Russian Church Canonizes Another Saint Murdered by Communists, Bringing the Number of New Martyrs to 1785

Originally appeared at: Global Orthodox

On September 4, 2022, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia celebrated the Divine Liturgy at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow. During the service, Archpriest Mikhail Soyuzov was glorified as a saint martyr, killed during the Red Terror launched by the Communists after 1917 Revolution.

Mikhail Fedorovich Soyuzov was born May 12, 1869, into the family of a priest of the Novgorod diocese.

In 1889 Michael Soyuzov graduated from the Novgorod Theological Seminary and in 1893 from the St. Petersburg Theological Academy with a degree in theology.

By the intercession of the holy righteous John of Kronstadt, Mikhail was appointed to the post of a sacristan at St. Andrew's Cathedral in Kronstadt. In September of 1893 he married Antonina Stefanovskaya, the daughter of the deacon of the St. Andrew's Cathedral. On October 10, 1893, Michael was ordained deacon, and on April 28, 1895, he was ordained a priest.  

The October 1917 revolution interrupted Father Michael's service. 

Archpriest Mikhail Soyuzov was first arrested on September 13, 1918, in only a week’s time after the announcement of the "Red Terror," by warrant from the Extraordinary Investigative Commission. He was released a month later. He was never charged.

On April 19, 1922, during the campaign unfolded by the authorities to seize church valuables, unrest flared up in the Knyaz-Vladimirsky Cathedral, where at the time Fr. Michael was a rector. Following the incident, Archpriest Mikhail Soyuzov was arrested on May 20, 1922.

Father Michael was accused of "knowing full well that the messages of the Metropolitan Benjamin of Petrograd call for resistance to the implementation of the decree issued by Soviet power, he still distributed them among parishes and believers, which resulted in mass unrest”. In his testimony, Father Michael denied the charges against him and tried to persuade the judges of the innocence of Metropolitan Benjamin in the Petrograd riots. During the interrogation on May 20, 1922, Father Michael testified: "The Metropolitan did not give an official order for the distribution of these letters among the faithful... On Good Friday, after taking out the shroud, I addressed a brief word to the numerous worshipers, asking them to show love, peace, and meekness, and discard all anger, I told them that we must now feel sorry for the starving... In conclusion, I earnestly asked parishioners to donate their valuables”. 

Archpriest Michael did not plead guilty, but in an attempt to deflect the accusation from Metropolitan Benjamin, he confirmed that he had sent the letters on his own free will to the parishes in his jurisdiction, for the purpose of informing parishioners, but not for propaganda.

On July 5, 1922, Archpriest Mikhail Soyuzov was sentenced to 3 years in prison in strict isolation. On October 19, 1922, he died in a prison hospital. Father Mikhail was buried in the Smolensk Cemetery, not far from the Chapel of St. Blessed Ksenia of Petersburg.

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