Orthodox America

  A Few Words About Russia and Her Martyrs

Among the multitude of saints that Russia. has given, there were many hierarchs and monks, righteous men and fools for Christ's sake. But in the past there were only a few Russian martyrs. "The glorious army or martyrs;" whose blood became the seed of Christianity throughout the world, of whom the Church sings almost daily, was practically absent from among the saints of Russia. The time came for their ranks to be filled.. To the small number of martyrs who had suffered in the past ages, a countless number was now added. Among them was the crowned monarch with his entire family, as we1l as the primate who bore name of St. Vladimir, the baptizer of Russia, and princes, nobles, soldiers, priests, monks, the learned and the illiterate city dwellers and villagers, the elite as well as simple folk. Every age group, every class; every province of Russia contributed to the New Martyrs. Russia was covered by the blood of martyrs, and sanctified by it.

O wonderful and glorious army of New sufferers! Who can worthily glorify you? Truly blessed is the ground soaked with your blood, and. holy are the places that received your bodies.

Blessed art thou, O Russian land cleansed by suffering! Thou hast been through the water of baptism, and passest now through the fire of agony, and thou to shalt reach peace. Once Christians devoutly gathered the sand from the floor of the Colosseum soaked with martyrs' blood. The places where martyrs suffered were held sacred and were specially honored. And now air of Russia is such a place. The ground was consecrated by their blood, and the air by the passing of their souls to heaven. Yea, holy art thou, O Russia! He was right who wrote of old that thou art the third Rome, and a fourth shall not be. In thy firm stand in the Orthodox faith thou hast excelled the Rome that baptized thee, and thou wilt be unexcelled to the end of the world. Only the Land that was consecrated by the earthly life and suffering of the God-man is holier than thou art in the eyes of the Orthodox.

Shake off the sleep of indifference and laziness, ye sons of Russia! Look at the glory of her martyrdom and be clean, wash away your sins' Strengthen yourselves in the Orthodox faith, so as to be worthy to live in the house of God and to ascend His holy mountain! Arise, stand up, Russia, thou who hast drunk of the cup of the Lord's anger from His own hand! When the sufferings are ended, thy truth will go with thee, and the glory of the Lord will accompany thee! The nations will come to thy light and kings to thy radiance. Then raise up thine eyes and look about thee: for thy children come to thee from the west, and the north, and the sea, and the east, blessing in thee Christ forever.

+Archbishop John Maximovich
San Francisco
February. 1963