Thaddeus (Uspensky) of Tver
Hieromartyr Thaddeus (Uspensky) of Tver was a Russian bishop who was executed in 1937. During his life, he acquired the gifts of prophecy and healing. The commemoration dates are the date of his martyrdom (December 18 (31)) and the date of uncovering of his relics in 1993 (October 13 (26)). He was glorified in 1997.
Hieromartyr Archbishop Thaddeus, in the world Ivan Vasil’ievich Uspensky, was born on November 12, 1872 in the family of a village priest. After graduation from the Theological Seminary in Nizhny Novgorod, Ivan entered the Moscow Theological Academy. While studying there, Ivan began to seek spiritual advice from hieromonk Herman, a known elder who was living in the Gethsemane Skete of the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra. On January 18, 1895 St. John of Kronstadt visited Holy Trinity- St. Sergius Lavra. Ivan saw him for the first time and then recalled that he "had seen a face of an angel". Many times Ivan visited the rector of the Academy and was discussing the monastic life. The rector was offering tonsure to Ivan, but the latter was denying it, thinking that he is not ready. St. John of Kronstadt, foreboding the pastoral way of Ivan and how he whould glorify Christ, said to him the words of the Gospel: "If you love me, feed my sheep... When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not." (John 21:18). Often, especially in the decisive moments of life, Ivan remembered the words of Christ spoken by the mouth of his Saint.
In August of 1897, Ivan was tonsured a monk with the name of Thaddeus and soon ordained to the diaconate, and September 21 - to the priesthood and appointed a professor of the Theological Seminary in Smolensk. In 1890, Fr. Thaddeus was transferred to the theological seminary in Ufa. Here, for a thesis on "The unity of the book of the prophet Isaiah", he received a Master of Theology degree. In 1902 he was appointed inspector, and soon - rector of the Olonetsk seminary. In 1902, he wrote the book "Notes on didactics" which became the basis of the spiritual pedagogy. In 1908, Archimandrite Thaddeus wrote a profound research under the title "Jehovah" for which he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Theology.
Bishop of Vladimir-Volyn’
On December 21, 1908, Archimandrite Thaddeus was ordained a bishop of Vladimir-Volyn', Vicar of the Diocese of Volyn’. After becoming a bishop, he did not change his feats of fasting and prayer. People immediately felt in him a holy man, a model of meekness, humility and purity.
In the days of revolutionary turmoil Bishop Thaddeus was arrested. His arrest alarmed the entire Orthodox population of the city. Only on March 9, 1922, Bishop Thaddeus was released and went to Moscow. Upon arrival, he immediately went to the Patriarch Tikhon. He described the circumstances of his "case" and asked the Patriarch to send him into one of the dioceses. While in Moscow, Archbishop Thaddeus took an active part in the work of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate. In March of 1922 a new persecution of the Orthodox Church began when the Bolsheviks began to seize church property. Patriarch Tikhon was arrested. Soon Archbishop Thaddeus was arrested too on charges of printing and distribution of Appeal of St. Metropolitan Agathangelos (Preobrazhenskiy), who was entrusted with the temporary control of the Orthodox Church by the Patriarch. In September 1922, the Archbishop Thaddeus was expelled for one year to the Zyransk area.
From Moscow, Archbishop Thaddeus was transported together with St. Metropolitan Kirill (Smirnov) to the prison in Vladimir. Metropolitan Kirill recalled: "They put us in a big cell, along with the thieves. No free bunks, we needed to lie on the floor so we fit in the corner. Terrible prison conditions among the thieves and murderers had affected me painfully ... But vladyka Thaddeus, in contrast, was quiet and sitting in his corner on the floor, thinking about something all the time and at night he prayed. One night when everyone was asleep and I sat in anguish and despair, vladyka took me by the hand and said: "For us, it is now the Christian era. Not sorrow but joy should fill our souls. Now our souls should open for the exploit and sacrifice. Do not be discouraged. Christ is with us after all". My hand was in his hand and I felt as a fiery stream ran through my hand. Everything changed in me in just a minute, I forgot about my lot, my heart was calm and happy. Twice I kissed his hand thanking God for the gift of consolation which this pious man owned".
During transportation, the Archbishop Thaddeus gave all food parcels to the headman who shared them for all people. But one day, when he received a conventional parcel, as a witness recalled, "the bishop has separated from it a small part and put under the pillow, and the rest gave to the headman. I saw it and gently hinted him of that, he said: "No, no, not for myself. Today we will meet our brother, we need to feed him – will they take him for today's food allowance?" In the evening, they brought into the chamber St. Bishop Athanasius (Sakharov) and Bishop Thaddeus gave him to eat out of that stock. I was stunned by the prediction..." That was one of may cases of the gift of prophecy of Archbishop Thaddeus.
In the summer of 1923 the term of exile ended and Archbishop Thaddeus went to Volokolamsk near Moscow. Here he lived and went to serve in Moscow churches.
Archbishop of Astrakhan
After the end of the exile in December 1923 the Archbishop Thaddeus was appointed to the diocese of Astrakhan. Upon arrival in the city, he immediately went from the train station to the temple to conduct the service and until late at night blessed the worshipers and people gathered around the temple. Archbishop Thaddeus lived very modestly, with nothing of his own. If they gave him tea or lunch - he ate and drank, if they did not gave – he did not ask. He always considered himself a guest and dependent on the ones who waited him and who helped him. For all of his time in Astrakhan, Archbishop Thaddeus did not say a word against renovators publicly, but the example of his personal life was more eloquent than any words. Archbishop Thaddeus’ moral influence on the people was huge. In the homes of many of the faithful, in the corner there were Archbishop Thaddeus’ photos along with the icons. He served as Bishop very often, and after the service he conducted catechetical conversations in the church of St. Peter and Paul. He explained the New Testament, beginning with the Gospel of Matthew and ending with the Apocalypse to his flock. There was a great silence and a profound peace in the church. After the Akathist at the Intercession Church on Fridays, Archbishop Thaddeus explained the Old Testament, and after the Akathist on Sundays he offered the lives of saints of the day. His sermons were after every liturgy and even when he was ill. In October of 1926 the Patriarchal Locum Tenens Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky) was arrested. He was replaced by St. Archbishop Joseph (Petrovyh) of Rostov, who appointed Archbishop Thaddeus (Uspensky) as one of his deputies to manage the Church. Archbishop Thaddeus went from Astrakhan to Moscow to begin to fulfill his duties. But in Saratov, on the orders of Tuchkov, he was arrested and sent to the town of Kuznetsk which the authorities allowed him to leave only in March of 1928.
Archbishop of Tver
In 1928, Archbishop Thaddeus was transferred to Tver. Here he settled on a quiet street in the corner house with a tiny garden enclosed by a high wooden fence. There was a path in the garden along the fence on which he walked and prayed for a long time, especially in the evenings. After the prayer, he blessed the city at all the four sides of and went into the house. According to the testimony of many parishioners, he had the gift of clairvoyance and healing.
Once during the anointing, one girl said to another: "Look, he smears with the same brush - you can get infected". When the girls came to Archbishop Thaddeus, he anointed them not with the brush but with the other end of it with a cross.
One day a woman came to vladyka and said: - My daughter has a rich fiance and he brought gifts. We will have a wedding tomorrow. Bless us. - Wait a moment. Wait two weeks - said Archbishop Thaddeus. - Well, how do you wait, we're prepared: sausages were bought and the wine and jelly welded. - You have to wait a bit - said the Archbishop. Two weeks later, the wife came to the "fiance" with two young children and took him home.
The inhabitants of Tver - Vera Efimovna Maximova with her husband - had two houses in the town and they decided to sell one house but first went to consult vladyka. He listened to them, paused, and said, "There is no my blessing to sell this house because it will still be very useful. Much will be destroyed and you will need the house". They decided to do according to his blessing. During the war, one of their houses burned. The whole street around the second house, which Archbishop Thaddeus did not bless to sell, burned as well, but the house was still standing.
Alexander Kulikov, a resident of Tver, when he was three years old, fell and hurt himself badly. There was a tumor at one side of the body. His mother turned to the surgeon and he offered to do the surgery, though he doubted it in a positive outcome. Strongly grieving mother brought the suffering boy in the temple to the liturgy when Archbishop Thaddeus was serving. With tears his mother brought the boy to the Holy Chalice. Archbishop Thaddeus asked why she was crying. After listening he said that the operation should not be done, it is necessary to anoint the sick place of the body with oil. She did so and the boy soon recovered.
Archbishop Thaddeus received all who came to him with love, not denying anybody. He knew that it was the time of sorrows, and who should comfort his flock if not the archpastor.
On December 20, 1937 , Archbishop Thaddeus was arrested. After a search in the house nothing valuable was found.
- How do you live? - One NKVD interrogator asked. - We live on alms, - said the Archbishop.
During interrogations in prison Archbishop Thaddeus held himself bravely, denying flimsy charges of counterrevolutionary activity despite the compulsion to self-incrimination. He did not spend a lot of time in prison, but during these last days he had to endure a lot of abuse. The prison authorities placed him in the cell with criminals and they mocked him, tried to humiliate him. And then the Mother of God Herself interceded for him. One night, She appeared before the ringleader of the criminals and sternly told him: "Do not touch the holy man, otherwise all you all will perish with a cruel death". The next morning he told others and they decided to see if the holy man was still alive. Peering under the bunk, they saw that a blinding light pours from there and recoiled in horror, asking the saint for forgiveness. From this day all the taunts stopped, and criminals have even started to take care of Archbishop Thaddeus. The authorities noticed this change in the behavior of the prisoners and Archbishop Thaddeus was moved to another cell. All of these prisoners survived. One of them, being before the Finnish war in the recruiting center in Torzhok, spoke about the case to one of the recruits having learned that he believed in God.
Saint Thaddeus was martyred on December 18 (31), 1937. He was accused of "being the leader of the church-monarchist organization, had a close relationship with the church and liquidated fascist organization in Kashin (whose members - 50 people - were sentenced to death), assigned tasks to organize and plant church-monarchist rebel groups and cells, in the Karelian national district through his envoy Metrophanes Orlov who was sentenced to death, has been managing to raise funds for the construction of an illegal monastery and directed the systematic agitation". He should be shot but it is said that St. Thaddeus was drowned in a pit of sewage. After his death, the prison doctor had warned the Orthodox people that soon Archbishop Thaddeus would be buried. In spring of 1938, his body was uncovered from the grave and put in a coffin. One of the women put an Easter Egg in his hand. A cross and the inscription was placed at the grave but soon everything was destroyed by the authorities.
Uncovering of relics
Many years passed and the temple standing at the cemetery was destroyed, most of the monuments and crosses were demolished and destroyed, the exact location of the tomb of Archbishop Thaddeus was forgotten.
During all these years, the faithful of Tver preserved the memory of St. Thaddeus and his grave. With the blessing of Victor, Archbishop of Tver and Kashin, Fr. Damascus attempted to locate the remains of Archbishop Thaddeus. One of the faithful who was for a long time engaged in these searches, Y.E. Toporkova, in the fall of 1990 found the exact burial place. The examination, carried out in Moscow, confirmed that the found remains belong to Archbishop Thaddeus. In 1991, the Synodal Commission for the Study of materials related to the rehabilitation of the clergy and laity of the Russian Orthodox Church, has received the information from the prosecutor's office on Tver about the rehabilitation of Archbishop Thaddeus (Uspensky).
On October 26, 1993, the feast of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, the remains of Archbishop Thaddeus were placed in Ascension Cathedral in Tver. In 1997, the Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified Archbishop Thaddeus together with St. Metropolitan Seraphim (Chichagov) and St. Metropolitan Peter (Polyanskiy). The memory of hieromartyr Archbishop Thaddeus is celebrated on the day of his martyrdom - December 18 (31), the day of uncovering of his relics – October 13 (26) and together with all New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.