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On Sunday 5 February 2006, the Feast of the Holy New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, the renowned Elder, Fr John Krestyankin, reposed at the Pskov Caves Monastery, passing away only a few minutes after taking holy communion.

Born in Oriol in 1910, John was the eighth child of a devout family. As a ten-year old he fell under the influence of the Elder George (Kosov), a spiritual child of St Ambrose of Optina. He was also influenced by the future Hieromartyr, Archbishop Seraphim (Ostroumov), the holy Eldress Vera (Loginova) and the Oriol fool-for Christ Athanasius (Saiko).

Brought up in the ?hurch during the years of fierce persecution, in 1945 John was first ordained deacon and then priest. In 1950 he was arrested by the atheist Communists and from 1950 to 1957 he served a sentence for his priestly zeal in a concentration camp. After his release he came under the influence of the last Optina Elder, Abbot John (Sokolov), and his spiritual father was the renowned Glinsk Elder, Fr Seraphim (Romantsov). In 1966 Fr John became a hieromonk and in 1967 entered the Pskov Caves Monastery. He was influenced by the many holy Elders there and also the last Elders of Valaam.

Fr John was famed for his spiritual writings and collections of letters. In particular he opposed the currents of sectarianism and of 'Neo-Renovationism' (as Patriarch Alexis II himself called it). This latter was the modernism of such individuals as Fr George Kochetkov and laymen like S.S. Averintsev. This current is extremely strong in the Moscow Patriarchate in England, where Fr George Kochetkov has recently been present. No doubt this is because the sense of the Russian Orthodox Tradition is very weak in the largely Protestantized Russian Church in England, at least outside the spiritual jurisdiction of Archbishop Anatoly and of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

Fortunately, this modernism has little influence in Russia itself, thanks to upholders of the Orthodox Tradition like Fr John. Fr John was also the spiritual father of Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), who is known to have influence on President Putin and who is also active in the attempts of the Moscow Patriarchate to re-enter communion with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia.

A loving, joyful and clairvoyant Elder, Fr John's departure is a loss for the whole Russian Church on earth, but not in heaven. For it is no coincidence that he reposed on the day when the whole Russian Church commemorates the New Martyrs and Confessors, of Whom he is surely one. He will remain in memories as a wise Elder, a strict monk, zealous in prayer and fasting, who gave his profound and life-changing spiritual counsels to thousands, warming their hearts with his love:

To Archimandrite John Eternal Memory!

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