Feast of Alexander Men (January 22)   1 comment

Above:  Flag of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics

Image in the Public Domain



Russian Orthodox Priest and Martyr, 1990


I have always wanted to be a Christian living not by candlelight, but in the direct light of the sun.

–Alexander Men; quoted in Robert Ellsberg, All Saints:  Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time (1997), 40


Alexander Men spent his life negotiating difficulties of church-state relationships in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (the Soviet Union).  He, from a family of Jewish converts to Christianity, entered the world on January 22, 1935.  Political realities played havoc with the Russian Orthodox Church.  The Moscow Patriarchate cooperated with the Soviet government.  The Russian True Orthodox Church (the Catacomb Church) did not.  Men’s baptism, when he was seven months old, was in the Catacomb Church.  Mother Mariya, abbess of a covert group of nuns, baptized our saint at the closed Monastery of the Holy Trinity, Zadorsk.

Men managed to become a priest, despite political obstacles.  He studied at the Moscow Fur Institute in 1953 and 1954, then at the Irkutsk Agriculture Institute from 1955 to 1958. Our saint’s religious convictions led to his expulsion.  Men, ordained to the diaconate in 1958, graduated from the Leningrad Theological Seminary and became a priest in 1960.  He earned degrees from the Moscow Theological Academy in 1968 and 1969.  Our saint’s dissertation for the Doctor of Theology degree was “Elements of Monotheism in Pre-Christian Religions and Philosophies.”

Men, a parish priest in the Moscow region, was a controversial figure and a subject of harassment and questioning by agents of the KGB.  He, the author of many articles and books, sought to evangelize members of the younger generation.  Near the end of Men’s life, he became a popular lecturer and a founder of the Russian Bible Society (1990).

Men, aged 55 years, died in Semkhoz, Sergiev Posad, Russia, USSR, on September 9, 1990.  That morning, he was walking on a woodland trail, en route to church.  Someone struck Men from behind with an axe.  Authorities have never solved the murder.

The most difficult moment for the church will come when everything is permitted us.  Then we will be ashamed because we are not ready to bear witness.

–Alexander Men; quoted in All Saints (1997), 41

Men, if he were still alive, would almost certainly disagree with the Russian Orthodox Church’s support of Vladimir Putin.





Almighty God, who gave to your servant Alexander Men boldness to confess

the Name of our Savior Jesus Christ before the rulers of this world, and courage to die for this faith:

Grant that we may always be ready to give a reason for the hope that is in us,

and to suffer gladly for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ;

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

2 Esdras 2:42-48

Psalm 126 or 121

1 Peter 3:14-18, 22

Matthew 10:16-22

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 713


One response to “Feast of Alexander Men (January 22)

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  1. So interesting! I have a few followers that are part of the RTOC and they are very committed! Now, I understand why!

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