Konstantin Romuald Yulian Budkevich was born June 19, 1867, at the estate Zubry in the province of Vitebskaya. He studied at the Lublin Classical Gymnasium, and from 1886 at the Mogilevskaya Diocese Theological Seminary, in Petersburg. In June 1893, he graduated from the St. Petersburg Theological Academy as a candidate of theology. On September 26 of that same year, he was ordained a priest and shortly thereafter named vicar of the Pskov parish and the schools’ religious teacher. He taught in Vitebsk gymnasiums and in a private women’s boarding school. In December 1903, he was named vicar, and from September 1905, he was the dean of the Church of St. Yekaterina in Petersburg. After three years he became the head of the St. Petersburg dean’s office. On May 31, 1910, he was given the title of honored scholar of canonical law of the Mogilevskaya diocese. On July 23, 1910, he was named to attend the Mogilevskaya Roman Catholic Theological Consistory. Father Budkevich was able at the age of 38 to become the abbot of the largest capital parish, and, three years later, head of the largest dean’s office in the Mogilevskaya diocese thanks to his selfless devotion to the Church and talent for administrative affairs. In five years of administering the parish property (by 1910), He was able to increase substantially the profitability of church houses, spending the funds on the upkeep and expansion of parish schools. Thanks to the efforts of Father Konstantin, in 1907 a bank was founded in the parish, three general schools were built, and a four-year professional school was created, “giving less gifted female students the opportunity to become village teachers.” From 1905 to 1910, around 2,000 children received educations. The dean paid special care to the very poorest of them, creating self-education groups. Priest Budkevich actively participated in the work of a sports group and was the warden of several orphanages.

After the revolution of 1917, he remained within Russia and accepted Soviet citizenship, wanting to look after the spiritual needs of the Catholic minority remaining in the country. For a little while, the Dean was hanging on to the hope that there would be freedom of religion. When all hope of that collapsed, Father Budkevich took up an irreconcilable position in the relations between the Church and the government. In October 1918, he prepared instructions for priests, choosing the “tactic of procrastination.” Father Budkevich suggested backing down on a number of questions, but not stepping back from the big things: “don’t give away churches,” ignore the agreement with the government, and keep one copy of the register of births outside the churches. In May 1919, when Metropolitan von der Ropp was taken hostage by the Communists and four priests were arrested, parishioners hid the dean. “Roman Catholic churches should – without any compromises or reservations – stand from the point of view of Church law” and not sign agreements with the new authorities. “Not signing has the benefit of keeping us from being tied to any obligations, and the Bolsheviks will have a harder time reckoning with protesting Catholics than with retreating Catholics,” Father Budkevich believed.

Father Budkevich taught in a secret seminary in Petrograd from August, 1922, and when the authorities began to close churches, Budkevich and trusted laypeople saved church valuables, transporting to the Polish government a valuable relics, gold utensils and other valuables. The Soviet authorities didn’t forgive the dean his obstinacy. On March 5, 1923, the dean, 14 other priests and Archbishop Tseplyak were taken to Moscow and shortly thereafter arrested. Budkevich was accused of counter-revolutionary activity as the head of an organization he had allegedly founded, as well as of espionage on the behalf of a foreign government. The charges carried the threat of the heaviest punishment.

During a show trial in Moscow from March 21 to 25, 1923, Konstantin Budkevich and Archbishop Tseplyak were given death sentences. The Dean took the news calmly. Yan Tseplyak’s death sentence was commuted to exile beyond the borders of the Russian republic. The authorities didn’t allow Father Konstantin Budkevich to give confession or be administered the Sacrament before his death, and he was killed on the Easter night of March 31 to April 1, 1923.



Vasily Pavlovich Kazansky (1874-1922), the future Metropolitan of Petrograd Veniamin, was born in the village Nimenskoye, in the province of Olonetskaya, into the family of a priest. He graduated from the Olonetskaya Theological Seminary and the St. Petersburg Theological Academy. In 1895, he took the monastic vows. In 1897, he became a teacher of the Scripture at Riga Theological Seminary. Then he served as an inspector of theological seminaries. From 1902, he was the rector of the Samara Theological Seminary, and from 1905, he served as the rector of the St. Petersburg Theological Seminary. On January 24, 1910, he was consecrated as Bishop for Gdov and vicar of the St. Petersburg diocese.

From his student years, he was involved in the religious and moral enlightenment of the workers. After having become the vicar of St. Petersburg, he led Easter and Christmas services at factories, organized “The Society of the Blessed Virgin” for the care of fallen women, and he was an active advocate of sobriety. In conversation, he was simple, available, polite and quiet. On March 6, 1917, he was consecrated as Archbishop; on June 3, he was elected to be the Archbishop for Petrograd and Ladoga. It was the first democratic election in Russia of a bishop to a cathedra by clergy and laymen. On August 13, 1918, he was consecrated as Metropolitan. In place of the theological academy that was closed in 1918, he created the Petrograd Theological Institute, which began operating in 1920.

During the period of the confiscation of church valuables, the Metropolitan Veniamin authorized “communities and believers to sacrifice for the good of the starving even the frames from holy icons, so long as it didn’t involve the sacred part of the church and – the altar, holy vessels, tabernacles, crosses, the Gospel, receptacles for saints’ relics and particularly revered icons.” But even in the case of the confiscation of sacred items, Metropolitan Veniamin he called upon believers to avoid violence and to not give any reason for so much as a drop of blood “to be spilled near a church, where the oblation is made.”

Veniamin refused to recognize the legality of the renovationists, self-proclaimed High Church Administration (VTsU), supported by the authorities and pushed aside from the administration of the Church of the arrested Patriarch Tikhon. Alleging that he had not received any message from the Patriarch about his renunciation of opposition to the government or the formation of the VTsU, Veniamin informed the leaders of the renovationists that they had broken away from the Church, and he warned his congregation against joining them, so that they would not, in doing so, deprive themselves of communication with the Church.

On June 1, 1922, Veniamin was arrested on charges of hindering the confiscation of church valuables, but the true reason for the arrest was his principled position regarding the “renovationists.” In addition to him, another 86 people were brought to face charges. At the trial, which took place from June 10 through July 5, 1922, they courageously held their ground and didn’t admit any guilt. On the orders of the Petrograd Revolutionary Tribunal, he was shot on August 13, 1922. In 1992, the Assembly of Hierarchs canonized Metropolitan Veniamin.