Joasaph (Udalov) of Chistopol

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The hieromartyr His Grace Joasaph (Udalov) of Chistopol was a vicar bishop of the Eparchy of Kazan of the Church of Russia. He served during the episcopate of Metropolitan Cyril (Smirnov) of Kazan following the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in the early twentieth century and frequently was the "undeclared administrator of the whole of the Kazan, Mari and Chuvash regions" when Metr. Cyril was in exile. Bishop Joasaph firmly opposed attempts to impose the renovationist church upon the Kazan region.


John Ioannovich (Ivan Ivanovich) Udalov was born on April 5, 1886 in the city of Ufa, Russia into a pious family of a watchmaker. His education included studies at the Ufa theological school from which he graduated in 1900 and the Ufa theological seminary, graduating in 1906. John then entered the Kazan Theological Academy in August, 1906 and graduated in 1910 with the degree of candidate of theology.

On August 2, 1910, John was tonsured a monk at the Monastery of the Theophany in Zhitomir by Archbishop Anthony (Khrapovitsky) of Volhynia and Zhitomir with the name Joasaph. The next day he was ordained a deacon by Bishop Gabriel of Ostrog, the vicar-bishop of the diocese. On August 14, 1910, Dcn. Joasaph was appointed by the Holy Synod as a teacher in the Zhitomir John of Kronstadt pastoral school. In the same year of 1910 Dcn. Joasaph was ordained to the priesthood by Abp. Anthony, who was influential in Fr. Joasaph's rise in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, although his righteous life and firm confession of the Orthodox Faith helped even more.

During the Autumn of 1911 Fr. Joasaph was appointed assistant inspector of the Kazan Theological Academy at the request of its rector, Bishop Alexis (Dorodnitsyn). At the Academy he was appointed president of the Council of missionary courses and worked in the Tatar mission and with the Edinoverie. On July 11, 1912, he was appointed by the Holy Synod as acting superior of the Kazan Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery with the rank of igumen. With his fine mind, administrative flair, and ability to get along with all kinds of people, the young igumen soon brought the community to a flourishing state. At the monastery, he began building a chapel in the Old Russian style over the relics of St. Ephraim, metropolitan of Kazan. The chapel, however, was destroyed in 1972, during the Soviet era, to make way for a garage. In 1915, Fr. Joasaph was raised to the rank of archimandrite and appointed president of the Pedagogical Council and the Economic committee of the Kazan missionary courses at the academy.

As 1918 began ecclesiastical life in Kazan changed radically following the Bolshevik takeover of the government of Russia. By September 1918, Bolshevik forces had conquered Kazan. Metropolitan James (Pyatnitsky) of Kazan, also Jacob, and Bishop Boris (Shipulin) had followed the White Army in retreat, and Bishop Anatolius of Chistopol, the rector of the Academy, had gone to Moscow to attend the All-Russian Local Council, leaving the city without any bishops. Additionally, almost all the members of the diocesan council were out of the city. It fell upon Archimandrite Joasaph to take on the administration of the Kazan diocese alone in an environment where the majority of the churches were closed because of the departure of a significant proportion of the parish clergy and as arrests and shooting were taking place everywhere. On September 20, a Red Army commander burst into the altar at the Spassky monastery in the Kazan Kremlin while Archim. Joasaph was celebrating the Liturgy and declared that the Kremlin was to be closed to the public and declared a military citadel. The Red authorities, with restrictions, allowed Archim. Joasaph to remove the most venerated holy objects from the Kremlin churches. With the help of the nuns of the Monastery of the Mother of God, these holy objects were moved in a silent procession to the Kazan monastery, and the Kremlin churches were closed on September 22 as the Bolsheviks began looting the churches in the Kremlin and shooting several priests in the Kazan region.

As news of these shootings was reported, Archim. Joasaph inscribed the martyrs' names into the martyrologies and diptychs, actions that were confirmed by Bp. Anatolius, who returned to Kazan on September 26 and took over the leadership of the diocese. Later, the Kazan Kremlin was reopened to the public when Kolchak's army relieved pressure on Kazan. Archim. Joasaph led the restoration of the churches and served the first service in the cathedral on April 7, 1920. Also in April, Patriarch Tikhon, upon learning that Metr. James was not returning to Kazan, appointed Bp. Cyril (Smirnov) as Metropolitan of Kazan. On July 12, Archim. Joasaph was consecrated Bishop of Mamadysh, a vicariate of the Kazan diocese, by Metr. Cyril and Bp. Peter (Zverev) of Balakhinsk. While remaining the abbot of the Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery, Bp. Joasaph was appointed to live in the Kizichesky Monastery.

On August 6, Metr. Cyril was arrested by the Bolsheviks in Kazan and taken to Moscow, leaving Bps. Anatolius and Joasaph to lead the Orthodox in the Kazan. On November 8, 1920, they consecrated Archimandrite Athanasius (Malinin), who was a lecturer in the Kazan Theological Academy, as Bishop of Cheboksary and vicar of the Eparchy of Kazan.

In the spring of 1921 the Cheka learned that the Theological Academy was still functioning under the guise of theological courses. This resulted in the arrest of Bp. Anatolius, the rector of the Academy, and all the professors on the charge of organizing an unlawful academic organization. While the professors were soon freed, Bp. Anatolius remained in prison in Moscow. With the imprisonment of Bp. Anatolius, Bp. Joasaph was again in charge of the Kazan diocese.

With the agreement of Metr. Cyril, with whom Bp. Joasaph maintained contact in the Taganka prison. He and Bp. Athanasius proceeded to consecrate Archimandrite Andronicus of the Seven Lakes Hermitage to the episcopate and transferred him to the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner in Kazan. In November, Bp. Joasaph obtained permission from the Bolshevik authorities to reopen the Kazan Theological Academy under the rectorship of Professor Protopriest Nicholas Petrov, the superior of the church of St. Barbara. The academy continued in existence for two years until Bp. Joasaph's exile from Kazan in 1924.

In early 1922, Bps. Joasaph and Athanasius greeted Metr. Cyril who had been released from prison on his return to Kazan. In April 1922, Bp. Joasaph was confronted with the requisitioning by the Bolsheviks of the valuables in the Kazan churches. He was able to save many ancient and valuable pieces of church property from the Spassky monastery, but not the royal doors made of silver. In 1922, in connection with the confiscation of church valuables, 24 clergy of all ranks were killed by the Bolsheviks in Kazan province.

On July 12, 1922, Bp. Joasaph was appointed Bishop of Chistopol, also a vicariate of the Kazan diocese.

After Metr. Cyril was exiled to Ust-Sysolsk on August 21, representatives of the renovationist schism came to Kazan. Initially, Bp. Joasaph did not stop the renovationists E. Sosuntsov and S. Spirin from joining the diocesan council on October 1, hoping to overcome their "differences". However, Bp. Joasaph's attitude soon changed. "Archbishop" Alexis (Bazhenov) arrived in Kazan on Great Thursday, April 5, 1923 to take the place of the exiled Metr. Cyril. Alexis first occupied the metropolitan's residence, then set off for the winter church of the Monastery of the Mother of God. There he stood in the altar to the left of the royal doors. Bp. Joasaph, who was celebrating the Liturgy and the washing of feet on that day, entered the church at "Glory...", vested and went into the altar during the little entrance. There, he saw Alexis for the first time. Bp. Joasaph continued to serve the Liturgy, censing Alexis at the appropriate times as a hierarch. During the singing of the communion verse, Alexis approached Bp. Joasaph, called himself Archbishop of Kazan and Svyazhsk, and asked whether he would serve with him. Bp. Joasaph categorically refused, pointing out that an appointment of a new hierarch in the place of the still-living Metr. Cyril contradicted the church canons. Then, he asserted, that as an Orthodox bishop and vicar of the Kazan diocese, who was in obedience to Patr. Tikhon and Metr. Cyril, he considered such a decision of the renovationist authorities to be uncanonical. The firmness of Bp. Joasaph assertion made a strong impression on Alexis, who had expected nothing of the sort. In the meanwhile, Protopriest N.M. Vinogradov and other priests of the Kazan monastery went up to seek the blessing of "Archbishop" Alexis. Most of the parish priests then recognized Alexis.

That evening the renovationist archbishop was already reading the twelve Gospels in the monastery, while Bp. Joasaph served the all-night vigil in the Vladimir cathedral, where Fr. Peter Grachev had immediately invited him. After Pascha, the Orthodox Bishops Joasaph and Athanasius were already serving in secret, commemorating Patr. Tikhon and Metr. Cyril. After Bp. Joasaph left the diocesan council, it became completely renovationist, and reports were immediately sent to the GPU denouncing him as an "old churchman, counter- revolutionary and ardent Tikhonite", who was not only anti-renovationist but also anti-Soviet.

Only two churches remained faithful to Orthodoxy in Kazan, that is the Pokrov church, served by Fr. Alexander Gavrilov, and the Peter and Paul cathedral, served by Fr. Alexander's father-in-law, the Protopriest Andrew Bogolyubov, and a number of monastics of the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner, the Raifa and Seven Lakes Hermitages, the St. Theodore convent, and the Sviyazhsk Monastery. In contrast with the parish clergy, the laity of Kazan refused to recognize Alexis.

Contention escalated. The whole city became filled with notices stuck to houses and telegraph poles declaring that Alexis was a wolf in sheep's clothing and appealing to the citizens of Kazan not to accept him. Alexis soon complained to his "Metropolitan" Eudocimus of his treatment by Bps. Joasaph and Athanasius and the laity, as well as the lack of support by the Soviet authorities. After the renovationist diocesan council petitioned the authorities for the removal of a number of clergy, the authorities responded by arresting them on [[June 14] for writing and spreading anti-renovationist proclamations and for maintaining links with Metr. Cyril in Ust-Sysolsk, while noting alleged counter revolutionary intrigues by Archbishop Joasaph. The use of the title archbishop for Bp. Joasaph in their report showed how great was his authority among the believers.

The victory of the Orthodox over the renovationists in the Kazan region was in large part due to the leadership of Bp. Joasaph. It was through Bp. Joasaph's exhortations and sermons that Protopriest Theophanes returned almost the whole of the city of Yelabuga (his native town, where his father was protopriest in the Pokrov church) from renovationism to Orthodoxy. And, when Bp. Andronicus was summoned to the renovationist diocesan council to explain his refusal to accept them, he said, "I don't want to separate from Bishop Joasaph." The position of the renovationists was also weakened when Patr. Tikhon was released from prison and issued his anathema against them in July.

On July 17, 1923, an assembly of all the believers of the parish churches of Kazan was held in the main cathedral. It was organized by the zealots of Orthodoxy, led by the Academy Professor Plato Ivanovich Ivanov of the Academy and the lawyer Alexander Sergeyevich Kozhevnikov, who were trusted followers of Bp. Joasaph. The meeting resolved that, "The community considers that the only lawful, canonical authority in the Kazan diocese is the deputy of Metr. Cyril, Bp. Joasaph of Chistopol..."

After working out a rite of repentance for those returning from the renovationist heresy to Orthodoxy, Bp. Joasaph served the first open service in the Spaso-Preobrazhensky monastery together with the clergy who had been faithful to Orthodoxy during the persecution. Also, services were served by Bp. Athanasius in the Theophany church and Bp. Andronicus in the monastery of St. John the Forerunner.

During the next several days almost all the renovationist clergy offered repentance for their sin and were received back into the Church by Bp. Joasaph. Bp. Joasaph served, at the insistence of the laity, a lesser blessing of the waters in those churches that had been defiled by the services of "Archbishop" Alexis. When the main cathedral was blessed, the people rejoiced and wept. Alexis immediately complained to the GPU. The local GPU, annoyed at the defeat of the renovationists but without clear instructions from the Moscow authorities, arrested Plato Ivanov and Alexander Kozhevnikov on the basis of denunciations by secret GPU agents who had been present at the parochial assembly.

Bp. Joasaph was in the difficult position of explaining his own position to the GPU after Patr. Tikhon had repented of his previous anti-Soviet activities. After all, it was said, if the Patriarch had repented, then his followers should also repent. Bp. Joasaph also wanted to help bring about the release of Ivanov and Kozhevnikov. So he composed an "address to the clergy and laity of the Kazan diocese", in which he said, "Insofar as I, as a religious follower of Patriarch Tikhon, in the conditions of life in our diocese in recent times have, by force of circumstances, been linked to the concept of 'Tikhonism', I shall with all the strength of my moral authority stand on guard for the practical realization of the [apolitical] direction of church activity that I have mentioned above". This satisfied the GPU, and within a month Ivanov and Kovezhnikov were released.

On September 15, 1923, Bp. Joasaph's signed a statement for the authorities that he would not leave the territory of Kazan. But this restriction did not prevent him blessing monks and nuns from the Kazan monasteries to go to the villages with sermons against the renovationist heresy. He also sent to Patr. Tikhon a list of clergy and monastics, petitioning that they be awarded for "firmly witnessing their devotion to the Orthodox Church".

However, oppression soon returned. By the end of November Archim. Pitirim, Hieromonks John and Theophanes, and Hierodeacon Seraphim were again arrested and sent to Solovki for three years. Further in January, 1924, Plato Ivanov and Protopriest Alexander Gavrilov of the Georgian church were exiled to Tashkent and, in March, Alexander Kozhevnikov was imprisoned in the Taganka prison in Moscow.

Also, the GPU intercepted correspondence from Patr. Tikhon to Bp. Joasaph in December 1923 about awards for which he had asked and other administrative matters and thus banned Bp. Joasaph from serving on the basis that "although he does not have permission from the civil authorities to organize a diocesan administration, he in fact rules the diocese". Thus, now nominal administration of the diocese passed to Bp. Athanasius, although Bp. Joasaph continued to serve in secret and remained at the helm of the diocese. However, the GPU forbade Bp. Athanasius to perform any ordinations.

At the end of February, 1924, "Archbishop" Alexis consecrated two married priests as "Bishops" of Chistopol and Cheboksary, the sees occupied by Bps. Joasaph and Athanasius. On the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 29, Bps. Joasaph and Athanasius, accompanied by a host of priests, deacons, and laity, delivered anathema to the false new bishops in the Monastery of St. John the Forerunner. By April 5, Tuchkov himself had been informed of the news of their actions and, on May 3, 1924, Bp. Joasaph was summoned to the GPU.

After defending himself before the GPU, stating that his actions were ecclesiastical, not political, Bp. Joasaph was called to Moscow by the authorities on May 12, 1924. Upon his arrival in Moscow he immediately visited Patr. Tikhon, whom he had not met before. On May 29, he presented himself to the GPU. The next day he was cast into Butyrki prison. Not finding anything of which to accuse him, he was released on May 6 after obtaining his signature on a document that declared he would not leave the city. He went to live in the Danilov Monastery.

On April 25, 1925, Bp. Joasaph signed an act that transferred the leadership of the Church to Metr. Peter. In Moscow, Bp. Joasaph became the trusted representative of Metr. Peter and locum tenens of the patriarchal throne while living in the Danilov monastery. He took part in Metr. Peter's negotiations with the authorities concerning the organization of a Holy Synod, and warned him in good time about the so-called Gregorian bishops. In the autumn of 1925, he composed a declaration concerning the relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Soviet State. On December 1, 1925 Bp. Joasaph was arrested in the Danilov monastery in connection with the affair of Metr. Peter and was interned in the inner prison of the OGPU. On June 3, 1926, he was exiled to Turukhansk by the OGPU for three years, arriving there in August.

After Metr. Sergius published his notorious declaration in July, 1927, Bp. Joasaph actively opposed him, resulting in his being retired by Sergius. In August, 1927 Bp. Joasaph renewed his correspondence with Metr. Cyril, who was living in the same region. Returning from his three-year exile in the summer of 1929, Bp. Joasaph stopped for two months in Yeniseisk. There he chose the town of Kozmodemyansk in the Mari republic when he was ordered to live in one fixed domicile. While living in Kozmodemyansk, Bp. Joasaph continued his ties with Kazan, especially with the nuns living there.

In August, 1930, began the first arrests of people for belonging to the anti-Sergius Church. On December 1, 1930, Bp. Joasaph was arrested with a group of churchmen and cast into the OGPU isolator in Kazan for further interrogation. During the interrogations, Bp. Joasaph stated the ecclesiastical arguments concerning the rights of the duly designated locum tenens, Metrs. Cyril and Peter, in regards Metr. Sergius' usurpation of rights that did not belong to him.

On January 18, 1932, Bp. Joasaph was convicted of “heading and being in de facto control of the Kazan church-monarchist organization, remaining an active worker in it after its transformation into a branch of the All-Union center of the counter-revolutionary monarchist organization, the True Orthodox Church”. He was then sentenced to three years in the camps. He was sent to the Osinnikov section of Siblag, the mines of Aralichev near Kemerovo (Kuznetsk basin), where he was tortured, several times shorn, and had to drag wheelbarrows full of coal for several years. On February 10, 1934, two years were added to his sentence for supposedly participating in a "church-monarchical group" in the camp.

In 1936, Bp. Joasaph returned to Kazan from the camps and lived in the outskirts of the city with his sick mother. On November 30, 1937, Bp. Joasaph was arrested at the bedside of his dying mother for "organizing a counter-revolutionary church underground". On December 12, Bp. Joasaph and Fr. Nicholas Troitsky were condemned to execution by shooting. On December 15, 1937, Bp. Joasaph was shot in Kazan on the feast of St. Joasaph, the prince of India.

Succession box:
Joasaph (Udalov) of Chistopol
Preceded by:
Bishop of Mamadysh
Vicar of Kazan

1920 - 1922
Succeeded by:
Preceded by:
Bishop of Chistopol
Vicar of Kazan

1922 - 1937
Succeeded by:
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