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July 22, 2020

Holy New Hieromartyr Michael Nakaryakov (+ 1918)

St. Michael Nakaryakov (Feast Day - July 22)

The early life of Father Michael Nakaryakov is unknown to us, but he was born in 1866. He served in the Transfiguration Cathedral of the village (now the city) Usolye as the third priest. His main service was the fulfillment of the following requirements: baptism of newborns, weddings of young couples, funeral services for the dead, prayers for the needs of the people of the village and nearby villages. He was loved by the parishioners more than the other priests for his mercy and non-acquisitive lifestyle. He made great efforts to educate poor children from working families in the Law of God. He was involved in fundraising for gifts to the poor for the holidays. On Easter, Father Michael went around to the houses of the poor and distributed money, sometimes saying: "This is for shoes", "This is for gifts to children." He himself was married with children.

On July 20, 1918, Father Michael Nakaryakov, as a respected and beloved priest by the people, was summoned to the Cheka (secret police) of Usolye in connection with popular unrest which began to spread when the services (baptisms, weddings, funerals) were stopped in churches. The reason for this was the arrest of the ruling bishop of the Perm diocese, Archbishop Andronik (Nikolsky) of Perm and Kungur, who forbade serving so that the people would demand for the release of the clergy from prisons. When the Cheka ordered for Father Michael to fulfill the requirements to calm the rioters, he replied: "I swore an oath before the Cross at my ordination - to obey my bishop. And until he gives the order, I will not serve. Let him go, and then I will perform services." For this refusal, the priest Michael Nakaryakov was sentenced to death.

On the evening of July 20, 1918, three prisoners were taken to be executed - a doctor, an officer and Father Michael. When Father Michael was being taken to his execution, one of the soldiers, some of whom were local peasants, whispered to the priest: “Father, we are taking you to be shot, but we feel sorry for you. We all remember you, you taught us, helped our families. We cannot kill you. We will shoot into the air, and you will fall." “No, what your superiors ordered to do with me, do it,” Father Michael replied.

They arrived at the place of execution in the forest. The doctor and the officer were immediately shot. The soldiers then took Father Michael into the depths of the forest and began to shoot over his head. The priest stood opposite the Red Army men, who were once his parishioners, and was silent. Then one of the soldiers approached Father Michael and hit him closely and with such force with the butt of the rifle that the priest lost consciousness. When he woke up, he saw it was getting dark, some shadows flickering ahead. He went straight towards the shadows and came across the corpses of the doctor and the officer, and nearby the Red Army men were sitting down on a cart. The priest began to read the funeral prayers.

“The priest is still alive!” said one of the soldiers, and in the darkness fired several times at random. The bullets hit the priest's right arm, left leg and chest. The next day, the Red Army soldiers were sent to bury the corpses. They drove up and saw Father Michael sitting on a tree stump. "Father, are you alive? How are we going to bury you alive? Well, okay, maybe it'll be okay, we'll take you out of here." They dug a grave, covered the bodies of the executed with earth, and Father Michael was taken to the cart. But it was dangerous to carry a priest who was sentenced to be shot to death and was not shot death, bleeding to death through the village, and, wishing to get rid of him as soon as possible, the Red Army men asked: "Father, tell us where to hide you?" “Don’t hide me,” he replied calmly.

In the meantime, they drove into the village, and began to ask the residents to shelter the priest. But the horror of the activities of the punitive Bolshevik detachments was so great that none of the peasants dared to provide shelter to the wounded. They went to the house of the parish priest, but he, seeing from afar the Red Army men and the wounded priest, waved his hands, making signs that they should pass by as soon as possible. The soldiers then asked that one of the residents at least bandage the wounds. But none of the cowardly people came, for they could not shake themselves out from the horror that the Bolsheviks brought everywhere, or maybe they did not believe in the sincerity of the Red Army, but no one agreed to provide the priest with shelter and bandage his wounds. They went further. In a neighboring village, a woman gave Father Michael fresh milk, but refused to shelter him, and the convoy took him further, and so they brought him back to prison. He was placed in a cell together with a white officer Ponomarev, and the priest told him about everything that had happened to him, and added: "“Know that if they take me away and say that I’m going to work, it means they’ll take me to execution."

Indeed, the next day, June 22, the prison guards announced to Father Michael and the officer to get ready for work. Mindful of the priest's words, Ponomarev prepared himself for the worst. They were taken out into the yard. One of the guards hit the priest on the head with a rifle butt - lightly, the second hit him on the other side, and they beat him in turn until he was killed. Consumed by the murder of Father Michael, the executioners forgot about the officer. Meanwhile, he climbed over the fence, threw himself into the Usolka River and hid behind the pile of the bridge. Finding him to be absent, the guards rushed in search, but it did not lead to anything. Ponomarev saw how the Red Army men dragged the priest's body to the river bank, tied a large stone to it, swung it and threw it into the water.

The next day, the women came ashore to rinse their linen. In the middle of the river, with arms outstretched in a cruciform manner, with a cross on his chest, lay a tortured priest from the day before. The women shouted, people began to run from everywhere, and the news quickly reached the Chekists. A horse was brought up to the river, the Red Army men fished the priest's body out of the water, put it on a cart and drove it out of the city. The miracle was obvious, and a crowd of people followed the rolling cart. The Red Army men tried to drive away the people by swearing or threats, but this did not help, and they began to shoot over their heads, but the people continued to walk. They shot at the crowd, wounded some, and then only did the people stop.

Father Michael's wife heard about everything and mourned. She spoke in detail about everything to the parishioners. A few days later, the authorities warned her: "If you talk about your husband, you will go there yourself."

The veneration of Father Michael Nakaryakov as a holy martyr began with Bishop Theophanes (Ilmensky), who, after the assassination of Archbishop Andronik (Nikolsky), headed the Perm diocese. Bishop Theophanes (Ilmensky) celebrated an all-night vigil service in Perm, at which he remembered Father Michael as a holy martyr: "for whom not only we pray, but that he also pray for us before God."

After the all-night vigil, Bishop Theophanes called forward  the son of Father Michael, Nicholas, who served as a deacon in the Trinity Church in Perm, and said: "In memory of your martyred father you will be ordained a priest. Follow your father." After the ordination of Father Nicholas he served in the village of Koltsovo. Often on church business, he visited Perm, where his mother and sisters moved. On one of these trips, the village of Koltsovo was captured by the Reds. "Where is the priest? Did he run away with the whites?" they asked the parishioners. “No, he went to Perm on church business,” the parishioners tried to convince them. "No, he ran away!" - the Red Army men insisted.

Seeing that the Bolsheviks were determined to arrest the priest, the parishioners sent a trusted person to Perm to warn Father Nicholas, so that he does not return to the village, since the Reds were going to shoot him and his house had already been plundered. For Father Nicholas, this news turned out to be a great shock. In the morning he went to the temple and, stopping among the people, prayed for a long time with tears. After the service, a nun approached him and asked: "Father, what are you crying about?" He was then twenty-four years old, he looked younger than his years, and she wondered why a young priest could cry so bitterly. "How can I not cry? I came to Perm on church affairs and then I learned that my house in the village was taken away, my property was plundered and they wanted to shoot me." The nun suggested that Father Nicholas go with her to the Bakharev Monastery, which at that time was left without a priest. He agreed. The abbess of the monastery found an apartment for him and his family, collected the necessary clothes, and found something to furnish the apartment with. Father Nicholas liked it and began to serve.

During the fast of the Dormition in 1919, the priest was driving from Perm to the monastery; the path lay through the forest. Here two Red Army men came out to meet him. “Priest, get out of the cart,” they said as they stopped him. "We will shoot you now." Silently Father Nicholas came out, they stood opposite each other, raised their rifles to shoot, and one of the Red Army men said: "No, get on the cart, go, we don't need you." Silently Father Nicholas got into the cart and drove off. The shock was, however, so strong that, upon arriving at the monastery, he fell seriously ill. The disease developed rapidly, accompanied by severe headaches. On the third day after arriving at the monastery, he died.

After the martyrdom of Father Michael his family was persecuted by the authorities for a long time, deprived of food ration cards, and did not allow the children to go to school, but the family lived comfortably through the prayers of the martyr. The Lord did not leave them. It used to be that one of the children or the mother would leave the house in the morning, and on the threshold was a bag of food, powdered with snow, with a note.

Some parishioners commemorated Father Michael as a martyr and turned to him in their prayers. One of the students of the parish school where Father Michael became a priest, was arrested during the persecution, and in prison, seeing the inevitable approach of death, began to fervently pray to the martyr so that he might survive the imprisonment and be released. And the Lord, through the prayers of the Hieromartyr Michael, fulfilled his request: he lived to the end of his term and then served in the church for a long time.

The brother of the wife of Father Michael, the priest Paul Konyukhov, served after the death of his father, Archpriest Vasily, in the Trinity Church. At the temple, he organized a school for children from poor families who could not send their children to school. Apart from other teachers, there was Father Paul and his wife Elizabeth, who taught children needlework and church singing. Education in it was given so that graduates could work as teachers. After the revolution, the school was closed, but the temple continued to serve.

Father Paul was arrested in 1935. The formal reason for the arrest was that the priest commemorated the murdered Tsar Nicholas II and his wife during the liturgy. Together with Father Paul were arrested the priests Aleksey Drozdov, Pyotr Kozelsky, Theodor Dolgikh and the lay people Pankratov and Laptev. They all died in custody. One of the sisters of Father Paul was married to the priest Sergiy Bazhenov, who served near Yekaterinburg and was tortured by the Bolsheviks there.

For general Church veneration, Father Michael Nakaryakov was numbered among the holy new martyrs and confessors of Russia at the Jubilee Bishops' Council of the Russian Orthodox Church in August 2000.

Father Michael Nakaryakov is the heavenly patron of the Transfiguration Convent in the city of Usolye, of the Perm diocese.