Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia
A Parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia
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Holy Newmartyr of Russia

Alexey Elnatsky

12 (25) September 1937

Martyr Alexey (Alexey Ivanovich Voroshin) was born in the early 1890’s in the village of Kaurchiha which was in the Yurievskoe area not far away from Kostroma, between the holy well of St Simeon Yurievsky, who lived here in the XVI century and the village of Elnat. When it was time for Alexey to find a wife, he found a then seemingly pious young girl, but when time came for the engagement, all the relations were broken off – the girl turned out to be too attached to the world of unhealthy and free habits, which were so evident in the youth of those days. After the split, he spent a year living in the Krivoezersk pustyn, which was on the left bank of the Volga river right across from Yuriev, and right after he returned home he started living in a cell apart from his parents.

After the 1917 revolution, people of his town chose him as the head of the local government; however, at no point did Alexey change his habits-he still prayed a lot and attended the church services. Nevertheless, in one year someone else was chosen to lead the local government; thus Alexey Ivanovich left the position and almost everything that tied him to the sinful world.

In 1928 he became a fool for Christ. From then on, he lived anywhere he could find a roof over his head, dressed in used clothes that people would throw away; nobody knew where he was spending a night, thus his appearance in the village was always a surprise. One time he would start walking through the fields in the middle of the working season measuring them with a wooden stick and not letting people finish their work—the workers would laugh at him, but would not pay attention and keep working—being angry with him they will send him away, the fool for Christ would leave, but would keep coming back and repeat everything again. A year had passed and those fields were given under the authority of one government official who acted and behaved in the same manner Alexey Ivanovich showed them.

At that time nobody from the working class knew that the government could come in and send one away from his home without an evident reason or motive-and Alexey even back then was walking through the villages saying who would be sent away. It used to be that he would come into a certain village, choose a house and will start measuring it. Surrounding people would stop and laugh at him; but time would pass, and the head of that household would be arrested and given the same amount of years in prison as fool for Christ had told him time ago.

The other time Alexey Ivanovich came over to sister Anna and not saying a word started to pack things, walking from room to room, as if looking for something, he was collecting different things and kept putting them on the kitchen table-and when the table was full he took his hat and ran away. Anna then thought to herself that it was a sign to keep those things apart from everything else and hid them away-and indeed, people from the “government” came over and took all of her belongings. All she had left were the “hidden” things.

One time Alexey entered the church during the service with his hat on and a cigarette in his mouth; he walked through the church with his hands in the back not paying attention to anybody. The members were speechless, but time had passed and the government closed that church. Now impious workers were walking around the church in hats with cigarettes-the fumes were everywhere in the desecrated church-the government was making a club out of it.

The fool for Christ always wore the same clothing, a kaftan, and if people gave him new clothes, he gave it to the poor right away. Several times the government arrested Alexey Ivanovich and would send him to the Kostroma psychiatric hospital, but every time the doctors declared him sane and let him go.

The year 1937 started. People were being arrested. Alexey Ivanovich knew that this time he will not avoid arrest and would not be able to leave the prison. So, he gathered his little belongings in a small bag and went to his home village, Kaurchiha, to say goodbye to his relatives. His sister asked him.

- So Alexey Ivanovich, are you come to stay with us to live for long?

He did not answer anything, took his things out of the bag and told whom to give what. In the morning Alexey Ivanovich said goodbye and went to Parfenovo. People were already waiting for him already there.

He was placed in the Kineshma prison right with the criminals in a cell. The fool for Christ prayed mornings and nights. Nobody knew when he slept and ate, and the small meal that he did get he would give to the people around him. Authorities had nothing with which to blame him, so eventually they would use torture to make Alexey talk and somehow implicate himself. They would put his bare feet on a hot stove. Very quickly everyone in prison heard about him, so the prison’s director visited him during one of the above mentioned tortures.

- Everybody says you are a saint,- said the principal,-what would you say?

- What kind of saint am I, I’m a sinner

- This is right. In our country we do not imprison saints, saints do not commit criminal deeds, and if one is imprisoned, that means there was a reason for that. What are you in here for?

- God wanted it, the Fool for Christ piously answered.

Then there was silence that Alexey Ivanovich broke himself:

- What are you talking to me for, when you have sorrow in your own house?

The prison principal did not rush home that moment. However, when he got home in the evening he saw his wife had hung herself.

For a little more than a month the Fool for Christ was in his cell. Tired from the tortures, he managed to be moved into the prison’s hospital and died soon thereafter. On the 13th day his body was given to the relatives. He was buried on one of the cemeteries of the town of Kineshma. Later the government returned the cemetery, so when he was being repositioned to a new place on 12/25 of September 1985, his holy bones were found to be partially incorrupt.

In August of 1993 Patriarch of Moscow and all of Russia Alexey II blessed the local glorification of the saint, and in August of 2000, the martyr was added to the list of the Holy New Martyrs for glorification throughout all of Russia.

O Holy Newmartyr Alexey, pray unto God for us !

The life of the Holy Newmartyr Alexey was translated from Russian by Natalia Gregoire, and edited by Father Basil Grisel.

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