Andronik (Nikolsky) of Perm

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Our father among the saints Andronik (Nikolsky) was a bishop in the Church of Russia during the closing years of the Russian Empire and into the early years of the Bolshevik regime. He was among the many New Martyrs and Confessors of the Bolshevik years.

St. Andronik was born Vladimir Nikolsky on August 1, 1870 in Povodnevo, a village in Myshkin uyezd, Yaroslavl diocese. His father was a deacon. After he finished his studies at the Yaroslavl Seminary in 1891, he entered the Moscow Theological Academy. On August 1, 1893, during his studies in Moscow he was tonsured a monk and given the name of Andronic. On July 22, 1895 he was ordained a priest.

After graduation, he was assigned as inspector and instructor, first, to the theological seminary of Kutaisi in the Caucasus and, then, at the seminary at Ardon .

In 1897, he was assigned as a member of the Russian Orthodox mission to Japan, under Bishop Nicholas (Kasatkin) later St. Nicholas of Japan, to assist Nicholas in his missionary work that he began in 1861. Hiermonk Andronik was very surprised by this assignment and felt inadequate for the position, but ultimately he accepted it as God's will. His journey began in St. Petersburg on September 21, 1897 and then continued from Odessa with Archimandrite Sergius (Stragorodsky) on October 26. traveling through European countries and the U.S.A then on to Japan. They arrived in Japan on December 26. He wrote and published a book about this journey, A Missionary Journey to Japan, Kazan, 1899.

On November 5, 1906, Andronik was consecrated Bishop of Kyoto and assistant to Bishop Nicholas. He was the first bishop of Kyoto, which is the seat of the West Japan diocese of the Orthodox Church of Japan. Although Bishop Andronik was the bishop of Kyoto, he lived in Osaka which, while it then was the second largest city in Japan, was also the area where most Orthodox faithful lived. Osaka is a short distance from Kyoto. After he arrived in Osaka he began to feel ill and found performing his duties difficult. After serving in Osaka for three months he asked leave to resign and to depart from Japan. On May 27, 1907, he left Japan and returned to Russia. There he was assigned on October 26 to be the deputy to Bishop Eulogius of Kholm. In 1908, he was assigned as bishop of Tikhvin in Novgorod diocese.

Bishop Andronik was a firm supporter of the Tsar. From his point of view it was God's will to let him reign over the empire, hence an appropriate way for Christians. But this didn't mean he supported tyranny. The Tsar should listen to his people. The monarch and the people both should be at peace.

On July 30, 1914, he was appointed bishop of Perm and Solikamsk. Eleven days before, on July 19, World War I began. As the war progressed he worked energetically for one and a half million inhabitants and 570 churches in this region. In summer 1916 he travelled to the army headquarters outside St. Petersburg where Tsar Nicholas II was leading the army. The purpose of this trip was to warn the Tsar about Rasputin. However, the Tsar would not take him seriously and his trip failed. But Nicholas II was pleased with the gift Bishop Andronik gave him on behalf of his people, a pair of soldier's boots like those the province of Perm provided the army.

In 1917, he became Bishop of Perm and Kungur and became one of the seven hierarchs in the pre-conciliar council of the Local Council of the Russian Church in Moscow. He was very active throughout the council, from August 1917 until April 1918, which was the end of the second session of the Council. As the agitation of the Bolshevik take-over intensified on January 25, 1918, Bishop Adronik made a written appeal to the faithful to defend the heritage of the Church from the aggressors and looters, as attacks became more frequent. In February, Bolsheviks in the Perm region started to loot churches and monasteries. After the second session of the Council ended, Andronik returned to Perm. Patriarch Tikhon had raised him to the rank of archbishop on April 12, Palm Sunday. On Holy Thursday, April 16, the Bolsheviks carried out a search of his residence. He remained calm and continued the Holy Week services and that of Pascha.

The Bolshevik authorities increased pressure on the church in the following weeks. Finally Abp. Andronik was arrested at midnight on July 17. Clergy in Perm went on strike from the night he was arrested until July 26, halting all divine services in the region except baptism and the last rites for the dying. But, on July 7 1918, Abp. Andronik was martyred: he was buried alive and shot. In 2000, the Church of Russia glorified him as Hieromartyr Andronik, Archbishop Of Perm, one of Russia’s New Martyrs and Confessors.