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New Martyrs of Optina Pustyn

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{{cleanup|Needs to be rewritten in an encyclopedic manner.}}
In the year 1993 the whole Orthodox world was shocked by a tragic event, which had happened in [[Optina Monastery|Optina Hermitage]]: three inhabitants of the [[monastery ]] were brutely murdered on Easter night. They were [[Hieromonk ]] Vasily (Roslyakov), [[Monk ]] Ferapont (Pushkarev) and Monk Trophim (Tatarinov). According to the investigator, the murderer Nikolay Averin inflicted the injuries with unusual professionalism, ''“deliberately — they were not too deep — to make the victim bleed to death over a long time”.'' The knife was double-edged, five centimeters wide, and resembled a sword. It was engraved on its blade with “ 666” and “satan”.
''Prepared by Tatyana Shvetsova''
This is a narrative about three martyrs [[martyr]]s from the Optina Pustyn monastery, in Central Russia. All three monks were killed by a satanist on Easter night in 1993. We would like to pay homage to the memory of these three remarkable people, hoping their story will serve to strengthen the spirit of many Christians, who sincerely embrace the Faith.
The decree announcing the return of [[Optina Monastery|Optina Pustyn]] to the [[Church of Russia|Russian Orthodox Church]] was signed on [[November 17]], 1987. That moment marks the beginning of the revival of this holy sanctuary.
A few words at this point about the hand of the Lord in Igor Roslyakov's destiny.
When in 1984, upon embracing the Faith, he started going to [[church ]] regularly, one pilgrim, casting a glance in his direction, said: "A monk is praying." At the time, Igor never even dreamt of monkhood. He could always be seen in one and the same spot at the Epiphany Cathedral, in one of Moscow's central districts. A long time ago, a village by the name of Yelohovo used to be situated here — the home place of Moscow's great saint — St.Basil the Blessed.
[[Image:83_Hieromonk_Vasily.jpg|thumb|left|Hieromonk Vasily (Roslyakov)]]
When inside the church, Igor invariably stood near the [[icon ]] of St.Basil the Blessed. If you stand in exactly this spot, then you will find yourself facing, in the iconostasis, the large icon of Archangel Michael and above it — the icon of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin…
Years later, Igor shall take the habit and receive the name of Vasily, or Basil, — in honor of Basil the Blessed.
Later, on the day in memory of Archangel Michael, Basil was [[ordination|ordained ]] at the monastery church, consecrated in honor of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin…
However, back then in 1984, Igor Roslyakov had no way of seeing that far into the future.
On [[June 21st 21]], 1988 Igor Roslyakov became an inhabitant of the Optina Pustyn, which then lay in ruins. Together with the then far from numerous brethren, he faced the daunting task of rebuilding the holy site.
Upon entering the monastery, Igor Roslyakov presented the Father Superior with his autobiography.
"My name is Igor Roslyakov,” the autobiography said. “I was born in Moscow on [[December 23rd 23]], 1960. Studied at secondary school № 466 in Volgograd district of the capital. After finishing school, I spent a year working at an automobile factory. In 1980 I entered the department of Journalism of Moscow State University. In 1985 I graduated from the University as a qualified newspaper journalist. As a member of the University’s water-polo team I appeared at All-Union and International competitions; got a Master's degree in sports. Was married. Then signed my divorce papers at the Volgograd district Department of Civic Affairs. I have no children. Since 1985 have been working as sports instructor at the Trade Union Sports Society."
The brethren at the Monastery knew nothing about this autobiography, since it is generally not the custom to ask each other about one's past, or offer details about yourself… It was only several years later that somebody brought an old copy of "Izvestiya" newspaper to the Monastery, sporting a faded snapshot of Igor Roslyakov holding a Champions' Cup. That’s when they learned that at the University he'd been Captain of the Water polo team, and later — sports instructor.
He generally possessed a keen sensibility for and perception of Grace. This became particularly evident at Easter. He felt the spirit of Easter so strongly, there would be tears in his shining eyes. He would be lost in a timeless space. He could stand through two lengthy liturgies in succession, unable to tear himself away from the Easter benevolence and grace, pervading the very atmosphere. Easter was, for him, a sacrament, wherein the Spirit hears the call of the world to come. It seemed he was able to hear this call.
Here are some entries from his diary: "[[April 10th 10]], 1988. Easter. My third Easter… Time is such a mystical entity. I ask myself: was there a Lent or not? Was there a service? One day, I shall thus have to ask about my life. What exists in reality? The Spirit. Pure of sin, or smeared with it.
"Exult now and rejoice Zion…" Yes, rejoice! This is a state of the spirit, for it is an inner manifestation, not provisional"
"[[April 30th 30]], 1989. Easter. The Lord's grace is granted gratis, but we should bring the Lord all we have."
He was already Hiermonk Basil, when the believers asked him: "Father, do you have a special, sacred wish?" "Yes,” he replied, “I would like to die at Easter, to the chiming of bells."
"Prior to Easter, I twice confessed to Father Basil, and was in a state of profound shock afterwards. Already at the confession I had the suspicion that Father Basil has the audacity to take upon himself other people's sins. On the morning of Holy Saturday Father Basil read the sermon. I was doing my novitiate in the church at the time; was entering and exiting the church, so could not listen to the sermon in its entirety. But what I did hear made me suspect that, indeed, Father Basil was taking upon himself our sins, as his own. Just the night before that I had read of one Elder, who had died a true martyrs' death, for he had willingly accumulated many sins of others. So I thought of Father Basil, wondering how he would die if he was taking on so many of our sins?"
Only great Optina Elders and ascetics of olden times had the audacity to accept sins of others and avert them by prayer. Father Basil did not see himself as an ascetic. It really came down to forced means: Russian monkhood was led to heroic deeds in unexampled conditions, when Monasteries were only just rising from the rubble. His was a period when there was a shortage of clergymen[[clergy]]men, and the young hiermonks were suffering undue stress and overwork, resulting in early graying hair.
The father of one monk, who fought the German fascists in the Patriotic war of 1941 — 1945, said of the monks of the end of the 1980’s — early 1990’s:
They say that Father Basil made a note of all the names of those, who came to confession to him, or whom he christened. Afterwards, back in the privacy of his cell, he bowed low, praying for all of them to the Lord.
A [[nun ]] by the name of Varvara, who used to confess to him, said that Father Basil said not a word, as was his custom, during confession, yet one always left him with an amazing sense of relief, as though one had been absolved from all sin.
One of the pilgrims recalls how he went to confess to Father Basil:
It is known that later this pilgrim went on to become a monk himself…
Father Basil had a large wooden cross that he'd been given as a gift, featuring an image of the Savior, a cross he preciously guarded. Russian pilgrims had carried this cross when entering Jerusalem, walking along the Calvary to the Lord's Tomb, where they had it sanctified.
Not long before his death, Father Basil took this cross and went with it to the icon workshop, where two monks — icon-painters were working. One of them was celebrating his Name day. Father Basil congratulated him, and presented him with his cross, saying: "I should like you to keep it with you for a while. Let's go find a place for it together." The cross was hung on the wall near the Icon corner. Later it transpired that Father Basil had brought this Calvary cross to the place of his own private Calvary: he was killed near the icon workshop, falling down right opposite the cross.
On [[August 9th 9]], 1993 holy chrism was seen to appear on this cross, on the left side, under the Savior's ribs. The drops were large and didn't dry for two weeks. It seemed as if the cross was miracle-working!
===Monk Trophim (Alexei Tatarnikov)===
Another monk, who died tragically on Easter night in 1993 at the age of 39, Trofim, came to Optina Pustyn in August of 1990. Outside the Monastery walls his name had been Alexei Tatarnikov. He was born on [[February 4th 4]], 1954.
This young man came to the monastery with the strong determination to become a monk. He possessed enviable looks, which invariably drew people's glances to him like a magnet. One artist, busy sketching on the grounds of Optina Pustyn, upon seeing him, exclaimed: "Look, a Viking! What a typecast image!"
I wish you all spiritual joy… Pray for one another. Forgive one another. All the rest is but triviality that one can do without. You need to comprehend this fully. Let it sink in. May God help you make the right choices in life. Forgive me. Love. Unworthy monk Trofim."
Trofim had been ringing the bells, summoning all for Easter midnight service when the satanist, by the name of Nikolay Averin struck him in the back with a ritual knife… Thus ended the almost three year long monkhood of Trofim…
When details were required for the newspaper obituary, it transpired there were but two papers in Monk Ferapont's personal file: an autobiography, written by him upon entering the Monastery, and his death certificate. Let's look at his biography:
"I, Pushkariov Vladimir Leonidovich, was born on [[September 17]], 1955 in the village of Kandaurovo, Kolyvansky district of the Novosibirsk region. I lived and worked in the Krasnoyarsk region. Served in the Soviet Army from 1975 until 1977, and from 1977 'till 1980 — joined service on re-engagement. Until 1982 I worked as carpenter at the Building office № 97. Then came studies at the forestry technical college — until 1984. After completing studies I worked in my profession as forestry technician at Lake Baikal, the Buryat Autonomous Socialist republic. From 1987 until 1990 I lived in the town of Rostov-on-the-Don. I was employed as yard-keeper at the Rostov Cathedral of the Nativity of the Most Holy Virgin. Presently am free of all worldly affairs.
My mother lives in the Krasnoyarsk region with her children. My elder sister is married, has two children; the youngest sister goes to school."
The biography is dated [[September 13th13]], 1990.
Vladimir Pushkariov was enrolled in the brotherhood of the Monastery a year after he had joined it, on [[March 22nd22]], 1991. This was the day of memory of Forty from the host of Orthodox martyrs. That day Father Vasily, one of the new martyrs we have already told you about, read the following sermon during service:
"The blood of martyrs is still being spilt for our sins. The demons cannot bear to see the blood of martyrs, for it gleams brighter than sun and stars, scorching the demons. Presently, the martyrs are helping us, and come Doomsday they shall convict us, for to the consummation of ages there operates the law of blood: give blood and accept the Spirit. …Each of our committed sins should be washed away with blood."
"Prayer should be the principal deed of a monk" wrote Holy Ignatius Bryanchaninov. Monk Ferapont had such a thirst for prayer, even the lengthy church services could not alleviate it. His cell mates recollect how he would pray and genuflect at night, too. Just as it is so difficult for us sometimes to go and pray, so it was incredibly hard for the monk Ferapont to cease prayer.
Now, looking back, we see that monk Ferapont saw the approach of his own death. Not long before he died, he started to give away his warm clothes with the words: "I shall not be needing this any more." Right on the eve of Easter, he distributed his carpentry tools among the brethren…

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