Русский | | February 21, 2008 | English Translation by Liubov Afonina
Hieromonk Nikanor (Lepeshev)

Martyrs of the Far East: Holy Martyr Archpriest Vladimir Izvolsky

Archpriest Vladimir Ivanovich Izvolsky (memory on May 3/16)

(The archive of Federal Security Service Directorate of the Khabarovsk Territory, file № P-94276)

The archpriest Vladimir Ivanovich Izvolsky was born in 1890 in the Tula province. The only thing we know about his family is that it belonged to clerical order. Brought up in Orthodox traditions, the future Martyr consciously chose devotion to God and to His Church as his course of life. After he graduated from the Theological Seminary, he got married and was consecrated a priest, and then was appointed a teacher of the Solikamsk Theological School. In 1918 after liquidation of that school Fr. Vladimir petitioned the Chief of the Russian Spiritual Mission in China archbishop Innokenty (Figurovsky) for a new position. Soon afterwards he was enrolled on Mission's staff and was sent to Urumqi (formerly Dihua迪化) in Northwest China.

Fr. Vladimir went to China in May 1919, when the army of Kolchak conquered Solikamsk. He crossed the border with detachment of Kolchak's army, which he joined in Omsk — the army of the White General started retreating. The way to Urumqi wasn't easy: on the way, in Onahai, he had typhus. But, God willing, in spite of difficulties Fr. Vladimir got to the destination.

In 1924 the Chief of the Mission sent him to Changchun in Northeast China to become a rector of a church.

Fr. Vladimir also started working as a volunteer director of Changchun gymnasium for children of Russian emigrants, besides teaching them the law of God and Latin.

At that time numerous Russian political refugees were moving to China, and many of them were in need. In order to help them in the midst of white emigrants a charitable organization called "International committee" was established. The committee's functions included the establishment of orphan's houses, homes for invalids, comprehensive schools, industrial schools, ambulance stations, chemists shops, free canteens, libraries etc.

The committee basically performed the work for charitable donations. One of the main contributor was the famous Russian patron Elizaveta Nikolaevna Litvinova, who was the widow of the well-known merchant S.V. Litvinov.

The bishop of Hankou Jonah (Pokrovsky) became the head of the committee. He was an eminent pastor and preacher, man of faith and wonderworker, he had a spiritual connection with elderly monks of the Optina Hermitage and the Sedmiezersk Hermitage, while alive he has already been honoured as a saint. (In 1996, Bishop Jonah was glorified by the Russian Orhodox Church Abroad, memory October 7(20). ref.: Koncevich I.M. "The Optina Hermitage and its time", 1995, pp. 580-589). Bishop Jonah noticed Fr. Vladimir Izvolsky's pastoral zeal, considered him as a man who thought and felt the same way as him, so he made him his assistant. About that time, Fr. Vladimir was elevated to the rank of Archpriest for his zealous service to the Church.

In October 1925 Bishop Jonah reposed. According to his will, supported with directions of the Chief of the Mission, in November of that year Archpriest Vladimir Izvolsky was transferred from Changchun to the town of Manzhouli and was appointed the chairman of the International Committee in place of him.

The new chairman appeared to be the worthy successor of Bishop Jonah. At that time Fr. Vladimir was appointed the metochion's steward of one of the Russian monastery in Manchuria.

He often had to go on Committee business to Beijing to the Chief of the Mission Archbishop Innokenty, and to Shanghai to Innokenty's vicar Bishop Simon (Vinogradov). In 1927 in Shanghai Fr. Vladimir has met such eminent white emigrants as former Russian Counsul-General in China V.F. Grosse, and General M.K. Diterihs, who formerly was the main helper of Admiral A.V. Kolchak and was responsible for his administration in Far East.

His tireless active service to God and neighbors was the background for his main feat in his mortal life — the feat of martyrdom in Christ's name. On January 10, 1930 soon after the Sino-Soviet conflict on the Chinese Eastern Railway, Archpriest Vladimir Ivanovich Izvolsky was taken out of China and sent to Habarovsk by counterintelligence agents of the Unified State Political Department's Permanent Mission of the Far East Region. They brought the indictment against him pursuant to infamous article 58, paragraph 4: "participation in counterintelligence organizations".

By "counterintelligence organization" the Soviet government meant the Charitable International Committee, as it helped indigent white emigrants and their children. During the interrogation Fr. Vladimir was also accused of "his escaping to China with the detachment of Kolchak's army in 1919". As well he was accused of "making counerintelligence leaflets", by which interrogators meant spiritiul leaflets, devoted to the memory of Bishop Jonah. Besides, he was inculpated in "distribution of monarchial and fascist literature", that were books published by Russian emigrants.

During the inquisition they also mentioned Fr. Vladimir's "contacts with eminent white emigrants" - the only meeting with Grosse and Diterihs in Shanghai. They as well remarked he frequently served offices for the dead — the executed Imperial Family and Grand Duke Nikolai Nikolaevich.

He was also charged with "giving monetary assistance to Chinese policemen funded from white emigrants", by what they meant sending 25 rubles as reward for detecting theft from the church. Policemen refused to take the money, but instead just asked Fr. Vladimir for blessing. But this fact wasn't found extenuatory. Habarovsk KGB serviceman remembered that in the early 1920s when Fr. Vladimir was still living in Urumqi, he had posted the Proclamation by the Holy Patriarch Tikhon near his church. That proclamation invoked defending the Church from the heathen.

Fr. Vladimir during all the interrogations was acting very brave. "In respect to politics, I should say, I am not a supporter of the Soviet government", - he directly declared at his last questioning. According to decree of May 14, 1930 by the Unified State Political Department, Archpriest Vladimir Ivanovich Izvolsky was sentenced to death by firing squad. The martyr died on May 16, 1930.

Holy Hieromartyr Vladimir, pray for us!