The missionary layman Stefan Galaktionov was born in the 90s of the 19th century and lived in Blagodarnaya stanitsa, Krasnodar region. He was very well-read, and had a good knowledge of the Holy Scriptures and the commentaries on them, knowing the whole of the New Testament by heart. Stefan was a great faster and prayed at night. He was greatly venerated amongst the people, but his own wife, at the instigation of the devil, hated him for his spiritual life, turned his daughters against him and even once tried to have him killed. Stefan rebuked priests who accepted renovationism and sergianism, and led many of them to repentance and to return to the bosom of the True Church. He often said that in order to become a martyr one must have flaming faith and an ascetic life.
Blessed Melania Litvinova lived in Zelenchuk stanitsa, Stavropol region. Her parents were distinguished for their almsgiving and gave generously to the needs of the local women’s monastery. Once it was revealed to her parents from the Lord that for their charity their daughter would be vouchsafed a golden martyr’s crown.
After the arrest of her husband, Blessed Melania was homeless and spent the nights with various good people. These people said that at night she would talk with someone in the Greek language. The righteous woman rebuked people for their sins and often played the fool for Christ. She especially rebuked, and even beat with a stick, those nuns who married after the closure of the monastery. Because of these harsh rebukes most people did not love the blessed one and called her mad.
At Pascha, 1940, some Catacomb Christians from the neighbouring settlements gathered together for prayer and chanted the paschal hymns. And suddenly Blessed Melania said: “You can chant, but who is going to suffer?”
Soon after this, in June of the same year, the believers gathered as usual for prayer in the house of one Catacomb Christian in Kardonikskaya stanitsa. When they had read the holy Bible, a policeman came and took everyone in the house to the police station. One of those arrested, Natalia, fainted, and they threw her out beyond the fence. The remaining five people – Stefan, Blessed Melania, Helen, and her two children (one of whom was called Nicholas) – were tortured for a long time and then taken away. Not far from the city of Cherkassk, they were tied with wire to a metal post and a fire was lit under them. Several parishioners from the local sergianist church were brought there as witnesses. When the chekists asked them: What can you say about the accused?” one of them (probably the churchwarden) replied: “What can we say? They are holy people.” After this, the “witnesses” were immediately shot. But the martyrs who were tied to the post burned for three days without feeling any pain and without being burned up. Only after three days did they surrender their souls to the Lord. All this time they rebuked the Soviet antichristian authorities, while around them spread a wonderful fragrance.
The servant of God Natalia, who had fainted at the time of the arrest, has survived to the present day. The daughters of the Martyr Stefan, at the instigation of their mother, renounced their father. One of them, Catherine, had a vision: her father came out of some beautiful city and called her to himself, but between them was a small bridge. She set off, but the bridge broke, and she heard a voice: “Your mother has broken it.” The other daughter, Maria, was buried alive by her own son. Thus did the Lord punish her for despising her father.
(Catacomb Nun Aquilina, Kuban, 1999; in “Yako odin iz Drevnikh”, Svecha Pokayaniya (Volgograd), N 4, February, 2000, p. 23)