I fear no one
I am ready to give up my life at any time for the
Church of Christ rather than to give Her enemies
an opportunity to mock Her.
Metropolitan Vladimir of Kiev
The first Russian new martyr of hierarchichal rank was the Very Most-Reverend Vladimir, who in the world had been Basil Nikiforovitch Bogoyavlensky.
He was born on January 2, 1848 into the family of a priest in Little Morshanka, Morshansk district, Tambov province. He was educated at the Tambov seminary, and then at the Kiev Theological Academy. Upon graduation in 1874, he was first appointed a teacher of homiletics at his old seminary. In 1888, he discontinued his work at the seminary, and was ordained to the priesthood, for service at the Holy Protection Cathedral Church in the city of Kozlov, Tambov Province, where he carried out pastoral duties, not limited only to his parish, but also fulfilling the duties of deputy at diocesan meetings and as the dean of the churches in Kozlov. A severe illness brought on the death of his matushka, and his family sorrow woke the young priest into beginning a new path of service to the Church and to the people. In February 1886, at the Tambov Kazan cathedral, he was tonsured a monk, and was elevated to the rank of archimandrite. On May 21, 1889, archimandrite Vladimir was elevated to the kathedra as bishop of Starorussk. In 1892, he became exarch to Georgia, and a member of the Holy Synod. In 1898 he became metropolitan of Moscow, in 1912 metropolitan of Petrograd, and in 1915, metropolitan of Kiev.
Kozlov, Novgorod, Samara, Georgia, Moscow, Petrograd, Kiev: Such were the successive steps along Metropolitan Vladimirs arduous path of service. At every step, Metropolitan Vladimir kept uppermost the need to keep the people within the protection of the Church, to preserve them from sectarian influences and from socialist propaganda, to liberate them from the awful and age-old yoke of drunkenness, and to give them the light of true Christian learning.
Metropolitan Vladimir used to say to the students at the Moscow seminary, Perhaps you would say that in our time the bread of the Church has become so stale that it sometimes is like unto the dry crust that even young teeth cannot chew. But one must thing first of all not about what comes from the people, but about what we ourselves can do for the people. Our people are poor, their life is rent by the awful yoke of drunkenness. And we must first of all apply all our efforts to raising up the people, to sobering them up, to bringing into their midst the light of true Christian teaching.
The family and the school, the factory and business - all of these and other branches of societal and government life should absorb into themselves, as the basic dominant tenet of their activity, the spirit of Christs teaching through the Church, its pastors, and the faithful people. In his spiritual struggle in furtherance of that goal, Vladika Vladimir spared neither his strength nor his health. He was constantly on guard,ready for spiritual struggle and for battle as a faithful warrior of Christ. He strove to raise the educational level of pastors and other clergy; he established many cadres of missionaries to the people, organized theological classes for women, inspired strugglers for abstinence in their work, arranged courses to prepare pastors for service in distant Siberia, waged war against the approaching disease of atheistic socialism, a disease whose danger to Russia was always clear to him. In all of these paths of action, he maintained himself as a pastor of peace and love, unshakable steadfastness, absolute honesty, and eternal dedication to Christ and His Church.
On the night of January 26, 1918, Bolshevik forces entered the Kiev Caves Lavra. Shortly thereafter, some anonymous persons, having found out that Metropolitan Vladimir was in charge of the Lavra, went to his quarters. After completing a search and taking away 100 rubles - for he had no more - they proceeded to take him to the commandant for interrogation. On the way, they decided to be rid of him, and carried out their mad idea. The body of the hiero-martyr was found, pierced by two fatal bullet wounds and three stab wounds. During that most difficult of times in our history, and at the hands of criminals, the thread of life of this holy hierarch who had so labored in the vineyard of the Russian Orthodox Church, was severed. His lifelong spiritual struggle was crowned with the crown of martyrdom. The Church piously and with thanksgiving keeps the prayerful memory of the archpastor, who in his lofty service gave himself unstintingly to service to the faithful, courageously leading them out of the age-old sickness of drunkenness, away from their unhealthy leanings towards schism and sectarianism, away from the ruinous socialist morass, and to the constant light of the Resurrection of Christ.
Excerpted from Church News,
No. 5, 7/20 February, 1918