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.
Julia Sysoeva at the funeral of Fr. Daniel. Photo patriarchia.ru
“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.”
May the Saint bless us and may we have a fraction of his courage and his endurance!
2 Corinthians 4:8-12
We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
TO MY THREE SONS, MY DAUGHTER, MY GRANDCHILDDREN AND MY GREAT GRANDCHILDREN MY SPIRITUAL WILL
I am now 79 years old. My heart is weak and my strength is failing me and it is evident that my time of departure from this world is near. St. Paul left a will to all the Christians. “Become followers of me, as I am of Christ.” I certainly do not dare to say this to all the Christians but to you, my children; I can say follow my example just as I have followed the example of the Apostle Paul. My life has been tough and difficult but never did I pray to God to make it easy. Because “narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” MT.7:14.
For more than twenty five years my life was identified with the work of a rural surgeon and professor of surgery. And for eleven years I suffered persecution for the name of Christ by being jailed and exiled. From 1944 I combined the toilsome ministry of being a Bishop along with the healing the wounded at Tambor and only in 1946 did I stop being a surgeon and I continued as a Bishop.
Amongst most of the people it was inconceivable to understand how a great surgeon, who was honored with the First Prize of Stalin, could abandon a profession in surgery and become a Bishop. Yet there was nothing unusual about that because from my youthful years, the Lord destined me to the high position of service to Him and to the people.
When I finished high school I received from the dean of the school my high school diploma. I placed this in the Book of the New Testament. I had read the New Testament before but now, when I read it again, I heard the words of Christ that were directed to the Apostles say: “The harvest is truly plentiful, but the laborers are few, therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” (MT 9:37-38) My heart responded and I cried out in silence: “Oh Lord! Are you lacking workers?”
Many years went by. I became a doctor of medicine and I thought that I would write the book “A Treatise on surgery in treating festering wounds.” When I made that decision, the following strange thought came to mind: “When that book is finished, it will be signed by a Bishop.” I could not understand from where that thought came. But a few years later, I understood that it was a thought that was sent to me by God because after my first arrest, in the office of the head jailer, the first edition of my book was published and on the facing page I wrote: “Bishop Luke, “A Treatise on surgically treating festering wounds.”
Two more years went by. I was in my first exile to Siberia, in the city of Geniseisk. A monk suddenly came to meet me from Krasnogiarsk. In this city, all the priests had compromised the faith and the faithful of the canonical Church had sent the monk to be ordained a priest but not to me at Geniseik but to Minousinsk, to a non-canonical orthodox bishop. But there was an unexplainable force which directed him to me at Geniseisk. When this monk saw me, he was startled and froze. He could not speak. He revealed to me, that when he saw me, he knew clearly that I was the same hierarch that he saw in an unforgettable dream ten years ago. That Bishop ordained him to the priesthood. At that time I was just a country doctor in the city of Perezlavl, Zaleski.
The Lord God has blessed me with different talents. In high school, I finished my studies in the School of Fine Arts in Kiev. I was very talented in artist and I decided to enter the Academy of Fine Arts in Leningrad. But in the middle of exams I abandoned this effort because I thought that I should serve God and His people, in work that is more beneficial than art. Even though at that time it was clear to me the direction my art would take if I didn’t abandon it; it would purely be a religious direction or I would follow in the footsteps of V. Vasnetsof and Nesterof.
From that time theological issues concerned me very much. The driving force in my character was a strong desire to serve God and His people, only because of that. But in spite of my opposition toward the physical sciences, I took exams for medical school at the University of Kiev and I graduated with honors.
My talent was revealed at the university in anatomy and surgery and my fellow students didn’t want to hear that I desired to become a rural doctor. They had decided unanimously that I would become a professor of anatomy or a surgeon. From what you now know, they had prophesied my future correctly.
As a rural doctor, I worked for thirteen years twelve to fourteen hours a day. I was thinking seriously of abandoning the rural hospital in order travel to distant villages where the people were poor and dying because of the lack of medical help. But the Lord had decided differently for me. He sent me to Tashkent where I was one of the organizers of the University of Middle Asia and became a professor of topographical anatomy and the chief surgeon. This was at the beginning of the decade of the 1920s.
During the years of the antireligious demonstrations during which they derided the Lord Jesus Christ, my heart was saying: “I cannot keep silent.”At that time there was a clergy-laity congress taking place in Tashkent. I was present and during the discussions on some important issues I made an impassioned speech. That speech made a great impression on Bishop Innocent of Tashkent and at the end of the congress he said to me; “Doctor, you must become a priest.” That was something that was completely unexpected by me but the words of the Hierarch brought forth a calling through his lips and I did not hesitate one second in answering him: “Of course, Your Eminence, if that is the will of God, I will become a priest.” And the following Sunday, I, the professor of medicine, with a borrowed robe, appeared before the Bishop who was standing on his throne and I was ordained a sub-deacon and then during the course of the Divine Liturgy I was then ordained a deacon. Within two weeks I became a priest and the pastor of the Cathedral Church.
One and a half years before that great event in my life, my wife and your mother died. The smallest of you, Valentine, was then six years old and the oldest was fourteen.
Two years and four months later, the Lord made me worthy of being elevated to the rank of Bishop. It was divine providence for me and for you, my children that was revealed to us at that time when the Lord called your mother to eternal life by allowing her to get sick with tuberculosis. By this happening to her the road was opened for me to enter monastic life and the hierarchical ministry. All the responsibility for you, my children, I gave over to the care of the Lord and truly, I was not made a liar by believing in Him. Your care and upbringing was provided for by sending me an unknown woman, Sofia Sergakevna Veletskagia, who during the times I was jailed and the three times I was sent into exile she provided for your care. With a great deal of self-sacrifice and love she lifted the heavy cross for your care during those years of the plague. She raised you successfully and gave you a good education.
Later on all three of you and my daughter, with the protection and the help of your guardian angels, completed your advanced studies. Michael for some time now has become a professor, while Aliosa and Valia are teachers in the medical and biological sciences and in a little while they will become professors.
The Lord accepted all the sacrifices which I have offered Him and not only did He accept them but He changed and corrected many of them. I abandoned doing any more surgeries so that I could spend more time preaching about Jesus Christ. I was not concerned with the fame of a surgeon which certainly I deserve. While this glory is important and belongs to God, the new freedom I had increased the power and content of my sermons. My well-known and famous book “The Treatise on surgery for festering wounds” was completed while I was in exile and when I was Archbishop. My determination to sacrifice everything for the glory of Him, the Lord gave me another talent, that of preaching. The nine volumes of my sermons have been recognized by the Spiritual Academy of Moscow as unique in contemporary ecclesiastical theology and a treasure of commentary on the Holy Bible. And I, a self-taught theologian was chosen to be a member of the Spiritual Academy of Moscow. For the Church, my sermons will have greater meaning than my “Treatise on the surgery for festering wounds.”
In addition to this, the miraculous events which I spoke about earlier which were directed by the Lord without my realizing it led me mystically to the Hierarchical ministry. I often physically felt the presence of God in my communion with Him, in my spiritual life and in my prayers.
But if I have not said enough for any of you to convince you of these things then I think his (Michael’s) involvement with the physical sciences have bewitched him so much that he does not want to hear those things that I have lived; the things I have undeniably felt many times.
In other words, I will tell you just the way it is, how astonishing and clearly the Lord God reveals His desire for those who fear Him and love Him. When I was in Leningrad for an operation, during the time of a memorial service, the Lord in a miraculous and shocking way caused me to tremble with fright when He gave me this command: “Shepherd my sheep, feed my lambs.” The years have since gone by and I, under the spell of a cunning diabolical spell, forgot that command of God and Satan again placed in my soul that great urge to return to surgery. And this is why the Lord punished me by allowing the retina in my eye to tear. My eye was operated on twice unsuccessfully by professor Ontintsof because God’s punishment had to remain with me.
The day after the second operation, when I was laying flat with my eyes bandaged, the strong urge to do surgery again overwhelmed me when the Lord sent me a shocking dream: I was in a Church without lights. The only lit up place was the altar. A little beyond the altar was a casket of a saint. They had placed on the altar a wooden board and on this was a naked human body. In the back and next to the altar I saw students and doctors smoking cigarettes and I was teaching them anatomy of the human body.
I was then startled by a noise and when I turned my head, I saw that the covering of the saint’s casket fell off. The saint sat up in the casket, he turned and looked at me with a look of pain and shock. I finally realized the great burden of my sin, of my disobedience to the command of the Lord Jesus Christ to “shepherd my sheep and feed my lambs.” For the last fourteen years I begged the Lord Jesus Christ to forgive me remembering clearly my dramatic dream with the body and the dead person lying on the Holy Altar. Lately I have been informed by God that my sin has been forgiven. Day after day, I see the body less and less on the Holy Altar where it finally disappeared completely.
And now, my children let me offer to you my last will and testament. I believe deeply in God and I have built my whole life upon His commandments. And I bequeath to you that you offer your lives to God and build all things upon the commandments of Christ.
For a long time and with great determination I sailed through life against the current of the world and to you my children I bequeath that you sail against the current, as difficult at that may be. Turn your attention and your heart away from the great majority of human beings who pursue not the higher goals but those which are easy to acquire. Do not accede to the great majority of people who live according to their own thinking and with the mind of their leaders. They anchor their lives not with the commandments of Christ but on the directives of people who have the power to lead them not to the Kingdom of Heaven but to the riches of the earthly kingdom.
The purpose of life is to seek after the highest truth and to never divert from that road even when they force you to serve the purposes of the lowest form of truth by trampling upon the truth of Christ.
You should be ready even to be martyred since you are sailing against the current. Keep your faith firmly in your thoughts, in your husbands and in your wives just the way I kept it.
In your scientific endeavors and in your efforts to study the mysteries of nature, you should not look for your own glory but only to lessen the pain of your sick and helpless fellow human beings.
Remember that I, your father, sacrificed all my life in doing these things. Imitate me just the way I imitated the Apostle Paul and do not work for your stomach but to help those who without your help cannot free themselves from the tortures of poverty and lies.
If you fulfill all these things that I bequeath to you, the blessing of God will come upon you in harmony with the words of David the prophet. “But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to such as keep His covenant, And to those who remember his commandments to do them.” (Psalm 103: 17-18.)
I have always prayed for that blessing and grace of God in my life for you my children, my grandchildren and my great grandchildren and surely I will always pray for your eternal life when I will stand before the throne of my God and your God, my Creator and your Creator. That time is most likely near because my heart and my strength have been weakened.
Your father Alousta, July 22, 1956
“I loved martyrdom, which so strangely cleanses the soul.”
The Saint’s last words
“My children, very much do I entreat you,
Arm yourselves with the armor that God gives, That you may withstand the devil’s tricks.
You can’t imagine how evil he is.
We don’t have to fight with people but with rulers and powers, in effect the evil spirits.
It’s no use to the devil for anyone to think and feel
that he is close to him.
A hidden and unknown enemy is more dangerous than a visible enemy.
O how large and terrible is the army of the demons.
How numberless is their black horde!
Unchanged, untiring, day and night, seeking to push all of us who believe
in the name of Christ, to lure us on the road of unbelief, of evil and of impiety.
These unseen enemies of God have made their sole purpose, day and night to seek our destruction.
But do not be afraid, take power from the name of Jesus.”
In Memoriam — A Video, Liturgic Chant and Iconography Tribute and Islam’s New Martyrs’ ‘Army’
In the darkness of the Paris tragedy, May God give rest to all the victims! Comfort to their families! Mercy to the killers! Repentance for the assassins before they depart this earth! Saints Denis, Genevieve, and Maria of Paris, Irenaios of Lyons, Martin and Gregory of Tours, Prosper of Aquitaine, John Cassian the Roman, Caesarius of Arles, Hilary of Poitiers, and all the martyrs and saints of France, pray for the protection of the people of France and our world!
The world is talking about you Your apocalyptic dreams and spectacular sins Are now awakening the middle east In your holy war, come to holy ground Come children of Abraham come The people of the cross gathers at your gates with a message
Love is coming after you. Like a rush of wind grazing over the pacific From hills of the mount of olives to the desert winds of Jordan From the cedars of lebanon to the silk roads of the East An army comes. With no tanks or soldiers But an army of martyrs faithful unto death Carrying a message of life The people of the cross Comes to die at your gates. If you wont hear our message with words Then we will show you with our lives Laid down.
For every throat you slit and every woman you rape For every man you burn and every child you turn to dust There is blood on your hands brother
But Come Brothers Come
Come with your bloodstained hands, Come with your eyes full of murder for the people of the Cross, Come lay your guns and your knives at the foot of the cross A love that is overdue and overwhelming Breathes through your cities
Though your sins are like scarlet They can be washed white as snow Though you call yourselves servants He will make you into Sons Where can you run from His love? Even the darkness cannot hide you
Come Brothers Come There is the sound of a rushing rain To remove your sins and bind your wounds You die for your god but our God died for us The King of Kings comes to be the sacrificial lamb Slain on the altar where we should have been Jesus Christ, Isa Al Masih Walks through the Middle East
There is forgiveness tonight oh brother There is healing for your sins oh brother We are no different. Apart from Christ, we are no better than the worst jihadist Christ has been crucified once. and for All. To make sinners like you and me into brothers Even you. Even now.
Who Would Dare to Love ISIS? (A Letter from the People of the Cross)
Paris terror attacks: a night of carnage in France’s capital–Friday November 13
“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.”
“It still remains unclear how the situation developed inside the concert hall. According to witnesses, the attackers stormed the venue as a California rock group ‘Eagles of Death Metal’ was performing on the stage. A Europe 1 journalist, who was inside the Bataclan, said the men were unmasked and carried what he recognized as Kalashnikov-type guns. “The assailants had time to reload at least three times. They were not masked, masters of themselves. They were very young,” the reporter Julian Pearce said, according to the Liberation newspaper. People who managed to flee the theater reported seeing between six and eight shooters inside were killing those who remained in the concert hall “one by one”. One of the gunmen at Bataclan reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar!” meaning, “God is [the] greatest” in Arabic.
The Glorification of 1241 New Martyrs of Naousa
Central photograph of St. Philoumenos the New Righteous Hieromartyr, the Cypriot, at Jacob’s Well where Christ spoke with St. Photini. Surrounding are other pictures and icons of St. Philoumenos and associated scenes. He was martyred on November 16th/29th 1979
St. Philoumenos the New Hieromartyr of Jacob’s Well
Holy New-Martyrs of Jasenovac
St. Jacob of Hamatoura
Synaxis of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia
… Three centuries later; we see Muslim children carrying the heads of the people their fundamentalist parents have murdered. We hear these children calling for more executions. The only difference is that, this time, Western journalists are also killed.
The West may be in shock, but Eastern Europe isn’t. For us, this is just the return of a very recent nightmare. Less than a century ago, the Ottoman Empire was still present here, in our countries. Think about that!
New Martyrs of the Turkish Yoke
We all – West and East – have so much to learn from each other. The world needs to look at its past – its common past. The West needs to understand that what happens in other parts of the world will one day (very soon, it seems) happen at home, in its own back-yard.
The 1241 New Martyrs of Naousa who were brutally massacred
The 21 New Martyrs of Egypt & Libya
Saint Ephraim the Newly-Revealed Wonderworker of Nea Makri
Holy New Martyrs Emmanuel, Anezina, George and Maria, The Four Crypto-Christians New Martyrs
The 100,000 Holy Martyrs of Tbilisi
When one visits the thousands of Orthodox monasteries in Greece, Bulgaria and Romania, one must learn how to see beyond their exterior beauty and exoticism. All these places are built on harrowing pain and horror, yet they remain living prayers for the peace and salvation of the whole world; for centuries, they’ve held on to a holy stubbornness to not let go of hope, to not let go of love, to not allow hate to win and take over our hearts.
New Martyrs Raphael, Nikolaos, Eirini
If that happened, if we let go of love and embraced the hatred, we’d be denying Christ; we’d be losing the real battle, the battle these old and new Christian martyrs died for.
Hell Is Empty and All the Devils Are Here: a quote from the first act of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest
“The Muslim threat will not be neutralized, and Muslims will not come to see the falsehood of their own faith, – which, after all, must be our hope and the only real solution to the problem – until and unless the Christians stop appeasing them through their anti-Christian ecumenism and debauchery, demonstrating in their own lives what it is to be a real Christian. The present confrontation between Western ecumenism and Muslim terrorism is providential … a final appeal to the conscience of Western Christians to cast off their indifference and acquire zeal for the one true faith, which is Christianity.” http://www.orthodoxchristianbooks.com/articles/690/islamic-terrorism-western-ecumenism/
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11)
With the rising wave of genocidal persecution of Christians by Muslims, we can properly begin speaking of the ‘New Martyrs of the 21st Century under the Sword of Islam’. One of the most important of these New Martyrs, if not the pre-eminent, is the righteous Priest-Martyr Fr. Daniil Sysoev of Moscow (1974 -2009), who was killed by a masked Muslim gunman in front of the altar at the church he founded. Sysoev’s murder was claimed by a militant Islamic group based in the North Caucasus. According to a statement made by Russian Islamists “One of our brothers who has never been to the Caucases took up the oath of (former independent Chechen president Doku Umarov) and expressed his desire to execute the damned Sysoyev.”
Fr Daniil was not any ordinary casualty of Islam’s renewed war on Christians in the early third millennium after Christ’s First Coming in the Flesh. He was a towering figure in the Russian Orthodox Church, a theologian, writer, evangelist and missionary, extending his endeavours to all Muslims, neo-Pagans, Jews, Protestants, excluding none.. He particularly engaged in open debate with Muslims, and converted scores of them from Islam to the Orthodox Gospel, including a number of Wahhabi extremists. In the Islamic space of Russia he had earned the nickname “Russian Salman Rushdie”.
For his profound faith and tireless efforts, he has earned the titles of Confessor, Evangelist, Apostle to the Muslims, and Pillar of Orthodoxy in the 21st Century. That his zealous but loving and peaceful missionary work among Muslims enraged some of them to resort to murder in order to silence him, proves the strength and validity of his witness to Christ, and seals his life’s work with the pure blood of holy martyrdom.
The purpose of this page is to provide a representative collection of essential resources on New Martyr Fr. Daniil Sysoev, to promote the veneration of Father Daniil as a Saint of the Church, and to inspire others to follow his example, take up their crosses, and labour for our Lord Jesus Christ.
New online store for book ordering, plus digital publication on the ISSUU platform, bring Fr. Daniel’s works to the English-speaking world. Numerous titles available with many more to follow. More info with links here.
ON THE DEATH OF MY HUSBAND: THE MATUSHKA OF THE MARTYRED PRIEST DANIEL SPEAKS AND REVEALS THAT A PROPHECY HAS BEEN FULFILLED
Fr Daniel had already foreseen his death several years before it happened. He had always wanted to be worthy of a martyr’s crown. … He used to say that they would kill him. I would ask him who would look after us. Me and the three children. He would answer that he would put us in safe hands. ‘I‘ll give you to the Mother of God. She’ll take care of you’. Read her full, moving testimony at http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/32818.htm
Death is the last event in a person’s earthly life. For a missionary, death is the last homily, the last message preached, the last witness for Christ, Whom the missionary loved with complete readiness to sacrifice his or her life for the sake of the triumph of the Faith. Father Daniel Sysoev had prepared himself for this sacrifice long before… Read the full article.
To shortly describe Fr. Daniel, he walked before God. … He walked with a light step, like a person who knows where he is going and why, one who is calm in the present and that does not worry about the future because he has entrusted all his cares to the Lord, Who is as close to him as a Loving Father. Read the full article and interview.
“True Christianity is having pity for the perishing people. Fear to be punished by the Lord for burying one’s talent and desire to receive great reward in heaven-these are what must move a missionary. We should walk with God as the Lord said of Enoch, Enoch walked with God and…God took him (Gen. 5:24). Just that walking with God is the root of missions. “Read the full interview…
(Pravda, Moscow, 11/20/2009) Orthodox Priest Daniil Sysoyev was assassinated in Moscow on the night of November 19. … The unidentified assassin was wearing a doctor’s mask when he attacked the priest, Interfax reports. The criminal entered Holy Apostle Thomas Church in the south of Moscow on Thursday night, at about 10:40 p.m. …The man rushed into the church and shouted: “Who is Sysoyev here?” The 35-year-old priest came forward, the attacker pulled out a gun with a silencer, and shot him in the neck and in the head. … Read the full article.
On the Murder of Father Daniil Sysoev. By Fr. Sergei Sveshnikov
…We met in the mid-1990s: I was a priest and he was still a deacon. … Thereafter we were in constant contact. …He felt no animosity towards people of other faiths. He himself mentions this in his lectures: “I love these people, but I do not share their faith and beliefs.” … They killed him out of fear. … I said to him: “They’re going to kill you!” To which he replied: “What are you talking about? I’m unworthy!” He felt that if he were killed for the faith he would become a martyr. There was no shadow of fear in him, only reverence before martyrdom. …Read the full interview at http://www.pravmir.com/remembering-fr-daniel-sysoev/
Fr. Daniel Sysoev: “To Make the Whole World Love Christ”
He very much loved to preach about Christ; and I can say for myself that the greatest commandment that I received from my preceptor is this: “The purpose of a missionary is to make the whole world love Christ.” Read the full interview at
“My acquaintance with Fr. Daniel was God’s mercy toward me. … When I met him I was impressed by his burning faith and the brave spirit which he was able to share with those around him. … inspired me to go by the same path. ….Fr. Daniel told me to fear nothing, that the Muslims had threatened him personally fourteen times, saying that they would behead him — but should we hold back out of fear? The important thing, he said, is to firmly and bravely bear the Word of God, and to be witnesses of Christ … He often said spoke of martrydom, as if he knew that the Lord would glorify him in precisely this way. And behold, the Lord made him worthy of a martyr’s crown. The ancient Christians rejoiced in this situation, but we were saddened. .. I remember that when I learned of his death I was very grieved and thought, “If only he could have had a few more years.” But later I acknowledged that the will of God is in all things. Read the full article at http://www.pravmir.com/daniel-sisoev-to-make-the-whole-world-love-christ/
MANY MUSLIMS WERE BAPTIZED AFTER THE DEATH OF FR. DANIEL SISOYEV
Three men from the Caucasus region, Monk Madai (Maamdi), a Kurd Mikhail, a Kabardinian and Nectary Mikhaelyan, an Armenian recount how Fr. Daniel Sisoyev influenced their lives. Read the full article at http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/75392.htm
Heartbreaking Paintings and Poems from Communist Prisons in Romania — II
Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Monday
Neutral days without form,
Like a great fog
Over the landscape
Good morning, prison cell!
Good night, prison bars!
I’d smash you as a mastiff in his fangs
I’d rend you with my teeth, O Cell!
I stand in Time terribly naked
With my soul planted in liquid eternity,
Like an atoll in an ocean
Beaten by torrid winds…
Dungeon, dungeon, mad fortress,
How my hate would set fire to you!
Life, life outside,
How dare you dance in my dreams like a puppet!
Tuesday,Wednesday,Friday – what day is it?
the week is a dead amassment;
My months pass through no calendar,
My island is on no map.
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday – The devil take you!
Stinking days – Stagnant days,
Here in the jaws of eternity
Who shall count your dark hundreds?
If ever I was a cluster of grapes,
today I am residue left by the press.
Into the fathomless hunger in me
pour some drop of juice.
I feel how my body is melting away,
a soup of amaranth would warm it.
If touched by a blade of grass
in a flash I’d be green.
At least let my phantom arm
pick an apple from a tree.
It will fill my mouth with aroma
and I would truly live.
In the country of sheep folds and bread
I dream of mushroom soup.
Let me shelter with the dogs
near the heaven of a bowl of terci.*
On the depth of my hunger
blind deserts open up.
When the last spoonful is eaten
I drop over my bowl and spoon.
O God, You Who
out of two fishes and five loaves
made mountains of food
and satisfied thousands of poor
Repeat the miracle, O Good One,
and satisfy thousands of mouths.
Listen also to my prayer,
Give me the basket of crumbs.
* terci – a thin gruel often given to dogs
JESUS IN THE NIGHT
This night Jesus entered my cell.
O how sad, how tall was Christ!
The moon followed Him into my cell
And made Him taller, sadder still.
He sat by me upon my mat;
“Put your hand upon my wounds.”
On His ankle there were scars from sores and rust
As if He too had worn chains once…
His hands were like lilies upon a grave,
His eyes as deep as forests;
His garments whitened by the moon,
Silvering in His hands old wounds.
Sighing, He stretched His weary bones
Upon my lousy mat;
In His sleep He shone forth, but the heavy bars
Lengthened upon Him like rods.
I rose from beneath my gray blanket.
“Lord, from whence come you? Out of which eternity?”
Jesus put His finger to His lips
And signed me to be still.
My cell seemed like a mountain peak;
Rats and roaches swarmed around;
I felt my head fall heavy upon my hand
And I slept, a thousand years…
When I awoke from my heavy trance
The straw smelled of roses;
I was in my cell and there was moonlight
But Jesus was nowhere.
“Where are you, Lord?” I cried between the bars.
Across the moon came drifts of mist…
I touched myself, and found upon my palms
The sign of His nails.
The exhausted wind froze
like a bow on a cracked violin.
Last night an angel knocked in my door,
his voice weak, his tread tired.
I don’t know if he came from heaven
or some earthly cross
but he looked at me with wounded eyes,
trembling with cold when I welcomed him.
In his eyes of strange god
it was as if some grave illness battled
and he gazed at me with blood-filled eyes
and all that night he wept upon my breast.
In the morning I found him no more.
vestiges of red footprints faded from my door.
Far away in the sky on a cracked violin
the wind fell like a broken bow.
Pitesti Prison — Gulag
Poems from Communist Prisons by Mother Alexandra
Within this booklet are a few poems originally written in Romanian, chosen from a large collection, POEZII DIN INCHISORI, edited by Zahu Pana, published by CUVANTUL ROMANESC, 1982
They were written or rather composed by political prisoners who had no paper on which to write. They were memorized by those who survived, and finally spirited out to the free West. Remarkable in that they are true poetry of the soul, they express various emotions of those unjustly imprisoned by the Communist Party, for the crime of independent thought. None of these poets were criminals. They were philosophers, theologians (lay or clergy), generals, intellectuals of all sorts, factory workmen and tillers of the soil. Women and even children shared the same fate.
Faces of Freedom, Lives of Courage is a fragment of communist Romania’s history seen through the unique and shocking experiences of nine individuals. Leontina, a nineteen-year-old student who hides a letter addressed to Radio Free Europe that was thrust into her hands by an acquaintance who was being pursued by the Securitate. This naiveté leads to interrogation, beatings, torture and imprisonment in one of many of Romania’s extermination camps. Razvan, a German professor who, at a great danger to himself, took pictures of the army firing on unarmed, peaceful demonstrators in Cluj Napoca on December 21, 1989. Grigore, a law student after WWII, who was imprisoned by the Securitate in an effort to eliminate “resistance groups,” and beaten and tortured for a year before his official trial, which sentenced him to many years of hard labor. This book provides interviews of those above as well as 6 other individuals whose lives were drastically changed while living under communism and later under the vicious regime of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu.
The Genocide of the Souls — The Pitesti Phenomenon (1949-1951)
“However, what has not yet become universal knowledge is the fact that in the Romanian Gulag Archipelago there was an island of absolute horror, such as existed nowhere else in the entire geography of the communist penitentiary system: Pitesti Prison.” – Virgil Ierunca, Pitesti Phenomenon.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the 1970 Nobel Prize laureate for literature, refers to the Pitesti experiment as the “most terrible act of barbarism in the contemporary world”.
Historian François Furet, member of the French Academy, regards the Pitesti phenomenon as “one of the most terrible experiments in dehumanisation that our epoch has known”.
Between 1949 and 1951, the destruction of society”s elite was almost complete: intellectuals, diplomats, priests, officers, magistrates, policemen, and politicians of the “bourgeois-landowner regime” were in prison; the most industrious peasants had been deported to forced labour camps. Collectively and individually, they were all labelled “enemies of the people”. It now remained to annihilate the unpredictable social force of youth. For the latter, the Pitesti experiment was invented (termed “re-education” by the Securitate). The most barbarous methods of psychological torture were applied to “recalcitrant” young prisoners, with the object of making them reciprocally humiliate each other, physically abuse each other and mentally torture each other. Victims were transformed into executioners; prisoners were tortured by their own friends, by their fellows in suffering. The purpose: “re-education” through physical and psychical destruction, the transformation of young people into atheists, into informers on their friends.
“When you said, ‘I still believe in God,’ in five minutes you were full of blood”. – Roman Braga
“Many of us died, many of us became mad, but in some of us the good triumphed”. – George Calciu
These chilling words from two survivors of a brainwashing prison in Pitesti, Romania are sad reminders of the legacy of Stalinist communism. Beyond Torture: The Gulag of Pitesti, Romania documents the persecution of Romanians under the communist regime. Electrical shock, hallucinogenic drugs, near starvation and fatal beatings were daily rituals in the prison of Pitesti, Romania. But this sadistic story goes beyond torture: this was an attempt to totally destroy a people’s culture and faith.
In 1949, Stalinist Soviets began a systematic sweep of Romanian college campuses. Their purpose was to imprison and transform young Romanians into a communistic way of thinking. One prisoner describes this re-education as the most vile tortures imaginable. Orthodox priest Father George Calcui says, “They tried to destroy our souls.” But he and others survived this gulag, lived to tell their stories and even forgave their captors.
In this documentary, you’ll meet three survivors from the prison of Pitesti and see shocking paintings that capture the essence of the extreme torture. This documentary also includes an in-depth one-hour interview with Father Roman Braga: prison survivor and spiritual leader. Don’t expect a typical tale of woe. What comes through from the priests being interviewed — most especially Fr. Roman Braga, now in America — is a surprising theme: forgiveness…and even joy.
Outside of Romania, this DVD is the first major historical documentation of the Pitesti experience.