[[Image:Rits.JPG|frame|left|October 13, 1934 front page of Latvian newspaper "Rīts" (English: "Morning"), reporting the martyrdom of St. John of Riga]]
St. John was martyred brutally in the night of [[October 12]], 1934, at the archbishop's residence at Kish Lake (Latvian: Ķīšezers) outside Riga's city center. Although his assassins were never apprehended, they have widely been assumed to be agents of the Bolshevik regime in neighboring Soviet Russia, whose persecutions of the Orthodox Church the saint had already suffered earlier during a turbulent period of service as Archbishop of Penza and Saransk (1918-1921). Earlier still, he served as vicar Bishop of Slutsk (1911-1912) in the Diocese of Minsk, vicar Bishop of Taganrog and Priazovye (1913-1917) in the Diocese of Ekaterinburg and briefly as vicar Bishop of Staritski (1917) in the Diocese of Tver.
In 1921, the year St. John returned to Latvia, St. [[Tikhon of Moscow]], then Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church, granted independence to the Latvian Orthodox Church. Therefore St. John became the first Latvian [[archbishop]]. Jurisdictional difficulties followed his martyrdom, lasting from 1936 to 1940, and the suffering of the Latvian Orthodox Church increased again during Latvia's Soviet occupation, which lasted from the Second World War until 1991. In 1992, the Latvian Orthodox Church became semi-autonomous, with a high degree of independence but lacking autocephaly. Thus, the contemporary pastoral successor to St. John of Riga bears the title [[Metropolitan]].