Re: [orthodox-synod] Hieromartyr Michael of Chistopol
- SCHEMA-BISHOP MICHAEL OF CHISTOPOL
Bishop Michael (Yershov) was born on September 17, 1911, in the village
of Mamykovo in Kazan province, in a peasant family. His father, Basil, was a
Bolshevik. His mother's name was Daria. The father persecuted the son and did
not allow him to go to church, as a result of which he went blind.
Afterwards, when he repented, he recovered his sight.
When Michael was twelve years old, he was receiving communion a church
in Chistopol when an elder saw him and said:
"This lad will take upon himself the sins of the whole people."
He was tonsured into the mantia in 1927, and in 1928 was ordained to the
diaconate. In 1930 he was ordained to the priesthood by the Catacomb
Archbishop and future Hieromartyr Nectarius (Trezvinsky) in Kazan. He then
wandered from place to place serving Christians of the Catacomb Church.
Fr. Michael's first arrest was on March 3, 1931, for the Faith and the
Orthodox Church. He was condemned to eight years in prison for anti-Soviet
agitation. He was arrested a second time on December 12, 1943, for church
preaching; and on August 18, 1944 he was sentenced to death by shooting. He
spent 81 days in the death cell; they starved him the whole time. On November
9, 1944, they commuted the death sentence to 15 years' hard labour.
Fr. Michael passed through almost all the prisons of the Soviet Gulag:
Kazan, Arzamas, Vorkuta, Olga, Bannino, Sakhalin, Nagayeva, Magadan, Suman,
Kolyma, Khabarovsk, Blagoveshchensk, Bratsk, Taipet...
It is thought that in the 1950s Fr. Michael was secretly consecrated
Bishop of Chistopol in the camps, and in this capacity took part, according
to one source, in the Nikolsky Council of the Catacomb Church in 1961 through
Monk John. However, the real existence of this Council is doubted by many.
In 1958 he was released from camp in Kazan, but almost immediately was
given another 25-year sentence in Potma station, Mordovia. He spent 15 years
in irons. All his hair and the hairs of his beard were pulled out one by one.
Bishop Michael possessed the gifts of healing and prophecy. He healed
many criminals, possessed, lame, blind and sick people, and gave them
instructions on how to live well. He healed the withered hand of John Kokarev
and the legs of Basil Kalinin, who had lain without moving for three years.
He came up to him, took him by the hand and said:
"Get up and walk."
He healed Gregory Rusakov's leprous face, which was already stinking,
and took the whole crust from his face.
A.S. Dubina reported that Bishop Michael died in camp on June 4, 1977.
According to another report, however, he died in a special prison hospital on
June 4, 1974.
However, his relatives heard that he had been transferred to the Kazan
special psychiatric hospital. It seems that the secret was let out by the pr
ocurator of the town of Kazan when he was receiving his relatives. It is
possible that the authorities wanted to hide him from the believing people
because of his great popularity - he was known as "the Tsar of Mordovia" and
people came to catch a glimpse of him through the barbed wire from all over
the Soviet Union. Bishop Michael himself prophesied that they were going to
hide him, and he ordered them not to believe the story of his death. All his
spiritual children were convinced that he had been hidden away in a
psychiatric hospital so as to be annihilated there.
Bishop Michael was a fervent opponent of the Moscow Patriarchate.
According to Eugene Vagin, he believed that it was wrong to have any contact
whatsoever with Moscow Patriarchal churches.
(Sources: Les Cahiers du Samizdat, April, 1978; Russkoye Vozrozhdeniye, 1978,
N 4, pp. 39-42; Schema-Monk Epiphanius (Chernov), Tserkov' Katakombnaya na
Zemlye Rossijskoj (MS), 1980; I.M. Andreyev, Russia's Catacomb Saints,
Platina: St. Herman Monastery Press, 1982, chapter 42; Chronicle of Current
Events, no. 32, p. 80; Bishop Ambrose (von Sievers), "Episkopat
Istinno-Pravoslavnoj Katakombnoj Tserkvi", Russkoye Pravoslaviye, N 4 (8),
1997, pp. 14-15; "Katakombnaya Tserkov': Tainij Soboer 1948g.", Russkoye
Pravoslaviye, N 5 (9), 1997, pp. 20, 27; I.I. Osipova, Skvoz' Ogn' Muchenij I
Vody Slyoz", Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998, pp. 180-182, 259)
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