New Hieromartyr John Karastamatis of Santa Cruz († 18 May 1985) & Saint Evgeny Rodionov the New Martyr of Chechnya († 23 May 1996)
New Hieromartyr John Karastamatis of Santa Cruz
ΓΙΑ ΤΟΝ ΙΔΙΟ, ΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΑ
Fr. John Karastamatis was born in 1937 in the Greek village of Apoika, on the island of Andros. As a boy on the island of Andros, John witnessed many miracles with which God blessed the pious villagers, and thus he was made aware of the closeness of God to the lives of those who seek Him. The heavenly saints, especially the local ones, also manifested their closeness and the power of their intercessory prayer by appearing to and helping the people. John nourished his young soul by learning of the lives of these saints and martyrs, whose unquenchable desire to be faithful to Christ in the face of deprivation, torment and physical death inspired him to also be a servant of God. Although he did not attend any theological school, he wanted to put his faith into practice by someday becoming a priest.
In 1957, at the age of twenty, John came to the United States. Five years later he married a young Greek woman, Athanasia Matsellis, and soon became the father of two children, Maria and Photios. The cities of the United States were in sharp contrast to the village of his birth, but his acute awareness of the nearness of God and the other world, given him in childhood, never left him. He now found himself in the midst of those who not only did not want to be close to God, but who actively fled from Him.
Still he hoped in God, knowing that the freedom of Christ can be found even in the most stifling and evil surroundings.
With the support and encouragement of Fr. George Bogdanos, a Greek priest who recognized in him the integrity and zeal of a true pastor, Fr. John was ordained to the deaconate in 1971 with the blessing of Archbishop lakovos, who supported him in this. Since both his love for the Church and the love of the churchgoers for him was so apparent, he was made a priest only a few weeks later by Bishop Meletios Christianopolis of San Francisco. He first served the Greek Orthodox community in Anchorage, Alaska, the land of newly-canonized St. Herman, who became thus his guardian angel for the rest of his life. He was later assigned to the St. George parish in Vancouver, Canada, and then to All Saints parish in Anaheim, Pennsylvania. He then moved to Santa Cruz, California, which had been named by the Spanish missionaries after the Holy Cross of the Lord. There he labored with enthusiasm to provide a haven of Orthodox Christianity for the faithful in the area, who had long been without a nearby church.
Because the community in Santa Cruz was too small to immediately acquire its own Orthodox church, Fr. John began to serve the Divine Liturgy in the nearby town of Aptos, in the chapel of a Poor Clare convent. The nuns would have their services very early on Sunday morning, leaving the church free for Fr. John and his parishioners to use afterwards. The parishioners were at first hesitant: they would come to Liturgy late, and would all sit at the very back of the chapel, as if they were spectators and not participants. Fr. John knew that he had much work to do. He was sometimes disappointed at the lack of active interest among his flock. His was a burning faith, and lukewarmness had always been foreign to his soul. His task, he knew, was to ignite this fire within each of his parishioners, so that they themselves would struggle for the kingdom of heaven, the one thing needful, and not sit in the background and expect their priest to do their work for them. He could not demand too much at once, but had to be a gentle and loving pastor, condescending to the weaknesses of his flock so as not to overwhelm them and cause them to abandon the Orthodox faith altogether. The gap between shepherd and sheep had to be bridged gradually and carefully, and Fr. John had to spark the kinder in the hearts of his flock without scorching them with the consuming fire within him.
Sometimes Fr. John would speak forceful words of rebuke to awaken his people from their spiritual sleep, but mostly he would inspire them by his quiet and unobtrusive example. They began to see how hard he struggled and were moved to help him fulfill his godly dreams. His fervency and zeal, his unequivocal belief in the other world, was something that they did not fully understand, and yet that they inwardly -- and in some cases unconsciously -- longed for. Having come to love him deeply, they were grateful that God had sent a harvester to their field.
By giving his parishioners new aspirations, Fr. John instilled in them the desire to start their own church. They collected and saved money and eventually found the perfect building for their church: a former funeral home in Santa Cruz, across from the public library and in the best park of town for missionary activity. Fr. John did much of the interior work himself, fashioning a beautiful white iconostasis and a large domed apse behind and above the altar. When completed, the newly-consecrated church became a refuge from the noisy bustle of the world, an island of holiness in the middle of downtown Santa Cruz. The church was dedicated to the Prophet Elias.
With their new and beautiful church, the parishioners, comprised of over 75 families, now had a sense of accomplishment. They felt that they had come a long way from the days when they had little choice but to use a chapel which was outside of town. Now they could branch out into other activities.
Fr. John by no means wanted his Orthodox community to be a closed one, and he rejoiced to discover any fervent young souls which came to him in search of the fulness of Christianity. Santa Cruz has been a gathering place not only of the darker and meaner elements of society, but also of idealistic young people who have desired something more meaningful than the American values of materialism and competition. By the time Fr. John started his church in Santa Cruz, a small but significant "Orthodox Christian movement" had already begun at the university there. This was primarily the result of the missionary work of Hieromonk Anastassy. Through him, many Santa Cruz university students embraced the Orthodox faith and dedicated their lives to serving Christ. In 1981, Fr. Seraphim Rose, at the request of the Orthodox students there, gave two lectures at the university and further inspired young souls to enter what he called "the saving enclosure of the Church." The fellowship of Orthodox students turned also to Fr. John and his church in order to receive spiritual nourishment and to participate in the divine services, which lifted them above the worldliness of university life. Fr. John always greeted them with a radiant smile and warm love, seeing in their young faces the freshness and enthusiasm that would keep Orthodoxy alive for future generations. After these students graduated, Fr. John brought other young people to the Orthodox faith, giving them all that they needed for their growth in the faith and being to them a loving father who was concerned for their spiritual welfare.
Since the Prophet Elias Church was in the middle of town, people would often come from off the streets to ask questions and attend the services. Fr. John kept an "open-door policy," making himself and his church available to anyone with a pastoral need. The people of Santa Cruz came to know him as being kind, trusting, full of love and open. He had great compassion for the poor, and was helpful to all who came to him, disregarding their religion or whether or not they were taking advantage of him. It was not uncommon for him to be awakened at odd hours of the night by needy people knocking at his back door. No one would be refused, but would always be given alms for a meal. In the most outcast and downtrodden of individuals, and perhaps especially in them, Fr. John saw the image of Christ. With deep-felt Christian love, he once wrote these words about the simple people who, although rejected by the world, are faithful to Christ and follow the voice of their hearts: "We see them lonely within the crowd, or following the life of a hermit as they become symbols of truth and beacon lights of Christianity, praying for peace and brotherly love on earth."
Orthodox Christianity was not just something "for Greeks," but rather was universal. His love for God induced him to earnestly desire to bring forth fruits for Him, as a son strives to please his father, and this made him a zealous missionary to all peoples. He had services in public parks, where the townspeople would stop to attend something, which, although foreign to them, they found to be divinely beautiful. Hearing Fr. John, with his full and resonant voice, chanting the ancient Byzantine melodies along with his cantor, would unexpectedly catch a vague and half-remembered glimpse of that sacred realm which their souls knew but their minds had never been exposed to. In such a way was Fr. John able to introduce the riches of Orthodoxy to the spiritually impoverished American people.
While Fr. John's fervent pastoral work served to convert many non-Greek people, his first job was, of course, to "convert" many of his own people -¬those who were baptized Orthodox but whose commitment to Christ meant, at most, only an external commitment to church attendance and activities. By his own faith he demonstrated to them that Orthodoxy is not merely a ritual, a system of dogmas or a behavior pattern, but is instead a transforming power, which is tapped by conscious spiritual struggle.
The good works of Fr. John were too numerous and his outreach too extensive not to evoke malicious actions from the haters of God. The visibility of Fr. John and his church in the middle of Santa Cruz made them more accessible not only to those in need of help, but also to those who wished to destroy all that is holy. A few months before Fr. John's death, the church was desecrated by unknown occultists, who painted "666" and the five-pointed satanic star on the front entrance. When the desecration was discovered, Fr. John reconsecrated the church. Later he received anonymous threats, but was undaunted by them.
It was through Fr. John that the Most Holy Mother of God bestowed a miraculous blessing on the Prophet Elias Church. This occurred after Fr. John brought some bulbs of the "lily of the Panagia" back from his native island of Andros, where he visited with his family. The lily of the "Panagia" (or the "Most Holy") is so named because of the tradition, often depicted in icons, concerning the Archangel Gabriel presenting the Mother of God with this species of lily at the time of the Annunciation. In the monastery on Andros which Fr. John visited, stems from these lilies, being many years old, sometimes bud miraculously at the time of the Feast of the Dormition.
Fr. John instructed his son Photios to plant the lily bulbs in pots and to water them only with holy water, which Photios did. After the lilies had grown from the bulbs in May of 1983, Fr. John cut one of the flowers and placed it by the icon of the Mother of God, which leaned against the iconostasis of his church. The flower did not wilt for three or four weeks, although it had been cut and removed from both water and earth. When it finally dropped its petals (the first one having fallen on a radiant day when one of Fr. John's converts from the university was baptized), Fr. John told his wife not to vacuum up any of them, but to save them and place them by the icon where the flower stem was still leaning. Aпd then, within three weeks, some fresh sprouts appeared on the stem!
The stem continued to produce new stems for many months, until the winter of 1983-4. Fr. John interpreted the miracle as an image of life coming out of death through the Resurrection.
On the night of Saturday, May 5/18, 1985, the eve of Righteous Job the Much-suffering, Fr. John was in the church building preparing a sermon for the following morning. His wife was at that time in Los Angeles visiting her daughter, who had just given birth to her first child. Shortly before midnight, one or more assailants entered the church. Evidently they had been watching Fr. John, for they came at a time when he was alone, when both his wife and 17 year-old son were gone. They attacked Fr. John in his church office, stabbing him with a knife. During the struggle Fr. John was severely beaten, and then was finally killed by a heavy blow on his head. His son, who had dined with him earlier that evening, arrived at 1:30 a.m. at the church where the family lived. Outside the office he discovered the body of his murdered father, and on the walls -- the blood of a martyr.
This time the church was not desecrated. In their investigation, the police reported no signs of vandalism or theft, nor were they able to locate any possible suspects. In the absence of a more plausible reason for the crime, it is most likely that the killing, like the church desecration a few months prior to it, was done at the hands of those who hated Fr. John for his holy work, of those who are the enemies of God and rebel against Him because they serve the first rebel, Satan. But whether Fr. John was killed for overtly satanic purposes or for other, irrational reasons, he had without doubt a martyric death, giving his life for Christ and dying in the very church in which he had diligently served Him. His face and fingers were so mutilated that the coffin had to be closed during the funeral services.
"His life inspired and enlightened and cheered us!" wrote one of his spiritual children. "His death has served to confirm in a most direct way the realities of not only our Orthodox faith, but of the bizarre and truly anti-Christian ways of our times."
Holy New Martyr Priest John of Santa Cruz, pray to God for us!
The grave of Fr. John at Greek Orthodox Memorial Park in Colma, California.
A Miracle of the Bells on Andros
Most holy Fathers and Brother,
I doubly wish the grace and blessing of the Triune God upon you. I am informing you about an admirable event concerning the wonderful new martyr, Father Ioannis Karastamatis. After the events well-known to you, which took place around his venerable person, I asked from my dear in Christ Presvytera Anastasia, [the wife] of Father Karastamatis, to send me - for the blessing and sanctification as much of myself as of my spiritual children - a sacerdotal dress of his. After the lapse of four months, and more precisely on the 5th of July of this year, my pious request was fulfilled in an admirable way. On that day, a Saturday, I performed my sacred functions at the altar of our Holy Monastery for the Feast of our Holy Father Athanasios the Athonite, in the presence of other pious worshippers, men as well as women, praying together. At the end of the holy and sacred ceremony and after the distribution of the consecrated bread, the bells in the altar of the Monastery started to ring, joyfully, by themselves, to the surprise of myself and all of the worshippers present. All of us were amazed and were waiting for some indication to be shown by the Grace of the Triune God. In the course of this event, there arrived from Nikaio of Praeus worshippers with two priests.
In the afternoon we were about to begin an All-Night Vigil for the joined worshippers. Two hours before the beginning of the holy Vigil, the telephone rang and I was asked for: I spoke to the daughter of Father Ioannis, Maria Kosmides Karastamatis, who said that she had come from America bringing the holy sacred vestments of her holy martyred father, which I had asked for. My emotion was very great!!! Tears of joy were running from my eyes, and immediately I explained the morning's event of the bells. That event had been a holy message, which I in no way knew, that I would receive the joy and the spiritual blessing of the coming of his holy vestments. I note also that, at the moment when the bells had been ringing by themselves, at 10 o'clock in the morning, the ship arrived at the port of Andros with the treasure of the vestments, precious to me.
Immediately after the telephone call, on my order, the sacred vestments were brought to the Monastery by the daughter of Father Ioannis, Maria, with his brother Marios. All the priests and worshippers, with emotion and ringing of the bells, received them spreading flowers in the Monastery. There followed a short talk about the martyrdom of the Father, and then began the holy Vigil up until the morning. With spiritual delight, all of us glorified the Triune God, the Virgin Mary and Holy Nicholas, embracing the new star of the sky and admirable holy martyr Father Ioannis. May we have his blessing, and may his intercessions before God strengthen us for our struggles in these terrible days of Antichrist we are going through.
Embracing you in the Love of Christ,
I remain with blessing,
Archimandrite Dorotheos Themelis
November 21, 1986
Monastery of St. Nicholas
Miracles of Saint John Karastamatis of Santa Cruz (here)
Apolytikion in Tone One
Having cultivated the fruit of God’s knowledge by thy labors, thou hast plucked out the root of godlessness and proclaimed in our land the true faith. Anointed with grace thou hast tended the flock entrusted thee, and in shedding thy blood thou waterest the seeds of Christ’s true faith in our land, O New Martyr John of Santa Cruz. Glory to Him Who hath granted thee strength; glory to Him Who hath crowned thee; glory to Him Who granteth healing for all through thee.
The Orthodox Word, #122 / 1985
Read also about the recent parole hearing of Fr. John's murderer, here and here.
Others new martyrs orthodox priests
The New Martyr Fr. Daniel Sysoev (+2009)
Priest-Monk Nestor the New Martyr of Zharky (+1993)
New Martyrs of Optina Pustyn (on Easter night in 1993)
Orthodox priest murdered (21 March 2000)
New martyrs (tag)
Saint Evgeny Rodionov the New Martyr of Chechnya
Για το συγκλονιστικό αυτό νέο άγιο της Ορθοδοξίας δες ελληνικά εδώ.
Below is a story of the courage and faith of a young man in Post-Soviet Russia whose memory we celebrate on May 23rd and August 20th.
Evgeny Aleksandrovich Rodionov was born thirty minutes after midnight on May 23, 1977 in the village of Satino-Russkoye near Moscow in what was then the Soviet Union. According to his mother, as a boy in this small village, all he really wanted was to be a cook. When he was eleven years old, Evgeny Rodionov received from his grandmother a little Cross on a chain. He wanted to wear it to school, but his mother, then an atheist, warned him against it, since the communist authorities frowned on such things. Evgeny wore it anyway and refused to ever take it off.
In 1995 Evgeny turned eighteen and was drafted into the Russian armed forces as is required for all Russian men. Right before being drafted, Evgeny was baptized in the Russian Orthodox Church on his own accord seperate from his parents who were still atheists. For his duty he was chosen to work in a frontier guard unit (something of a mix between the US Border Patrol and the National Guard) and sent for training in the Kalingrad area of what was formerly East Prussia. After training he was sent to the border of Chechnya and posted near the town of Galashki. This was towards the end of the controversial First Chechnyan War. On the night of February 14, 1996, just six months after he started his service, Evgeny and three comrades were captured by a force of Muslim Chechen guerillas who were disguised in an ambulance while the Russian soldiers were manning a checkpoint.
According to a report in Pravda from 2003:
"They [Evgeny and the soldiers with him] patrolled the border between the republics of Chechnya and Ingushetia. Their control and registration post was located some 200 meters far from the security detachment. The post was just a small cabin, without any light or wire communication. The cabin did not even have a military support, in spite of the fact that it was a single cabin on the mountainous road, which was used for carrying weapons, ammunition, captives, drugs and so on. The border guards stopped an ambulance vehicle to check it. More than ten armed Chechens got out of the vehicle. Needless to mention that it was very easy for them to cope with young inexperienced soldiers. The guys showed as much resistance as they could, but the outcome of the fight was evident before it even started."
Upon capture they were held in the cellar of an abandoned house for 100 days as ransom demands were sent to their families. Kidnapping and demanding ransom was almost a cottage industry in Chechnya during that time period. They kept Evgeny hanging by his wrists in a basement. They starved and beat him. Rodionov's ransom was reported to be 50 million rubles (1.6 million dollars) - at the time an impossible sum. Another report says it may have been in the $10,000 range. Whatever it was, the ransom was not met.
Chechen field commander Rusland Haihoroev (also spelled Khaikhoroyev in some sources) eventually beheaded Evgeny with a rusted saw that took over an hour to complete on May 23, 1996 (his 19th birthday) near the settlement of Bamut. His body, along with four other Russian prisoners were placed in a bomb crater outside the village of Alexeevskaya and covered up with lime and dirt. Haihoroev stated later in an interview that he only killed Rodionov after the soldier denied conversion to Islam and refused to give up his Orthodox Cross, while two others with him had converted to Islam. Russian troops occupied the village where Evgeny was murdered the following day after the execution.
Evgeny's mother, Lubov Rodionova, was informed that her son had deserted the army. She did not believe the news and went to look for him in Chechnya. She stayed there for ten months chasing down leads and questioning anyone who would talk to her. It was months before she found out that he had in fact been killed. This news came when she found the Chechens who had held her son prisoner and then killed him. Rusland Haihoroev, the leader of the Chechen gang, told her seventeen times over the course of seventeen seperate meetings, that she had born a bad son who refused to adopt Islam and join the separatists in their fight against Russia. “Your son had a choice to stay alive. He could convert to Islam, but he did not agree to take his Cross off. He also tried to escape once,” said Haihoroev to Evgeny's mother. She finally agreed to pay Haihoroev some 100,000 rubles (about $4000 US) to take her to his gravesite in the forests outside of Alexeevskaya. This was money she did not have, so she had to sell her apartment to finance the deal. Chechens in Moscow handled the deal and when all was done Haihoroev showed her where his body was. There late at night, with the assistance of the military, she was able to exhume his body. She found her sons headless body together with the Cross he wore and died for among his bones and stained with small drops of blood. The head was discarded in another place. According to Evgeny's mother, this event took place in the following way:
“When I came to Chechnya in the middle of February, a living private cost ten million rubles. This price was 50 million in August. A friend of mine was told to pay 250 million rubles for her son, since he was an officer. It was nighttime when I and some sappers digging the pit, in which the bodies of four Russian soldiers were thrown. I was praying all the time, hoping that my Evgeny was not going to be there. I could not and did not want to believe that he was murdered. When we were taking out the remnants, I recognized his boots. However, I still refused to accept the fact of his death, until someone found his Cross. Then I fainted.”
Lubov took Evgeny’s body away along with the bodies of his murdered friends. She returned to Moscow with the aide of the Russian Orthodox Church and buried him. When Lubov Rodionova came back home, Evgeny’s father died five days after the funeral. He could not stand the loss of his son.
“We know that he had to go through horrible, long-lasting sufferings that could be compared to the ones of great martyrs in ancient times. They were beheaded, dismembered, but they remained devoted to Jesus Christ anyway,” priest Alexander Shargunov said during the requiem in Evgeny Rodionov’s memory.
Evgeny was posthumously awarded the Order of Courage by the Army. Lubov Rodionova later returned to Chechnya on a second trip and recovered her sons head.
Haihoroev himself and his bodyguards were killed on August 23, 1999 in a fight between his group and a rival Chechen band.
The soldier's fate would have probably been forgotten, if a Central TV film crew had not come to the village where Evgeny's relics now lie six years later to shoot a short report on a Cross being set on a restored church. Parishioners told the reporters about the heroic deed of the son and the courage of the mother, who had buried him in his homeland. They filed the story as a separate report. A year later a huge devotion spread throughout Russia and the entire world.
The New York Times reported in 2003:
"In pamphlets, songs and poems, in sermons and on Web sites, Private Rodionov's story has become a parable of religious devotion and Russian nationalism. The young soldier, it is said, was killed by Muslim rebels seven years ago because he refused to renounce his religion or remove the small silver Cross he kept around his neck...
"As his story has spread, pilgrims have begun appearing in this small village just west of Moscow, where his mother, Lubov, 51, tends his grave on an icy hillside beside an old whitewashed church. Some military veterans have laid their medals by his graveside in a gesture of homage. People in distress have left handwritten notes asking for his intercession. In a church near St. Petersburg, his full-length image stands at the altar beside icons of the Virgin Mary, the Archangel Michael, Jesus and Nicholas II, the last of the czars, who was canonized three years ago.
"Aleksandr Makeyev, a paratroop officer who heads a foundatioion to assist soldiers, said he had seen soldiers kneeling in prayer before an image of Private Rodionov. 'The kids in Chechnya, they feel they've been abandoned by the state and abandoned by their commanders,' he told the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets. 'They don't know who to appeal to for help, but they understand that Zhenya is one of them,' he said, using Private Rodionov's nickname. 'You can say he is the first soldier-saint.'
"Among the photographs of her son that Mrs. Rodionov spreads on her kitchen table are laminated cards that she says some soldiers carry with them for luck. They bear his image along with a prayer:
"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."
Icons and pictures of this young man Evgeny spread around Russia very quickly and he was hailed as a New Martyr for Christ. In these icons sometimes he wears a uniform, sometimes a red robe (which is a way he appears in visions to the faithful, especially soldiers and children), sometimes armed, sometimes holding a Cross of martyrdom, but always with his halo. The picture distributed of him shows Evgeny wearing the Cross around his neck for which he died. Miracles have been occurring in connection with Evgeny's relics as well. During a religious procession in commemoration of Martyr Evgeny on November 20, 2002 the icon with the image of the soldier started secreting sweet-scented myrrh.
A sign in memory of the brave Evgeny was put at the entrance to the school where he studied. There was also a documentary released about him. People’s donations made it possible to put a two-meter (6 ft.) high Orthodox Cross on his grave which is located in the village of Satino-Russkoye, near Podolsk, in the Moscow region. People come to visit his grave from the most distant parts of Russia. A WWII veteran once came to visit Evgeny’s grave and he took off his military decoration – the Bravery Medal – and put in on the tombstone. The writings on Evgeny’s grave Cross run: “Russian soldier Evgeny Rodionov is buried here. He defended his Fatherland and did not disavow Christ. He was executed on May 23, 1996, on the outskirts of Bamut.”
His own Cross, the one that he refused to give up, his mother has donated to St. Nicholas Church in Ordinka, Moscow.
Because of the huge devotion to the New Martyr Evgeny, the pious faithful sought official canonization from the Moscow Patriarchate. Initially they refused and this divided the Orthodox in Russia. Maksim Maksimov, secretary of the canonization commission, explained the Synod's position in Tserkovny Vestnik (Church Bulletin), the official publication of the Russian Orthodox Church. His arguments can be summarised in three points: the only evidence that the soldier was executed for this faith is the testimony of his mother, who in her love made a god of her son; the Russian Orthodox Church has never canonized anyone killed at war; the period of new martyrs ended with the collapse of the Bolshevik regime. However, he emphasised, the deceased can be honoured without canonization. Patriarch Alexy of Moscow personally blessed the popular account of Evgeny's life, but worried that his cult would balloon into anti-Muslim rage.
Opponents of the decision, including well-known priest Alexander Shargunov, argued that an outbreak of people's love is enough for the truth; that Evgeny's grave works miracles, curing the sick and reconciling enemies. They also point out that the solider did not die at war but in captivity, and that to say that the time of martyrs is over is near heresy.
Evgeny was officially declared a Saint on August 20, 2002. A Church in his name was built in Hankala, near Groziniy. It is the only Orthodox Church in Chechnya.
Evgeny's mother, who never before set foot in a church, is now an Orthodox Christian believer, saved by the example of her son, the Holy Martyr Evgeny Rodionov. Eventually the faithful helped her to raise enough money to buy a new home.
Evgeny Rodionov’s biography was published in a booklet that came out in 2002. The book was called The New Martyr of Christ, Warrior Evgeny. The fifth edition of this booklet was the one blessed by Patriarch Alexy. It was written by priest Alexander Shargunov who is a noted communist and nationalist which in turn has been the cause of speculation regarding the truth of his tale. Some say Fr. Alexander merely contemporized a story from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (Book III, Chapter 7, “Disputation”) to promote Russian interests in the Chechnyan War. Though this tale of Dostoevsky, which is based on actual events as described by Dostoevsky in his Diary of a Writer (1877), is very similar to the story of Evgeny, this only testifies to the possibility of its actuality. This argument does not hold up when the testimony of Evgeny's mother and executioner bear testimony to the truth of the tale, as well as the fact that there is video evidence to prove Evgeny was beheaded and countless stories of miracles reported by the pious faithful. Evgeny's relics also testify to the truth of the story.
There are a few videos being ciculated on the internet of Russians being beheaded by Muslim Chechens. In fact, there are over 400+ hours of such videos known. They say that a video was made by the Chechens of Saint Evegni's death as well, though its whereabouts are unknown. According to one person who has examined all these videos, as well as the execution of Saint Evgeny: "They used the rusted old saw, and slowly sawed his head off. Everything was filmed, and when Lubov Rodionova came to see the field commander who did it, he gave her a tape with her son's execution on it." I must warn my readers that these videos are very gruesome and are best avoided, as they will likely leave your mind in a frenzy for a few seconds as they did to me. The Chechens preferred this atrocious method of execution because they followed a legend saying that a decapitated victim would not come for the murderer after death.
Below is a tribute video to the New Martyr Evgeny Rodionova [2 others videos here]