This year marks the eighth anniversary of the martyrdom of the missionary Moscow priest Daniel Sysoev, who was shot in the church he built by a Muslim who was angered by Fr. Daniel’s ability to convert followers of Islam, on the evening of November 19, 2009. He died in the hospital early the following morning.
Matushka Julia, Fr. Daniel’s wife, has agreed to share her memories of her husband. Her words here are a frank monologue, a canvas woven from her personal diary.
“I will no longer accept condolences. I accept only congratulations.”
Memories of the events a year ago are very hard. The wounds remain, and my heart feels the pain. I remember that evening almost minute by minute—even what I bought in the store, what I was thinking about, when I got home, my last call to him, and his last words: “About forty minutes.” And forty minutes later, the cold dial tone on the line—he didn’t answer anymore. I called him a few minutes after he was shot. Then that first horrible night: the church, the police perimeter, the interrogation, the scarlet puddle of blood on the floor. His unfinished tea in his office, the open laptop. The sleepless night, sunrise, and further—the real horror. Here are excerpts from my journal—memorials of those sorrowful days.
“A year has passed and I have realized one thing that I was unable to accept and understand—in the ancient Church they congratulated you with martyrdom. I have felt with all my heart how good it is for Fr. Daniel there!—how he has enormous possibilities for work incommensurate with our earthly standards. Then I understood and realized that I will no longer accept condolences. I accept only congratulations. …”
“A priest once wrote these words in his last book: “The best end, which only a Christian can imagine, is a martyric death.” These words were written by the murdered priest Daniel Sysoev.”
“November 22, 2009
We stopped by the deserted apartment for a couple of hours. The whole night I was at his grave and at the early Liturgy.
I found the leftovers from our last dinner in the fridge. I had made sushi, and for some reason it hadn’t gone bad. Wednesday was the last time we had dinner together. Late, almost 12:00.
He didn’t come to dinner on Thursday. If someone had called me from the church immediately after it happened, I would have reached him alive! He lived—and it’s a miracle—almost an hour after being shot in the neck and right through his head. But no one called me!!! Why? I have more questions than answers. These days are lost time—it is continuous pain and sorrow.
It was a joy, almost like Pascha, when after vesting him in the morgue, they let me see his face. It was a miracle that, despite the perforating wound, the Lord preserved his face unharmed, without any bruising, as if alive.”
For the rest of the diary, go here
For more articles and interviews about Daniel Sysoev of Blessed Memory, go here
Remembrances of Fr. Daniel Sysoev by Archimandrite Melchisedek (Artiukhin)