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May 21, 2012

11 New Martyrs of Estonia Canonized

It was with great emotion in Estonia that the decision of 22 February 2012 by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the canonization of eleven clergy and laity of the Orthodox Church of Estonia was accepted.

His Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in a letter to the Metropolitan of Tallinn and All Estonia Stephanos, accepted the recommendation for recognition "of those who died in prison as martyrs" among the Estonian Orthodox, and are numbered with the saints and the martyrs of the Church. These seven priests, a presvytera and three laymen who confessed Christ before the Soviet prosecutors who ruled Estonia and were martyred in prison and exile, suffered martyrdom for the Orthodox faith between the period 1940-41.

This is the second decision of canonization for the Orthodox Church of Estonia by the Patriarchal Synod, which decision is really grounded in the blood of the new martyrs. By the same decision their memory will be honored and celebrated by the faithful on June 14th annually "with hymns of praise".

The Estonian Orthodox Church prepares to celebrate the festive canonization of the new martyrs on Thursday, June 14th with a Synodal Divine Liturgy in the Metropolitan Church of Saints Symeon and Anna.

The Church of Estonia

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos

It should be further told that an Estonian priest, Fr. Andreas Põld, is credited with discovering these new martyrs after researching their life stories in the archives of old newspapers and from the memories of those who knew them, which lasted for years. Unfortunately the published material is not clear about the fate of all eleven new martyrs; some were executed, some died in prison, while others were deported, but there is not sufficient clarity.

The names of the new martyrs are as follows:

Priests - Vassili Ristkok, Johannes Kraav, Joann Sergejev, Arteemi Vapper and Nikolai Leisman;

Deacons - Vassili Astanin and Peeter Koslov;

Presvytera - Marta Leisman;

Laypeople - Joann Lagovski, Theodor Petai and Anna Petai.