Hugging the waters of the wide Yug River is the village of Sholga, Vologda governate. Not far from the banks stands a large, majestic church dedicated to the Holy Trinity. The parish consists of over one hundred villages, and in the Sholga deanery itself serve three priests, two deacons, and three cantors.
Troubles have already rolled across Russia. Before the civil war came the spiritual, and who more than a priest could see the moral fall and emptiness. Outwardly, material life shaped up well for some, but the terrible end could already felt in the air. You knock on a seemingly healthy tree, but the sound betrays a hollow.
The First World War was on; to some it seemed that Russia stood unshakeable, while others could already see that all was coming to an end. Already long before the revolution, the rector of the church, Fr. Prokopy Popov, waved some tsarist money at a patron and said, “Look, Vasily Vasilievich, the time will soon come when this money, Nicholas’s [Tsar Nicholas II], will be pasted on people’s walls, and no one will need it.”
The pious patron thought this sounded like a call to revolution. He lost his temper, barely refraining from telling the priest off in no uncertain terms. Time passed, the tsarist government fell, a murky wave carried off the provisional government, and the whole thousand-year history of Russia began to lurch and reshape, all the rainbow colors faded, and the future turned dark.
The Revolutions and DiabolismAccording to St. Seraphim of Sarov, devil was the first revolutionary, who rebelled against God. That is why all revolutions are adverse to Christianity and have a diabolic origin. An accurate and unbiased analysis of Russian revolutions in the 20th century shows they were no exception of this rule being apparently of diabolic nature.
“>revolution happened, and the year 1918 began. The Bolsheviks organized punishment squads that destroyed clergymen and authoritative laymen all across the country. On October 13, before the Protection of the Mother of God“>feast of the Protection of the Mother of God, the punishment squad arrived in Sholga and arrested Fr. Prokopy. A pit was dug in the middle of a field. Emboldened by their power and impunity, they decided to shoot him in broad daylight, without hindering any of the people from being present.
There was a time when pagan Roman soldiers saw the numberless murders of Christian martyrs and then they confessed themselves to be Christians. But now the pastor was being killed before the eyes of his flock—and the flock silently gave him over to the slaughter.
The newly-baked lords showed that there would be no limits to their cruelty, and this merciless resolve brought paralysis upon the population. This was the time of brazen, triumphant evil.
Fr. Prokopy stood before his grave, prayed, bid farewell to his parishioners, bowed to the ground to them and said, “Forgive me, a sinner.”
The parishioners burst into tears. The priest removed his ryassa, gave it to his sons who were all the while standing next to him, and remained in his cassock. Then he turned his face to the east, again prayed, and said, “I am ready.”
A shot rang out. Fr. Prokopy fell. He was killed by the second shot.
At first the priest was buried here, in the field; but his sons asked for permission to take his body to the cemetery. The authorities denied the request, but his family did not give up on their attempts, and finally they were given permission to bury the holy hieromartyr in the cemetery of the village of Koskovo.
Hieromartyr Prokopy was numbered among the ranks of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia at the Jubilee Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church in August, 2000, for Church-wide veneration.