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Over Thirty Thousand New Martyrs and Confessors of Rus

Given the captivity of the Church inside Russia during the Soviet period, in 1981 the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR) heroically canonized the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia. In return for her courage, she received words of condemnation and hatred from other, especially from politicized fragments of ex-Russian groups in North America and Western Europe and their followers. However, much more importantly, she also received the gratitude of those inside Russia, who had requested this action, knowing that it alone would lift the Soviet curse, which indeed it did, bringing the downfall of Soviet tyranny, the baptism of tens of millions and changing the course of world history.

By 1981 ROCOR had gathered a list of some 8,000 New Martyrs and Confessors. This figure approximately corresponded to the combined total of the 8,000 parishes and monasteries of the two parts of the Russian Church at that time. However, in Moscow, where once secret archives have been opened and are being studied, it was announced by St Tikhon’s Orthodox University of the Humanities (STOUH) on 24 September that the official list is now over 30,000, and of course growing every month. The other extraordinary fact is that the number of churches and monasteries in Russia has grown as the list of New Martyrs and Confessors has grown, proving the saying of St Cyprian of Carthage in the third century: ‘The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church’.

Thus, in December 2006 the Patriarchate had 27, 393 parishes, 335 monasteries, 373 convents and 389 monastic dependencies and hermitages. However, on 17 May 2007 the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia entered into communion with the Church inside Russia, seeing in the New Martyrs and Confessors ‘a spiritual bridge which has been raised up over the chasm of division, making the restoration of unity possible’. Therefore, to the above figures must be added the 400 parishes and 20 monastic foundations of ROCOR, scattered over forty countries around the world, making a total of 29, 910 parishes and monastic establishments. Together with the many parishes, monasteries and convents opened since December 2006 (at a rate of about three a day), it can therefore be concluded that the correlation between the numbers of New Martyrs and Confessors and the number of parishes and monastic foundations remains symmetrical, a pattern that has existed since 1981.

Fr Andrew

Sts Sergius and Herman of Valaam
11/24 September 2007

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