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Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. Matthew 5:12

Metropolitan Benjamin (1922)
Praised amid Persecution

“About myself? What can I tell you? One more thing perhaps; regardless of what my sentence will be, no matter what you decide, life or death, I will lift up my eyes reverently to God, cross myself and affirm: ‘Glory to Thee my Lord; glory to Thee for everything’.”

This was the powerful statement Metropolitan Benjamin made to the judge when he was put on trial as a result of Soviet persecution. The Petrograd (now St Petersburg) clergyman had joined with the Communists on a project committee called “Help for the Starving” and had approached fellow church leaders for contributions. They raised a lot of money and the Communist Central Committee in Moscow was concerned that the voluntary gifts would increase the prestige of the clergy. They ordered the Communists in Petrograd to confiscate church valuables instead of accepting them as donations. Metropolitan Benjamin and others were then put on trial with false witnesses brought in to condemn them. At the trial his defence lawyer made this appeal:

Do not make a martyr of the Metropolitan Benjamin. The masses revere him, and if he is killed for his faith and his loyalty to the masses, he would become much more dangerous to the Soviet power… Let it remind you that true faith feeds and grows strong on the blood of the martyrs. Would you risk giving more martyrs to the restless people?

Nevertheless in August 1922, Metropolitan Benjamin and the others were executed by a firing squad. Before they were shot their beards were shaved and they were given rags to wear to disguise the fact that they were clergy.

Glory to God, and praise and love
Be ever, ever given,
By saints below and saints above,
The Church in earth and heaven.

Charles Wesley (1707-88)