Piksur, Russia, August 21, 2019
The holy Hieromartyr Nikolai Zavarin was shot and killed on August 19, 1937. He was canonized as a New Martyr by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church on April 4, 2019, and on Tuesday, August 20, his canonization was liturgically celebrated at the Convent of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God in the village of Piksur in the Yaransk Diocese.
The service was celebrated in the monastery’s cathedral church by His Grace Bishop Paisy of Yaransk and Luzsky with the concelebration of local clergy. St. Nikolai himself had served in the same church from 1926 until his martyrdom in 1937, reports the press service of the Yaransk Diocese.
At the Small Entrance, an icon of the newly-canonized saint was solemnly carried out of the altar. Bp. Paisy read out the Holy Synod’s decision to include Fr. Nikolai among the New Martyrs and Confessors of the Russian Church and blessed the faithful, making the Sign of the Cross with the icon.
Following the Liturgy, a moleben to the newly-glorified St. Nikolai was also served, after which Bp. Paisy offered a sermon. In particular he stated:
The significance of the event we are festively celebrating together today is enormous. In Yaransk has shone forth a new light of Christ! We mustn’t forget that in addition to the multitude of tasks and ministries that the Church bears and carries out, the main task is to glorify God. And it is precisely in the holy podvizhniks, as in no one or anything else, that the power and glory of Christ triumphs…
Hieromartyr Nikolai Zavarin carried out his priestly ministry in a very terrible time; he selflessly defended and saved this holy church from closure, but Fr. Nikolai was lucky in the sense that he did not do it alone—he had the support of his parishioners and those close to him. Still, in 1937 he was arrested and shot. Hieromartyr Nikolai, a humble and little-known pastor of this parish, is an example for us of deep faith in Christ and courage. Knowing his fate, he continued to serve and preach the Gospel.
All present were blessed with an icon of St. Nikolai in memory of his glorification. He will be celebrated every year on August 6/19, together with the feast of the Transfiguration, the day of his martyrdom.
Fr. Nikolai was born in 1878 in the family of a priest. He served as a cantor and teacher in several parish schools throughout the Vologda Governorate before being ordained to the diaconate in 1916. In 1926, in the midst of heavy persecutions against the Church, he was ordained to the priesthood and appointed to the serve in the Church of the Vladimir Icon in the village of Piksur.
In 1931, he was sentenced to one year imprisonment for non-payment of arrears, but was later acquitted and released at the request of his daughter Nadezhda. He was arrested again in November 1932 for “anti-Soviet activities” and was sentenced to five years in prison, though he was again released early, in 1933.
The Soviet authorities tried many times to close his parish, though Fr. Nikolai and his parishioners always somehow found a way to keep it open or to soon reopen it.
On February 16, 1937, Fr. Nikolai and his daughter were arrested, accused of organizing a counter-revolutionary group among Church people and other anti-Soviet activities. During his arrest and search he was asked if he had any weapons. He responded that his weapons are the Gospel and religion, in whose name he fights. Fr. Nikolai refused to admit any guilt or to accuse anyone else, including false witnesses.
He was shot on August 19, 1937.