Orthodox America

  The Hope of One Christian Confessor

by Fr. Victor Potapov

“Even today, ‘Nadeshda’ gives spiritual consolation, strength  in the Faith, brings people to the Church. The work is done, the  rest is in God's hands." Felix Svetov (Zoya Krakhmalnik’s husband)

We will soon (Oct. 19/Nov. 1) liturgically encounter the first  anniversary of the glorification of the new Martyrs and confessors of Russia.  This will be a joyous event which will present us with an excellent opportunity to reflect upon the nature of the ultimate sacrifice that thou sands of Christians throughout the history of the Church have brought for Christ's sake and the sake of His Holy Church.

As we gather together in our churches and lift up our hearts and minds in prayer to the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Holy Russia, let us not forget that the stormy clouds of godlessness and militant atheism which gathered over Russia in 1917 have not yet dissipated, but continue to hover over that land; that there are numerous martyrs and confessors of the Faith who vanished in the vast expanses of the GULAG archipelago from 1927-1945 and have yet to be recognized by a Sobor of our Church. May Christ come to the aid of our hierarchs in the important task of completing that list.

On the first anniversary of the glorification of the New Martyrs of Russia let us also not forget the heroic Orthodox Christians in countries under the communist yoke who continue to fearlessly hold up the banner of our Holy Faith in the face of  Evil. Their number increases with each month. To this list we must now add one more name-Zoya Krakhmalnikova, arrested by the KGB in Moscow on August 4 of this year. Her name is not well known in the West, but her role in the spiritual revival of Orthodoxy in Russia is great.


Zoya Alexandrovna Krakhmalnikova was born in 1929 in Kharkov. Having received a good education she became a brilliant literary critic and journalist and, from a materialistic standpoint, had everything a Soviet citizen could want. Her life, however, drastically changed when, in 1970, she rediscovered her spiritual roots and converted to Christianity. At that time she was working in the Sociological Institute of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. According to the standard Soviet logic, it is impossible to combine faith in God and to continue one' 5 work in such an institution. In 1974 Krakhmalnikova was fired from her job and was not allowed to return to formal employment. However, she was not idle. Krakhmalnikova continued to write- not on secular topics, but spiritual ones.

In 1976 readers of Samizdat* encountered a unique new publication edited by Krakhmal nikova: Nadezhdu: Kristianskoye Chtenie ("Hope: Christian Readings") modeled after a pre-revolutionary journal published by the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. Each issue of Nedezhdu (thus far seven have been published in the West) contains excellent materials on Holy Tradition, writings of the Fathers of the Church, reprints of theological works published prior to the revolution, but which are now practically impossible to find in any book store or library in the Soviet Union. The bulk of Nadezhdu consists of contemporary articles and memoirs of con fessor bishops, priests, and laymen from exile and sermons by outstanding Orthodox preachers. In the forward to the fifth issue of Nadezhda, Krakhmalnikova wrote:

“…Nadezhda  is not just another magazine, journal or almanac, but a compilation of Christian readings meant for a person who has gone through, or is going through, a struggle of lack of faith."

Nadezhd:i found a truly grateful reader ship in Russia, a land starved for the Word of God. Not only is Nadezhda read, but it is diligently studied, copied by hand and distributed throughout the vast territory of the Soviet Union, winning over to Christ count less souls. Without a doubt it was for this reason that Krakhmalnikova was arrested.

Rigorous personal and spiritual struggle, sobriety and simplicity of heart, wisdom combined with the desire to serve others-these are the personal traits of Zoya Krakhmalnikova, a contemporary Russian confessor. Her faith in the Resurrection of Christ and His victory over the powers of hell-the spirit which likewise inspired Christians of the first centuries, will enable the Russian Orthodox Church to finally overcome in its struggle with Evil.

Let us pray on this, the first anniversary of the glorification of the New Russian Martyrs and Confessors, that her Hope-the spiritual r e viva 1 of Russia, will become our Hope and the Hope of the whole world.

"For my wife, purely literary work was not enough. She knew, saw, felt, heard, understood the thirst for Christ, for Christian reading in conditions of poverty, hunger and the absence of the word of God-'At least some book about God, for Christ's sake!' She could not turn her back on this thirst, this cry, the spiritual need of hundreds upon thousands of our countrymen, starving for lack of spi ritual food. Thus was conceived the idea for "Nadezhda-C hr i st ian Reading"-a series of books, daily bread, which, with the blessing of the hierarchs of the Rus sian Orthodox Church, she gave out into outstretched and waiting hands."

Felix Svetov