Isaac II of Optina
Our venerable father Isaac II (Bobrakov) of Optina was a schema archimandrite among the group of monastics of Optina Monastery in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries who were known as the Optina Elders. The Elder Isaac is venerated on December 26 and with all the Optina Elders on October 11.
Ivan Nikolayevich Bobrakov was born of a peasant family in 1865 in the village of Ostrov in Orel province. He entered Optina Monastery as a novice in 1884. He was tonsured into the mantia on June 7, 1898 with the name Isaac. On October 20, 1898, he was ordained a priest.
On August 30, 1913, Isaac was appointed abbot with the rank of archimandrite and as such his appointment as abbot of Optina Monastery would be the last before the Bolshevik storm and occupation of Russia. Fr. Isaac was noted for his calm demeanor, simplicity, and the abundant tears he shed during the Divine services.
After the Bolsheviks had taken over the government of Russia in 1917, Optina Monastery was closed in 1923. Several monks, including Fr. Isaac, the hieromonk Gerontius who had been the cell-attendant of Elder Barsanuphius, and the novice Rodion Sheichenko, remained in Kozelsk for several years where Fr. Isaac served in the Church of St. George. In August 1929, the group of Optina monks, with Fr. Isaac, were arrested along with all the clergy, monastics, and laity who were close to the churches in Kozelsk. They were placed into a prison. Soon, they were sent to a prison in Sukhinichi and then, later, to Smolensk.
After the end of an "investigation" in January 1930, these prisoners were dispersed, mainly to Siberia, where they eventually ended their earthly lives. While the details of Fr. Isaac's final years have a degree of uncertainly, he apparently was exiled to Belyov, near Moscow. He was arrested again in 1932, but was released. He was again arrested in 1937 in connection with an affair related to Bishop Nicetas of Belyov from which he was sentenced to be shot. The dates of his martyrdom vary, as January 8, 1938 or December 26, 1938.
Elder Isaac II of Optina was glorified with all the Elders of Optina by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia in 1990. The feast day for St. Isaac II of Optina is December 26.