Hieromartyr Theophanes (Il’minskii), Bishop of Solikamsk (1867-1918) was born Sergius Petrovich Il’menskii, in the family of a deacon of the Saratov region. On finishing the spiritual seminary, Sergius became a student of the Kazan’ Spiritual Academy, completing his coursework in 1894. In 1898 he was consecrated into priesthood, after which he labored as an instructor of the Law of God in various secular schools of the Saratov region.
In August of 1913 Fr. Sergius entered the brotherhood of the Valaam Monastery where he was shorn into into monasticism the following year under the name of Theophanes, and granted the title of archimandrite. The same year he became an inspector of the Balashov Spritual College, and in 1916 he moved to Perm’, where he later became the rector of the Permian Spiritual Seminary and the archimandrite of the Solikamsk Monastery of the Holy Trinity.
His elevation to the episcopate of Solikamsk, vicar of the Permian diocese, took place in the main cathedral of Perm’ on February 26, 1917. The newly consecrated bishop was granted to use the episcopal staff of St. Stephen the Enlightener of Great Perm’.
Before the beginning of August of 1917, when Bishop Theophanes had to temporarily assume the post of Archbishop Andronicus who departed to the Local Council of the Russian Church, he almost never exited the borders of his vicariate. However, in order to truly come to know his flock he went around his whole vicariate on foot.
His contemporaries knew him as a great man of prayer and as a faster. Like Archbishop Andronicus, he was fearless in unmasking the falsehoods of the Godless. In the beginning of 1918 Bishop Theophanes led an unprecedented great procession with the cross that took place in Perm’ to rally the believers. When his Holy Tritinty monastery was asked to sumit the plans of its fields to the new authorities, Bishop Theophanes replied: "...anyone, who should dare for any purpose to seize the Church's landed estates and any other property of the Church of God shall stand before the Dread Judgment of the Almighty God. Without the permission of my hierarch, His Grace Andronicus, I have no right to permit the plans to be sent."
Upon Archbishop Andronicus' arrest on June 17, Bishop Theophanes accepted the charge of the Permian diocese and moved to Perm' on June 22. But his tenure was brief - at the end of the summer of 1918 the bishop was arrested. On December 11, 1918, a few days before Perm' was taken by the White troops, St. Theophanes accepted a martyr's death together with two priests and five laymen at the hands of the Bolsheviks. In the freezing temperature of -30°C on the bank of the Kama River Bishop Theophanes was repeatedly dipped into a hole cut in the ice while he was still alive, after which he was drowned, and the priests and laymen were drowned with him.
Hieromartyr Theophanes was canonized as a locally venerated saint of the Permian diocese in 1998 and glorified for universal veneration among the saints at the Jubilee Bishops’ Council of the Russian Orthodox Church on 13-16 of August, 2000. His memory is celebrated on 11/24 of December.
Sources and Links
- Hieromonk Damaskenos (Orlovskii), Mucheniki, ispovedniki i podvizhniki blagochestiia Russkoi Pravoslavnoi Tserkvi XXgo stoletiia. Zhizneopisaniia i materialy k nim, Book 2, Tver', "Bulat", 1996, 451-452.
- Diocese of Perm (in Russian)