Orthodox America

Profile of a Confessor, Metropolitan Nicholas of Alma Ata

+October 25. 1955

      Metropolitan Nicholas (Mogilevsky) was born in 1874 and baptized Theodosius. His father was a reader in a village church in the Yekaterinoslav gubernia, and the young Theodosius was educated at the local diocesan school and seminary.  At the age of 19 he became a novice m the St. Nilus Hermitage near Tvcr He was tonsured the next year and two years later, in 1905, he was ordained to the priest hood. From 1916-17 he was superior of St. Vladimir's Monastery in Irkutsk. In October 1919, Archbishop Pachomius (New Martyr) of Chernigov consecrated him Bishop of Starodub. In the early '20's Bishop Nicholas was briefly involved with the Renovationists, until he learned of their error. Assigned to the Tula diocese where Renovationists had taken over a majority of the parishes, Bishop Nicholas was instrumental in counteracting their influence. He was arrested in May 1925 and again in 1931, returning to service as archbishop in 1941 when Stalin eased up on persecution for the sake of the war effort. In 1945 he was appointed archbishop of Alma-Ata and Kazakhstan, and in 1955 he was raised to the rank of metropolitan in recognition of his 35 years as a hierarch. He died that same year, on October 25.

      The Metropolitan told his spiritual children that when he was in exile, he found himself in Kazakhstan. Accepting his exile as God's will, he concealed the fact that he was a bishop. He worked and lived in a bakery. It happened that he fell gravely ill and would have died were it not for an unknown Kazakh who came and took him to a hospital. When the Bishop recovered, he began looking after the patients. They all loved him and called him "Grandpa". Then the war came, and the doctor told him that he could not keep him there any longer. Again, the same Kazakh appeared and took the Bishop to his home. He gave him something to eat and said to him: 'I know who you are. You are a Russian pope I am a Moslem pope (mullah), and God told me Go, save the Russian pope!"