pain and suffering, but bringing to life the essence ofreligious experience. The author appears to be a young man, writing in the third person, who became a convert and gave up a life ofcrime and degradation to become a disciple. The prison authorities released Fr Pavel simply in order for him to die (presumably not wanting to create a martyr within the barbed wire of the camp's confines). The account of Fr Pavel's ministry on his deathbed and the sanctity of the spot marking his grave take us to the heart of the power of the Russian Orthodox Church to survive:
The same evening, when Fr Pavel's death became known, half the collective farm came to the Zakharovs' house. The priest had lived there for about four months, but for many people he had become their 'adviser', 'benefactor' and 'dear father' ...So the story of the exiled pastor came to an end. But though the storm blows over the new and old grave mounds, covering them with snow, though the storm whirls over the distant cemetery, wrapping it in a mantle of snow, though time goes by and the years disappear . . . still the cherry tree will go on arraying itself anew in its wedding colours every spring, and the path of remembrance, prayer and veneration, which leads to such graves, will never be overgrown.19
The opposition to Soviet control of the Orthodox Church and the perceived compromise of the Moscow patriarchate took on a more organised form in the middle of the 1960s. Two Moscow priests, Frs Nikolai Eshliman and Gleb Yakunin (who was only thirty at the time), circulated two appeals, one to Nikolai Podgorny (chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR), the other, in a different tone, to Patriarch Aleksii, but containing roughly the same set of evidence about the interference of the secular authorities in the life of the church and begging for a more robust defence on the part of the church.20 Church matters were officially in the hands of the government's Council for Religious Affairs, which Stalin had established at the end of the Second World War as part of the new set of relations between church and state. Both of these documents adopted an objective and even legal tone. They were the first comprehensive attempt on the part of any churchman to set out the overall situation of the Russian Orthodox Church since the Revolution.
The only reply to either appeal came from the patriarch, who, instead of answering the charges, removed the priests from their parishes (though he stopped short of defrocking them). Fr Eshliman soon withdrew from the fray, but Fr Yakunin has continued to be active into the twenty-first century. There
20 M. Bourdeaux, Patriarch and prophets: persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church today (London: Macmillan, 1969), 189-223.
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