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A Courageous Example in Troubled Times: Hieromartyr Vladimir of Kiev's response to the 1890 Cholera

Original post by Fr. Zechariah Lynch:

In this post I am sharing with you, the reader, two important examples from the life of the New Hiero-martyr Vladimir of Kiev. The accounts are take from his recorded life in “Holy New-Martyrs of Southern Russian” by Vladimir Moss. The first is an account of how the Saint conducted himself during the time of a cholera epidemic in Russia. Russia saw a number of cholera outbreaks in the 1800s, the particular outbreak in the 1890s is said to have claimed around 200,000 lives. In general, the following example serves to illustrate a saintly response during a epidemic. The reader will note, the saint had more services offered and he himself traveled to severely afflicted areas. We may ascertain the great importance which the prayers of the Church held for the saint and those of his flock.

On January 19, 1891, Bishop Vladimir was appointed Bishop of Samara and Stavropol. His rather brief term of service in Samara (less than two years) constitutes a special chapter in the life of the martyr-metropolitan. It coincided with a famine in Samara, which was followed by a cholera epidemic. During these terrible calamities that befell the Samara region, Bishop Vladimir put exceptional energy into developing various means of helping the people. Through the work of a special committee which he established, he organized widespread assistance for the hungry, cooperated with the parish relief organization, and recommended that arrangements be made for partially and fully subsidized dining halls and tea rooms to feed the hungry.

In all of this he not only acted as an organizer and leader of the clergy, but was also actively involved in the work. In his sermons and printed appeals he prompted the clergy and the local populace to assist their unfortunate brothers who were suffering from the famine. In his sermons and various publication, he tried to communicate to the people a healthy, proper attitude toward the epidemic and suggested effective ways of fighting against it. He organized and served at gatherings for the purpose of praying for deliverance from this terrible misfortune. He also conducted funeral services at the cemeteries for those who had died during the epidemic, and fearlessly appeared among the worshippers in places where the threat of cholera was greatest. His personal example inspired other priests to forget their own troubles and alleviate the sufferings of others.”

The second pertinent example from his life is a courageous and bold message which he delivered in the midst of the revolutionary tremors which Russia was experiencing in the early 1900s. In the midst of obvious social disintegration at the hands of socialism, the saint boldly denounced the perpetrators as those who have “renounced God.” The saint rightly understood that the “nest” was abroad, that is outside of Russia. Many of the main funds for Communism came from the Western banking elites. Their program of destroying countries has long been grinding away.

The saint boldly strives to expose the demonic plans that were seeking to destroy the lives of millions. One feels deeply that he felt it was his obligation to do so. Indeed, Christianity loses its savor when it roles over in the face of clearly satanic plans.

He understood the globalist intents even then, stating that they “dream of subduing the whole world.” Although his message was given well over one hundred years ago, his basic observations and warnings ring all the truer today. In fact, much of the world at current reflects the turmoil that he is addressing. Sadly, we no longer have Christian Governments, for most have become active purveyors of the secularist-revolutionary mindset. Once again before the face of humanity is dangled the false hope of “earthly paradise.” The controlled dialectics of revolutionary deconstruction have advanced upon precision lines. Crises are manufactured and exploited to subject people to slavery. While promising freedom, the result will actually end in the imprisoning of the human spirit. In our times the advancing promise conceals itself under things like the “great rest” and “making the world safe from the virus.”

Yet the real agenda is to leave no one in peace. It is the demonic desire to dominate every aspect of human life, yes even down to thoughts. These deceptive spirits and their sad servants have long been denounced by true Christians.

In the autumn of 1905, when revolution broke out and Moscow was seized by strikes and anarchy, Metropolitan Vladimir powerfully raised his archpastoral voice, rebuking the rebels and exposing the essence of the revolution. Thus on October 16, after the liturgy in the Kremlin Dormition cathedral, he said: “The heart bleeds when you see what is happening around us… It is no longer the Poles, or external enemies, but our own Russian people, who, having lost the fear of God, have trusted the rebels and are holding our first capital as it were in a siege. Even without this we have been having a hard time because of our sins: first harvest failures [in 1891, 1897, 1898 and 1901], then illnesses, then an unsuccessful war [the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05], and now something unheard of is taking place in Rus’: it is as if God has deprived Russian people of their minds. By order of underground revolutionaries, strikes have begun everywhere, in the factories, in the schools, on the railways… Oh if only our unfortunate workers knew who is ruling them, who is sending them troublemaker-agitators, then they would have turned from them in horror as from poisonous snakes! You know these are the so-called social-democrats, these are the revolutionaries, who have long ago renounced God in their works.

They have renounced Him, and yet it may be that they have never known the Christian faith. They denounce her servants, her rites, they mock her holy things. Their main nest is abroad: they are dreaming of subduing the whole world to themselves; in their secret protocols they call us, the Christians, animals, to whom God, they say, have given a human face only in order that it should not be repulsive to them, His chosen ones, to use our services… With satanic cunning they catch lightminded people in their nets, promising them paradise on earth, but they carefully hide from them their secret aims, their criminal dreams. Having deceived the unfortunate, they drag him to the most terrible crimes, as if for the sake of the common good, and, in fact they make him into an obedient slave. They try in every way to cast out of his soul, or at any rate to distort, the teaching of Christ. Thus the commandments of Christ say: do not steal, do not covet what belongs to another, but they say: everything is common, take from the rich man everything you like.

The commandments of Christ say: share your last morsel, your last kopeck with your neighbour, but they teach: take from others everything that you need. The commandments of Christ say: give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, fear God, venerate the Tsar, but they say: we don’t need any Tsar, the Tsar is a tyrant… The commandments of God say: in patience possess your souls, but they say: in struggle acquire your rights. The commandment of Christ orders us to lay down our souls for our friends, but they teach to destroy people who are completely innocent, to kill them only for the fact they do not agree with them, and do not embark on robbery, but just want to work honourably and are ready to stand for the law, for the Tsar, for the Church of God…”

Metropolitan Vladimir was faithful to the Truth to the end. On January 25, 1918, he was executed for his Orthodox Christian faith. He was shot numerous times and subsequently bayoneted. When his body was found, the figures of his hands were formed as for a blessing. May this holy one who ministered both in a time of epidemic and in a time of total social upheaval, serve as an example for us in our own times and struggles. Let us be bold in our confession of faith, and let us serve God without fear.

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