Sunday of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia

At church today, during his homily, our priest spoke about the martyrdom of Christians during the first three centuries of the Christian Era and how in the previous century alone –and in one country–more Christians died and suffered for the faith than those first three centuries. 

Personally, I can foresee a time when in America, where those of us who hold true to the Faith will likewise endure persecution.  After all, the same demonic philosophy that informed the Bolsheviks is already preponderant in America today.

If indeed it comes to pass, may those of us who hold to the Faith find the strength to endure what awaits us.  

The following is a message from the Orthodox Church in America, in honor of this day.  We print it without any further commentary. 

New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia

On the Sunday closest to January 25, the Church commemorates the Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, remembering all those Orthodox Christians who suffered for Christ at the hands of the godless Soviets during the years of persecution. These include the royal Passion Bearers Tsar Nicholas II and his family, and the Grand Duchess Elizabeth. Countless thousands of martyrs, both clergy and laity also suffered, some of whose names are known, as well as millions of simple believers whose names have been lost to history.

It is estimated that the number of the New Martyrs of Russia, who were glorified by the Russian Orthodox Church at the Jubilee Council of 2000, far exceeds that of all the martyrs who died for Christ during the first three centuries of Christianity. The Russian Church lost millions of its sons and daughters, not only at the hands of external enemies, but also those of their own country. Among those who were murdered and tortured in the years of persecution were countless Orthodox: laity, monks, priests, and bishops, whose only “crime” was their unshakable faith in God.

In the long history of the world, never have so many new heavenly intercessors been glorified by the Church in such a way (more than one thousand New Martyrs were numbered among the saints). Among those who suffered for their faith were some who labored in America before the Russian Revolution: St. Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia (April 7); St. Alexander Hotovitzky (Dec. 4); St. John Kochurov (Oct. 31).


  1. Holy New-Martyrs of Russia, pray for us!

  2. Joseph Lipper says

    Memory Eternal, His Grace Bishop Tikhon!

  3. An excellent article from a few years ago:

    It rings even more true today.

    Holy New Martyrs of Russia, pray for us, and pray for the EP

  4. In line with previous comments about how the Churches of Antioch and Russia maintain close ties: Patriarch John of Antioch, when consecrating newly rebuilt churches in Syria this week, concelebrated with Met. Anthony of Volokalamsk and was accompanied by delegations from the Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian state—both of which had helped to support the reconstruction efforts.

    • Gail Sheppard says

      Good! They’re circling the wagons. I noticed a communication from Patriarch John calling Anitoch the “Mother Church.” I don’t recall them using that phrase, although they were and are the mother church for Antioch. I’m glad they’re saying it.

      • I remember how mind-blowing it was for me to read a matter-of-fact comment in some article (a few years ago) that both the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and the Roman Mass developed organically out of the Liturgy of the Local Church of Antioch.

        After all, the Apostle St. Peter and St. John Chrysostom were both clergy of the Church of Antioch before they transferred to Rome and Constantinople, taking their Liturgies with them!

        One of my favorite episodes from Church history is the effort of Patriarch Peter III of Antioch, in 1054, to reconcile Rome and Constantinople just after the “Great Schism” had taken place. Peter wrote the most charitable yet hard-hitting epistles to both of his brother Patriarchs (his letter to Ecumenical Patriarch Michael Cerularius is here). He urged them both to repent of their respective errors and return to unity with each other, and assured them that he was still commemorating both of them in the sacred diptychs. A precious example for our own time—even if Peter’s efforts were ultimately unsuccessful in his!

        • Gail Sheppard says

          I did not know this. Very interesting.

        • And incidentally, around the year 1200, Antioch (under Patriarch Theodore IV Balsamon) was no longer communing Latin Christians who came into their parishes—though Alexandria (under Pope and Patriarch Mark III) still was. There’s an exchange of correspondence between the two Patriarchs where they eventually agree to disagree…though that’s not the terminology they used! Alexandria was still commemorating the Pope of Rome in the diptychs at that time, as well. Historical accounts like this one make it harder for me to accept black-and-white claims like, “If you are in communion with a schismatic, you’re a schismatic.”

          • Michael Bauman says

            In one sense since we are sinful human beings and not angels or demigods, every human being is in communion with every other other human being no matter what. Some level of communion is inescapable as we are made that way: to commune and bear one another’s burdens.

            In an absolute sense schism will always exist at some level unless there is full agreement on all of the essential dogmas and doctrine and there is no sin.

            When we define what is “essential” and what is not whom is the fault of the schism…In the hearts of the definers or not?

        • Very interesting! I didn’t know this

          And if I remember right, the liturgy that was celebrated in Antioch was a version of the Liturgy of St. James(?) the oldest extant Liturgy we still have (please correct me if I’m wrong). The Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is not some liturgy made out of thin air like the Novus Ordo.

          This is why I love Orthodoxy.

          • On Holy Saturday in the Byzantine Rite, instead of the Cherubic Hymn we still sing the pre-Communion hymn taken directly from the Liturgy of St. James: “Let all mortal flesh keep silent, and stand with fear and trembling, and in itself consider nothing earthly…”. Gives me chills every time.

  5. Zane Carides says

    That you would worship pogromist tsars shews your true mettle.

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