John Hieroconfessor Of Yelevo

Ivan Alexandrovich Dvoyeglazov was born in 1898 in Klimkovo factory (now Klimkovka, Belokholunitsky region, Vyatka diocese) in a working class family. He was the eldest of four children. His father died young. Ivan was accepted at state expense into the Belokholunitsky second-class school, which he left with a diploma as a people's teacher.

The First World War broke out. Ivan with four of his fellow villagers was enrolled in the army. Once Ivan's gas-mask didn't work, and he would undoubtedly have perished from the gas if his comrades had not succeeded in wrapping him in a wet greatcoat.

In February, 1917 Ivan returned home, where he was elected secretary of the volost executive committee. This, however, did not prevent him, a deeply religious person, from going to church and singing in the church choir.

Of course, the local communists could not look with favour on such behaviour in a representative of the new authorities, and at the first convenient opportunity (the excuse was Ivan's marriage to his young wife in church) they removed him from his post.

Then Ivan decided to devote himself completely to God. He left Klimkovka for the village of Mikhailovskoye in Nagorsky region, where he became the Church reader. Soon he was ordained to the diaconate, and then to the priesthood.

In about 1927 the church authorities transferred Fr. John to the village of Yelevo in Belokholunitsky region. After his arrival the church of Saints Peter and Paul began to fill up with people from Zuyevka, Kosa and other places. Some were particularly attracted by Fr. John's chanting.

"Our house," recalls Fr. John's son Nicholas, "was filled to overflowing before feasts. My father directed the rehearsals. Already at that time I knew the music of Tchaikovsky and Glinka."

In 1930, Fr. John, who did not recognize the renovationists and sergianist neo-renovationists, was arrested under the article about "antisoviet agitation and propaganda". He was sent to the White Sea - Baltic canal, while his family was thrown onto the street. His wife and four children had to take shelter with relatives. The youngest child, a daughter, died at the age of eleven months. Matushka wove shawls day and night in order to earn enough money to survive. She was also helped by kind people who did not let the young family perish.

Fr. John was so exhausted by his work on the canal that he began to spit blood and landed up in hospital. There they noticed his erudition and good handwriting, and when he recovered a little he was taken into the administration of the canal construction. There Fr. John even acquired a patent for a new method of calculating the quantity of work done.

After three and a half years he was released. On returning to Yelevo he obtained the opening of the church, and managed to convince his parishioners that without their will the authorities had not right to close the church according to existing legislation. In spite of threats he continued to commemorate Patriarch Tikhon (or the faithful, "Tikhonite" bishops), and refused to join the sergianists. Because of this he was persecuted in various ways. Thus on any day, and especially on the eve of feasts, he could be summoned to the NKVD in Kirov for no reason at all. On returning (as a rule, on foot), he would start serving, sometimes without resting at all. There were times when he collapsed from exhaustion in the church.

Once the president of the village soviet, a teacher and one other person came to Fr. John and tried to persuade him to renounce God. They departed defeated.

However, a Judas was found to denounce the pastor. He was accused of agitating among the collective farm workers, persuading them not to vote in elections and sending nuns among them with various fables. Even some young people, including former komsomol members such as N.Kh, Kulakov, P.M. Marenin, had submitted to his influence and been married in church after living with their wives for several years without the Church's blessing.

As a result, Fr. John was sentenced in accordance with article 58 of the Criminal Code. He was arrested for the last time not long before the outbreak of war with Germany. By a miracle his relatives received a letter from him in the summer of 1941 in which he said that he was digging ditches in Penza region and had eaten only one wet potato in the last three days. Soon they were informed that Fr. John had died.

(Source: Vladimir Semibratov, "Nye primknuvshij k sinodalym", Pravoslavnaya Rus', N 11 (1584), June 1/14, 1997, pp. 3-4, 15)

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