September 17, 2021

True Orthodox Diocese of Western Europe

Russian True Orthodox Church (RTOC)

HIEROMARTYR PROCOPIUS, ARCHBISHOP OF ODESSA AND KHERSON AND THOSE WITH HIM

48 min read

by Dr. Vladimir Moss

Archbishop Procopius, in the world Peter Semyonovich Titov, was born on December 25, 1877 in Kuznetsk, Tomsk province, in the family of a protopriest of the cathedral church in Tomsk (according to another source, of a priest serving in Kuznetsk), Fr. Simeon Titov. He was named in honour of the St. Peter of Moscow. From his first years he was immersed in an atmosphere of parental love and ecclesiastical piety. He received his first education at home, in his family. When he was nine he entered a spiritual school, and then Tomsk theological seminary, from which he graduated in 1897. Having entered Kazan Theological Academy, he came under the influence of its rector, Archbishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky), who instilled in him a love for the Holy Fathers, theology, asceticism and monasticism.      In 1901 he graduated from the Academy with the degree of candidate of theology, and was soon appointed a teacher in the Tomsk theological school. On August 21, 1901 he was tonsured into monasticism in the Dormition monastery in Ufa with the name Procopius, and on August 23 was ordained to the priesthood, and went to serve as the director of a church pedagogical school attached to the Hierarchical House in Tomsk at a time when the ruling hierarch was the dynamic Enlightener of the Altai, Bishop Macarius (Nevsky). There were about 150 pupils in the school, whose aim was to give the pupils the necessary training to become teachers for the Tomsk, Omsk, Tobolsk and Yeniseisk dioceses. Fr. Procopius also directed a Sunday school attached to the church school for teachers. In 1906 he became a teacher of Holy Scripture in the Irkutsk theological seminary, whose rector at that time was Archimandrite Eugene (Zernov). In the same year he was appointed a member of the commission attesting the relics of St. Sophronius of Irkutsk. During this period Fr. Procopius acquired the reputation of being a great preacher, and at the gatherings of the Irkutsk Brotherhood in the name of St. Innocent, hundreds of people gathered in order to hear him. He served akathists in the hierarchical church of the Cross, and his serving was distinguished by great prayerfulness, and after each service he gave a deeply instructive word. Fr. Procopius was also the inspirer and organizer of a charitable department attached to the Brotherhood, which helped many poor people. All this earned for him the particular praises of Archimandrite Eugene.     On August 30, 1909, at the request of Archbishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Volhynia and Zhitomir, Hieromonk Procopius was raised to the rank of archimandrite and transferred to Zhitomir, where he was appointed assistant director of the Zhitomir pastoral school attached to the Theophany monastery, serving under the future hieromartyr, Bishop Gabriel (Voyevodin). In 1913 the over-procurator of the Holy Synod, V.K. Sabler, visited the school and was greatly impressed. In 1914 the school was visited by the leaders of the educations committee attached to the Holy Synod. On becoming acquainted with the life and constitution of the school, it came to the conclusion that its constitution should be laid at the base of all the pastoral schools in Russia. The success of the school was owing in no small part to efforts of Fr. Procopius.      On August 30 / September 12, 1914 he was consecrated bishop of Elisavetograd, a vicariate of Kherson diocese. Bishop Procopius immediately won the lasting respect and love of his flock through his humility and compassion. This love lasted through the terrible years of the revolution.      In 1917-18 he participated in the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church, voted in favour of the restoration of the patriarchate, and put his signature to the act of the canonization of St. Sophronius of Irkutsk on April 5/18, 1918.      During the Council Bishop Procopius was appointed superior of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra in Petrograd. Immediately after his appointment he created the Brotherhood for the Defence of the Lavra, of which he was elected president, and together with other members of the brotherhood gave an oath, while standing before the relics of St. Alexander Nevsky, to defend the community to his last breath. When the Bolsheviks tried to seize the Lavra, with the blessing of Bishop Procopius the alarm was sounded and many people came rushing to the Lavra, compelling the soldiers to flee. Towards the end of January, 1918 he was arrested together with Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd and the whole spiritual council of the Lavra for his refusal to leave the Lavra and allow a field hospital to be put in it.      Having been miraculously saved from death, and come out to freedom, on January 26 / February 8 he was appointed Bishop of Nikolayev, a vicariate of the Odessa diocese, by the Church Council. During the Civil War Patriarch Tikhon gave an order for the temporary self-government of the dioceses, and in connection with this order Bishop Procopius carried out the duties of administrator of the Ekaterinoslav diocese. In 1921 he was appointed ruling Bishop of Odessa and Kherson.      The purity and irreproachability of his moral life, his firm convictions and his asceticism acquired for him a reputation as an archpastor of lofty spiritual life. Until 1923 he regularly served in the parishes of the Odessa-Kherson diocese. Many people were converted by him and became his devoted spiritual children. And many, inspired by his fearless and complete devotion to serving Christ and His Holy Church, decided to accept the priestly rank.      In 1922 he met Priest John Georgievich Skadovsky, and this meeting became the beginning of a deep spiritual bond which lasted throughout their lives until their martyric deaths. Fr. John was born on May 30, 1875 in Kherson. His father, George Lvovich Skadovsky, was the marshal of nobility in Kherson, the owner of extensive lands, who completed the building of a women’s monastery that was begun by his father on land donated by the family. In 1919 he was killed on the porch of his house. The future Priest John went to the real school in Kherson in 1888, and then, in 1896, to the Kherson agricultural school. In 1899 he went to Yalta to study chemistry and wine-making. In 1902 he returned home and helped his father on his estate for two years. In 1905 he served as an official helping the provincial governor with special tasks. From 1906 he occupied the post of zemstvo leader in Kherson uyezd. In 1909 he retired and took up agriculture, which, as he used to say, attracted him by its patriarchal style of living. He was married to Catherine Vladimirovna. During the war John Georgievich was mobilised and was sent to the 457th Tauris infantry militia. The militia lived in Kherson in expectation of being sent to the front. But then the February revolution broke out, and John Georgievich was released because of his age and went back to his estate. Soon Soviet power confiscated his estate, leaving him and his family with a house and some agricultural equipment, but without hired hands. In 1918 John Georgievich decided to accept ordination to the priesthood and gave all his agricultural property to the peasants. He was ordained in 1918 by Metropolitan Plato and sent to the Annunciation women’s monastery not far from Kherson. However, Fr. John refused this appointment and was sent instead to the hierarchical church in Kherson as the third priest.      In 1922 there began the struggle of the renovationist heretics against the Orthodox Church, and on February 16, 1923 Bishop Procopius was cast into prison in Kherson for opposition to them. In prison Vladyka displayed complete absence of fear before the executioners. This angered the chekists, who decided to use another tactic. At that time there was a certain red-haired Jewish beauty in Kherson called Sonka, a professional thief with an unorthodox life-style. Having been arrested for something, she was given the choice: “If you seduce the hierarch, your case will be closed.” She accepted the proposal, and was put in the cell of Bishop Procopius. On the first day she tried hard to win the approval of the bosses by applying all her skills of seduction… On the next day she did the same, but with no success. All her efforts came up against the meek silence of the hierarch, who seemed to be sorry for her for something. Gradually, coming to like her fellow prisoner, she began to ask who he was and what he had been arrested for. A conversation began, and with each word it became clearer it was not he, but she who was being conquered. She was becoming a Christian… The bosses summoned her for interrogation. “What scumbags you are,” she said, “if such people sit in your prisons!” The chekists’ plot had failed. Soon, to the amazement of many, Sonka became the servant of God Sophia, a constant parishioner at the Kherson cathedral and a spiritual daughter of Bishop Procopius…      On August 26, 1923 Vladyka Procopius was transferred to Odessa prison and brought to trial. The excuse was that in the past he had served molebens for the Whites and had collected contributions for them. In August, 1923 he was condemned for “resistance to the requisitioning of church valuables”, moral and material support of the Russian Volunteer Army, collecting contributions for its soldiers”. He was sentenced to death, but this was commuted to exile beyond the frontiers of the Ukraine.     Later he told the story of his arrest: “In 1923, in connection with the appearance in the Church of renovationism, which I did not join out of conviction, I was brought to trial for helping the White Guard movement. I was accused of arranging prayer services and the collection of offerings for the Whites. Offerings were collected in the churches, but not by my order, but by the order of the Vicar-Bishop Alexis Bazhenov, who is ruling the diocese, and who is now serving as the renovationist metropolitan in Kazan. He was not brought to account, because he was already a renovationist by that time. The local governing organs were better disposed to the new tendencies or orientations of an ecclesiastical character than to the Church. They were given more privileges in the hand-out of churches. Even if the group of believers was small, they were given a church, but they rejected the petition of our group. They were allowed to convene meetings… Here is the example of Alexis Bazhenov: he was not called to account, while others, guilty of the same offence, were called to account.”      The Orthodox population of Kherson and Odessa elected a large group of representatives to petition for the release of Vladyka Procopius. They gave their petition to his Holiness Patriarch Tikhon, writing: “We dare to petition your Holiness to send the attached address of ours to the Soviet authorities for the release of our dear archpastor, Bishop Procopius (Titov). And we ask you for your part to assist as far as you are able in obtaining the speediest possible return of Bishop Procopius to his loving flock.” On October 25, 1924 Patriarch Tikhon’s petition was handed in to the OGPU.      On January 12, 1925 Vladyka Procopius was exiled to Moscow.  Although he had no parish, he took an active part in Church life, and regularly expressed his opinions at meetings of bishops in the Danilov monastery. Vladyka’s was one of the names that had been put forward for membership of the Synod by Patriarch Tikhon, and preparations for convening this Synod were proceeding. However, in April the Patriarch died. Bishop Procopius served a pannikhida with a host of clergy at his burial. He was also present when the patriarch’s will was proclaimed, and together with other hierarchs signed the transfer of power to Metropolitan Peter on April 25. In June, 1925 he was raised to the rank of archbishop. He now became one of the closest assistants of Metropolitan Peter, helping him in the struggle against the Bolshevik-inspired renovationist schism.       In Kherson, meanwhile, an illegal religious organization was formed of the spiritual children of Vladyka under the leadership of Fr. John Skadovsky and Deacon Michael Zakharov. They included Nun Maria (Grigoryevna Khodanovich), who was born in Odessa in 1888, Constantine Yakovlevich Kulida, who was born in 1870, Demetrius Grigoryevich Klimenko, who was born in 1896,and Anna Kirillovna Kulida, who was born in 1887.      In 1925 the renovationists occupied the cathedral and Fr. John had to leave. At first he served in the cemetery church. However, when a chanter from the renovationists was accepted without the established rite of reception, he left and went to serve in the flat of Fr. Michael, where Fr. John and his matushka also lived. The parish consisted of between fifty and sixty people. Vladyka Procopius’ name was always commemorated. This group established a constant connection between Vladyka and his Kherson flock, gathered parcels for him, accompanied him on convoys and gave him parcels and letters, thanks to which he knew what was happening in the diocese. The archbishop replied to letters at the first opportunity. He comforted the sorrowful, issued instructions, gave advice and blessings. Right until his martyric end he remained, not formally, but in reality the head of his diocese.      On November 19 (or November 25), 1925 Vladyka Procopius was arrested “for being a member of, and taking part in, the activity of a monarchist group of bishops and laity, who set as their aim the use of the Church and its apparatus to harm the dictatorship of the proletariat”. He was arrested together with Metropolitan Peter, Archbishop Nicholas (Dobronravov), Archbishop Pachomius (Kedrov), Bishop Parthenius (Bryanskikh), Bishop Gurias (Stepanov), Bishop Damascene (Tsedrik), Bishop Herman (Ryashentsev) and other bishops, clergy and laity, in “The Case of Metropolitan Peter and others, Moscow, 1926”. He was cast into Butyrki prison, where he was visited by Fr. John Skadovsky.      The defendants were accused of “creating the so-called ‘Danilov Synod’ and of serving in this capacity as conveyors of all the instructions of the two former over-procurators Samarin and Sabler, organizing conferences and meetings among themselves in order to discuss questions of how practically to carry out the Samarin-Sabler line – as, for example, the question of leaving the metropolitan see of Kiev with the White Guardist émigré Anthony Khrapovitsky, and in order to discuss and correct documents of Metropolitan Peter that were being prepared for publication – as, for example, his declaration, and to give these documents an anti-soviet character, and in order to convey and distribute information about the movements of the émigré part of the Church and to read counter-revolutionary documents, and in order to discuss questions of how to exert pressure on people who did not obey the Samarin-Sabler line – as, for example, the exerting of pressure on Metropolitan Michael, etc…”      Archbishop Procopius later recalled: “On November 19, 1925 I was arrested among others together with Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa, and was accused of belonging to a counter-revolutionary group of clergy and laity. No concrete counter-revolutionary actions were mentioned to me. Perhaps they did not like the conversations I had had with Tuchkov, the representative of the OGPU, who was present at our meetings. After the investigation had been conducted, I was given three years on Solovki.”      During the investigation, Archbishop Procopius was questioned whether he had visited the former over-procurator Sabler, and what church questions they had discussed. Archbishop Procopius replied: “As far as I can remember, during my stay in Moscow I was three times at the house of Vladimir Karlovich Sabler. I went to visit him the first time in March, 1925. There was not special reason for visiting him that time except the desire to give some comfort to the old man. I was with him for the second time in the spring or the beginning of the summer of 1925. I met nobody else there. The conversation centred around recent church events – the burial of the Patriarch and his last epistle (or, as it was called in the newspapers, his testament). We spoke about the testament of the Patriarch. Our opinion about this was as follows: the tone of the epistle and its exposition were not successful. The very style of it was not the patriarch’s; it was not restrained, and not sufficiently solid. As regards certain points of a practical character, as, for example, the trial of the churchmen abroad, there was not conversation about this at that time. The conversation that time probably revolved in a general way around the churchmen abroad. Sabler directly condemned the Karlovtsy Council and the emigration, as well as Cyril’s undertaking [Great Prince Cyril Vladimirovich Romanov had proclaimed himself emperor in 1924], calling him ‘loathsome’. I did not ask in what respect he was loathsome, and he did not tell me.      “During my last visit to Sabler, which took place in October, somewhere round the middle of the month, I spoke with him about the current Church situation; we spoke about the relationship between the Church and the state, about the renovationists, about the unfitting behaviour of Bishop Boris [Rukin] in relation to Metropolitan Peter, about his intrigues, and finally about Metropolitan Michael [Yermakov], who by this time had begun (out of self-will) to sign himself ‘Metropolitan of Kiev’ and to wear two panagia, and about the possibilities of legalization. Sabler had a negative opinion of Michael’s actions. As regards the question of the legalization of the Church, we spoke about the impossibility of conducting a church trial on the émigré clergy as being the main obstacle to legalization. We thought that this trial was impossible, first because Metropolitan Peter, the patriarchal locum tenens, has little authority, and secondly because a trial from a distance is not allowed according to the canonical rules. On parting Sabler asked me to convey his bow to Metropolitan Peter and say that he, Sabler, was praying for him, Peter, and advised him to keep hoping and be patient in this question, waiting for the authorities themselves to become convinced of the loyalty of the Church and legalize her. I conveyed this bow and these words of Sabler to Metropolitan peter when I last visited him, which was at the beginning of November, 1925.”      The investigation lasted for about a year. During this period Archbishop Procopius was in Butyrki prison being constantly interrogated, tortured and humiliated. However, he was not broken. On November 5, 1926 in accordance with article 68 he was sentenced together with Bishop Ambrose (Polyansky) to three years on Solovki.      On Solovki Vladyka met his director at the Irkutsk seminary, Bishop Eugene (Zernov), after whose release he was elected the senior bishop in the camp. He took part in the composition of the “Solovki epistle” of the Orthodox bishops on Solovki to the government. When Metropolitan Sergius’ “Declaration” appeared in July, 1927, he rejected it together with other hierarchs, saying that he had “exceeded his rights”.      Since Archbishop Procopius rejected his “Declaration”, in October, 1927 Metropolitan Sergius in the name of his self-called “Synod”, created with the cooperation of the OGPU, ordered him to be removed from the see of Odessa and Kherson. In his place he appointed Archbishop Anatolius (Grisiuk), who accepted the “Declaration”. This anti-canonical act elicited the resistance of many clergy in the Odessa-Kherson diocese, especially among those who disagreed with the “Declaration”. Some of them separated from Archbishop Anatolius and Metropolitan Sergius. When Archbishop Anatolius first arrived in Kherson on October 26, 1927, Fr. John Skadovsky, as dean and protopriest, together with the clergy of the cathedral: Priest Demetrius Miroshuk, Hieromonk Athanasius and Protodeacon Michael Zakharov (born in 1879 in Uryupinsk, Volgograd province into a peasant family), refused to allow him to serve with them. In a conversation with him they rejected his right to rule the Odessa-Kherson diocese. Archbishop Anatolius waited for several months for their written promises, but eventually lost patience and banned the “rebels” from serving within the bounds of the diocese. Father John was expelled with the help of the authorities from the cathedral church and began to serve in flats. He looked after the True Orthodox believers in Kherson (about 100 people) and the surrounding villages. The group tried to obtain a church for themselves, as a “special independent tendency”, from the authorities, but were refused. Later Fr. John and the clergy with him were arrested for “organizing underground cells of the True Orthodox Church”.      Vladyka Procopius told his flock in Nikolayev that he was in correspondence with Metropolitan Peter, the lawful head of the Church, but rejected Metropolitan Sergius. Following his lead, the antisergianist movement gained a definite following in the Kherson, Golopristansky and Tsuryupinsky regions. It was joined by the majority of the nuns in the Dormition monastery in Aleshki and in the Annunciation monastery. By 1928 these communities had already been closed and their inhabitants lived in various villages of the okrug, above all Arnautki and Aleshki. Especially active in the antisergianist movement were Nun Maria (Khodanovich) from Arnautki, Nuns Hippolyta (Barkovskaya) and Filareta, who lived in Kherson, and Nuns Anna (Kulida) and Metrodora (Kobylkina) from Maliye Kopani. In 1930 there were several women’s uprisings in Maliye Kopani in connection with work in the collective farm, and Fr. Demetrius was arrested, and then sentenced to be executed. The church passed to the sergianists and the nuns stopped going to it.      Fr. John Skadovsky’s views were shared by Priest Cyril of the village of Novo-Zburyevka. By January, 1931 the superior of the church in the village of Arkhangelskoye, Kherson okrug, was the Josephite Priest Constantine Parokonev, who had earlier served in Elizavettgrad okrug. Fr. John was in constant contact with Fr. Gregory Seletsky, who was his spiritual father.      In Odessa the leader of the True Orthodox Church was the dean, Priest Orlov. Into his deanery there came: in Odessa – Protopriest Alexander Vvedensky (the “Botanical” church); in Ananiev – Priest Benedict Korolchuk (in 1929 he and his whole community came under the omophorion of the Catacomb Bishop Paul (Kratirov). In the village of Mutykhi in Shevchenko region – Hieromonk Thaddeus (Tarasenko); in the village of Matyasy – Hieromonks Gudail and Dositheus. From 1927 to 1931 a secret church of the True Orthodox Church operated in the village of Belvedery in Novoarkhangelsk region. And there were other priests and communities that did not recognize Metropolitan Sergius or Archbishop Anatolius in Odessa province. They were all arrested by the God-hating Soviet power.      On December 3, 1928, without having been indicted again, Archbishop Procopius was sent under convoy into exile in the Urals for three years together with Bishop Ambrose (Polyansky). They were taken from Solovki to Petrograd, and then from Petrograd to Tobolsk, during which stage the bishops were accompanied by the wife of Fr. John Skadovsky, Ekaterina Vladimirovna. “She came from Kherson to serve us,” recalled the archbishop. “On the road we travelled under convoy, while she was in freedom. When we stopped – in a house of detention – she brought us parcels. And so she came with us from Leningrad to the city of Tobolsk.      “In Tobolsk the three of us – Polyansky, Skadovskaya and I – were arrested and accused of anti-soviet agitation, and, most importantly, that we had supposedly reviled the local clergy for doing nothing. There, at the arrest, Church literature was found during a search. It was in manuscript form and typed on a typewriter. It described the general situation of church life in its various tendencies, and of course it also touched on the existing political system in the question of the relationship between the Church and the state. This literature had been brought by E. Skadovskaya… We had had many conversations with her about church life, since we, while on Solovki, had been cut off from church life, while she, being in freedom, and being interested in these questions, knew all the latest news, especially about Kherson.      “We were kept in an isolator in the city of Tobolsk for one and a half months, after which, because of the shelving of the case, we were released [in February, 1929]… We were then sent to the village of Obdorsk, while Skadovskaya returned to Kherson. We spent a month in Obdorsk. I was sent off to the village of Muzhi, while Polyansky was sent to the village of Shuryshkary.      “In Muzhi I lived for five or six days, and from then was sent to Kievat, where I lived from 1929 to July, 1931. In Muzhi we stayed at first in the house of Dyachkov, but on the second day we were transferred to a flat which belonged, I think, to Konevaya. There I got to know Christina Terentyeva, a member of a church council. I was in her house when I had only just arrived in Muzhi, and when I arrived in Muzhi from Kievat on personal business. It was very difficult to explain myself to her since she did not speak Russian well. She was also once in my house; she dropped into my flat since I had agreed with her that she should collect all my post and sent it on to me. She did me a great service in this.”      It was through Christina Terentieva that Vladyka maintained links with Metropolitan Peter and other exiled bishops. And through Catherine Vladimirovna Skadovskaya he continued to rule the Kherson-Odessa diocese. “Catherine Vladimirovna Skadovskaya came to me from the city of Kherson in October, 1929. She brought me food, church vestments and church utensils, including an antimins. She took the antimins for me in my diocese. In essence nobody can deny me this, since nobody has removed me from ruling the Kherson diocese and I have not been deprived of the rank of archbishop of the Kherson-Odessa diocese. When I had been with her in Tobolsk, I had asked her to bring (or send with someone else) church utensils and an antimins, which were necessary for me in exile. She brought the church utensils and antimins, and also for Bishop Ambrose Polyansky, and also vestments, which she left with me, and I passed on to Polyansky. Earlier, according to Church law, an antimins could not be given into the hands of anyone, but in connection with the war and the latest events we have allowed the clergy to carry antimins in their hands.”      On January 21, 1930, Catherine Vladimirovna returned to Kherson, but on was arrested on the way and sent to Tobolsk, and only in the summer, after many savage trials, did she rejoin her husband – in prison, because at the end of 1929 Fr. John, Fr. Michael and other members of Vladyka’s flock in Kherson, including Nun Maria, had been arrested and cast into prison in Kherson.     However, according to another source, Fr. John, Fr. Michael and Nun Maria were arrested on January 15, 1931. Fr. John was accused of being “a participant in the Kherson group of the Odessa branch of the counter-revolutionary monarchist church organization, the True Orthodox Church” and of “maintaining relations with Archbishop Procopius and helping exiled clergy, organizing a religious community consisting of more than one hundred anti-Soviet-minded elements, serving Divine services in a flat and anti-Soviet agitation.” Fr. Michael received the same accusation. Fr. John did not deny the influence he had on his spiritual children, but refused to name them. He did not consider himself guilty of anti-Soviet agitation. At his interrogation Fr. John said: “I entertain monarchist convictions, but I do not protest against other forms of government and I accept them as the will of God. I consider Soviet power to be a God-fighting power, a satanic power, which has been sent to men for their sins…” On January 2, 1932 the two men was sentenced to five (or eight) years in the camps and sent to the Vishera camp in Perm province. Then, on February 16, 1933, they were released early, and in 1934 they were exiled to Kamyshin, Volgograd province. In spite of the arrest of Fr. John, Archbishop Procopius kept up a close spiritual bond with him even from prison and exile.     Also convicted were Nuns Maria (Grigoryevna Khodanovich), Anna (Kirillovna Kulida), who were given three years in the camps, and Metrodora (Macrina Ignatyevna Kobylkina), and the laymen Demetrius Grigoryevich Klimenko and Constantine Yakovlevich Kulida, who were given five years in the camps.     This “Case of Priest John Skadovsky, Deacon Michael Zakharov and others, Kherson, 1931” was part of “The Case of the True Orthodox Church in the Ukraine”, which was fabricated by the OGPU of the Ukraine in January to June, 1931. 140 “Josephites” were indicted: two bishops, 52 priests, 19 monastics, 7 deacons and readers and 60 laity. On December 14, 1931 the first trial of the True Orthodox Christians of the Ukraine too place. The indictment declared that “the counter-revolutionary organization of churchmen, ‘The True Orthodox Church’, has many branches and covers the whole of the Soviet Union, including the Ukraine.” In the republic there existed a strictly organized net of groups and cells of the TOC that were directly administered from the Petrograd and Moscow centres. 126 were convicted of anti-soviet activity – 53 were sentenced to three years in the camps, 58 to three years’ exile in the north, and 5 to being banned from living in 12 populated places and confinement to a definite place of residence. 10 people were released under guard.      On June 30, 1931, at the same time as the mass arrests in the Odessa-Kherson diocese of his supporters, Archbishop Procopius was himself arrested again in exile together with Bishop Ambrose (Polyansky) and cast into prison in Alma-Ata. The OGPU began to summon witnesses to interrogation and gather material against him. One of those summoned was Demetrius Ilyin, the owner of the flat in which Vladyka was living. He witnessed:         “In his conversations there crept through dissatisfaction with Soviet power, that they had exiled him from his native land and did not give him the opportunity to serve the Church. In separate concrete conversations with him I remember the following. He described the reasons for his exile thus: ‘Soviet power by its decree separated the Church from the State, but it itself constantly interfered and interferes into Church life. Take the closing of the churches. This takes place under pressure from the authorities. They oppress servers with taxes, and accuse them of various crimes. But since the Church is separate, they should have nothing to do with Church life, they should put pressure on believers to close the churches; what goes on within the Church should also not interest them, and yet they relate differently to various church orientations. For example, when the Church was divided into the renovationists and the oldchurchmen, the government did everything it could to strengthen the renovationists, while oppressing us, the oldchurchmen.’     “Last year, when Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa was taken from Khe and I informed him about this, saying that they had taken away the metropolitan and, apparently, released him, he replied: ‘What difference is it if they took him from one place, they’ll still send him into exile in another. Look, I served my sentence on Solovki, but after that, look, they sent me into exile. When I have served my term of exile, they’ll still send me to another place. At the present time we clergy who have fallen and are falling into exile, will never serve out their exile, the authorities will not only not allow us to serve in the churches, but also not to be in our homeland.’     “In 1930 they began to close the church in the village of Muzhi. In a conversation I told him about this, and he said to me: ‘This is new for you, but it’s old news for me, since in Russia and in the centre they have already been closing churches for a long time.’     “Once I was talking with Archbishop Procopius about the faith and the ideas of the communist party. He replied to me: ‘What’s happening now its not new for us, what is being done now will all pass, as it is written in the Sacred Scriptures, where it says that there will be persecutions against religion. We see this now with our own eyes – and we endure this persecution even though it is unjust. After all, we also are for brotherhood. Take what you now call communes and collective farms. Why are they unsuccessful? Because they are filled with loafers, layabouts and every kind of trash. But take the monasteries. They have a lot in common with communes. One can build collective farms without repressing religion, but as a result of this hostile attitude to religion their collective farms and communes are born. If the authorities left the faith in peace and paid no attention to it, it would be better. When the people became more cultured and literate, it would itself decided whether it needed faith or not, and a cultured people would of itself relate in a different way to religion, and would in no way hinder new beginnings.     “At Christmas, 1929 he performed a service in his flat, put on all his vestments and sang in such a way that he could be heard throughout the house. There was nobody with him except one woman who came to him from Kherson, the wife of a priest [Protopriest John Skadovsky]. She brought him the vestments and food.     “He knows masses of people from the local population of Kievat village. He is invited to their namesdays and if they need medical assistance, because he has masses of various remedies. I don’t know what he says there. But he gets on with all the locals, since he has more than once said to me that he likes it here and feels at home. When parcels come – and they come to him frequently – he always gives the children presents. In particular, he gave me and others semolina, since there is no semolina in the shop in winter.”     The investigators also summoned some prisoners for interrogation from the prison. One of them, Ibrahimov, witnessed:     “When I was in a cell with the arrestee Procopius Titov and Ambrose Polyansky on August 15 of this year, they unashamedly conducted anti-Soviet conversations among the arrestees. Thus Titov said: ‘The communists consider themselves not bound to carry out any of the laws issued by VTsIK; if you demand something from them in accordance with the law, they arrest you. The OGPU plays a particularly big role here.’ He assured ten arrestees that Soviet laws are simply pieces of paper, and none of the arrestees objected. Titov used to say that ‘history has never known such an authority as the USSR… the prisons are overflowing, Solovki is full of honourable, industrious people.’     The prisoner Basil Lozhkin, who had been dekulakized, said at his interrogation:     “I know Bishops Procopius Titov and Ambrose Polyansky, who were in one cell with me. But I had no conversations with them and did not hear them say anything, since I was always working outside. They sometimes said something, but quietly amongst themselves, so that it was difficult to understand their conversation. During the mornings and evenings they prayed. Sometimes they read books. I heard nothing else.”     Vladyka Procopius was firm during interrogations, and tried to avoid direct replies so as not to give anyone away. He denied the investigator’s accusations of criminality, saying openly:     “The politics conducted by the existing political order with regard to religion oppresses church-religious activity and puts the clergy into exceptionally difficult conditions, burdening them with taxes, limiting church processions and closing churches that have a small number of believers… I don’t remember that I ever said to anyone that they give clergy indefinite terms of exile, thereby wishing to emphasize that the authorities treat us, the clergy, differently from other exiles. I personally can tell you only about myself, since in accordance with the order that has been established after Solovki they gave me exile, and after exile a minus. I don’t remember with whom I talked about this, but perhaps I said something to the owner of the flat.     “I once had a jokey kind of conversation with Ilyin, the owner of the flat, in which I said: ‘The commune you’ve found, and which you boast of, existed earlier – coenobitic monasteries have much in common with contemporary communes from an external point of view.’ There was no serious conversation with him on the question of collectivization, and I did not express my opinions and suggestions on how to make a contemporary commune religious.’     “The painfulness of the new conditions of Church life undoubtedly depend in part on the fact that the whole of life is being reconstruction, and all conditions are changing, to which the forms of religious life have not yet adapted.”     Certain sergianist publications cite the following words of Vladyka Procopius, which were said by him during an interrogation in prison in reply to the investigator’s question what were his views on contemporary Church life:     “I did not advise the inhabitants of Kherson not to have communion with Metropolitan Sergius. On the contrary, I restrained them in this respect.”     Seizing on these words of Vladyka, modern apologetes of sergianism use them to their advantage, distorting historical facts. Every attentive investigator of this question understands that here one has to take into account both the place, and the conditions, and the time that these words were uttered, as well as all the accompanying circumstances. After all, to admit, during interrogations by the executioners of the GPU-NKVD, that one was a leader of the anti-sergianist opposition was tantamount both to signing one’s own death warrant and to subjecting one’s supporters to probable death. It is for that reason that many (but not all) “non-commemorator” bishops, priests and laity tried to hide their belonging to the TOC from the Soviet organs. This was viewed as “anti-Soviet activity and propaganda” according to article 58 of the Russian Federation’s Criminal Code, for which the penalty was a death sentence or a maximum prison term of from 10 to 25 years. For that reason the followers of the TOC were forced to act in conditions of the strictest secrecy and underground, which is why the TOC acquired another name in the 1930s – the Catacomb Church. And so the words spoken by Archbishop Procopius at his interrogations within the walls of the NKVD can in no way be taken as proof of his supposedly “pro-sergianist” views. In hiding the truth from the persecuters, Vladyka was protecting many of his followers from death. As regards his true views, they can be deduced from the fact that, even after many arrests, tortures and exiles, Archbishop Procopius retained the closest relations with one of the leaders of the anti-sergianist movement in the Odessa-Kherson diocese, Protopriest John Skadovsky, until the end of his days, and was even shot together with him in 1937 on a charge of belonging to the TOC.     On September 29, 1931 the investigation in relation to the case of Archbishop Procopius came to an end. Since the authorities had not found sufficient proof of his guilt, the representative of the Yamal district department of the Urals OGPU Fomin twisted the case as follows:     “Information has reached the Yamal district department of the OGPU that the administratively exiled Bishops Polyansky and Titov, while in exile in the village of Muzhi in 1929, established broad-based links with the local Zyryan and Ostyak population, first on the basis of conducting conversations with them on religious subjects, giving them an anti-Soviet tendency. At the same time they unlawfully performed services in houses, and also conducted clearly anti-Soviet agitation.     “As a consequence the representatives of the OGPU transferred Polyansky to Shuryshkary, and Titov to Kievat, where they continued the same activity, exerting a harmful influence on the dark masses around them, as a result of which those most closely linked with them began to speak actively against the projects being carried out by Soviet power. Thus they were against the closing of churches, against collectivization, and against the distribution of loans.     “The completed investigation has established the following:     “1. Archbishop Ambrose (Alexander Alexeyevich) Polyansky, 53 years of age, bachelor, a native of the village of Petelino in the former Tambov province, Elatomsky uyezd, the son of a priest, with higher theological education. From 1903 to 1906 he was a teacher in the Kiev theological seminary, and then rector of the latter until October, 1918, from which time until 1923 he was Bishop of Vinnitsa in Podolsk diocese. In 1923 he was exiled from the Ukrainian SSR to Moscow for three years for counter-revolutionary activity. By decree of the Special Conference attached to the OGPU collegium of May 21, 1926, he was imprisoned in the Solovki concentration camp for three years. After serving this term, by decree of the same conference of October 6, 1928, he was exiled to the Urals for three years, which he served until April, 1929 in Tyumen district, and then in Obdorsk region (now Yamalo-Nenetsky).     “2. Titov, Archbishop Procopius (Peter Semyonovich)… While in exile, Polyansky and Titov had close links with the local Zyryano-Ostyatsky population and sharply incited the latter against Soviet power.”     Then he gave a list of the crimes of the hierarchs: “convincing the local population not to give in to atheist agitation”, not to allow the closure of churches or propaganda about the evil of collectivization and “the serfdom of the peasants”. “They separated the Church from the state, but do not cease to interfere in the affairs of the Church,” etc. Archbishop Procopius was also found guilty of keeping up a correspondence with his Odessa-Kherson diocese.     The hierarchs pleaded not guilty. Having read the indictment, Vladyka Procopius wrote: “As an addition to the investigation, on my part I consider it necessary to declare the following. I have been accused of ‘systematic anti-Soviet agitation’, which I supposedly conducted during my exile in Obdorsk region. For two years of exile I lived without leaving in the village of Novy Kievat (five houses in all) in the same flat as a local Soviet activist, a member of the Muzhi village soviet, the former communist D.N. Ilyin, to whose supervision I was entrusted. I did not have a separate room, but was accommodated behind a screen in a room of the owners. I never went into any other houses for even the slightest need. If I had conducted systematic agitation, then my masters would have known about it because of the conditions of accommodation in such a small settlement. Every winter a representative of the GPU and his assistant goes through Kievat up to five times. I was searched during the first winter of my exile, in the second winter only an inspection of my accommodation was carried out. Every time the GPU agents interrogated my masters about my life and behaviour, and if I had been conducting systematic agitation during my exile, I would have been arrested and brought to account much earlier than this year of 1931. Individual phrases from chance, jokey conversations with my masters can hardly be considered agitation. I did not have or read any newspapers. I expressed my views on the questions raised during my interrogation to representative Lopatkin. Of course, I told Ambrose Polyansky, who was arrested and detained with me, about these conversations with him. But this also cannot be considered to be agitation.”      On December 14, 1931 Vladyka Procopius was convicted of “counter-revolutionary activity, close links with the local Zyryan-Ostyatsky population, stirring them up against Soviet power, and correspondence with the Kherson diocese”. He was sentenced to three years’ exile in Kazakhstan together with Bishop Ambrose, with the term being considered to begin from July 23, 1930. This was the group case, “The Case of Archbishop Procopius (Titov) and Bishop Ambrose (Polyansky), Tobolsk province, 1931”.      On his way into exile through Tomsk, Vladyka met his parents and his elder sister. In exile he fell ill with malaria, but the Lord preserved his life. It is known that at the beginning of the spring of 1932 he was in Alma-Ata, where, with Bishop Ambrose (Polyansky), he raised Igumen Theogenes to the rank of archimandrite.      At the end of his exile, in April, 1934, he stayed for a time with his brother in Moscow. He also stayed for a while with his mother in Tomsk, trying to cure himself from malaria, but the climate did not suit him, and in September, 1934 he was invited to go to Kamyshin, where Fr. John Skadovsky, Ekaterina Vladimirovna, Deacon Michael and the exiled Bishop Joasaph (Popov) were in exile. He arrived on September 16. The whole group lived on donations from Kherson diocese in the house of Darya Alexeyevna Funtikova. They were united in their opinions on all church questions. Letters were sent and received through Monk Athanasius (Storeus). In Kamyshin the two bishops organized a house church. This cell of the True Orthodox Church exerted a strong moral influence on the inhabitants of Kamyshin.      On October 2, 1934 Archbishop Procopius, Bishop Joasaph, Fr. John Skadovsky and Priest Eustathius Markovich Norits (a dekulakized peasant who became a priest in Kharkov, but then moved to Kamyshin, where he met the Catacomb Church and joined it) were arrested on the denunciation of Priest George Chudnovsky (also arrested with them). Previously Fr. George had been banned from serving by Bishop Peter (Sokolov) of Volgograd for fighting in the altar because of money, after which he fled to Kamyshin, set himself up in the local sergianist church and at the same time, on the recommendation of the chekists, tried to worm himself into the confidence of Bishop Joasaph, in which aim he succeeded for a time. At the demand of the chekists, he gave the testimony they needed, on the basis of which a new indictment was constructed.      On October 4 the investigator asked Vladyka Procopius: “Who have you been with here in Kamyshin, besides Skadovsky?”      “From my correspondence with Skadovsky I knew that Bishop Joasaph lived in Kamyshin, and when I arrived in Kamyshin I got to know him, I was in his flat and he in mine. There was nobody else present when I was with Joasaph. I did not know Joasaph before and had not heard about him.”      “Are you and he of the same orientation?”      “At this point I explained that we were of the same orientation as Patriarch Tikhon.”      On Christmas Eve, January 6, 1935, the last interrogation took place.      “Expound your political views,” said the investigator.      “I consider myself to be an apolitical person. However, I am a convinced follower of the Orthodox Church, and, as a representative of the latter, I naturally cannot be indifferent to what authority exists in the country – whether it persecutes the Church or, on the contrary, protects it. It is completely natural that I should be more sympathetic to a political regime that protects the activity of the Church than to a political regime that persecutes the Church or limits the freedom of its activity. In this respect I share Skadovsky’s sympathy for the idea of a monarchical power headed by a monarch – the anointed of God. I must make the qualification that what I have said does not mean that I am a supporter of the violent overthrow of Soviet power and the restoration of the monarchy. I consider it impossible for me as a representative of the Church to try and achieve the overthrow of Soviet power and conduct some kind of political work in this direction. Moreover, I consider that the idea of an absolute monarchy has now outlived its time, and the most desirable for me in the existing conditions is an order guaranteeing the complete separation of the Church from the state and assuring complete freedom for the Church and the non-interference of the state in the internal life of the Church.”      “What can you say about the essence of the charge levelled against you?”      “From the moment of my release from exile in April, 1934 I have done nothing against the authorities and conducted no agitation. I consider myself to be guilty of nothing.”      Here is one of the interrogations of Protopriest John Skadovsky conducted by the assistant director of the secret-political department of the UNKVD, E.A. Ali, on November 28, 1934:      “What is the essence of your disagreement with Patriarch Sergius?”     “After accepting the rank of locum tenens, he introduced changes in Church dogmas that are contrary to the very essence of the Orthodox Church. First of all, Sergius published his well-known declaration concerning his loyal attitude to Soviet power, whereas the Church cannot be loyal to Soviet power insofar as the latter denies it. Then Sergius deprived of their rank all the bishops in the concentration camps or other places of imprisonment, which Sergius could not and should not have done. And there were other small changes.     “These views of mine are the official views of the True Orthodox Church (TOC). The prominent representatives of the TOC – Seraphim of Uglich, Joseph of Petrograd, and Damascene of Nezhin – are all in prison.     “Our task is to spread Christianity. From a practical point of view, in the present conditions, this comes down to unmasking Sergius’ distortions of religion and returning believers to the bosom of the TOC.”     “Did you have to express your political views in conversations with those whom you knew in Kamyshin, and with whom in particular?”     “I don’t remember whether I expressed my political views to anyone in Kamyshin, although I admit that it is possible… I could speak about Church affairs. In addition, I recounted certain episodes in the life of Emperor Alexander III. I described him as a person of strong will and noble character traits who during his reign raised the international prestige and greatness of Russia. In recent times my memory has become weaker, and I don’t remember many circumstances relating even to the recent period.     “Do you consider that every follower of the ‘True Orthodox Church’ should be a supporter of the Russian monarchy?”     “Yes, I consider that a true follower of the Orthodox Church must be a supporter of the Russian monarchy.”     “Do you think that it is impermissible for a consistent supporter of the TOC to be loyal towards Soviet power?”     “Yes. A true follower of the Orthodox Church cannot have a loyal attitude to Soviet power. He cannot enter into any compromise with it, or take part in Soviet construction.”     “And so an increase in the numbers of followers of the TOC is an increase in the numbers of monarchically inclined people who have a negative attitude to Soviet power?”     “Yes. An increase in the numbers of true followers of the Orthodox Church is an increase in the number of supporters of the Russian monarchical order and opponents of any compromises or loyal attitude to Soviet power.”     “And in spite of that, the TOC and you as her representative place as your aim for an increase in the number of followers of the TOC?”     “Yes. The Orthodox Church and I as her follower place as my aim the spreading of our teaching and the increase in the number of true supporters of the Orthodox Church. I must say, however, that an increase in the numbers of monarchists is not my immediate aim, and in general I do not pursue political ends.”     During his interrogation, Fr. John said that he had not gone to work in Kamyshin because he was old and sick, but also because by entering into any responsible post he would thereby be helping the establishment of the socialist order, which was hostile to the Church. “The pre-revolutionary order of Russia is close to my idea of the ideal social order, and I am a supporter of it. However, I must make the qualification: I am not a supporter of monarchy in general. I am a supporter only of the monarchy in which the monarch is the anointed of God… Secondly, while being a supporter of the Russian monarchical order, I am by no means a supporter of those corruptions and distortions of the idea that lay at its base, and which took place in practice… These corruptions were the result of the historical fall of morality in Russia, which led in the end to the appearance in Russia of political tendencies hostile to the monarchy and to the formation of the anti-monarchist parties of the Social Democrats and the Social Revolutionaries, etc., and to the overthrow of the monarchy by the revolution.”     A few days later, on January 11, the investigation came to an end. Archbishop Procopius was accused that, “being inclined towards counter-revolution, and having monarchist convictions, he joined the counter-revolutionary grouping organized by [Bishop Joasaph] Popov in the city of Kamyshin, whither he was specially summoned by a member of the grouping, Skadovsky.”        On March 17, 1935 the prisoners were condemned by the UNKVD for “counter-revolutionary propaganda, belonging to the True Orthodox Church, illegal services at home and links with the Odessa-Kherson diocese”. They were sentenced to five years’ exile in the town of Turtkul, Karakalpakia, Uzbekistan. This was the group case, “The Case of Archbishop Procopius (Titov), Bishop Joasaph (Popov), Priest John Skadovsky and Priest Eustathius Norits, Kamyshin, 1935”.      On May 28, 1935 Vladyka Procopius was in Tashkent on his way to Turtkul, accompanied by Fr. John. In Turtkul Vladyka, Fr. John and his wife organized a house church which was accessible for all the local inhabitants. The exiles continued to live on contributions from Kherson diocese.      In the summer of 1937 the NKVD began to gather news about the exiles through informants. They summoned them to interrogations as “witnesses”. One of these “witnesses” was the sergianist Nicholas Ivanovich Pridni, who testified:      “Being a religious person, I found out by chance that in the city of Turtkul, in Chimbaiskaya street number 40, a prayer-house had been organized in which services took place. One Sunday at the beginning of August 1937 I set off for this prayer-house in order to listen to the liturgy. Before allowing me into the house, Priest Skadovsky asked me whether I had prepared for communion of late, and when I replied: ten years ago, he did not allow me to attend the liturgy, but suggested that I come for confession one of these days. A few days later I came for confession and Skadovsky, having allowed me into the prayer-house, began to receive my confession. During confession he conducted counter-revolutionary propaganda… and said: ‘You have to be bold and brave…, the communist, Bolshevik authority is not from God, but from the Antichrist.’ After finishing confession in the house in which Titov and Skadovsky live, there in the prayer-house, in my presence, they both continued to conduct counter-revolutionary agitation, trying to persuade me that the only lawful power is the monarchical order, and that one should not recognize Soviet power, but must fight in every way against it. In order that their counter-revolutionary activity should not be discovered by the organs of Soviet power, Titov and Skadovsky were wary of conducting counter-revolutionary agitation in the presence of several people and preferred to work on believers in a counter-revolutionary spirit one to one. Titov… warned me that everything that he and Skadovsky told me should be kept in the strictest confidence. In view of the fact that I, though a religious person, adhere to that group of churchmen that recognizes Soviet power, I decided to tell the organs of the NKVD about this, which I have done.”      Another witness, T.G. Migulina, testified: “While performing religious rites, Titov and Skadovsky conducted systematic counter-revolutionary agitation. Skadovsky began to tell me that I should under no circumstances join the renovationist church movement, and declared that the renovationists recognize Soviet power, the power of the Antichrist, and that we should in no way recognize Soviet power.”      Fr. John was helped by his aunt, Olga Lvovna Skadovskaya-Picard, who lived in the city of Manchester in England and regularly sent him small money transfers. The NKVD used this as one of the reasons for arresting the clergy, although, to avoid unpleasantness, Fr. John did not correspond with Olga Lvovna, limiting himself to acknowledging receipt of the money.      But this was quite enough for Archbishop Procopius and Fr. John to be arrested again on August 24, 1937 and accused of links with the White emigration and the Russian Church Abroad. They were also accused of performing religious rites and services, of putting on vestments and rizas sometimes, and of organizing an illegal prayer-house in Turtkul whether they conducted counter-revolutionary monarchist propaganda among the believers, summoning them to active struggle against Soviet power. They pleaded not guilty.      NKVD Agent Olsufyev began conducting interrogations on August 26. Although interrogations at this time were carried out with the application of torture, both confessors behaved courageously.     “You are accused,” said the investigator to Archbishop Procopius, “that together with Priest Skadovsky you organized in the city of Turtkul an illegal prayer-house in which you conducted counter-revolutionary monarchist agitation. Do you plead guilty to this charge?”     “I do not, for I have never conducted counter-revolutionary agitation. While living in the city of Turtkul with Priest Skadovsky, I did indeed take part in services performed by him. In conversations with believers who came to Skadovsky, I did indeed conduct propaganda, but exclusively of a religious content.”     “During discussions with believers did you touch on the question of your disagreements with the renovationists and other orientations?”     “During discussions with believers in the city of Turtkul I did indeed raise the question of my disagreements with the clergy of the renovationist tendency… Skadovsky and I did not allow believers who had previously adhered to these religious tendencies to carry out religious rites with us without confession.”     “How did you formulate your disagreements with the renovationists in your conversations with believers?”     “I gave as reason for my disagreements with the clergy of the renovationist orientation the fact that the followers of these orientations violated church canons and cooperated in the anti-church politics of Soviet power. My conversations with believers in the city of Turtkul were not in groups, but one to one.     “Your reply is not accurate. Thus in conversation with believers you formulated your differences with the clergy of the renovationist orientation precisely on the basis that these clergy recognized Soviet power in their declarations to the effect that they rejected struggle against. But your position is completely the opposite. Do you support this?     “No, I do not support it. I declare that in conversations with believers I spoke to nobody about not recognizing Soviet power.”     At Fr. John’s interrogation the investigator said: “You are accused that, together with the hierarch Titov, you organized in the city of Turtkul an illegal prayer-house in which you conducted counter-revolutionary monarchist agitation among the believing population. Do you admit your guilt?”     “No, I do not, and on the essence of the matter I testify that I performed religious rites and services in my flat. Moreover, during services I did vest myself in rizas. Sometimes, during my performance of the service, besides my wife and the hierarch Titov, some passing believers who wanted to pray were present. At the request of believers who came to me I did perform religious sacraments: confession, baptism, I served prayer services and pannikhidas. It is true, the believers did not always pay me for carrying out these needs. The money that believers gave me I looked on, not as payment for needs, but as assistance. I never carried out counter-revolutionary agitation anywhere.”     “The investigation has established that in performing the sacrament of confession you question those being confessed whether they belonged to the renovationist movement. Moreover, you conducted propaganda against the renovationists, and you said that one of the main differences with them was the fact that they recognize Soviet power. Do you admit this?”     “When performing the sacrament of confession I put questions concerning whether they visited prayer institutions that were not of our tendency. I conducted no propaganda against the renovationists and I did not discuss my differences with the renovationists among believers.”     “I am going to read to you the testimonies of a female witness who reproached you for conducting systematic counter-revolutionary monarchist agitation. Do you admit this?”     “No, I do not, and I declare that I never conducted counter-revolutionary agitation anywhere.”     After a month the investigation came to an end. On the basis especially of the testimonies of Pridni and Migulina, Agent Olsufyev found Archbishop Procopius and Fr. John guilty of conducting counter-revolutionary monarchist agitation, of calling people to an active struggle against Soviet power, and of spreading provocative rumours that Soviet power would supposedly soon be overthrown. The case was passed on to a troika attached to the NKVD of Uzbekistan.      On October 28 the session of the troika took place. Archbishop Procopius and Fr. John were condemned for “systematic counter-revolutionary monarchist agitation, and belonging to the True Orthodox Church”. In accordance with article 66, they were condemned to death. This was the group case, “The Case of Archbishop Procopius (Titov) and Priest John Skadovsky, Turtkul, 1937”. On November 23, 1937 Archbishop Procopius and Fr. John were shot. What happened then to Fr. Eustathius and Ekaterina Vladimirovna is not known.      In 1981 Archbishop Procopius and Fr. John Skadovsky were glorified among the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia by the Russian Church Abroad. In November, 2008 Archbishop Procopius was again glorified by the Russian True Orthodox Church at its Council in Odessa. *      Protopriest Gregory Dmitrievich Sinitsky was born on January 23, 1873 (or 1872) in the village of Rovnoye, Kherson uyezd, Kherson province in the family of a priest. He finished his studies at Odessa theological seminary in 1885, and became a reader in the Dormition cathedral in Alexandria, Kherson province. On August 31, 1896 he married Lyudmilla Ivanovna (née Babura, born October 10, 1878 in Ivanovka, Kherson province in the family of a priest), and on October 1 was ordained to the priesthood. He was sent to the village of Troitskoye-Safonovo, Kherson uyezd, and then to the Staruspensky cathedral. He was raised to the rank of protopriest. In 1916 Fr. Gregory was appointed rector of the cathedral of the Nativity of the Mother of God (or Mother of God “the Joy of All Who Sorrow”) in Nikolayev, Kherson province.Fr. Gregory and his matushka had five daughters; the two elder ones went to the Odessa institute for noble maidens. In 1922 his youngest daughter died at the age of twelve.      In 1922 the renovationists obtained the removal of Archbishop Procopius from his see and the appointment in his place of the renovationist Archbishop Anatolius (Samarsky). Only two priests remained faithful to Vladyka Procopius: Fr. Paul Samgor (born 1881 or 1882) and Fr. Gregory. Fr. Paul was arrested in April, 1923 and cast into prison in Nikolayev, where he very soon died of typhus. The renovationists demanded of Fr. Gregory that he repent of his “errors” and join the schism. But he continued to refuse to concelebrate with the renovationists, and was forced to leave his service in the cathedral and serve in flats. In June Patriarch Tikhon was released from prison, and with his and Archbishop Procopius’ blessing Fr. Gregory was appointed to receive the repentance of the local clergy who came over from the renovationist schism.      In 1927 he was under investigation, but was not condemned.      In July, 1927 Metropolitan Sergius published his notorious “Declaration”.Archbishop Procopius of Kherson, who was on Solovki at the time, refused to accept it, as did Fr. Gregory. He refused to read both the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius and that of Metropolitan Michael, Exarch of the Ukraine, from the church ambon. He formulated his and his flock’s position in letters to Metropolitan Michael, Archbishops Procopius and Anatolius and Bishop Parthenius in 1927-28, writing: “The declarations are unacceptable for our conscience… We cannot condemn members of the Orthodox Church who think differently from us as if they were heretics, we do not break canonical communion with them. But we shall not pray with them so as not to participate in the recognition of the unlawful appointment of a bishop. We do not impose our point of view on anybody, but we declare it to those who turn to us.”      In September, 1928 Archbishop Procopius was officially removed from his see by Metropolitan Sergius, and the Kherson-Nikolayev diocese was joined to that of Odessa. Archbishop Anatolius of Odessa forbade the Odessa clergy to serve with Fr. Gregory. As a result Fr. Gregory separated from Anatolius on October 1, the feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God and the anniversary of his ordination. He left the Skorbyashchenskaya “Novokupecheskaya” church and began to serve in flats. He was constantly subjected to threats and arrests. His two elder daughters were forced to move to Moscow because the authorities in Nikolayev deprived them of the possibility of studying and working in Nikolayev.      Fr. Gregory was followed into the wilderness by Deacon John Pavlovsky and a significant number of laypeople. He was banned from serving, but continued his antisergianist activity. In 1929 he went to Bishop Damascene in Starodub and corresponded with Archbishop Procopius.      At this time there were several Josephite priests and parishes in the region. Thus the Josephite dean in Odessa was Priest Orlov, and Protopriest Alexander Vvedensky served in the “Botanic” church in Odessa. Priest Benedict Korolchuk served in Ananyev (he was at first under the omophorion of Archbishop Demetrius (Lyubimov), but then, in 1929, moved to Bishop Paul (Kratirov)). And in the church of the village of Mutykhi, Shevchenko region, there served the Josephite Hieromonk Thaddeus (Tarasenko). The community of the True Orthodox in the village of Matyasiwas led by Hieromonks Gudail and Dositheus. And from the end of 1927 to 1931 a secret church was active in the village of Belvedery, Novoarkhangelsk region.      Linked with Fr. Gregory was the superior of the church in the village of Peresadovka, Nikolayev okrug, Fr. Elijah Takovila, who also commemorated only Archbishop Procopius and Metropolitan Peter. Fr. Gregory also had contacts with the Josephites in Yelisavettgrad and Kharkov (in particular, with Fr. Gregory Seletsky). He received from them the appeal, “The Church in the wilderness”, a copy of which he sent to Kherson. His parish continued to function until January, 1931. One of its active members, S.F. Vorobyev, led an anti-communist strike at factory no. 61 on December 2, 1930. Fr. Gregory himself prayed for the Emperor Nicholas II and at meetings said: “The darker the night, the brighter the stars; the deeper the sorrow, the closer is God; we are on the eve of the last times of the Antichrist.”      On January 15, 1931 eleven people were arrested in Nikolayev. Five of them were separated into another case, while the other six, including Fr. Gregory, Deacon John, I.I. Pavlovsky and S.F. Vorobyev were charged as part of the case against the True Orthodox Church in the Ukraine. Fr. Gregory was accused of being “the leader of the Nikolayev group of the Odessa branch of the counter-revolutionary monarchist church organization, the True Orthodox Church”, and was placed in solitary confinement in a prison in Nikolayev. Two weeks later his wife was arrested and put into a cell with criminals and prostitutes for six months.      On April 14 his two daughters, Faina (born June, 1899 in Vladimirovka, Kherson uyezd) and Seraphima (born July 25, 1903 in Troitskoye-Safonovo), who were working in Moscow, were also arrested and cast nto Butryki prison. On June 5 they were condemned for being members of “the counter-revolutionary monarchist organization, ‘The True Orthodox Church’”, of “anti-Soviet propaganda” and “aid to exiles”. This was part of the group case, “The Case of I.A. Babikov and others (R-35593), Moscow, 1931”. They were exiled for three years to Aulie-Ata (Dzhambul) in Kazakhstan. In 1932 they were joined by Lyudmilla Ivanovna and her eldest daughter. The youngest daughter went to acquaintances in Leningrad.      On December 14, 1931 Fr. Gregory was sentenced to three years’ exile and sent to the north. According to another source, on January 26, 1932, after spending a whole year in solitary confinement, he was exiled to the village of Konevo, Vologda province for three years. In 1935, at the end of his exile, he went to Samarkand to his wife and two elder daughters, who had settled there in 1934. In 1936 Fr. Gregory and his wife went to Nikolayev, to the grave of their daughter, and then returned to Samarkand. This trip was noted by the authorities and became one of the reasons for his later arrest.      On June 27, 1937 Fr. Gregory was arrested in Samarkand and sent first to prison in Taskhkent, and then under convoy to Nikolayev. The investigation was conducted in conditions of extreme pressure on Fr. Gregory. The NKVD officer swore at him and did not allow him to write down in his own hand the replies to his questions, but himself wrote the answers, twisting them in the direction he needed. In August Fr. Gregory was condemned for “counter-revolutionary agitation” and sentenced to ten years in the camps in accordance with article 58-10. By this time Fr. Gregory’s already poor health was getting worse…      On September 15 he arrived at Kochkoma station on the Kirov railway line in the Medvezhyegorsky camp, Karelia. He was several times moved from one camp to another, which made life still more difficult for him. One hundred people and more lived in the barracks. They slept in their outer clothing, in their boots, with wrist-bands on their hands from the bedbugs. On their heads they had gauze bags, and they put their hands into the pockets of their coats. So as not to die from hunger it was necessary to work – a worker was given two times more food. But Fr. Gregory, being severely ill, was not able to work. However, he was regularly helped by his wife and daughters, who sent parcels, medicines and money to the camp. Much was lost on the way, and there were many criminals among the prisoners, and they especially liked to fleece old men. But some got through and kept the confessor alive.      Fr. Gregory found himself together with the Catacomb Bishop Athanasius (Sakharov) from the end of 1937 to the middle of 1938. Being with “Uncle Athanasius”, as Fr. Gregory called him in his letters, gave “rest to his soul”. Bishop Athanasius said that he was very elderly, but very strong in spirit, and he was able to support many others in the camp. In 1938 Fr. Gregory asked for a meeting with his family, but was refused. In April, 1940 Fr. Gregory appealed to the Supreme Procurator of the USSR for release, writing: “I do not recognize myself to be guilty at all. Though condemned, I have not committed any crime. I am just as honourable in relation to the State as I am from an ecclesiastical point of view, and I have never permitted myself to violate my civil duties…”      However, there was no reply to his appeal, and in March, 1941 Fr. Gregory was admitted to the prison hospital with pellagria. On April 21, the second day of Pascha, he died. The news was conveyed to his family, who had moved to Kostroma, on the ninth day, the day of Radonitsa. It was not the authorities who told them, but some good people, who wrote to them about the last months of his life in camp. Many of his letters were preserved.      After the death of Fr. Gregory, Bishop Athanasius continued to correspond with Lyudmilla Ivanovna. She supported him materially for twenty-four years, although they never saw each other, and she herself was seriously ill and in a wheel-chair. Her letters to Vladyka were written by dictation to her daughter. She and her daughters conducted a voluminous correspondence and supported many innocent sufferers.

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