Abercius, Archbishop And Hieromartyr Of Zhitomir

Archbishop Abercius, in the world Polycarp Petrovich Kedrov, was born on March 2, 1879 in the town of Yaransk, Vyatka province, in the family of the priest Fr. Peter Kedrov. His mother was called Elizabeth. He had two brothers and one sister, Vera Petrovna. One of his brothers later became the hieromartyr Archbishop of Chernigov Pachomius, while his other brother, Michael, became Bishop of Wraclaw (according to another source, Brest) in Poland. He finished his studies at the Vyatka theological seminary.

In 1904 Polycarp graduated from the Petersburg Theological Academy, and on November 4 was appointed a teacher of Holy Scripture in the Lithuanian theological seminary. On July 2, 1910, he received the monastic tonsure with the name Abercius from Archbishop Sergius (Stragorodsky) of Finland, and on July 5 he was ordained to the priesthood. On August 8, 1911 he was appointed rector of the Zhitomir (according to another source, Volhynia) theological seminary, being raised to the rank of archimandrite on August 21. On June 27 (according to another source, June 29 / July 12, and according to a third source, July 28), 1915, he was consecrated Bishop of Ostrog, a vicariate of the Volhynia diocese, by Archbishop Eulogius of Volhynia, Bishop Thaddeus of Vladimir in Volhynia and Bishop Pachomius of Novgorod-Seversky. At one time, probably before he was made a bishop, he made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

In 1918 he was a participant in the Local Council of the Russian Orthodox Church together with his brother. From 1921 to 1922, after the closure of the Volhynia theological seminary, he organized pastoral courses in Zhitomir. In 1922 (according to another source, 1920) he was made archbishop of Volhynia and Zhitomir. He served in Zhitomir's Transfiguration cathedral and Theophany monastery (it was not a real monastery by that time, only the church remained open).

The archbishop was of medium height with quite a large head, a high forehead and wavy fair hair. He was very pious, energetic, friendly, especially towards children, and was greatly loved by all. He always gave sermons. He served with great solemnity, and loved to celebrate all-night vigils lasting 6-7 hours which would end at dawn. He would walk 20 kilometres to pray in the men's monastery at Trigorye.

He was arrested for the first time in 1922, probably for his firm stand against renovationism, and was exiled to Uzbekistan. He also fought against the Ukrainian autocephalists. By November, 1924 he was living in Moscow, and he participated in the funeral of Patriarch Tikhon in 1925, being one of the bishops who signed the document giving the locum tenancy to Metropolitan Peter of Krutitsa.

In 1926, probably, he was raised to the rank of archbishop. In November, 1926 he was arrested and imprisoned in Zhitomir. Then he was transferred to the Butyrki prison in Moscow. From January, 1927 to 1928 (according to another source, from 1925-26) he was in exile in the town of Khodzheili in Karakalpakia (according to another source, Amudarinskaya region, Uzbekistan).

When Metropolitan Sergius' declaration appeared in 1927, Archbishop Abercius came out strongly against it. Together with his brother, Archbishop Pachomius, he wrote an epistle in which he said: "There can be no union between Church and State, when it has to do with our Orthodox Church and the Soviet Union, by reason of the fundamental difference in the basic views of the two sides. The only thing that is possible is a conditional agreement as to practical mutual relationships, solely on the foundation of the principle of the separation of Church and State.

"In actual fact, can one even conceive of the Soviet State in union with the Church? A State religion in an anti-religious State! A government Church in an atheist government! This is an absurdity; it contradicts the nature of the Church and the Soviet State; this is unacceptable both for a sincerely religious person and for an honest atheist."

At the end of 1929 he was arrested and imprisoned in Butyrki, and in February, 1930 he was exiled for three years to Archangelsk, where he was visited by the nun Lushkova. From 1932 to 1933 he was in Totma in Vologda province. From 1933 to 1934 he was in exile again in Archangelsk, where he was arrested in 1934 and sentenced to three years' exile. From 1935 to 1938 he was in exile in the town of Birsk in Bashkiria. In Birsk he rented a room from a landlady, sweeping her courtyard and cleaning herbs.

According to one source, Vladyka died in Arkhangelsk in 1937. However, according to his sister, Vera Petrovna, Vladyka died in exile in 1945 from typhus. According to yet another source, he died in Biysk, in Novosibirsk province, in 1949. Our most recent information is that he was arrested in Birsk on June 23, 1927, condemned on November 10 and shot on November 27, 1937.

(Sources: M.E. Gubonin, Akty Svyatejshego Tikhona, Patriarkha Moskovskogo i Vseya Rossii, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1994, pp. 834, 957; Ivan Andreyev, Russia's Catacomb Saints, Platina, Ca.: St. Herman of Alaska Press, 1982, ch. 12; "Arkhiepiskop Abercius", Vestnik Russkogo Khristianskogo Dvizheniya, 145, 1985, III, pp. 235-40; Russkie Pravoslavniye Ierarkhi, Paris: YMCA Press, 1986; Lev Regelson, Tragediya Russkoj Tserkvi, 1917-1945, Paris: YMCA Press, p. 528; Ikh Stradaniyami Ochistitsa Rus', Moscow, 1996, p. 60; G. Stankevich, "Budyet zhe Vam dlya Vsidetel'stva", Troic'kij Visnik (Chernigov), N 9 (18), 1995, p. 4; Bishop Ambrose (von Sievers), "Episkopat Istinno-Pravoslavnoj Katakombnoj Tserkvi 1922-1997g.", Russkoye Pravoslaviye, N 4(8), 1997, p. 5; Za Khrista Postradavshiye, 1917-1956, Moscow: St. Tikhon's Theological Institute, 1997, pp. 29-30; I.I. Osipova, "Skvoz' Ogn' Muchenij i Vody Slyoz", Moscow: Serebryanniye Niti, 1998, p. 263)

We confidently recommend our web service provider, Orthodox Internet Services: excellent personal customer service, a fast and reliable server, excellent spam filtering, and an easy to use comprehensive control panel.

St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas