. Michael was bound with cords, stripped to his underwear and thrown overboard. At 12.30 Bishop Hermogenes was brought out of the hold onto the deck. He prayed for his tormentors and blessed them. Then with obscene swearing accompanied by blows, the guards tore off the bishop’s ryassa and cassock and pinioned his arms behind his back. Since the bishop continued to pray loudly, the commissar ordered:
“Hold his jaw!”
A blow on the face forced the old bishop to keep silent. Then an eighty- pound rock was tied to his bound hands. The guards grabbed the bishop and, after several swings to and fro, hurled him into the river.
This took place on June 29, 1918. On July 3 the holy relics of the hieromartyr were discovered on the banks of the river by peasants of the village of Usolsk. The next day he was buried by the peasant Alexis Yegorovich Maryanov at the place where he had been discovered together with the stone that had been tied to him.
Here the body remained until July 21, when it was transferred to the village of Pokrovskoye and placed in a temporary grave in Pokrovskoye cemetery. On July 27 the body was disinterred and vested in hierarchical vestments in the church of Pokrovskoye. Then a cross procession accompanied it to the steamer “Altai”. On arriving at the place where the holy relics had been discovered, the steamer docked and after a pannikhida a large wooden cross was placed on the spot inscribed with the words: “Here on July 3, 1919 were discovered the honourable remains of the Martyr-Bishop Hermogenes, who was killed on June 16 for the Faith, the Church and the Homeland.”
In the evening of the following day the steamer arrived in Tobolsk, where the coffin and body of the hierarch was met by a cross procession from all the city churches and many thousands of people. Finally the body was placed in the Sophia Assumption cathedral, where it remained for five days without giving off any odour of corruption. On August 2, after the Divine Liturgy, Bishop Irinarch together with a multitude of clergy and in the presence of the military and civil representatives of the Siberian government buried the hieromartyr in a crypt constructed in the chapel of St. John Chrysostom in the place where St. John of Tobolsk had first been buried.
The youth Sergius Konev was killed soon after the martyric death of Bishop Hermogenes, who had sheltered him in his house to protect him from the corrupting influence of the world.
Once Sergius was at school and said that his granddad had been arrested only for believing in God.
The children shouted:
“He’s speaking about God, he’s speaking about God.”
The boy was caught and cut to pieces with sabres. They continued to cut him up even after his death because they thought that he was moving.
The youth Sergius was buried by the cathedral, not far from the tomb of Hieromartyr Hermogenes.
On September 3, 2005 the relics of Bishop Hermogenes were opened. The body and vestments were found to be well preserved, and a fragrance came from the grave. The grave with the body was placed in the Pokrov cathedral in Tobolsk.
Nimic și aici