Saint New Martyr Evgeny Rodionov of Chechnya (May 23)
Saint Evgeny, the widely venerated Russian soldier who was beheaded by Chechen Muslims for refusing to remove his cross and deny Jesus Christ, is a real saint for our times. How many would not hesitate to remove their cross in order to save his earthly life? Such a simple thing, such a seemingly small confession of faith which we poor and weak ones take for granted every day, yet this young soldier persevered in faith in spite of horrible tortures, and earned a glorious, heavenly crown.
As Hieromonk Joachim exhorts us at the end of his sermon on St Evgeny (below):
And may we, dear brothers and sisters, learn from Evgeny’s constancy, dignity and bravery to face and overcome our own daily temptations to betray Christ. May we bear our cross daily and NEVER, EVER be ashamed to wear our baptismal cross and be ready at all times to defend our holy Orthodox Christian Faith by living a holy life in accordance with the commands of Christ.
Short Life of New Martyr Evgeny
from Death To The World
When he was 11 years old, Yevgeny Rodionov received from his grandmother a little cross on a chain. He wanted to wear it to school, but his mother, a devout atheist, warned him against it, since the communist authorities frowned on such things. Yevgeny wore it anyway and refused to ever take it off. When Yevgeny grew, up he enlisted as a soldier in the Russian army. When he was 19, he was violently taken hostage by Muslim Chechen rebels. They kept him hanging by his wrists in a basement. He was left days without food and was severely beaten. He did not take off his cross even at the hardest moment of beastly tortures. The Muslims ordered Yevgeny and several other Russian prisoners to deny Christ and convert to Islam. Unlike most of his fellow prisoners, Yevgeny refused to betray his Savior and was beheaded by his torturer, Ruslan Khaikhoroyev, on May 23, 1996. The Muslim executioner told his mother, “Your son had a choice to stay alive. He could have converted to Islam, but he did not agree to take his cross off.” Yevgeny’s mother, Lubov, has been able to recover her son’s body to give him a proper burial. After seeing her son’s boots in a shallow grave full of four dead soldiers, she would not believe it was him until she saw his cross still around his neck. She found his head later. Veneration of this Holy Martyr has been spreading and pilgrims are flocking from miles away to venerate his miracle working relics. An Icon that was made of Yevgeny has begun weeping myrrh. Yevgeny’s father died shortly after the return of his son’s body, not being able to live with the torment of loosing his son. Yevgeny’s mother, who never before set foot in a church, put off the world and is now an Orthodox Christian believer, saved by the example of her son, the Holy Martyr Yevgeny Rodionov.
Thy martyr, Evgeny, O Lord, in his sufferings has received an incorruptible crown from Thee, our God, for having Thy strength he has brought down his torturers, has defeated the powerless insolence of demons. Through his prayers save our souls.