Besides the eldest, Vladimir, there were four other children in Fr. Alexei Troitsky’s family: Dmitri, Alexei, Olga, and Sophia.
Dmitri (born on October 6 Old Style, 1887) became a monk after graduating from the St. Petersburg Spiritual Academy, with the name of Daniel. Later he became the vicar of the Orlovsky and Smolensk Eparchies, and after that, the Bishop of Orel and Archbishop of Briansk. Like his older brother, Archbishop Daniel was an active opponent of the Renovationist schism—a confessor. The legacy of prisons and exiles, serious and wasting illness became the cause of Vladyka Daniel’s early death on March 17, 1934. He had been told about the day of his death by an appearance of angels. Before his death he received Holy Unction and communed of the Holy Mysteries.
Alexei (born on March 24 Old Style, 1891) became a priest, taking the place of his father, who died in 1917. Later, like his elder brother, he was subjected to repressions, and on September 2, 1937 was shot at the Butovo firing range near Moscow.
The following is known about Vladyka Hilarion’s sisters: Sophia (born March 17 Old Style, 1889) was teaching in one of the Moscow schools in 1914, not having completely finished the women’s education institution, but died in February 1916 at the early age of 27. Olga (born May 27 Old Style, 1897) also lived in Moscow in 1920-1921 (29 Rozhdestvenka St., Apt. 4) and served “somewhere in an easy place, of course for no or almost no money, as did all the sovrabotniki (Soviet workers).”
After the untimely death (32 years old) of Vladimir’s mother Varvara Vasilievna, her unmarried sister Nadezhda Vasilievna, a teacher at the parish school, took on the care of Fr. Alexei Troitsky’s children.
Having been deprived of his mother in childhood, Vladimir Troitsky suffered this loss long and acutely: “My dear, you know,” wrote Archimandrite Hilarion in 1916 in Letters about the West, “that I lost my mother almost twenty years ago. At that time I felt my orphanhood, so to say, in a practical way, from a worldly standpoint, but now at times I painfully feel my orphanhood mystically.” It is possible that because of this Vladyka had an especially warm feeling for the Mother of God even from childhood: “The Most Holy Mother of God is our common Mother,” and to an even greater degree, for Christ’s Church, regarding which he loved to quote the words of Hieromartyr Cyprian of Carthage: “Whoever does not have the Church as his Mother cannot have God as his father.” No doubt this highest motherhood in perfect measure made up for Archbishop Hilarion’s “mystical” orphanhood—if not for the orphanhood of his everyday life.
Having mastered reading and writing early, Vladimir was participating in the Divine services at church by the age of 5, reading the Hours and Six Psalms. If Volodya [diminutive of Vladimir] Troitsky’s older contemporary, the writer A.P. Chekhov, recalled that in childhood he and his brother sang at the kliros, but “during this time felt like little convicts,” the future hieromartyr from his childhood related to the services with a love that he retained throughout his whole life: “Once he told me,” recalls former Moscow Spiritual Academy student Sergei Volkov, ‘that a church service, performed according to the Church rule, with love and attention, is finer than the best opera with its “ridiculous roulades and mediocre meaning’… This beauty of the church’s Divine service, which attracted me in the Academy, was felt by Hilarion strongly and deeply.”
At this same age of five, Volodya, together with his younger bother Dmitri, made an attempt to go off to Moscow “to study.” In response to the tearful complaints of his little brother, who was weary from the protracted journey, he sternly answered, “So stay uneducated then. To his father’s reproaches the elder of the runaways cited the example of Lomonosov, who, for the sake of his studies, set off for Moscow on foot from Archangelsk. N. Krivosheyeva remarks with sad irony, “Thirty years later he went “to continue his education” from Moscow to Archangelsk.:
Thus, Vladimir’s fundamental interests in life had already been defined from his earliest years. They can be stated briefly in two words: the Church and learning. However, for him, the second interest—that is, scholarship—was a derivative of the first, as study has meaning only when it, one way or another, serves the Church: “Science must be the ancilla Ecclesiae” And if Archbishop Hilarion always thought of learning as “his first and only love,” then to the Church were dedicated not only almost all of his theological writings, but his whole life as well.
At the age of 10 Vladimir entered the Tula Spiritual Academy (uchilische), and after graduating in 1900 he continued his education at the Tula Spiritual Seminary, where he studied with invariable success. In 1906, V. Troitsky entered the Moscow Spiritual Academy (Akademia) on a government scholarship. Besides this, he was awarded a private grant in the name of Professor V.D. Kudriavtsev-Platonov.
By the time of Vladimir Troitsky’s studies in the seminary and academy, revolutionary ideas had captivated a substantial part of Russian society. What is more, very often the hotbeds of these ideas were precisely the ecclesiastical educational institutions. The revolutionary mood did not pass the Moscow Spiritual Academy by, either. Here is how Vladimir Troitsky’s first impressions of the academy and the results of the thoughts evoked by them are described by his classmate, Fr. G. Dobronravov: “Vladimir Alexeievich entered the academy in 1906, when the smoke and fumes of the  revolution, which had also penetrated the walls of the academy, had just begun to disperse, but had not yet disappeared completely. And Vladimir Alexeievich had to go through much, seeing, as he said, ‘the disgrace of the academy, which had exchanged the light-colored vestments of pure and sober study for the gaudy but dirty motley rags of street politics,’ the disgrace of the academy that he loved as ‘his beloved bride’… But the threat did not pass by without a trace for Vladimir Alexeievich: his all-analyzing mind could not rest until he had found the reasons why the squall that had passed by had captivated such a wide circle: one of the main conditions defining such a large-scale movement was the irreligiousness of our society, which had en masse lost its connection with the Church, had broken with age-old traditions… As soon as he had defined this with sufficient clarity… he dedicated the compositions that he was always writing and his free time to investigating the question of the Church and living a Church life.”
Considerable courage and steadfastness were necessary in order to stand up to the generally-accepted opinion of society about the Church at the beginning of the 20th century, and it may be said with confidence that already when he was studying at the academy the young theologian, having taken a position on the Church unacceptable for many of his contemporaries, walked the path of confessing the faith, which eventually led him to a martyr’s crown. “There are two kinds of martyrdom,” wrote St. Gregory the Dialogist, “one is internal, the other external, and if there is no external persecution, there may be hidden martyrdom, when the soul burns with readiness for martyrdom.”
A few illustrations of the thought and morals of Russian people of that time, belonging to various strata of society, may convince us that upholding the Orthodox teaching on the Church in Russia at the beginning of the 20th century could not be accomplished without the podvig [ascetic labor] of being a confessor for the Faith:
Grand Prince Alexander Mikhailovich Romanov, childhood friend of Emperor Nicholas II and the latter’s grandfather’s brother’s son, married to Tsar Nicholas’s sister Grand Duchess Xenia Alexandrovna, described his first (at the age of 12) visit to the Iveron Chapel in Moscow: “It seemed impossible to me that the Lord God could have chosen such a setting for the revelation of holy miracles to His children. There was nothing Christian in the whole service. Rather, it reminded me of dismal heathenism. Fearing that they would punish me, I pretended to pray, but I was sure that my God—the God of yellow-gold fields, dense forests, and babbling waterfalls—would never visit the Iveron Chapel… From the time of my first visit to the First Capital [Moscow] and in the course of the next 40 years, I kissed the relics of the saints of the Kremlin at least some hundred times. And none of the times did I feel religious ecstasy. Not only did I not feel ecstasy, I experienced the deepest moral suffering. Now that I am 65 years old, I am deeply convinced that God must not be honored the way our heathen ancestors taught us to.”
Another thing that speaks to us about the loss of faith in the Church was the popularity of Tolstoy’s ideas among the Russian intelligentsia, who, following after Lev Tolstoy’s wife Sophia Andreevna, could have said, “For me the Church is an abstract idea.”
"With a cry of ‘Take the carpets!' the peasants cut down the altar table with axes, pilfered the utensils and vestments, and then set fire to the house and church.”
Here is a graphic portrayal of the moral abyss into which the Russian peasantry fell at the beginning of the 20th century, after they had left the Church. In September, 1917, in one of the larger villages in Oryol Province “the respected priest, Fr. Gregory Rozhdestvensky, was brutally murdered together with his young nephew in front of his wife. When they heard the alarm bell sounding the thieves took the money and ran. Parishioners assembled, saw the murdered pastor swimming in his own blood, and set about pilfering all of the forlorn matushka’s property that was left after the robbery: rye, oats, apples—everything that they could lay their hands on.” In the same Oryol territory “on November 28, 1917, in the village of Dobrunia, in the Sevsk ouezd… soldiers and peasants raided the Podlinevy house-church and mansion. With a cry of ‘Take the carpets, enough of these holier-than-thou’s stomping on them!’ the peasants cut down the altar table with axes, pilfered the utensils and vestments, and then set fire to the house and church. But this didn’t seem enough to them. They pulled the corpses of the Podlinevy owners that had been buried near the church out of their graves on the spot. The owner’s wife’s remains that had decomposed—the head, arms, legs—they threw all around, but the owner’s corpse, which was preserved whole, they laid on the straw and set fire to it. “They burned it like a pig,” said the Orthodox people. And amidst all this they beat it on the stomach with sticks and tore out the moustache. Then they buried it right there in a shallow trench, while they made off with the zinc coffin… Later a similar fate befell the burial place of the world-renowned poet A. Feta-Shenshin in the church in the village of Kleimenovo. 
Such cases can be explained to a considerable degree by the fact that at the beginning of the last century in Russia "in some places almost 70 percent of the men going into” the army "not only did not know any prayers, but also did not have the slightest idea of the basics of religion."
Of course, the very clergy were not a little guilty of the people running wild like this: "But for the most part we were becoming "fulfillers of treby" [priest's services requested by the laity, such as molebens, pannykhidas, etc.] and not burning lamps," recalls Metropolitan Benjamin (Fedchenkov) about the priesthood at the time before the revolution.
St. Philaret’s favorite student, now glorified in the choir of the saints, the famous missionary to the Altai Archimandrite Makary (Glukharyov), goes even further than his teacher. He “prayed with ‘spiritual Christians’ (Molokans) in Yekaterinoslav and found that the light of God’s illumination also shines on their warm faith. The Quakers who were journeying throughout Russia in 1819, Grelier and Allen, visited him in Yekaterinoslav… and found much in common with him and an emotional closeness. Later Makary dreamed of building a church in Moscow with three sections—for Orthodox, Catholics, and Lutherans…”
The statement of Metropolitan Platon (Gorodetsky; &1891) of Kiev that “our human partitions do not reach up to heaven” became widespread in the church environment. (As Metropolitan Evlogy (Georgievsky) related it: “The partitions that people have built in the church do not reach to heaven.”
George Shavelsky, the protopresbyter of the army and navy clergy from 1911-1917, saw "unification around the name of God and around the holy temple (church) of people divided by partitions that were of temporal, not divine, origin" in the following events of army life: “The military ranks—Protestants, Catholics, Calvinists—not only soldiers but also officers, along with the Orthodox regularly visited the Orthodox church of their regiment… they kept the Orthodox feasts and customs; in wartime before battles even officers quite frequently confessed and communed with the Orthodox priests of their regiment.”
Such an attitude towards heterodoxy gradually penetrated into monastic and lay circles. And here you now have the nuns of the Virovsk Monastery headed by Abbess Anna greeting with a “low bow and lighted candles a Roman Catholic Polish priest who was carrying the Holy Gifts” and accompanying “him to a patient’s bed” The Russian soldiers, however, at the time of the First World War did not stop at participation in Eucharistic communion with Uniates [Greek Catholics—Ed.]: “The poor soldiers going to the front, and therefore to sure death, did not have the possibility of receiving Communion, went to the Uniates, prayed and took Communion there. They told me,” recalled Metropolitan Evlogy, “how they exclaimed together with the Uniates in a Uniate monastery ‘Holy Hieromartyr Iosaphat, pray unto God for us’ (this was that Iosaphat Kuntsevich who was an infamous persecutor of Orthodoxy).”
At this time, Russian theologians were providing ideas to justify actions of such a kind. “Thus, Protopriest P.Ya. Svetlov maintains that Western Christian confessions, on a par with the Orthodox, are the Christian Church and belong to the Church Ecumenical, and are not societies outside the Church, cut off from the Church—that the existing Christian Churches in the West and the East are local Churches or parts of the Ecumenical Church, and therefore the appropriation by one or another of them of the rights of the Ecumenical Church is illegal.”
In the atmosphere of the ideas and morals that have been noted, which were capturing the Russian people more and more, the traditional stand on the views on the Church, as has already been stated above, became for Vladimir Troitsky the beginning of the podvig of confession of the Faith, which he carried out with honor throughout his whole life.
In 1910 Vladimir Alexeyevich graduated from the Academy first in his class in the degree of Candidate of Theology. V. Troitsky’s candidate dissertation (1306 pages in size), entitled “History of the Doctrine of the Church,” evoked more than positive responses from the reviewers.
Professor A.D. Belyaev, who had not made a single negative remark in his response, gave the following testimonial to the young theologian’s work: “At first glance at the huge volume of Vladimir Troitsky’s composition, and taking into consideration the short amount of time assigned for his writing, one might think that it is laden with raw, unworked material; however, in actual fact there isn’t any. He writes in a documentary way, and there are many, many excerpts from patristic literature—short and not short—in his work… But these numerous quotations, like stones in the wall of a building, well-fitted and solidly held together with cement, are united and bound together by their thought, and that is why the whole composition, in spite of the diversity and enormous amount of material introduced into it, proves to be well-prepared, logically and harmoniously well-composed. Reading Vladimir Troitsky’s composition, in spite of its magnitude, is not tiring: so diverse is its content, so many important issues are touched upon in it and so many practical ideas are dispersed throughout it—and moreover it is expressed in easy, clear language, entirely literary. The author of the work is trained for the business of writing scholarly works and for their literary treatment. In his work talent and industriousness mutually support each other. Not only is the author of the work worthy of the degree of Candidate of Theology; it must be recognized, by its scholarly and literary merits, to be a simply outstanding work.”
Bishop Theodore (Pozdeyevsky), Rector of the Moscow Spiritual Academy, also wrote a review of V. Troitsky's dissertation that was not much less laudatory: after some insignificant criticism, he finished his review—which in places was absolutely enthusiastic—with the words, "We repeat that the author has written a colossal work, shall we say, a valuable contribution to scholarship, and deserves for his paper not only the degree of Candidate of Theology, but also special praise, and we will say more: this paper may, even in its present form, be publishable as a master's dissertation.”
For his candidate’s dissertation V. Troitsky was awarded the Metropolitan Joseph Award. On June 10, 1910, the Academy council assigned him to stay at the Academy for the 1910/1911 academic year to prepare to be on the faculty.
On October 6, 1910, the Council of the MTA resolved: "to invite Candidate and professorial fellow of the Academy of the class of 1910 Vladimir Troitsky to the first chair (cathedra) of the Holy Scriptures of the New Testament, having asked him to spend the current academic year 1910/1911 preparing to occupy the said chair under the direction of the Honored Full Professor M.D. Muretov, and at the end of the year to deliver two trial lectures in the presence of the Council.”
It must be pointed out that V. Troitsky was to replace Professor M.D. Muretov in the chair, who also recommended him as his successor, having noticed in the young theologian “serious preparation, both linguistic and methodological, for the scholarly study and academic teaching of New Testament Holy Scripture.” The first and second chairs of New Testament Holy Scripture divided the contents of the subject into two parts. The professor of the second chair lectured “about the Acts and Epistles of the Apostles and about the Apocalypse,” at the same time as the person occupying the first cathedra taught “the introduction to the New Testament books and about the Gospels; and after isagogical [introductory, literary and external] and exegetical [interpretational] lectures about the Gospels” he expounded “in coherent and systematic form the History of the earthly life of our Lord Jesus Christ with the refutation of any false and blasphemous theories that are now especially assiduously being spread.”
On May 3, 1911, at the meeting of the Academy Council, Vladimir Troitsky gave two trial lectures on the theme “Gnosticism and the Church in relation to the New Testament” and “the Son of God and the Church (explanation of Mat. 16:13-18).” The theme of the first lecture was chosen by the one under trial himself, and the second was appointed by the Council of the MTA. “The Council of the Academy unanimously recognized both of the lectures that were given by professorial fellow Troitsky to be satisfactory, and the lecturer worthy to be chosen to the position of professor (prepodavatel’) of the Academy of the first Chair of New Testament Holy Scripture, which is to become vacant at the beginning of the 1911/1912 academic year.” The Holy Synod confirmed “professorial fellow of the Moscow Spiritual Academy, Candidate of Theology Vladimir Troitsky to the position of instructor of the said academy, first chair of New Testament Holy Scripture in the rank of acting docent [equiv. Am. Associate Professor] starting on August 16,” 1911. The decree about this confirmation was read at the session of the Council of the MTA on September 1 of the same year.
Vladimir Alexeyevich, with his typical self-deprecating humor, commented on his confirmation to his new position: “Yes, it’s been three days now since the abomination of academic desolation has come to the first chair of the New Testament, in my person.”
In the summer of 1911 the young instructor was working on finishing his master’s thesis: “Sketches from the History of the Dogma about the Church.” The author was coping with difficulty with the volume of literature used, and with the flow of new ideas: “Right now I am rushing from one book to another. My head is spinning—I am losing the ability to think clearly. The work is going successfully, I guess, but so much of so many things makes itself known, so many questions arise, so many thoughts swarm in my head, that I could simply put off finishing my master’s for another year. I’m sure, though, that even five years from now I will not have relaxed completely.”
By September the work was finished. “The only thing I am glad about is that my master’s [dissertation] is finished (in a week it will be recopied).” With the aim of finishing his dissertation faster, the author had to exclude a whole chapter from it, corresponding to the seventh chapter of his candidate’s paper, in which was examined the teachings on the Church of SS. Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa, John Chrysostom, Cyril of Alexandria, and Hilary of Poitiers: “…its death (of the dissertation.—A.G.) was untimely and even forced. I am withholding one chapter, because in the shape that I have it in it isn’t worth half a kopeck, but in order to make it look at all decent I would have to work on it a whole month, and I don’t have a month. I will add to it later, although perhaps that will be in the next life.” Those last words proved to be prophetic.
Only on March 1, 1912, did V. Troitsky hand in the manuscript of his work. One must surmise that the author had to spend another half year in preparing the final version of his work. Two reviewers were appointed to appraise the academic worth of Vladimir Troitsky’s master’s thesis: Honored Full Professor M.D. Muretov was appointed by the resolution of the Academy Council, and Full Professor S.S. Glagolev by the rector of the MTA, Bishop Theodore (Pozdeyevsky).
“He was never just a theorist: he was a man of deed, always uniting theory with practice.”
In 1911 the young instructor began giving lectures, enjoying constant popularity among his students. S. Volkov recalled “his brilliant public lectures about the Church and about Russia.” “The lectures that I heard,” wrote the former MTA student, “contained the introduction to the subject I was studying and were read in excellent language. There were many journalistic elements in them, comments on our modern times… He could not narrate quietly… but had to burn, to set his listeners on fire, to argue, to polemicize, to prove and disprove. Now I think that apologetics would have suited him better than exegetics. He was never just a theorist: he was a man of deed, always uniting theory with practice.” Here it must be noted that, as was already stated above, at the first chair of the New Testament of MTA exegetics was taught precisely in an apologetic manner, and the explanation of the Gospel texts had to include the refutation of any false and blasphemous theories that are now especially assiduously being spread.” Thus the polemical orientation of V. Troitsky’s lectures entirely answered to the contents of the subject of the chair that he occupied.
In July 1912 V. Troitsky went on a trip with a group from the Academy to the countries of Western Europe (Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and France), filled with a multitude of his various impressions: “I can say boldly that this July was the most interesting month for me out of all the 311 months I have already lived.” The memoirs of this trip underlay his “Letters about the West.” It was his second trip outside the fatherland. In 1908, in his days as a student at MTA, V. Troitsky went to Bulgaria, Serbia, and also to Constantinople and [Mt.] Athos, about which he has also left us written memoirs under the title From the Academy to Athos.
For various reasons, the defense of V.A. Troitsky’s master’s thesis was put off more than once. “I am having nothing but temptations with my master’s—it keeps getting held up.” On November 22, 1912 the reviews of S.S. Glagolev and M.D. Muretov were read at the meeting of the Academy Council. The general rating of both reviewers was most positive. The first of the reviewers valued it as “a feast of theological knowledge,” while the second acknowledged “the dissertation of V. Troitsky to be deserving of not only a master’s, but also of a doctor’s degree.” Such a high evaluation did not become a cause of pride for the degree candidate, nor did it deprive him of the ability to soberly look at the work that he had done: “If I believed everything that was written in these reviews, I guess I could hold my nose up quite high… Knowing my book better than the reviewers, [however], I did not in the least get a swelled head over it.” The writer’s feeling of natural joy was mainly evoked by the hope of giving his defense soon: “I was only glad for the fact that I would soon be able to defend my dissertation, and then file the whole thing away.”
Before his defense, the contender for the master’s degree had to undergo one last trial. On the day after the reviewers’ responses were read at the MTA Council—that is, on November 23, 1912—the Holy Synod appointed Metropolitan Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky), the Metropolitan of Moscow, and the future hieromartyr, to be Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga. It was not possible to carry out the defense of the dissertation without the ruling hierarch’s having signed the journal with the reviews of the academic thesis. The uncertainty plunged the degree candidate into a sad state: “I wanted to write my speech for the defense—but I can’t! I can’t bring myself to do it! There is a kind of apathy, a kind of cheerless indolence!”
All the same, Vladimir Alexeyevich’s master’s “ordeals” were drawing to a close. Only a few days before his defense was he notified that the public debate for his master’s would take place on December 11, 1912 at 11 o’clock: “And I don’t have a speech, I haven’t invited guests, and I haven’t prepared a dinner.” The debate went smoothly and ended successfully, if you don’t count the fact that, because of the worry and tiredness leading up to the time of the defense, the degree candidate did not have strength enough even for emotion: “The public debate was not one of the most brilliant ones. There were practically no serious or interesting objections. Only, the defender’s imperturbability and complete composure amazed everyone. But all the same it was quite good.”
By the decree of the Holy Synod, January 16, 1913, Vladimir Troitsky was confirmed in the degree of Master of Theology and in the position of instructor (docent) of the Moscow Spiritual Academy. For the best master’s thesis of the 1912/1913 academic year V.A. Troitsky was awarded the Metropolitan Makary of Moscow prize in the amount of 289 roubles.
Based on the incorrect dating of some of the copies of V. Troitsky’s (Archimandrite Hilarion’s) letters, Fr. Damascene (Orlovsky) came to the mistaken conclusion that, after the defense of his dissertation, Vladimir Alexeyevich had visited Zhitomir, where he actively associated with Bishop Procopy (Titov) and Archbishop Antony (Khrapovitsky). Protodeacon Sergiy Golubtsov, starting off from this historical inaccuracy, makes the following assumption: “One may assume that they (the above-mentioned hierarchs—A.G.), in spite of the fact that the young man dreamed of occupying himself in scholarship, inclined him to a significant degree towards becoming a monk.”
But, first of all, it is seen to be inaccurate to present Vladimir Troitsky as a shy youth who had fallen under the influence of strong personalities, as the independence of his thinking is known, commented upon in particular by the reviewers of his scholarly works. Secondly, V. Troitsky was, of course, well acquainted with His Eminence Antony and, without doubt, paid attention to the opinion of the well-known hierarch. For instance, the latter associated with the young instructor of New Testament Holy Scripture during his visit to the MTA in October 1912. Nevertheless, Vladimir Troitsky went to Kherson, not to Zhitomir in the December of 1912, to the relatives of Fr. Leonid and Lydia Pavlovna Archangelsky. He went to Zhitomir a year after this trip. This becomes clear from comparing the contents of two letters. Thus, in the letter to his cousin Lydia Pavlovna dated January 1913, Vladimir Alexeyevich comments: “Antony may scold me… for preferring Kherson… to Zhitomir, but I wanted to read through my dissertation on the train on the way to St. Petersburg on the 10th (of January—A.G.) A letter to the same addressee written on December 27, 1913—originally erroneously dated 1912, was signed “Arch. Hilarion.” The author of the letter, incidentally, remarks that he is writing “from a train car, as last year at this same place.” And further: “I am travelling to Kiev, but from Kiev my way will no longer be headed towards Kherson, not to Kherson, but to Zhitomir.” The dating of this letter as December 1913 is borne out by the mention of a decision of the Academy Council about the thesis of Protopriest Nicholas Malinovsky, which (decision) was accepted at the meeting of the Council on December 11, 1913, after the response of M. Tareyev and Archimandrite Hilarion.
In the spring of 1913, Vladimir Troitsky decided to become a monk. Vladimir Alexeyevich's friend, Fr. G.I. Dobronravov, who was the inspector of the Mariinsky Diocesan School, wrote that "monasticism has long since presented itself to Vladimir Alexeyevich as a form of life more suitable to his character. He has long loved to give himself over to monastic podvigs, holy monasteries have long attracted him—especially eremitic ones. In his view, academic activity, whether on the student's bench or on the professor's chair, was understood as one of the monastery obediences."
Nevertheless, it is not ruled out that almost right up till his very tonsure Vladimir Troitsky did not completely reject the possibility of family life. From one of his letters written in 1912 we find out that he was arranging a date, that he was going to Moscow "on the birthday of a pretty lady," And even in February 1913 he visited the Art Theater "with a lady."
“Only the Lavra and the Academy exist for me, and I exist for the Academy.”
However, the young theologian perceived events of such a kind as accidents, as amusing chance happenings, about which he could not call to mind without irony. By the time of his tonsure he was clearly aware that family life was not his path: “For some reason, the feminine half is for me as if it didn’t exist at all… Only the Lavra and the Academy exist for me, and I exist for the Academy.” The choice of the monastic path became the natural consequence of Vladimir Alexeyevich’s interior state: “I only need to say to you that I have dropped out of every kind of society. I have begun to go into myself.”
On March 28, 1913, in the Paraclete Skete of the Lavra, after the Lesser Doxology at the Matins of the Great Fast, to the accompaniment of the first spring thunderstorms, the wondrous transformation of Vladimir Alexeyevich into Monk Hilarion (after St. Hilarion the New, Abbot of Pelecete Monastery) occurred. Not even a shadow of a doubt in his choice was visible in the one being tonsured. He “gave the answers to the questions posed to him with a firm voice and pronounced the sacred vows.”
The rector of the MTA, Bishop Theodore (Pozdeyevsky), in his word of exhortation, said to the newly-tonsured, “I know and do not wish to hide now, what your sacrifice to Christ is. You have been tempted, and, perhaps, are now tempted still with the love for that school which you serve, and with a feeling of fear that monasticism might deprive you of this school.” V. Troitsky perceived his scholarly theological activity as a form of service to the Church. By his tonsure he showed his readiness to serve Mother Church at the place where it would be more useful for the Church herself, even if he would have to give up his favorite type of activity, that is, scholarship, for this. Subsequent historical events showed the Providential meaning of this decision, which was not easy for the young theologian.
After his tonsure Fr. Hilarion experienced hitherto unprecedented spiritual growth, which served as an assurance of the correctness of the decision that he had made: “I cannot express what I experienced, but afterwards I felt as if I had become younger, like a total boy. I spent five days in church in spiritual joy… In the days that I have passed being a monk I have mainly experienced a feeling of joy and emotional peace… Yes, there are the previous things, but there is a significant change in my own self. I want to believe that this is the action of special grace, given to a monk… And it’s worth only acknowledging: “But there should not be just one way of life for everyone.” I have chosen the way that seemed to me and now proves to be more suitable. Do not be sorry, but be rejoice with me, because I am rejoicing now. And what does ‘Hilarion’ mean? ‘Cheerful.’”
On the 11th of April, 1913, on Great Thursday, Monk Hilarion was ordained a hierodeacon, and remained all the while in the same peaceful and joyful frame of mind: "I continue to be joyful and peaceful right up to now. In the morning you serve obednya, you commune—how good this feels in my soul! At home work awaits me, but all the things I have to do are interesting, and not worldly cares, glory to God! I have finally attained peace and quiet—the devil doesn't have much access to me. You really feel that after the service he is afraid to get near—he gets burned. And that's all that we need."
However, the joyful, grace-filled state of Monk and Hierodeacon Hilarion did not last for more than two months—namely, till May 30, when it became known about his appointment to the position of Inspector of the MTA with his elevation to the rank of archimandrite. Now his mood seemed to be in striking contrast to his recent peaceful joy—almost like depression: "Now I feel one thing above all: I am completely thrown off track. My plans and intentions regarding the near future have been razed to the ground, and I had planned for it for years. I am depressed... In the summer—at least all of July, I will have to sit in the Academy: I will be combining rector, inspector, and assistant inspector in my person." Fr. Hilarion, however, courageously bore the ruin of his hopes and plans, the most important of which, without a doubt, were connected with his academic activity. He took this new, difficult, and unwanted church obedience with humility worthy of imitation: "I won't grumble about it, because a monk is a thing of the Church. He has no personal life; he is alone. Wherever they put you, start working. I haven't had a summer vacation for three years; I was counting on this year's, but it didn't turn out the way I wanted it. Glory to God for all things!”
On June 2 of the same year Hilarion was made a hieromonk [priest-monk], on July 5, an archimandrite. In the new 1913/1914 academic year he began his duty as inspector of the Academy. On November 5 at the meeting of the Academy Council Archimandrite Hilarion was unanimously chosen as staff extraordinary professor of the Moscow Theological Academy. The five-year period in Fr. Hilarion’s life as inspector of the MTA began at this time—a period replete with various events, leaving him little chance for academic pursuits.
Here is a partial list of activities and events that filled Archimandrite Hilarion’s life: preparation for and giving lectures, reviewing instructional and academic works, participation in the divine services, participation in the meetings of the Academy Council, in various academic publications and events, and in the publication of articles in church journals. In 1911, while still Vladimir Alexeyevich, he gave lectures on the New Testament in the women’s courses of Protopriest John Vostorgov; in 1912 the Lovers of Spiritual Enlightenment Society elected him a full member and charged him with “saying some kind of ‘assembly speech, as it were’ at the annual meeting. In 1914 Fr. Hilarion gave a lecture (or perhaps not just one) in the company of Grand Duchess Elizabeth Feodorovna. From time to time he served in Moscow churches. While he was still a student and while taking his master’s course Fr. Hilarion headed the publishing department of the Pastoral-Enlightenment Brotherhood at the MTA, he was occupied with publishing and distributing leaflets of spiritual and moral content for the people, and he participated in the student tutelage of the school-orphanage for children. In 1914 he participated in the compiling and publication of 24 polemical leaflets against the Unia. On October 15, 1915, Archimandrite Hilarion was elected to the academic library commission for five years. And now at the twilight of the Academy’s existence he presided at conferences “of representatives of the Russian Church with Catholic ecclesiastics.” Care for the spiritual and moral condition of the students—which often left much to be desired—demanded much time, effort and attention from the inspector of the MTA. “I also have ‘boys,’” who are in trouble: one has taken to drink, another gets into fights, one even took it into his head to poison himself. Why? He didn’t say. ‘Unrequited love,’ no doubt. Rarely does a day go by without some sort of concern.”
Completely unforeseen demands also occurred. Thus, in March 1914 the Holy Synod set the Academy inspector—who even without this did not know “how to deal with academic affairs,” the task of “exhorting the Athonite monks” who had moved to Russia because of the controversies about the honoring of the name of God. This assignment demanded special knowledge, on the acquiring of which Archimandrite Hilarion spent a good amount of time. And although later this task was cancelled, Fr. Inspector’s academic affairs fell into neglect: “It’s possible that my apprehension was for nothing,” he recalled about the “thunderstorm” that had passed, “but there it was, and I lost a lot of my time. There is only a little more than a month until June, and I still have to read forty-four term papers (I’ve read eight this week!), five Candidate’s dissertations, there are eight more exams, and feasts and services.” “‘Beside those things that are without’, there was also a ‘daily influx of people’ coming to see Fr. Inspector” (II Cor. 11:28): “You try to read, and here somebody comes on business or without business; you try to read, and here are guests, etc.” In order to handle all these things somehow, he had to do with less sleep: “You know, I notice that I have learned to sleep 5-6 hours a day, no more, only from all this I am aching somewhat all over.”
It is no wonder that, even in the first months of such an intense life, Archimandrite Hilarion, in spite of his natural good health, began to experience fatigue from overwork: “Worst of all is that my body and my nerves have fallen apart: I have lost sleep and my appetite.” In the spring of 1914, in a letter to his cousin, he admits: “Once again I have worn myself out and now for the third time this year I feel exhausted.”
It is important to note that the good spirits which Fr. Hilarion always possessed did not leave him even in these difficult circumstances: “Only, don’t draw any conclusions from my narratives about my misadventures. I receive everything with joy. This is just what I agreed to, and I’m meeting, as it were, what I knew I would.” One can only find sadness in his letters about the lack of proper monastic activity in his life: “Soon my monastic life will be a year old. Monasticism is a good thing, but I have barely been able to get a glance at it as it passed me by. My whole trouble is that I have no solitude, and without solitude it’s hard for me to live, you lose your peace.” To this is admixed sadness over his distance from academic work: “When my monasticism was a year old, I counted it up, and it was pretty sad: stagnation in my scholarship… there may be a few less different sins than before, but peace of mind is completely unnoticeable.”
One should say an additional word about the aborted participation of Archimandrite Hilarion in “the Athonite affair.” In the life histories of Hieromartyr Hilarion it usually says that the Holy Synod commissioned Fr. Hilarion twice with participation in the business of “exhorting” the Athonite monks—in the spring of 1913 and in March 1914. According to this version, both times the task was cancelled after a while. Such an almost identical repetition of a particular fact in the course of a year cannot but arouse suspicion, which becomes greater when one becomes acquainted with the circumstances of Troitsky’s life in the spring of 1913. We know that in March 1913 V. Troitsky was preparing for the tonsure, and the Synod’s task that has been mentioned would have looked patently out of place. After his tonsure Fr. Hilarion wrote to his relatives for two months about his tranquil state, not clouded by any kind of unpleasantness.
Fr. Hilarion’s letter to Lydia Pavlovna Archangelskaya, dated April 1913, rings with evident dissonance to these facts, where he writes: “The business with the Athonites is being resolved without my participation. It’s possible that my apprehension was for nothing, but there it was, and I lost a lot of my time.”
These doubts can be resolved easily enough by careful acquaintance with the aforesaid letter. It appears that this letter consists, actually, of two letters with a difference in time of around a year. The dating of these letters, which were joined together, is determined by the events described in them, with a precision of within a few days.
The time of writing of the first letter is determined by the following indications: In it is named the date of the departure of the author of the letter from Kherson from the Archangelsky’s—December 31—and the events for two weeks after his leaving the addressee (i.e. Lydia Pavlovna). Besides this, the author of the letter refers to his master’s dissertation: “I await confirmation.” As has already been noted above, Vladimir Troitsky was confirmed in the degree of Master of Theology by an ukaz (decree) of the Holy Synod on January 16, 1913. Thus, the time of writing of the first letter may be fixed with certainty as the period from the 13th to the 16th of January, 1913, plus or minus one or two days.
As regards the second part of the combined letter, dated in the copy as April 1913, the time of its writing can be fixed no less accurately. First, the letter is written in the last days of April: “There is just a little more than a month till June.” Second, it says, “We are awaiting the upcoming public debates of Florensky and Vinogradov; probably they will take place in a very short time.” The year of the second letter is precisely identified by the mentioning of this, as the master’s debates of Priest Pavel Florensky and the acting docent of the MTA “on the faculty of pastoral theology with ascetics and homiletics” Vasily Vinogradov took place, accordingly, May 19 and 22, 1914 (these debates are spoken of in another letter written by Archimandrite Hilarion on June 2, 1914 as already having taken place). After this indication of the time of year and the very year of writing the letter it says that “the business with the Athonites is being resolved” without the participation of the author of the letter. The noted specifics allow us to date the second part of the combined letter with certainty as the end of April, 1914.
Thus, the letter dated erroneously as April 1913 consists of two letters. The first (without the ending) was written by the acting docent of the MTA V. Troitsky in the middle of January 1913, while the second (without the beginning), was written by the inspector of the Academy Archimandrite Hilarion at the end of April 1914.
The suggested comparison allows us to maintain that the assignment of exhorting the Athonite monks had been given by the Holy Synod to Archimandrite Hilarion (Troitsky) on one occasion only in March, 1914, which is mentioned in Fr. Hilarion’s letter written in March 1914: “The other day I received such an assignment from the Synod that I immediately lost my peace, and I walk about looking haggard. This business is, generally speaking, rather dirty, highly important, little suited to my type (pretty soiled), requiring considerable background reading, which I do not have at all, while very little time is left; and most importantly, as if that weren’t enough, I don’t know how to cope with the academic concerns. This assignment simply depresses me.” This assignment was taken away in April of the same year, which we learn from the letter written at the end of April, 1914, erroneously dated April 1913.
Archimandrite Hilarion had become acquainted with Metropolitan Antony while he was still Vladimir Troitsky, and maintained warm and friendly relations with him from that time on. It is likely that His Eminence Antony to some degree influenced V. Troitsky’s decision to become a monk. The latter recalls his conversation with Archbishop Antony of Volhynia on the Feast of Holy Protection 1912: “The bishop greeted me with ‘Are you still running around as a hazel-hen [i.e., civilian—Trans.]?’ We talked about a lot of things and in general I was comforted greatly.” As the inspector of the MTA, Archimandrite Hilarion spoke about his older hierarch friend as a “deeply-respected prelate, who “indefatigably stands up for the cleansing of our theology from Catholic scholasticism.”
Nevertheless, the friendship and mutual respect of both hierarchs went fully hand-in-hand with their independence of theological thought. As regards the academic value of Metropolitan Antony’s theological reasoning, Archbishop Hilarion spoke about it critically. According to the memoirs of S. Volkov, “the illustrious scholar in those years, Archbishop Antony (Khrapovitsky), spoke about Florensky’s work quite sharply, saying, “Either I don’t understand anything about philosophy any more, or this is simply the ravings of Khlysts!” To this, the Inspector of the MTA remarked that he was ready to agree only with the first half of his assertion, inasmuch as, occupied with the concerns of church administration and of the public, Antony “has fallen rather significantly behind in philosophy and underrates its newest schools of thought.”
The Inspector of the MTA was on no less good terms with the rector of the MTA, Bishop Theodore (Pozdeyevsky): “I am extraordinarily happy,” he wrote in the first months of his inspectorship, “—and I will not hide my gladness—that His Eminence Theodore treats me very kindly. He doesn’t scold me, even when he should. Our relations are extremely sincere: There hasn’t been such a relationship between a rector and an inspector in the Moscow Academy for a long time, I don’t remember any such.”
In 1915 there appeared “Memorandum from the Duma Clergy,” in which it was declared that “one may point to hundreds of cases where a monk, almost fresh out of seminary, at twenty-five or twenty-six years of age is appointed superintendent of a school or inspector of a seminary.” Although the tendency to primarily appoint monks to positions of authority did take place in ecclesiastical educational institutions, first, this tendency seemed entirely natural, and second, the hyperbole of the “Note” (“hundreds of cases”) reveals the not infrequent hostility of the white clergy to monasticism, which became apparent in its full measure later, in the Renovationist ideology. Archimandrite Hilarion believed it was his duty as much as possible to expose this false statement and cited statistical data about the administrative structure of seminaries and ecclesiastical academies, in accordance with which, by 1915, fifty monks in all were in official posts of seminaries and academies, which constituted less than ten percent of the overall number of administrative workers in the institutions mentioned. As an example, among the inspectors of seminaries, there were seven monks, seveb priests, and forty-five laypeople.” Without a doubt, such a statement by the inspector of the MTA was welcomed by the rector of the Academy, Bishop Theodore.
Nonetheless, Archimandrite Hilarion kept a moderate position in defense of monasticism, in contrast to Archbishop Antony and Bishop Theodore. For him, monasticism and family life were only different ways of life, called to lead people on the path of salvation through the fulfillment of Christ’s commandments (see, for example, “The Unity of the Ideal of Christ”). And when, at the All-Russian Convention of Academic Monasticism, which took place under the de facto chairmanship of Bishop Theodore, the issue was raised of creating a “monastic” academy, Archimandrite Hilarion and Hieromonk Bartholomew (Remov) opposed this idea, explaining their position by the fact that “academic monasticism at the present time generally is not close to theological study, but often, unfortunately, relates to it without the respect that is due it.
 But this did not hinder Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky) from waging a struggle against the Renovationist schism, of which Archbishop Evdokim (Meschersky) had become an active figure at that time.
In the summer of 1914, Archimandrite Hilarion’s thoughts and feelings were captured by the war that had begun: “First, somehow my heart just isn’t in my work,” he wrote in October 1914. That’s thanks to the war. At first I read an awful lot of newspapers. Nearly whole days. Now I have cut down a lot, I read mostly the headlines. Now the theme of the war was sounding in his sermons and speeches (e.g.: “Sermon before the public moleben on the square at Sergiev Posad”) and even in his lectures (“Theology and the Freedom of the Church”). He presents academic service itself as participation in military activities on the ideological front, and he perceives transferring from this front to the army in the field, if not as desertion, then, at least as a lowering of the level of the fight against the common enemy. When in March of 1915 the acting docent of the Academy in the Department of History and Denunciation of Russian Sects, A.V. Remezov, applied to the Academy Council with a request to grant him a leave of absence with the aim of joining the Field Forces, Archimandrite Hilarion presented his “own separate opinion” to the Council. “I am perfectly comfortable with the possibility of being rebuked for a lack of patriotism,” he begins in his objection, where he expresses the opinion of the minority of the MTA Council, “since sometimes, in my opinion, the precise duty of patriotism requires staying in one’s place and doing one’s immediate business, into which one has been put and for which one has prepared… I don’t believe much in the possibility of quickly turning the leader of a sect into a fine engineer… And meanwhile the struggle with the Germans does not take place only on the field of battle, it goes on in trade, and industry, and in science and learning. The battle against sectarianism, with this ‘German faith’, is the battle against that same enemy spirit and enemy thought. This battle is the direct duty of Mr. Remezov, and, fulfilling this duty, without a doubt he can be more useful, being a person who by his education already has training.”
History has proven Archimandrite Hilarion to be correct, both on a private and government scale. “Alas!” grieved Professor I.V. Popov, “The sad reality is on the side of those who protested [against A.V. Remezov’s going into the army]. A.V. died not from an enemy bullet, but from a wasting disease. A.V. spent a considerable part of his two years of military service in health resorts, in hospitals and military hospitals.” And Russia suffered defeat not on the Russian-German front, but inside the country, and that defeat had as its source the pernicious change of the national ideology, the loss of moral orientation, which was, in turn, the consequence of a massive falling away from the Church. Archimandrite Hilarion dedicated his theological, teaching, and preaching activity in the period of his life when he was at the Academy to the necessity of staying in the Church, and of returning to her those who had fallen away through unbelief, lack of morals, or getting carried away into heterodoxy or sectarianism.
After May 1, 1917, when Bishop Theodore was dismissed from his position as rector of the MTA through the efforts of the Ober-procurator of the Synod V.H. L’vov, Archimandrite Hilarion had to take upon himself the temporary discharging of the duties of rector of the MTA. On September 10, 1917 Professor A.P. Orlov was elected to the place of rector; in that same year he was ordained deacon on October 5, priest on the 8th, and elevated to the rank of archpriest on the 9th.” Archimandrite Hilarion, now released from his duty as rector, put in his resignation, as the position of inspector had been abolished, and the post that was introduced instead of it—assistant to the rector—had become elective. On October 17, 1917, by an ukaz of the Synod, he was released from the position he was holding, but on October 29 of the same year he became the assistant rector of the MTA, “by an almost unanimous election”—that is, he became the same inspector [that he had been].
But of course, the principal activity of Archimandrite Hilarion (Troitsky) in 1917 was connected with his participation in the Local Council and with preparing for it, and the main task of this activity was the election of a patriarch. The issue of the election of a patriarch evoked quite active opposition at that time, mainly from the side of the clergy and laypeople who subsequently joined the Renovationist schism. “Archimandrite Hilarion’s report on this issue was not permitted at the Moscow Convention of Clergy and Laity.”
The Holy Council of the Orthodox Church of Russia opened in Moscow on August 15 Old Style on the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God. Archimandrite Hilarion (Troitsky) was elected as a member of the Council from the Moscow Theological Academy together with Professor I.V. Popov and Archpriest D.V. Rozhdestvensky. Before this, Archimandrite Hilarion was elected deputy of a delegate (Prof. I.V. Popov) from MTA at the Pre-Sobor Council, but he was not able to take part in its work by reason of his being busy with the organization of monastic conventions.
Perhaps Archimandrite Hilarion was not the most aggressive participant in the Sobor, but he was regular and active. We find him taking part in the organization work of the Sobor. He observed the elections, participated in the count of the elections, and read out the draft of the appeal by the Patriarch and Sobor to the Council of People’s Deputies.
Fr. Hilarion’s speeches evoked a lively response from the members of the Sobor and were distinguished by the depth of content, the concreteness, and the Church-consciousness of the position that he held. The scope of the issues which Archimandrite Hilarion took part in discussing was limited to the sphere of his interests. These were the themes of church administration and church life, connected with questions about the unity and boundaries of the Church. In addition, he participated in polemics regarding the issues of spiritual schools and the relationship to the new regime.
Archimandrite Hilarion proposed characterizing the Bolshevik socialization of Church property as “blasphemous violence,” and therefore, in its appeal to the CPC (Council of People’s Commissars) the Sobor was obliged “to declare that our churches and sacred objects cannot be socialized.” In so doing, Fr. Hilarion was aware that a declaration like this would not have any influence on the way the Soviet authorities treated the Russian Church and its property. “A declaration like ours, of course, will not change the mind of the Soviet government, and the socialization of churches and sacred objects in all likelihood will be carried out even against our will.” As the assistant rector of the MTA, Archimandrite Hilarion could not be indifferent to the issues of spiritual education raised at the Sobor. We see him as a participant in the exchange of opinions about the section’s report on religious-educational institutions “On the type and administration of educational-religious institutions.” After the section report on the monasteries and monastics Fr. Hilarion proposed an amendment making into law that an academic monk remain in academic service for the course of 20 years. The amendment found sympathy with some members of the Sobor, in particular Bishop Anatoly Chistopol’sky and Prof. I.V. Popov, but was voted down. The amendment proposed by Archimandrite Hilarion about the impermissibility of elections to the episcopal rank directly by laypeople was also voted down. Neither was Fr. Hilarion in agreement with raising to the status of law the principle of election when replacing the abbot of a monastery: “That isn’t election, it’s playing a game of election.” But no doubt the spirit of the times did not allow the Sobor to accept his arguments. Archimandrite Hilarion’s arguments about the inadmissibility of creating within the Russian Church a parallel edinovertsy hierarchy, fraught with the possibility of a new schism, had more success with the members of the Sobor. Bishop Seraphim Chelyabinsky assessed Archimandrite Hilarion’s answer to the edinoverty’s arguments as “wise.” A compromise version was adopted in the resolutions of the Sobor, in accordance with which the election of a vicar edinoverchesky bishop was allowed.
Archimandrite Hilarion took part in the discussion of the issue of the autonomy of the Ukrainian Church, upholding the principle, in accordance with the canons, of correspondence between the church and government administrative divisions.
The discussion at the Sobor on the reasons for dissolution of marriage naturally spilled over into a theological dispute over the boundaries of the Church. Archimandrite Hilarion’s position regarding this issue was unwavering: “Differentiating between being of a different religion and being heterodox is unacceptable, and to make a distinction between the degrees of falling away [from the Church] is impossible… Here one needs to talk about falling away from the Church—the external falling away from the Church is also joined with internal disunion.
But Archimandrite Hilarion’s main focus at the time of the 1917-1918 Sobor was on issues of the Highest Church Administration of the Russian Orthodox Church and especially on the question of the Patriarch. Archimandrite Hilarion was not only a member, but also a speaker of the section on the Highest Church Administration (usually together with Prof. L.D. Lapin). He participated in debates, gave explanations as a speaker of the section on the HCA, upheld the position of the Council section that he had presented, and earned the gratitude of the Sobor for his activity as speaker of the section on the HCA.
But what received the most fame, for its significance to the main resolution of the Sobor, was Archimandrite Hilarion’s speech in defense of the Patriarchate. Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin speaks about this speech as “made famous” and “classic.”
It is known that the issue of the restoration of the Patriarchate in the Russian Church was not included among the subjects proposed for consideration at the Local Sobor of 1917-1918. The official proposal about the Sobor’s consideration of this issue was first made in a report by the chairman of the section on the Highest Church Administration, Bishop Mitrophan (Krasnopol’sky) of Astrakhan, at the session on October 11, 1917. From this day forward heated arguments flared up at the Sobor around the issue of the Patriarchate, which did not die down before the adoption of the resolution on October 28. The ratio of supporters and opponents of the Patriarchate among the speakers who addressed this question was 39 to 12 respectively—that is, the opponents of the election of a patriarch constituted less than a quarter of those who spoke. If one takes into account their (i.e. the opponents’) heightened activity, then one may suppose that this part was even smaller among the members of the Sobor. This understanding rings in the speeches of the opponents of the Patriarchate, who spoke of their position as of one running counter to the majority. One of the speakers could not come out either for or against elections of the First Hierarch of the Russian Church by reason of the ambiguity of the boundaries of his power. Two of the speakers mentioned scattered doubts and the changing of their views in favor of the Patriarchate. Thus, we repeat, the opponents of the election of a patriarch constituted less than a quarter of the people who spoke [at the Sobor].
The ratio of 141 votes versus 112 does not correspond to the number of supporters and opponents of the restoration of the Patriarchate in the Russian Church, as this is presented by certain historians, as the figures cited were obtained as a result of voting on another issue—namely, the election of a patriarch ahead of schedule, triggered by the intensification of revolutionary riots in Moscow. Many of the members of the Sobor were not able to be present at the session on October 30 because of the fighting on the streets. The members of the Sobor were deciding on whether to elect a patriarch immediately or to wait until there was a larger membership present. The greater part of the 112 people who voted against the urgent election of a patriarch were not against his election as such. The overwhelming majority of the members of the Sobor had no doubt not only of the need for the restoration of the Patriarchate, but also in the fact that a patriarch would be chosen. They only doubted whether early elections, held in the absence of those who had been stopped on the way to the Cathedral Hall by the whistling of a bullet or the explosions of shells were justified. “There are not many of us here,” member of the Sobor A.A. Papkov persuaded his colleagues, “many of our fathers and brothers are sitting in various places in Moscow and for all their good intentions they are not able to come here. And we are going to consider the question of electing a patriarch. In this work, we need the agreement that we reached earlier. We have not had a patriarch for 217 years, we only have a few weeks left to wait and there will be one. What are we hurrying for today? We will choose a patriarch to the thunder of artillery and in depressed spirits. Is this permissible? Have respect for the fathers and brethren who cannot come here. We could make a huge mistake, compromising the work of the elections.”
“He chose to accuse me of such a tendency,” answered Fr. Hilarion later to his opponents, “but this tendency is one thing only: to observe the Church rules and canons.”
As to Archimandrite Hilarion’s speech in defense of the Patriarchate, it rang out as if it were a signal to end the debates on the matter. In his address, Fr. Hilarion showed the illusiveness of the election being considered. The speaker based his speech on the following “truth about the Patriarchate”: “We cannot not restore the Patriarchate, we must without fail restore it, because the patriarchate is the basic law of the highest administration of every Local Church.” Compliance with the Church canons is the prerequisite for the resolution of issues of Church administration and Church life in general. “N.D. Kuznetsov chose to accuse me of such a tendency,” answered Fr. Hilarion later to his opponents, “but this tendency is one thing only: to observe the Church rules and canons.” In Archimandrite Hilarion’s speech scientific scholarly argumentation, appealing to the reason of those gathered, is united with ardor of speech, expressing the unity of heartfelt feelings and the aspirations of the Russian church people. One of the members of the Sobor, V.Ya. Malakhov, said that from “a historical point of view” in Archimandrite Hilarion’s speech (and in Prof. Sokolov’s) “were presented the most characteristic arguments in favor of the Patriarchate, but the gifted nature of his speech was acknowledged even by his ideological opponents. After this speech the final polarization of supporters and opponents of the Patriarchate took place. In the camp of those who believed the restoration of the Patriarchate to be unacceptable for the Russian Church were left basically only those who were opponents as a matter of principle, who, like Archpriest A.P. Rozhdestvensky for example, were only hardened in their opinions after Archimandrite Hilarion’s speech. At the Sobor, by this time, according to Priest P.M. Volkov’s thoughts, which received their corroboration in the events of the Renovationist schism, “those who wish[ed] to take the Church administration into their own hands” did “not desire the Patriarchate.”
After Archimandrite Hilarion (Troitsky’s) speech, which was heard on October 23, 1917, public debates about the issue of the Patriarchate took place only at the session on October 25, it being evident that the majority of speakers were under the effect of this speech, while at the next session on October 28 the question of electing the Patriarch ahead of schedule was raised, which notorious historical circumstances favored.
“Those who wish[ed] to take the Church administration into their own hands” did “not desire the Patriarchate.”
Thus, Archimandrite Hilarion was not only among the initiators of the election of the Patriarch at the Local Sobor of 1917-1918, he also to a significant degree facilitated the positive resolution of this issue, which was controversial for many, at the Sobor.
The talents, the orientation towards Church life and traditions of Archimandrite Hilarion’s position, and his activity at the Sobor, which was directed towards the restoration of the Patriarchate, could not remain unnoticed. “One of the participants in the Sobor, a member of the State Duma, Prince I.S. Vasil’chikov, recalls: “By his speeches—always intelligent and beautifully worded—and by his whole external appearance he very soon won general sympathy at the Sobor. The young archimandrite was nominated by six votes as candidate to be a member of the Highest Church Council of the ROC from among the monastics, but, like the majority of monastics, declined to run. He was also among the candidates for election as Patriarch, and received at the first round of votes three votes, overtaking in the process such noted hierarchs as Agathangel of Yaroslavl’ (2 votes) and Evlogy of Volhynia (1), Bishop Andrei of Ufa (2), and also the chairman of the section on the HCA (Highest Church Administration) Bishop Mitrophan of Astrakhan (1). In the second round, four members of the Local Sobor of the Russian Orthodox Church gave their votes for the candidacy of Archimandrite Hilarion. The newly-elected Patriarch Tikhon also took notice of Archimandrite Hilarion, to which Fr. Hilarion’s participation in the enthronement ceremony of His Holiness serves as witness.
A member of the Sobor, an opponent of the restoration of the Patriarchate and a future Renovationist hierarch, Archpriest Dimitri Rozhdestvensky, spoke ironically about the three votes received by his colleague and fellow-professor at the Academy: “Of course, for a patriarch, it is barely enough… hardly sufficient at all… In order to be an ass, though, on which His Holiness the Patriarch will go out it’s plenty.” Whether Fr. Dimitri intended this or not, his ironic appraisal was not without a portion of prophetic truth, as in the years immediately after the Sobor Archimandrite Hilarion became the vicar bishop of the Patriarch, one of his closest helpers (including helping with the struggle against the Renovationists, whom Archpriest Dimitri also joined), administering the affairs of the Moscow diocese; that is, a kind of “Patriarch’s beast of burden.”
With the coming of the Bolsheviks to power, the educational process at the MTA gradually died out, first and foremost from lack of funds. Already by the end of 1917 Prof. I.V. Popov wrote in the Academy’s publication, “At the present time the Academy is in extremely dire straits. Or rather, to put it more sharply, we have nothing to live on.” By the end of 1918 the Highest Church Administration “in view of all the increasing difficulties of life no” longer “considers it reasonable to resume courses in one form or other at the Academy.” It was decided to get the professors involved in giving public lectures on religious themes in Moscow, and in putting together popular brochures to counterbalance the false teachers, in particular the antireligious.” At this time Archimandrite Hilarion was named vice-chancellor of the MTA and carried out the duties of Rector of the Academy. We know that he was appointed by the Missionary Council of the Synod to be lecturer on the New Testament in six-month courses.
On March 10, 1919, without any kind of serious accusations, he was put into the Butyrsk prison, where he remained until July 7.
So foreign was the spirit of depression to Archimandrite Hilarion, that even in prison he not only did not get depressed, but even found positive moments and did not waste time idly, but spent it usefully. If one overlooks the mention of “prison,” one might get the impression that his letters were sent from a rest home: “I am living well, as before; I have made myself quite at home, just as if nothing had happened. I have even gained some weight here, gotten a little fat, and physically I feel quite fine. In order to increase my blood circulation, I have begun to go to work, for example, to pump water from the prison basements. It’s good—you spend some time in the fresh air and develop your muscles a little. They give you another pound of bread for working. I’m eating very well at the present, time goes by unnoticeably; it’s even annoying that books are read slowly. Life goes on, measured, correct. If this were somewhere in a nice place, it would be a real sanatorium.” Faithful to his “first love,” Archimandrite Hilarion found the chance to broaden his knowledge even in prison: “Now three professors have gathered together in the cell. We give lectures from time to time; we took a course in stenography. I really must say that I have not spent these two months without benefit, and it’s even more interesting than the way I lived outside of prison.”
On July 1, 1919, the Academy library passed over to the domain of the Narkompros (the Commissariat for Public Education), however the academy itself did not cease to exist, but continued its instructional and educational activity right up until March 1923, when it was finally closed by the decree of the antireligious commission under the CC CPR(b) [Central Committee of the Communist Party of Russia (Bolsheviks)], headed by Y. Yaroslavsky. In the 1919/1920 academic year the Vice-Chancellor of the Academy continued to give students his lectures. On April 21, 1920, Archimandrite Hilarion was relieved of the position of Vice-Chancellor in connection with the news of his appointment as Bishop of Verea. On May 11/24, 1920, on the day commemorating SS. Cyril and Methodius, Teachers of the Slavs, Patriarch Tikhon of Moscow and All Russia performed the nomination of 33-year-old Archimandrite Hilarion (Troitsky) to the episcopate. In his sermon, the nominated bishop expressed his consciousness of being unworthy of such a high church position: “I was a sinful layman, I became a sinful monk, I was made a sinful priest, but to be a sinful hierarch—I tremble: ‘In what did the Church of God sin so much, by what did she anger her Master, so as to be delivered over to me, the most contemptible of all, and to undergo such great disgrace?’ Thus exclaims John Chrysostom (On the Priesthood, 6:12). With what words shall I speak, I who am sinful and condemned above all men?”
Fr. Hilarion did not strive for the bishopric and fled from it: “I feared being a hierarch and always spoke quite a lot against my being a bishop.” But he was used to obedience to the Church and the cutting off of his own will before her: “From the days of my childhood I have devoted myself to the service of the Church and Her only have I served up until now, as much as my laziness has allowed. I considered all my scholarly and professorial activity as service to the Church and in this service I have seen the highest and only sense to my academic work.” And that is why, in spite of all his reluctance, he also answered this call of the Church with the words of Holy Scripture: “May the Lord’s will be done (Acts 21:14).” Archimandrite Hilarion was ordained as Bishop of Verea, Vicar of the Moscow Diocese, on May 12/25, 1920.
Vladyka Hilarion’s first year of being a hierarch was full of the Divine services and preaching. During this time he served 142 liturgies, more than 142 vigils, and gave 330 sermons. Sometimes his various trips around the Verea district lasted up to a month. “My main business now is preaching,” he wrote to N. Gloubokovsky. Aside from this, in September-October 1920 Bishop Hilarion was sick with typhus and was not fit for active work: “Half of October I lay, half I sat and strolled. In November I came out into the world.” The illness left complications with his heart, which also made themselves felt in subsequent years.
 At that time, there in the same place at Sretensky Monastery, Vladyka Hilarion’s younger brother Archimandrite Daniel (soon to be Bishop of Eletsk) was canonarch—the very same little brother Volodya Troitsky had in his childhood frightened with the danger of remaining uneducated.
Bishop Hilarion dedicated his remaining free time to resolving the questions of his flock. By fall of 1921 another vicar of the Patriarch, Bishop Peter (Polyansky) of Podol’sk had been arrested yet another time, and Vladyka Hilarion had to replace him in the management of the Patriarchal Office. Besides this, he participated—and highly successfully—in public debates with the atheists. All his strength was given entirely to the service of the Church: “I live like a prisoner chained to his wheelbarrow. Not only are there not any free days, but there is not even a free hour when I might do what I want, and not what is needed, and needed urgently.” In spite of all the difficulty, Vladyka Hilarion saw considerable benefit even in his situation: “There is no time to read, there is no time to write, there is no time… even to sin. Maybe it is for the sake of the third item that the Lord is arranging such a life for me.” He didn’t lose his habitual optimism, either: “If only they would take us to Butyrka [prison] for a rest,” dolefully joked Vladyka, “It’s the only dacha or sanatorium that we have access to.”
However, a vacation like that was now not far off. In the spring of 1921 Vladyka Hilarion again noticed the heightened interest of the authorities: “I’ve been quite worried for some time now about this one provocateur—he’s looking for something to accuse me of. For the time being he’s not having any luck, but you know the devil is very resourceful in this regard. It is easy to find yourself being indicted, and you always have to be ready for this. But in September 1921 the authorities put him under short-term arrest, for no real reason. Vladyka Hilarion’s popularity among the people was growing, but as the people’s love grew, so did the hatred of the Soviet authorities, who could do nothing about it except stop Vladyka’s activity by locking him up, accusing him of helping the Patriarch and participating in public debates, through which the [Soviet] authority was allegedly discredited. The accusation was ridiculous, but enough for Bishop Hilarion’s arrest, which was carried out on March 22, 1922, and for a year’s exile in Archangelsk. On the day of the commemoration of St. Cyril of Alexandria, June 22 (New Style), 1922, he was sentenced by the board of the GPU to the exile. On June 10 Bishop Hilarion already was settling in to his place in a private home almost in the center of Archangelsk.
The newspapers have to take measures so as to give more vivid and open expression to the voice of those priests who are unsatisfied with Tikhon’s course…”
The exiles of Patriarch Tikhon’s closest helpers, Bishop Hilarion (Troitsky) and Bishop Peter (Polyansky), and the arrest of His Holiness himself became part of the Bolsheviks’ preparation for the Renovationist schism, initiated by L. Trotsky. In the “archsecret” proceedings of the session of the commission under Trotsky’s chairmanship, assembled two days before Vladyka Hilarion’s arrest, that is, on March 20, 1922, the theme of the discovery of schismatic clergy and the authorities’ support of them was already obviously indicated: “The newspapers have to take measures so as to give more vivid and open expression to the voice of those priests who are unsatisfied with Tikhon’s course and are disposed—not for fear but for conscience’s sake—towards advancing the decree of the Soviet authority about the confiscation of valuables.”
While in exile, with bitterness over his helplessness and perplexity about the reasons for the schism, Vladyka Hilarion followed the development of Renovationism, the root of which he saw, above all, in moral dissoluteness: “It’s interesting that at a convention for “enlivening” [the Church] this is all that they came up with: 1) a bishop being able to marry, 2) monks being able to marry and stay in their rank, 3) a priest being able to marry a widow, 4) a priest being able to marry again, 5) being able to marry one’s wife’s sister, and 6) being able to marry one’s (female) cousin. And so, six “to marry’s” and that’s all!
“Lust, lodging in his mind, darkened his eyes,” says St. Ephraim the Syrian about a man who allows himself to be led by his passions. Vladyka Hilarion even more impartially speaks about the darkening of the mind of the Renovationists (“zhivtsy,” as the people called them): “They have gone absolutely balmy in Moscow. Thirty or forty random people get together on the street: ‘Let’s set up a Living Church!’ ‘Let’s!’ ‘Ready!’ Now aren’t they idiots?”
In spite of being so far away from the “epicenter” of the events which were shaking the Russian Church, the exiled bishop in no way wavered about the issue of the legality of the self-styled church administration: “One must not recognize the ‘newly-fledged’ in their rank, because none of their resolutions are legal.” Vladyka’s traditional understanding of the Church and her boundaries gave him confidence for a firm stand in the truth: “The huge, ugly impostor is very close, but it isn’t here yet. In the LC [Living Church] the most important thing is that its stewards are impostors, chosen by no one, appointed by no one, and not needed by anyone. So there is as much grace on the self-appointed hierarchs as there is on any Tatar. And I’m not entering into any communication with them, no matter what. And what will happen? Well, I’ll do some travelling for five, maybe ten years. So what? And it may be good to travel. I can live some more like I’m living here.”
His letters didn’t have the bombast of a confessor of the Faith, nor ever any grumbling. He was usually only satisfied with his circumstances: “I’m very pleased and glad that I live here—the main thing is, there is free time and books…” But there was deep sorrow over the profanation of the Mother-Church by her ungrateful children: “My own personal fate is of absolutely no interest to me, because my outward situation is nothing important to me… However I cannot help but suffer and speak passionately, seeing and understanding the suffering of the Russian Church. The energy that he had saved up during his forced inaction allowed Bishop Hilarion to work with redoubled strength upon his return to Moscow. Now, on July 5, 1923, on the Feast of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God, he served the all-night vigil at Sretensky Monastery, after first having taken the precaution of consecrating the church. Vladyka, without any remorse, refused to allow the Renovationists to take part in the Divine services.
In the same place, on July 6 Vladyka Hilarion concelebrated the Liturgy with the Patriarch and gave a sermon in which he denounced the Renovationist schism and called those who had fallen away to repentance. The return of Patriarch Tikhon to free action after his acknowledgement of the Soviet authority in combination with Bishop Hilarion’s sermon evoked a massive return of fallen children to the Church.
 The very Renovationists were involuntarily imbued with respect for him, and some of them later recalled: “It’s hard to imagine a better assistant for Patriarch Tikhon than Bishop Hilarion. A magnificent and ardent preacher who knew how to speak simply and emotionally, a zealous server of the altar, Vladyka Hilarion enjoyed enormous popularity among the Muscovite clergy and the literal adoration of the people. His very appearance—giant stature, blonde beard, iconographically fine facial features—impressed one with its stateliness, austere elegance, and distinctive picturesqueness. ‘Now that is a real Russian bishop,’ involuntarily came to the mind of each person who saw Hilarion.
“Having quickly understood the Patriarch’s new position, the bishop immediately became its active champion. During that time he had talks with hundreds of priests, laypeople, monks and nuns. He negotiated with parishes about the rite of their uniting with the Patriarch, he worked out a rite of repentance, and received then and there dozens of Renovationists who had come to the Patriarch in repentance.
“Thanks to the indomitable energy of this man the Church organization [in] Moscow was restored in two days.”
But of course, for the majority of Renovationists and especially their leaders, the mere name of Archbishop Hilarion evoked a storm of indignation (Vladyka Hilarion was elevated to the rank of Archbishop by His Holiness Tikhon soon after his return from exile). Already in 1925, two years after Vladyka’s last arrest, when he was sent to Solovki, the false metropolitan Alexander Vvedensky, while travelling around the Tula diocese, reproached it for “giving, as everyone knows, such an inveterate Black Hundredist as the Tikhonite “pillar,”—Hillarion [sic] Troitsky.”
At this time (1923), Vladyka Hilarion was the Patriarch’s closest assistant. Their names were often used together as a synonym for the Orthodox episcopate: “No revolts by those who pine for the bygone regime of Belavin and Hilarion can change the situation in the church” (Vvedensky). All possible schismatic insults and slander were also directed, first and foremost, to these two hierarchs: “The Tikhons and Hilarions” “are being fattened” on the simple-mindedness of Christ’s Church; “the priests and the levites—the Tikhons and the Hilarions” have not brought the Church of God anything “but grief and troubles”; “the only thing the grace-filled” Tikhons and Hilarions have done is kindle hostility towards the revolution”; “Tikhon and Hilarion produced ‘graciously’ asphyxiating gasses against the revolution” (Antonin Granovsky).
In another way, this unity of the prelates has remained in the grateful memory of the Church: “All-honorable pair, holy Tikhon, Patriarch and Confessor, blessed Hilarion, his co-struggler, and confessor, you have shown the image of Christ crucified in this world”; “Angels and archangels now dance for joy in the heavens, seeing two heavenly angels, Tikhon and Hilarion, glorified by the Church” (troparia from the 6th ode of the canon to Hieromartyr Hilarion).
The Renovationists had serious cause for their hatred, however. With the Patriarch’s blessing, Archbishop Hilarion consecrated churches that came back from the schism with the same rite as for those defiled by heretics, which aroused the schismatics to extreme anger.
In his epistle of July 2/15, 1923, composed together with Vladyka Hilarion, Patriarch Tikhon wrote about those who had broken off: “They have separated themselves from the unity of the Ecumenical Church and are deprived of God’s grace, which abides in Christ’s Church… And all the actions and sacraments performed by the bishops and priests who have fallen away from the Church are without grace; while the faithful who take part with them in prayer and sacraments not only do not receive sanctification, they are subject to condemnation for taking part in sin.” What the Renovationists “called the Holy Gifts were burnt up, and no grace was acknowledged for them at all.”
Having supported His Holiness’s policy directed at “drawing a line between the Church and the counterrevolution” and the recognition of the legality of the Soviet rule (which gave many of those who had strayed the chance to return to the Church), Archbishop Hilarion was able to win substantial concessions for the Church in his negotiations with Tuchkov, in particular the lowering of taxes for parishes and the clergy; the revocation of the requirement of the compulsory registration of parishes, the legal existence of which was made dependent on the whim of the local government authorities. He even succeeded in persuading Tuchkov of the impossibility of inserting the word “Soviet” into the wording of the commemoration of the authorities.
As to the opinion that Archbishop Hilarion, in his talks with the leaders of the Renovationist schism, agreed to discuss the possibility of removing Patriarch Tikhon from the Church administration, that opinion (which is quite widespread even in our time) is nothing more than a provocation of the OGPU, performed through Archbishop Evdokim (Meschersky). In the newspaper Izvestia, September 23, 1923, there was published a letter from Evdokim to Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky). The letter contained false information about the relations of His Holiness Tikhon and his closest helper-Archbishops: “The joint commission,” declared the author of the letter, “by the lips of even his most ardent defenders (Bishop Hilarion), passed the following resolution on him (the Patriarch—A.G.): to lay down all [his] power, to withdraw to a monastery, and to await the verdict of the Council of Bishops about him.” The main trick of this outright lie was that it could not be disproved publicly and the answer of those who had been slandered was only able to be distributed in narrow circles. For this reason, Vladyka Hilarion was attacked not only from the left, but also the right sides. The group of hierarchs united around Archbishop Theodore (Pozdeyevsky), called “the clandestine Synod” by the Patriarch, accused the Patriarchal Synod of inadmissible compromises. Bishop Gervasy (Malinin), who went over to Renovationism in 1925, recalls: “Archbishop Theodore told me, speaking about Hilarion in abusive language, that he would ruin Patriarch Tikhon and the Church, but that all salvation is in the Patriarch. But if Patriarch Tikhon were not to exist, then the authorities would not allow the Patriarchate in Russia at all, and without the Patriarchate for the Church there will be ruin.”
During the period of his short freedom in 1923, Archbishop Hilarion also had to occupy himself with investigating the administrative matters of the Moscow Diocese, which was complicated by reason of the decline of church, and in particular, of monastery life. One of the cases, for example, commissioned to Vladyka Hilarion by the Patriarch, tells of this. The essence of this case was that the elderly monks of the Simonov Monastery, who were used to a quiet, relaxed life, displayed a hostile attitude to the lawful demands of the young Archimandrite Peter (Roudnev), and set up a whole campaign to drive the abbot from the monastery.
Aside from Vladyka’s sermons and lectures, the public debates with the Renovationists and atheists that he participated in had a great influence on the people. Evoking special interest were the debates with Archbishop Alexander Vvedensky and the people’s commissar of public education, Lunacharsky.
We know about Vladyka Hilarion’s following public debates with the leader of the Renovationists, A. Vvedensky. The debate planned for July 31, 1923 did not take place because of Archbishop Hilarion’s absence, but Vladyka was able to take part in the debates on August 17, September 4, and October 13, 1923. The well-grounded, well-reasoned argumentation and the confident, winning manner of Archbishop Hilarion’s speeches inclined the overwhelming majority of listeners to his side, and consequently, to the side of the Patriarchal Church. Vladyka Hilarion himself said later about his debates with Vvedensky: “I had him backed up against a wall.” Vladyka Hilarion’s success in the debates with A. Vvedensky hastened his new arrest to a significant degree.
By November 1923, all the tricks of the authorities and Renovationists aimed at giving the illusion of the reconciliation of the latter with the Church had been exhausted. In the first half of November 1923 Tuchkov had a personal conversation with His Holiness, demanding without fail that he be reconciled with Evdokim (Meschersky’s) synod under unacceptable conditions, to which he received a decisive refusal. It is likely that the Patriarch’s arrest was not advantageous to the authorities because of possible international and intra-governmental repercussions, and they decided to confine their wrath to Archbishop Hilarion’s arrest, which was done soon after the Patriarch’s talk with Tuchkov—November 15, 1923.
His Holiness Tikhon’s request for the freeing of his closest assistant was turned down, and the confessor of Christ’s Church was sentenced to prison on Solovki on December 7 of the same year. He was soon sent there (December 20) “for counterrevolutionary activity, manifested as anti-Soviet agitation in debates arranged by him, lectures, and the dissemination of counterrevolutionary rumors” (from the resolution of E.A. Tuchkov to Patriarch Tikhon’s request.)
Vladyka Hilarion did not harbor any special illusions about his further prospects in life under soviet rule. After he had become acquainted with life in the [concentration] camp, he foretold, “We will not come out of here alive.” One of Archbishop Hilarion’s fellow-prisoners in captivity on Solovki left us a most vivid picture of him in this period of his life:
“Archbishop Hilarion is a young man, full of joie de vivre, with a broad education, an excellent Church preacher and speaker and singer, a brilliant polemicist with the atheists, always natural, sincere, open; everywhere he goes he attracts everyone to himself and enjoys everyone’s love. He is large of stature, with a broad chest, thick dark blond hair, and a clear, bright face. He remains in the memory of everyone who has met him. During the years of our imprisonment together we have been witnesses to his complete monastic non-possessiveness, his deep simplicity, his genuine humility and childlike meekness.
“He simply would give away everything that he had—which they asked for. He wasn’t interested in his things. So someone, out of charity, had to look after his suitcase at any rate. And he had such a helper on Solovki, too…You could insult him but he would never answer back, and might not even notice the attempt that was made. He was always cheerful, and even if he was preoccupied and worried, he would quickly try to cover all this up with the same cheerfulness. He looked at everything with spiritual eyes and everything served to profit his soul.
“At the Philemonov fishing grounds, seven versts from the Solovki kremlin and the main camp, on the shore of an inlet of the White Sea, Archbishop Hilarion and I, two more bishops and several priests—all prisoners—were net-menders and fishermen. Archbishop Hilarion loved to refer to this work by rearranging the words of the stikhira (hymn) for Trinity Day: “The Holy Spirit giveth all things: before, fishermen were shown to be theologians, but now the other way around—theologians are shown to be fishermen.” Thus he reconciled his spirit to his new situation.
“His good humor extended to the Soviet authority itself, and he was able to look on it with not unkindly eyes. The Soviet authority allotted all of us various terms of imprisonment. To Archbishop Hilarion, who had worked around the Patriarch in Moscow and dealt heavy blows to atheism and to the Renovationist schism, who had absolutely become a figure of national importance—and to the little hieromonk from Kazan’, almost still a boy, whose only crime was that he took away the orarion from a Renovationist deacon and wouldn’t let him serve—were given three years.
“‘For the Master is gracious,’ Archbishop Hilarion would say about this situation using the words of the Paschal Homily of St. John Chrysostom, ‘he receives the last even as the first; He gives rest to him that comes at the eleventh hour, just as to him who has labored from the first. He accepts the works and He kisses the intention. He both honors the act and praises the offer.’ These words sounded ironic, but they gave a feeling of peace and made him accept his trial as from the hand of God.
“But this good humor was not at all a loss of courage before the God-fighting regime. While he was still in the Kem’ [concentration] camp, on the threshold of Solovki, Lenin’s death took hold of us. While they lowered him into the grave in Moscow, we in the camp were supposed to stand for five minutes in silence. Vladyka Hilarion and I were lying beside each other on the plank beds, while opposite us in the middle of the barracks stood a formation of our fathers and brothers of various ranks in expectation of the solemn moment. “Stand up, he was a great man at any rate, and besides, you’ll catch it if they notice,” they encouraged us. Looking at Vladyka lying there, I didn’t get up, either. I had the strength not to bow my head before such a beast. So that’s how we were able to stay in bed all right. . And Vladyka would say, ‘Just think, Fathers, what is happening now in hell: Lenin himself has appeared there, what a celebration for the demons.”
The thought that Solovki was a school of virtues cheered Vladyka Hilarion very much: nonpossessiveness, meekness, humility, abstinence, patient endurance, and love of work. They robbed the party of clergy that had arrived, and the fathers were very upset. I said to them jokingly that that’s how they teach them nonpossessiveness. Vladyka was delighted! They stole my boots twice in a row, and I was walking around the camp in torn galoshes, which he really found amusing, and that also inspired us with good humor. But it has to be noted that not all the ascetically-minded monks understood such a spirit. To some it seemed that they could only be saved in the monastery, and at times they were very upset about their privations.
His love towards each person, his attention and interest to each, and his sociability were simply striking. He was the most popular person in the camp among all its classes. We won’t talk about how generals, officers, students and professors knew him, conversed with him, found him or he them, while there were many bishops and they were older than he was and no less educated. The “rabble”knew him — criminals, the criminal world of thieves and bandits — namely as a good, respected person, whom one could not but love. Whether at work, here and there, or in a free moment you could see him walking around arm in arm with some “specimen” or other from this milieu. This wasn’t condescension to a younger brother or to the lost. No. Vladyka talked with each one as with an equal, taking an interest in, for example, his “profession,” each one’s favorite thing to do. The “rabble” was very proud and highly touchy. You weren’t going to show disdain to them with impunity. And that’s why Vladyka’s manner was all-conquering. As a friend he ennobled them by his presence and attention. And his observations in this environment, when he shared them, were of exceptional interest.
He was accessible to all, he was the same as everybody, it was easy for everyone to be with him, to meet with him and to talk with him. The most ordinary, simple, not holy appearance — that was what Vladyka himself was. But behind this ordinary appearance of joviality and worldliness you could little by little discern a childlike purity, great spiritual experience, kindness and mercy, this delightful indifference to material goods, true faith, genuine piety, high moral perfection, not to mention the intellectual, joined with the strength and clarity of conviction. This appearance of sinfulness, foolishness, this guise of worldliness hid from people his inner activity and saved him, himself, from hypocrisy and conceit. He was the sworn enemy of hypocrisy and every “appearance of piety,” perfectly conscientious and straightforward. In “Troitsky’s team” (that was what Archbishop Hilarion’s work group was called) the clergy received a good education on Solovki. Everyone understood that to call yourself sinful or only to carry on long pious conversations, or to show the strictness of your way of life was extraneous. And all the more so to think more of yourself than you really were.
Of course, Vladyka questioned each priest who arrived in detail about everything that had preceded his imprisonment. “So what did they arrest you for?”
“Because I served molebens at home when they closed the monastery,” answered Father Abbot, “well, people gathered, and there were even healings sometimes…”
“Oh, really? There were even healings… How many years of Solovki did they give you?”
“Oh, that’s nothing — for healings they should have given you more — the Soviet authorities made an oversight…” It goes without saying that to speak about healings by one’s own prayers was more than immodest.”
Here it seems appropriate to give a small commentary to the story about Vladyka Hilarion’s relations with the criminals. A prison priest of the beginning of the 20th century, Archimandrite Spiridon (Kisliakov) reveals the basis for such relations with the prisoners in the following way: “As soon as I became close to the persons who were arrested, I understood right away what was needed on my part for this element [of society]: there had to be exceptional love for them. This love had to be sincere and active. Without it, it was better not to become acquainted with this world. This world was too offended and hurt by their fate, too embittered at everything and everyone, and, in order to draw them out of this state, it was absolutely necessary for the priest to stand, and stand firmly on both feet, on the soil of active love for them.”
Christian love has as its source God Himself, but communion with God is unthinkable without prayer. Without doubt, Hieromartyr Hilarion’s virtues were founded on his experience in prayer. We find confirmation of this in the book of memoirs of a spiritual guide who lived in Soviet times, Fr. Arseny. In the memoirs of one of Fr. Arseny’s spiritual children, Hieromonk Seraphim, we find the following episode: “Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky) set me on the right way. We met him in Solovki, he, too, was sent to clean the sewerage. “Vladyka!” I addressed him. What should I do, I clean the sewerage, I a hieromonk, I’m obliged day and night to pray, but how can I, filthy and foul? You can’t make the Sign of the Cross with such a hand. What should I do? Vain thoughts have started to overcome me.”
Vladyka Hilarion said, “It’s essential to pray, and to pray so that the world surrounding you withdraws and in your soul lives only prayer. Do not make the Sign of the Cross with a dirty hand, but mentally raise your eyes up, then down, right and left. You will make the Sign of the Cross, but in the barracks, when you have cleansed yourself from the filth, cross yourself with your hand. Praying during your work, withdrawing into prayer, you won’t see the filth and stench. That’s what I do, and it helps me endure all my burdens. The Lord deliver you from vain thoughts; remember what your guide and teacher, Fr. Agapit, taught you.”
Just as “a city that is set on a hill cannot be hid” (Mat. 5:14), so the spiritual podvig of Vladyka Hilarion was known to all and inspired many even beyond the borders of Russia. Metropolitan Elevthery (Bogoyavlensky) of Lithuania and Vilnius, who later administered the Western European parishes, used to cite Vladyka Hilarion as an example of how in prison “the podvig of confession [of the Faith]… may change into the podvig of a spiritual father, brother, and missionary.”
In the very camp itself the person of Archbishop Hilarion was surrounded by legends. They talked of a monastery in the Caucasus which had rebelled, and which he had taken by storm; about a fantastic encounter in Kem’ of Vladyka with a Papal nuncio and of the heroic answer of the Orthodox hierarch to the proposition of a “cardinal’s tiara.” If these stories were not historical, however, then they were truthful in essence. Vladyka Hilarion really did say, “I would sooner rot in prison than change my direction.”
Archbishop Hilarion’s real actions were sometimes far more significant that his legendary ones. Even in the rich Orthodox hagiography few incidents are found like the one described by Boris Shiryayev, when Vladyka, going, in the opinion of many, to certain death, strengthened by prayer, with the help of God and four of his fellows, saved the camp regimental commissar Sukhov, the cruelest atheist and the prisoners’ enemy, from perishing in his boat which was caught in an ice jam. Not long before this Sukhov had been firing at the Crucifixion with buckshot. “The Lord saved!” thus did all who had seen this miracle interpret it. “The Lord saved!” the very God-fighter who had been saved also could not but acknowledge, frantically crossing himself on Holy Saturday opposite the Crucified One Whom he himself had shot.
Vladyka Hilarion also used his gift of persuasion in the camp. Though after long, hard work he obtained easing of restrictions for his neighbors, he himself refused advantageous offers, remaining a simple fisherman. “Vladyka Hilarion always was elected to the delegation to the head of the island, Eihmans, when it was necessary to get something difficult — and he always obtained his goal. He was precisely the one who managed to get most of the clergy into the 6th Company, to get a certain relaxation of the regime, to transfer the majority of all ranks of clergy to domestic work… He protected the hair and beards of the clergy from being shaved during a time of a typhus epidemic… To shave off the hair… of the elderly priests would have meant to subject them to new humiliations and outrages.”
According to the memoirs of B. Shiryayev, it was namely Archbishop Hilarion who got from Eihmans permission for the festal Paschal Divine service in the camp, not only for the clergy but also for the other prisoners (with crosses that they gave out from the museum, and processional banners and chalices), when, in spite of the God-fighting regime, the jubilant choir celebrated ‘those in the graves’ and confirmed their own future inevitable Resurrection, which the forces of evil could not overcome.”
The dating of this incident requires elaboration. In agreement with the memoirs of former Solovetsky prisoners, Divine services in the church in the Solovetsky camp were accessible for the prisoners only in the period from 1925 through 1929. The most triumphant Paschal Divine service accessible to all on Solovki was in 1926. But in 1926, Archbishop Hilarion greeted Pascha in the transit camp on Popov Island. In the words of M.M. Rozanov, Archbishop Hilarion headed the Paschal service in 1929, but admittance to it was almost exclusively to the clergy and monks. It is possible that the festal service described in the book The Ever-Burning Lamp, headed by Archbishop Hilarion, was performed in 1928, when “they celebrated Pascha openly for the last time” in the Solovki camp. It may also well be that the events described relate to 1925, when the head of SLON (Solovetsky Camp of Special Purpose), Eihmans, made accessible a service in church for the clergy and the faithful.
In prison, as earlier in freedom, Vladyka Hilarion’s main care—and, unfortunately, sorrow—was his concern for the Church, especially for her unity, so pressing in the 1920’s, notorious for their multitude of schisms. And here Hieromartyr Hilarion’s ecclesiological concept displayed its vitality. His firm position in relation to the schismatics, his unshakable faith, his deep knowledge, his sincerity and ability to persuade, founded on high moral qualities, made him an indisputable authority for many. With his ardent faith he possessed a clear mind and the ability to reason soberly. Quickly sorting out the schismatic delusions, he held his ground with such confidence and good reasoning that his confidence spread to those surrounding him even against their will, acting to encourage both the clergy and the laity.
“You have to believe that the Church will stand fast,” he would say in conversation with his fellow prisoners in the camp. “Without this faith, you can’t live. Though only tiny, hardly-burning little flames be preserved—some day everything will start up again from them….” “Even a short talk with Hilarion would cheer you up,” recalls O. Volkov. “That’s how it is when you associate with a person who is convinced, intelligent and courageous. And so staunch, too.”
Archbishop Hilarion himself, in spite of his limited possibilities, did a great deal, decisively rejecting treacherous temptations, in order for the Church to stand fast with as little loss as possible.
The new schismatic conspiracy being organized by the regime, headed by Archbishop Gregory (Yatskovsky) of Nizhegorod, did not command authority in the eyes of the members of the Church. To make up for this deficiency an attempt was made to attract Archbishop Hilarion into the schism.
“Tuchkov theatrically feigned surprise at the term given to Archbishop Hilarion: “For Hilarion three years? So little?” and added three more.”
With this aim he was transferred to Yaroslavl’ in 1925 for a talk with Tuchkov, and that’s where he stayed until April 1926, first in the political isolation cell and then in a shared cell in Korovniki. Here Archbishop Hilarion made attempts to return to “his first and constant love—scholarship” and to continue theological work. “I set myself an enormous topic,” he wrote from the Yaroslavl’ isolation cell, “which you couldn’t finish developing unless you had perhaps ten years. The biggest issue, of course, was books.” Every month he received a box of books from friends in Moscow and every month he sent the literature that he had worked through back again. But, alas, his hopes were in vain. Not only did he not have ten years left for scholarly research, he didn’t even have ten months. His uncompromising stand deprived the confessor of the conditions favorable for studying theology. After a series of failed talks, Tuchkov theatrically feigned surprise at the term given to Archbishop Hilarion: “For Hilarion three years? So little?” and added three more.
Vladyka Hilarion preferred a secret Paschal service in the unfinished bakery building at the transit camp on Popov Island to services in the capital with the schismatics. There, together with Bishop Nektary (Trezvinsky) and priest Paul Chekhranovy he not so much sang the service as whispered it in the spring of 1926.
There exist several references to the fact that in June 1927 there were renewed attempts to persuade Archbishop Hilarion, who had been brought to Moscow, to head the Gregorian HCA with the promise of a white klobuk and full freedom of action. The head of the schism himself, Gregory, led the negotiations. Vladyka’s answer was invariable. However, Tuchkov succeeded in persuading Archbishop Hilarion to write a letter to Metropolitan Sergius about the conditions for a possible Sobor. Not knowing the contemporary conditions surrounding the Church very well, Vladyka expressed some thoughts that were used by the Gregorian schismatics to their advantage. “The Gregorians, of course, were not a little triumphant about this, while Archbishop Hilarion, having returned to Solovki, mourned over it. Often, interrupting some of his thoughts, he would say to us out loud, “Here the Gregorians are saying that Hilarion is for them, while Hilarion is on Solovki again.”
Vladyka Hilarion’s level of involvement in writing the “Solovetsky Epistle” is insufficiently clear. One may only suppose that it was hardly significant, inasmuch as, after prolonged negotiations with Tuchkov, it was doubtful that hope was present in Archbishop Hilarion in the attempt at making the Church’s position understood by the regime, his relation to which Vladyka approximately expressed his opinion at this time by the following words: “It is plainly Satan himself….” Igumen Damascene (Orlovsky) writes the following on this account: “When Vladyka arrived on the island (from Yaroslavl’ at the beginning of the summer of 1926—A.G.), the text of the declaration had already been approved by the majority of hierarchs. Archbishop Hilarion was also of one mind with them, only he expressed the doubt about whether it wouldn’t be improper to instruct the Deputy Locum Tenens Metropolitan Sergius, but after thinking about it he agreed that this epistle would have value for the Metropolitan as advice, which he was free to accept or not.”
We know about Hieromartyr Hilarion’s energetic efforts directed at the pacification of disturbances that arose in the Russian Church, and especially in her episcopate, in 1927 connected with certain actions of the Deputy Locum Tenens of the Patriarchal Throne Metropolitan Sergius (Stragorodsky). The main subject of argument was the declaration of Metropolitan Sergius of July 16/27, 1927, about the relations of the ROC towards the Soviet regime.
In the fall of the same year the danger of separation from the Deputy Locum Tenens was increased by the actions of Metropolitan Joseph (Petrovykh), who was discontent with his transfer from the Leningrad episcopal see to that of Odessa. Confusion, wavering, and division started to penetrate into the midst of the hierarchs imprisoned on Solovki. By November 1927, “Archbishop Hilarion had succeeded in gathering up to fifteen bishops into Archimandrite Theophan’s cell, where all unanimously resolved to preserve faithfulness to the Orthodox Church, headed by Metropolitan Sergius.
“No schism!” proclaimed Archbishop Hilarion. “No matter what they start to say to us, we will look at it as a provocation!”
What great importance this initiative of Vladyka’s had subsequently can be seen from the following incident: To his contemporary, comrade-in-arms in the fight against the Renovationists, and fellow prisoner, Bishop Manuel (Lemeshevsky), after being freed from the camp, on his return to Moscow on February 10/23 1928, was made the proposition by Metropolitan Joseph (Petrovykh) to join the schism, with the promise of immediate elevation to the rank of metropolitan—to which Bishop Manuel gave this answer: “I am a representative of the “Solovetsky” episcopate. All seventeen of us unanimously and with one accord, under the chairmanship of Archbishop Hilarion, bound ourselves with an oath not to separate from Metropolitan Sergius, to preserve Church unity, and not to join any group of dissenters. I have been entrusted by the “Solovetsky” episcopate to give a report about all of this to Metropolitan Sergius.”
“No schism!” proclaimed Archbishop Hilarion. “No matter what they start to say to us, we will look at it as a provocation!”
In his letter of July 8/21, 1928, Vladyka Hilarion wrote, “I see absolutely nothing in the actions of Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod that surpasses the measure of condescension and patience… Everywhere stupid things are being written—whoever is writing against him. Which piece did they invent? He, they say, is an apostate. And how they write, as if out of their minds! They themselves are landing in the pit and dragging others after them.”
Against the background of these facts the words of a letter of October 22/November 4, 1927, attributed to Vladyka Hilarion, stand out. In November, it turns out that Vladyka Hilarion binds the “Solovetsky” bishops with an oath of loyalty to Metropolitan Sergius, while just a little earlier, in October, he calls him and those bishops who collaborate with him “church adulterers,” he cites the words of some kind of “blessed one” about the fact that Metropolitan Sergius is “worse than a heretic: he has worshipped the antichrist, and, if he does not repent, his lot” will be “in hell together with the satanists,” he cites a very long excerpt from the explanation of the Apocalypse and of the second Epistle of the Apostle Peter by Bishops Ignatius (Brianchaninov) and Theophan (Govorov).
Besides this, the letter is permeated with a spirit of depression and fear which are not characteristic of Hieromartyr Hilarion: “That terrifying thing that we had a foreboding of two or three years ago—has it not come up to us face to face?... It is impossible find such a high-flown style in the letters of Vladyka Hilarion that have come down to us, as the author of the questionable letter lapses into from time to time: “And how could one not wonder at the holy Seer of Hearts, when he beheld before him…” One must likewise note that neither in Hieromartyr Hilarion’s scholarly works, nor in his articles, nor in his letters is there one quote from holy Bishop Ignatius (Brianchaninov). And what is more, it is strange that after the really desperate anxieties stated in the October letter, after only nine months Vladyka now writes that he sees absolutely nothing “in the actions of Metropolitan Sergius and his Synod.”
But the main distinction is the approach itself to the appraisal of the declaration. Vladyka Hilarion considers separation from the Deputy Locum Tenens to be a matter “totally unfounded, foolish, and extremely harmful”; he estimates it as “an extremely serious crime” above all because “Canons 13-15 of the First and Second Council define a boundary, after which separation is even praiseworthy, while before this boundary separation is a Church crime. He reasoned at the Sobor in 1917-1918 in like manner about the Patriarchate: “We cannot not restore the Patriarchate; we must without fail restore it, because the patriarchate is the basic law of the highest administration of every Local Church.”
But the author of the letter of October 22/November 4, 1927, proposes something practically the opposite: “We must not apply the canons formally to resolve the questions that are arising from Church life, in general we must not limit ourselves to a legal relationship to the matter; it is necessary to have a spiritual feeling, which would show us the way of Christ amidst the multitude of paths beaten by wild beasts in sheep’s clothing. Life has posed questions, which are possible to resolve correctly—correctly according to the Church—only by stepping past custom, form, rule and being guided by the feelings learned in the discernment between good and evil.”
Moreover, the author of the letter laments that “contrary to the decree about the separation of Church and state, the Orthodox Church has entered into a close, active union” with the God-fighting government. Meanwhile, Archbishop Hilarion himself, jointly with Patriarch Tikhon, applied no little effort to legalize the situation of the Orthodox Church precisely in this government.
The author of the questionable letter is named by Archpriest Vladislav Tsypin as Bishop Hilarion (Belsky), who got to the Solovetsky camp in 1927, and who, as is well known, belonged to the “non-commemorating” bishops.
 But it wasn’t necessary for him to decide. His days were already numbered. However, now, as before, was heard in holy hierarch Hilarion’s mood not only the “Live—don’t grieve” of [St.] Ambrose [of Optina], but also Chrysostom’s “Glory to God for all things”: “And so over the long years I have gotten used to things and I live, and do not grieve. I do not hope for anything better, I do not refuse anything worse. What God’s will is for me—so let it be.”
At the end of his term they sentenced Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky) to exile in Kazakhstan. He had to reach the place of his exile while under guard, through transit prisons. On his journey under guard he was robbed. On top of it all, somewhere along the way Vladyka came down with typhus and arrived in Leningrad in utter exhaustion. In the hospital they shaved his head and beard, but Christ’s confessor already had a foretaste of his soon-to-be freedom in the Heavenly Church, and in a barely consciousness state would say, “Now I am totally free, no one can touch me…”
“They tried to poison Archbishop Hilarion back in Yaroslavl’, after his talks with Tuchkov, but the poison didn’t have any effect.”
General I.M. Zaitsev wrote, according to the words of the former Chekist M.I. Yupovich, that they tried to poison Archbishop Hilarion back in Yaroslavl’, after his talks with Tuchkov, but the poison didn’t have any effect. Archimandrite Theodosy (Almazov) was convinced that the cause of Vladyka Hilarion’s death was likewise poison: “Apparently such [a poison] was injected into him when he was sick with typhus in Petrograd and his system was weak. Without a doubt, Archbishop Hilarion died in Petrograd from poisoning.”
On December 15/28, 1929, when the doctor came up to Archbishop Hilarion with the good news that the crisis had passed and now his recovery was possible, the patient answered, “How good it is! Now we are far away from….”—and with these words he died.
On May 10, 1999, the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church glorified Archbishop Hilarion (Troitsky) in the choir of the hieromartyrs in the assembly of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia.
Original sources are in the Russian language.