New Hieromartyr Evgenii, Metropolitan of Nizhygorod (Gorky)

Today we remember the life, suffering, and execution of Metropolitan Evgenii (Zernov) by the godless power. As I found no information in English on the internet I have translated the following from this page.

New Hieromartyr Evgeny (Zernov), Metropolitan of Nizhygorod (Gorky)
New Hieromartyr Evgenii (Zernov) Metropolitan of Nizhygorod (Gorky)

Priest-martyr Evgenii (1877-1937), Metropolitan of Nizhygorod was a highly educated theologian of deep wisdom who was always tactful and calm. He served with grandeur, calmness, and reverence.

In the world his name was Simeon Alekseevich Zernov.

His memory is remembered on January 31 and September 7.

He was born on January 18, 1877, in the Moscow region into the family of a deacon.

In 1898 Simeon graduated from the Moscow Theological Seminary and entered the Moscow Theological Academy.

In 1900 he was tonsured into monasticism with the name of Evgenii and in 1902 he was ordained a priest. In the same year, after graduating from the Moscow Theological Academy, he was assigned as instructor of sect studies at the Chernigov Theological Seminary. In 1904 he became the inspector of the same seminary.

After the disorder caused by the revolution of 1905 and the general indignation which the students expressed towards the seminary authority, Father Evgenii was able to bring about order without using any extreme measures and attracted the trust and love of the students. From 1906 he was the rector of the Irkutsk Theological Seminary as an archimandrite. Besides being the seminary rector he also filled the difficult role of the head of the diocesan committee for junior theological schools, was a member of the missionary committee, geography society, and brotherhood of St. Innocent, as well as editor of “Diocesan Newsletter.”

He had a wonderful gift for preaching and his afternoon talks in the seminary church on Sundays were well attended by students, members of the intelligentsia, and others.

In 1909 Father Evgenii became a member of the committee for reviewing the incorrupt relics of St. Sofrony (Kristalevskii), Bishop of Irkutsk.

In 1910 he made a report at the Irkutsk missionary congress which outlined proposals for introducing missionary subjects to the curriculum in the Irkutsk seminaries; all of his proposals were accepted unanimously.

In 1913 he was consecrated as the Bishop of Kirensk, vicar of the Irkutsk diocese. In 1914 he was appointed to the Priamoursk and Blagoveshchensk bishopric. He was also a member of the Council of the Russian Church in 1917-1918.

In 1923 after the vigil for the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos, Bishop Evgenii was arrested and imprisoned at first in Blagoveshchensk then in Chita and finally in Moscow.

As he was respected by all for his peacefulness and truth, to the defense of their arch-pastor stood the whole town so that the Chekists had to call the firefighters to spray the crowd with water in order to disperse it. Even sect members came to his defense. Everyday while Vladyka was in the Blagoveshensk jail a cart was hauled about the city with a sign reading, “To jail with bread for the bishop.” So much food was collected that Vladyka fed all the other prisoners as well.

After being released the same year Patriarch Tikhon raised Bishop Evgenii to the rank of an Archbishop and in 1924 made him a member of the Holy Synod.

In 1924 he was arrested again and sentenced to the years in a concentration camp and another three years of exile. Until 1927 Vladyka was imprisoned at the Solovky special camp.

During his time in Solovky other bishops recognized him as the eldest in rank even when other bishops arrived who had been consecrated earlier.

In 1926 he took part in the composition of the “Solovky Epistle” (an address of Orthodox bishops to the government of the USSR). Essentially the document is full of adamant steadfastness in all that concerned the liberty of the Church’s life, completely free of conformity and fear, free in it’s attitude, not being afraid to testify to the truth, even though in bonds. The fact of the persecution of the Church was laid out and it was proclaimed that “political denunciation is completely incompatible with the call of a pastor.”

From 1927 to 1929 Vladyka was in exile in the Zyiryan (Komi) region. After the publication of the Declaration of Metropolitan Sergei (Stragorodsky) Archbishop Evgenii did not sever his ties with him and did not think it necessary to separate Metropolitan Sergei, the acting Metropolitan of Moscow, from Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne, Metropolitan Peter (Polyansky).

Archbishop Evgenii was a strict faster and, disregarding the conditions of camp life, never ate meat, not even fish when the fast didn’t allow. In giving pastoral advice he was always gentle and discreet.

After his release in 1929 Vladyka lived in the town of Kotelnich in the Nizhegorod district.

On August 13, 1930, he was appointed Archbishop of Belgorod though the appointment was cancelled.

In the same month he was appointed as Archbishop of Kotelnich, vicar of the Vyatsk diocese and in 1933 temporarily headed the same diocese. In May of 1934 Vladyka was transferred to the Nizhygorod (Gorky) bishopric.

In 1935 after the Paschal service which fell on May 1, Vladyka prepared to return home but was advised to wait until the participants of a demonstration had passed. “What is there to fear,” he answered, “We need to fear God” and headed home in his klobuk. Shortly he was arrested, charged with “anti-Soviet agitation,” and sentenced to three years in the Karaganda camp. In September of 1937 a troika of the NKVD sentenced him to be executed. On September 7 (September 20 according to the Gregorian calendar) of the same year he was shot.

Archbishop Evgenii was canonized into the ranks of new-martyrs and confessors of Russia at the Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in August 2000.

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