April 14, 2021

Holy Hiero-Confessor Alexander Orlov (+ 1941)

St. Alexander Orlov (Feast Day - April 14); photo taken in 1933

Alexander Vasilyevich Orlov was born in 1878 in the village of Makkoveevo (now the village Syntul) of the Kasimov district in the Ryazan province to the family of teacher Vasily Orlov. Soon after the birth of his son, Vasily Evdokimovich Orlov was ordained Deacon at the Holy Protection Church in the village of Makkoveevo. After graduating from a parish school and a theological school, Alexander from 1905 began to serve as a chanter in the Protection Church in his native village. After being married he was ordained a Deacon to this church in 1919.

Deacon Alexander often visited the well-known ascetic in those parts, who lived in the village of Anemnyasevo in the Kasimov district, Blessed Matrona (Matrona Grigorievna Belyakova; commemorated on July 16/29). She advised him to be ordained a priest to the temple located four kilometers from Anemnyasev.

In January 1932, Archbishop of Ryazan Juvenaly Maslovsky (Hieromartyr, who in the world was known as Yevgeny Alexandrovich Maslovsky; commemorated on October 11/24) ordained Deacon Alexander as a Priest to the Church of the Great Martyr Paraskeva in the village of Sheyanka of the Kasimov district, and from that time on he became a confessor Blessed Matrona, who was then sixty-two years old. Father Alexander came to her to serve on the Great Feast Days prayer services, gave her communion once every six weeks, and sometimes anointed her with Holy Unction.

At the age of seven, Matrona fell ill with smallpox and completely lost her sight, and when she was ten years old, she was unjustly and cruelly punished by her mother. The Queen of Heaven appeared to the girl and consoled her. Matrona told her mother about this vision, and she beat her with even more cruelty. From that day on, the girl could neither walk nor sit, but only to lie down and endured many sorrows from close relatives, finding all consolation in prayer to God. For this extraordinary feat, patience and humility, the Lord endowed her with the gifts of clairvoyance and healings, and over time, through her prayers, many people began to be comforted and healed.

Blessed Matrona treated the clergy and monastics with great respect and love, as people who had a special service to God, and she loved Father Alexander in particular. Exhausted for many years from illness, one day she felt especially unhealthy and, anticipating the imminence of her death, asked to be read the Canon for the Departure of the Soul; at the end, with sadness and thoughtfulness, she said that now she didn’t feel sorry for people as much as she used to now that all earthly life was moving away from her. “And now I don't feel sorry for anyone, I don't feel sorry for anyone,” the blessed woman repeated several times, “only Father Alexander is a little, a little sorry.”

In 1934, Father Alexander was transferred to the Trinity Church in the village of Gus-Zhelezny. Subsequently, giving a characterization of the priest, the chairman of the village council wrote that Father Alexander performed services in the church without asking permission from the village council, served a prayer for rain, walked on Easter with a procession across the square and preached with “evasion against Soviet power... I often went to the house of the church headman, who was anti-Soviet."

In June 1935, officers of the NKVD of the Kasimov district began a case against Blessed Matrona and her admirers, and in this regard, on July 1, 1935, Father Alexander was arrested. He was imprisoned in the Butyrka prison in Moscow and immediately interrogated.

The investigator demanded that the priest tell everything he knows about Blessed Matrona. Father Alexander replied that Blessed Matrona enjoys great authority among believers and is visited by many people from various places; he himself is amazed at her patience, intelligence and wisdom of the advice she gives to visitors.

"Do you admit your guilt in the fact that you glorified Matrona Belyakova for counter-revolutionary purposes, carried out anti-Soviet agitation among believers and spread false rumors about war and the inevitable death of Soviet power?" the investigator asked him.
"I admit my guilt in glorifying Matrona. I really honor her and live by her advice. I told the believers about this and advised them to go to her for advice. I don’t plead guilty to anti-Soviet agitation and spreading false rumors," the priest replied.

"We know that in order to glorify Matrona Belyakova, who lives in the village of Anemnyasevo, you told believers about her righteous life, about her wise advice and advised the sick to turn to her as she could heal diseases. Tell me, did you carry out the mentioned activities to glorify Matrona?"

"I, as the confessor of Matrona, visited her, knew about her pious life and wisdom, so I really told the faithful about her as a blessed and righteous woman who could give wise advice on all life issues and who has the ability to miraculously heal diseases. At the same time, I advised believers and especially the sick to go to her and receive healing from their illness."

"Tell me, what advice did Matrona give her admirers?"

"In my presence, Matrona advised her admirers to go to church more often, to pray more, to serve prayer services to the saints of God. She advised to lead a sober life. Respect parents and elders. What advice Matrona gave on the question of joining collective farms, I do not know, since in my presence there was no talk on this topic."

In the indictment, the investigator wrote that the priest, "being a member of a counter-revolutionary group, for counter-revolutionary purposes actively glorified 'Blessed Matrona' Belyakova, organized pilgrimages of believers to her and performed secret services in her apartment."

On August 2, 1935, a special meeting under the NKVD sentenced priest Alexander Orlov to five years in a forced labor camp. He served his punishment in the Solovki (1935-1937) and the Sosnovets camps (1937-1940).

During his imprisonment, his wife and daughter moved to the village of Mitino in the Kasimov region and began to help at the church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God "Joy of All Who Sorrow". When Father Alexander was released from prison in 1940, before going to his family, he went to one of his parishioners, who lived in a neighboring village - ragged, hungry, barely alive, and, without going inside the house, asked him to make a bed for him on the rug outside the door, as all his clothes were full of lice. After washing himself in the bathhouse and recovering somewhat, he headed to Mitino. When he approached the church, there was an all-night vigil on the feast of the Holy Foremost Apostles Peter and Paul, and at that time his wife came out of the church with a censer in her hands, intending to light the coals as much as possible before the beginning of the polyeleos. The priest greeted her, but during his imprisonment he changed so much, that his wife did not recognize him, and Father Alexander, crying bitterly, said: "Apparently, I will not live long, that you came out to meet me with a censer." Then his wife recognized him and also wept.

Father Alexander began to serve as the second priest in the Joy of All Who Sorrow Church. Being in poor health from childhood, he was even more exhausted by his health issues in the camp. He lived less than a year after returning from prison. On April 27, 1941, the priest went to the window in the room where he lived, and when he saw someone, he wanted to meet him, sighed - and reposed.

Father Alexander was buried at the sanctuary of the Protection Church in the village of Makkoveevo. On December 27, 2000 the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church canonized him as a Holy Confessor. The relics of the priest Alexander (Orlov) were found on August 21, 2001 and are still in the Protection Church in the village of Syntul.