Shymkent, Kazakhstan, September 20, 2018
Thousands of archpastors, pastors, monastics, and laity were prayerfully commemorated on Monday in Kazakhstan at a site known for the execution and burial of 1,000s of faithful Orthodox Christians during the godless communist years.
His Eminence Metropolitan Alexander of Astana and Kazakhstan served a litiya for the departed at Lisya Balka in Shymkent, which was attended by Archbishop Eleutherius of Shymkent and Taraz and Bishop Nektary of Taldykorgan, and a number of local clergy.
During the service, prayers were read out for all “archpastors, pastors, monastics, and laity who suffered for the truth of God and our Church and were unjustly tortured in killed in the land of Kazakhstan in this place during the years of fierce persecution.”
Among the thousands killed at Lisya Balka is His Eminence Metropolitan Kirill (Smirnov) of Kazan, one of the prominent figures of Russian Orthodoxy in the early 20th century. His spiritual greatness is evidenced by the fact that in 1908, just before his death, St. John of Kronstadt requested that Bp. Kirill, then the vicar of the St. Petersburg Diocese, would serve his funeral. Metropolitan Joseph (Petrovikh), Archbishop Alexei (Orlov), Bishop Eugene (Kobranov), and countless priests, monks, nuns, and laity.
In his sermon, Met. Alexander spoke of the terrible years of persecution against the Russian Orthodox Church, noting that the Great Steppe became a place of exile for hierarchs, clergy, and ordinary believers from all across the Soviet Union in the 1930s:
They bore their heavy crosses, they were exhausted from hunger and disease, they suffered from cold and heat, they languished from backbreaking work, and tens of thousands of Orthodox people died in heavy torments for faith in God… His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II called the land of Kazakhstan, red with Christian blood, ‘an antimension, sprawled out under the open sky.’ The podvig of the New Martyrs and Confessors was not in vain. Now we believe in the miraculous intercession of our saints before the throne of God. By their prayers, there is a spiritual revival in our land.
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