I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.
Psalm 117, 17
The stone which the builder rejected shall become the headstone of the corner.
Ps 117, 22
The wicked shall do wickedly and none of the wicked shall understand; but those who are wise shall understand.
Daniel 12, 10
Quench not the spirit. Despise not prophesyings. But test all things, hold fast to that which is good.
1 Thess. 5, 19-21
Of all the wretched stories that were told about him, I could believe in none, for there was not the slightest evidence in the man’s behaviour either at the Court or in the houses of his admirers to justify any suspicion of evil-doing…In a land of bribe-takers, robbers of state funds and corrupt officials, Rasputin stood out like the giant figure of a saint moulded in rugged iron. He, of all men in Russia, was immaculate.
Gerald Shelley, p. 65
I fight for the Tsar, the Faith and the Fatherland. While I am alive no harm shall ruin them, but if I perish, so shall they.
Gregory Rasputin-Novy (Shelley, p. 37)
Russia will not perish…it was and will be glorified; the tears of those who suffer, whoever they are, are higher than all idle talk.
Gregory Rasputin-Novy, 16 November 1916
Poor Russia bears a penance…It is our duty to cleanse the memory of the Elder from slander…This is vital for the spiritual life of the whole Russian Church…As Divine Truth begins to be revealed, everything will change in Russia.
Elder Nikolay (Guryanov) (1909-2002)
The West will never tolerate the rebirth of Holy Rus. It will always try to annihilate us, foisting on us as heroes its one-time agents of influence (to a greater or lesser extent): Lenin, Trotsky or Stalin. It will always strive by any means available to blacken and slander our Orthodox Civilization and our holy Tsar, in order through them to besmirch and compromise our Orthodox Church and our present State, blowing them apart from inside.
Petr Multatuli, Contemporary Russian Historian
In around 1900 the elites of Europe took advice from any manner of charlatans, astrologers, occultists and table-turning mediums. Such was the fashion of the time, as also in Ancient Rome and Egypt, as also in the contemporary White House under many a US President. However in 1905 at the Court of Imperial Russia, there appeared another sort of adviser. Like Christ come forth from Galilee, despised in the Capital of Jerusalem by the scribes and the high priests, come forth from a distant province, where supposedly only fools and bumpkins lived, from distant Siberia, there appeared at the Imperial Russian Court a peasant ascetic and prophet.
He was ignored and mocked both by the scribes, the intellectualist, modernistic, know-it-all careerists, and by the pharisees, the obscurantist, ritualistic, anti-Semitic nationalists. However, he was revered by the spiritual, many of them future New Martyrs. His name was Gregory Efimovich Rasputin. 100 years after his brutal murder his name is still taboo for most, as a synonym of depravity. This taboo comes from the sensationalist disinformation and slanderous fiction about Gregory, ‘the mad monk’, in all the standard and false histories in English. These lies were issued by aristocrats and journalists, right-wingers and Bolsheviks alike.
Therefore, something had to be done. Over the last few years I have been asked to write his life by several readers. Here it is. More than 100 years after his murder there are for the moment only lies about Gregory, written by some of his self-justifying murderers, Felix Yusupov and Vladimir Purishkevich, or by money-seekers, both Soviet and Western. More recently there have been the fictions written by amoralists like the Soviet playwright and fantasist of obscenities, Radzinsky, with his absurdly-named book ‘Rasputin, The Last Word’ (in truth the last word in lies) and the mythmaker Varlamov, as well as those by similar Western novelists.
Then there is also the account of Gregory on the notoriously inaccurate Wikipedia site. None of the above pseudo-histories, all part of standard anti-Christian Western propaganda, is based on sources, and most of them seek to make quick money from invented accounts of debauchery. It is therefore high time to write down some facts about Gregory Rasputin for the Non-Russian speaker. The following has been compiled from the otherwise unknown 21st century Russian studies of once secret sources; for in Russia too the truth has only recently emerged. These studies, to which I am greatly indebted, include detailed articles both by Church writers like Yury Rassulin and Igor Yevsin and by political writers like Tatiana Mironova and Oleg Platonov.
However, there is also the 400-page study, ‘Rasputin’, by the well-known doctor of history Alexander Bokhanov and published in 2006. This proved to be a turning-point in understanding the truth about Gregory. After this came the invaluable and highly detailed seven volumes of ‘An Investigation’, written by the erudite Church writer, Sergey Fomin, covering some 5,000 pages, with some 2,000-3,000 footnotes in each volume, as well as two excellent complementary volumes. These nine volumes cover the whole background reign of Nicholas II, with detailed analysis of the issues and personalities of the period, aristocrats, ministers, writers, journalists and churchmen, as well as sources for Gregory’s life.
I have read all the above, though critically, and used them in this study, referring especially to Fomin’s Vol II, pp. 1-120, all of Vols III and VIII, ‘Our Dear Father’, which presents 600 pages of authentic source material, and Vol IX. Although precise chronology in the early years is sometimes difficult because of conflicting sources or lack of them altogether, below we have reconstructed the early years of Gregory’s life as best we can. We would be happy to correct any errors in chronology if more certainty can be proved.
- Origins: 1869-1893
Gregory Efimovich Rasputin was born into a pious peasant family on 9/21 January 1869 (not on 10/22 January or in any other year, as can be read in several misleading publications). He was baptised the following day and was named after St Gregory of Nyssa, whose feast falls on that day. He saw the light of day in the prosperous little town of Pokrovskoe, with a population of about 2,000, on the River Tura in the province of Tobolsk in Western Siberia. (This is on the same latitude as the far north of Scotland). The town had been founded in the early 17th century if not before. It had been named after its church dedicated to the Protecting Veil (‘Pokrov’) of the Mother of God, which had been due to a miracle worked by her there.
Pokrovskoe is only 50 miles from Ekaterinburg, less than 200 miles from Tyumen, and 1500 miles east of the then Russian Capital of Saint Petersburg, Gregory’s ancestors had been living there since at least the 17th century, but originally came from the north of European Russia, in the region of Vologda. The surname ‘Rasputin’ refers to a fork in a road, where his ancestors must have lived. This was a common surname and in 1887 no fewer than 33 families in Pokrovskoe bore it. His father, Efim, whose grandfather had been a priest, was a peasant farmer, courier and churchwarden, like his father before him. He had been born in Pokrovskoe in 1841 and married Gregory’s mother, Anna Parshukova, on 11 February 1863. She came from the nearby village of Usalka, along the road to the north-east.
Apart from working the land and fishing, like other local peasants Efim also worked as an official courier, ferrying people and goods between the nearby important towns of Tobolsk, some 340 miles away, and Tyumen. His son was to do the same. As was commonplace all over the world at the time, the couple had many children, but seven died in infancy and early childhood and only two, Gregory and his youngest sister Theodosia, survived. Gregory was a very sickly child, but was remarkable for his perspicacity. Like the vast majority of people then, he was not formally educated, as he was needed to work, and he remained illiterate into early adulthood. However, his father was literate and would read the Gospels and the Lives of the Saints to his family in the evenings.
It was from these that Gregory, with his excellent memory, came to know the Gospels by heart. He was pious and kept the commandments. The accidental death of a cousin in a tragic accident in childhood made him all the more serious. At the age of 15 or 16 he went off by himself on pilgrimage (a walk of two weeks) to the relics of St Simeon of Verkhoture, who became his favourite saint. These relics were kept in the very large St Nicholas Monastery in Verkhoture, famous in Western Siberia, nearly 250 miles to the north of Pokrovskoe. Following this, it seems that Gregory stayed in this monastery as a layworker for some time but he discovered, as he later wrote, that his calling was to find salvation in the world.
It was on another pilgrimage, to the Monastery of the Sign in Abalak near Tobolsk in 1886, that Gregory met a pious peasant girl named Praskovya (Paraskeva) Dubrovina. She was three years older than him and came from a neighbouring village. After a courtship of a few months, they married on 2 February 1887. Gregory was eighteen. It was a happy marriage. Gregory was an excellent husband and father, an honest peasant, working the land, fishing and driving as a courier like his ancestors. The couple had seven children, though only three survived past early childhood: Dmitry (b. 1895), Matrona (b. 1898) and Varvara (b. 1900). (Like so many others, Praskovya, Dmitry and Varvara were all to die cruelly in Soviet conditions, but Matrona emigrated and died in 1977 in Los Angeles aged 79).
Gregory’s spiritual father was the locally renowned Elder Michael (from 1906 on called Makary) (Polykarpov) from St Nicholas Monastery in Verkhoture. From him he learned the prayer of the heart which he used. Later he would have other spiritual mentors. Later slanders that Gregory was a horse-thief (a very serious crime in Siberia which would have been severely punished) are baseless. In fact, his only weaknesses were that he smoked, considered normal at the time, and would on occasion drink a little too much, as was common among peasants. Praskovya remained in Pokrovskoe throughout Gregory’s travels, prolonged absences and rise to prominence, remaining devoted to him until his death, respecting his piety and his destiny.
- Gregory the Wandering Pilgrim: 1893-1903
After the upsetting death from scarlet fever of his first-born Adrian, aged four, in 1893 Gregory returned to the monastery in Verkhoture. Here he met more elders, Frs Adrian, Elias (now locally canonized), Evdokim and of course Elder Michael/Makary. His conversation with the latter gave him peace after his son’s death. It was Fr Michael who was to understand what Gregory’s destiny was and would later send him on his Imperial mission to Saint Petersburg. As Fr Makary, he was himself later to visit Saint Petersburg twice and in 1908 met the Tsarina and in 1909 the Tsar. He made an impression of simplicity, humility and holiness on all. He was to repose on 19 July 1917.
On Gregory’s return from the monastery, where he had stayed for perhaps as long as three months, all noticed a great change in him. They found him ‘abnormally’ pious, he constantly prayed, giving up smoking and even the occasional use of alcohol. (However, it seems that he did accept some alcohol again towards the very end of his life from the hands of ‘friends’ who insisted on him drinking with them). His complete renunciation of alcohol for over twenty years would in 1907 lead him to found a branch of the Temperance Society in his little town and play an important role in the nationwide Temperance Movement (Fomin, Vol IX, p. 53). He considered that alcoholism was the curse of Russian life.
It was now, after 1893, that Gregory began visiting many holy places of Russia as a wandering pilgrim, always on foot, covering up to 30 miles a day, repeating the prayer of the heart and sleeping under the stars. For some nine years, like many others, Gregory made pilgrimages to Russia’s holy places, visiting Abalak, Tobolsk, Verkhoture locally, and, much further away, Sarov, Optina, Kazan, Kiev, Odessa, Mogiliov, Pochaev, Moscow and Saint Petersburg, fasting and praying as he went, living off alms, fighting against temptations, confessing and taking holy communion in the monasteries. In all the holy places he met bishops and well-known elders.
He related that he had had a vision of St Simeon of Verkhoture, met St Nicholas in the forest and that he had heard the voice of the Mother of God. He said that nature had taught him to speak to God and learn of His wisdom. For the first three years he wore heavy iron chains, but he stopped doing this, as he found the chains did not make him humble. Inbetween these pilgrimages, some of which lasted for months, he would stay at home with his wife and children, living the life of a peasant. During his absences, his father did his work for him. In these years a small group of other Orthodox, primarily family members and other local devout peasants, some ten in number, would pray with him on Sundays and holy days, listening to the accounts of his pilgrimages, changing their ways.
Digging out a cellar beneath his father’s stable, Gregory made a makeshift chapel, covering it with icons. Gregory would pray here, fighting against the devil. Metr Veniamin (Fedchenkov) wrote in his memoirs (p. 153) that it was here that Gregory obtained the gift of working miracles. His wife greatly respected him and never interfered, knowing that her husband had some special and unique calling and destiny, a mission to accomplish. In other ways, Gregory remained a peasant, too direct for many, taking great pleasure in fishing. However, he was renowned for his generosity and hospitality, helping the poor. His doors were open to all and in Pokrovskoe he was respected as a prosperous and devout peasant.
One day, it seems in 1902, working in the fields at home, Gregory had a radiant vision of the Mother of God, as in the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God, who blessed him. Gregory set up a cross on the place of the vision and set off for advice to his spiritual father, Fr Michael. The latter told Gregory: ‘God has chosen you for a great feat, in order to strengthen yourself for this, you must go to Mt Athos and pray to the Mother of God.’ Gregory set off with a pious close friend from a nearby village, also a wandering pilgrim, Dmitry Pechorkin, who had considerable influence on Gregory. Having arrived on Mt Athos, where his uncle was a monk, Gregory stayed for many months, his friend Dmitry becoming a monk with the name of Daniel. However, Gregory was not tempted to stay, being disillusioned at the monastery by the sight of monks sinning (as I saw in exactly the same place exactly three generations later, in 1979). But Gregory did give up eating meat after this pilgrimage.
- On the Way: 1903-5
On his return, most probably in November or December 1903, Gregory went to Saint Petersburg and met the future St John of Kronstadt at St John’s Convent, founded by Fr John. Gregory had with him a letter of recommendation from, it seems, Elder Michael in Siberia. Gregory made a profound impression on Fr John and stayed at the Convent for some time. Fr John said that he saw in Gregory ‘a Divine spark’ and that he had a special mission as ‘God’s chosen one’. He also gave Gregory his blessing to help others and be ‘his right hand’. (This meeting was later much misreported by Gregory’s slanderers). Another source says that Fr John asked for Gregory’s blessing and told him that his destiny would be according to his name – Gregory means ‘vigilant’ in Greek.
Those who knew both of them noted their same penetrating eyes, as can be seen in their photographs. Moreover, their destiny was similar: both were prophets, both were slandered as debauchees (Fr John had been ordained at the age of 26, but was not appointed rector of his own church until he was in his sixties; so history repeats itself) and both were loved by the friend of the Tsarina, Anna Vyrubova. Indeed, after Fr John’s repose at the end of 1908, Gregory was, in Anna’s words, to inherit from Fr John the prophetic task of delaying Russia’s suicidal slide into the atheist abyss. For once Russia had renounced its Christianity in favour of Western secularism, its self-destruction would be certain. In early 1905, Gregory went to see Fr Michael/Makary again. He confirmed that Gregory’s path would be to find salvation in the world and that ‘great feats awaited him’. Gregory did not stay at home for long, but set off for Kiev.
It seems that it was on his way home from Kiev that Gregory stayed for a while in Kazan. This may well have been connected with his earlier vision of the Kazan Mother of God, who was directing him. Here he met the future hieromartyr and Bishop Theodore (Pozdeevsky) and the holy elder Gabriel (1844-1915) of the Seven Lakes Monastery (now canonised) and other churchmen from the Kazan Theological Academy. These included four future bishops of the future Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia: Metropolitan Nestor (Anisimov), ‘the Apostle of Kamchatka’ (1885-1962), who also received and then ordained Nicholas Gibbes to the priesthood, Bishop Michael (Bogdanov), Metropolitan Melety (Zaborovsky) of Harbin, who came from near Pokrovskoe, and the saintly Archbishop Tikhon (Troitsky) of San Francisco (1883-1963). (The latter was succeeded by St John (Maximovich), whose ancestor was St John (Maximovich) of Tobolsk, who in June 1916 became the last saint to be canonised by Tsar Nicholas with the vital support of Gregory and against the views of certain liberal bishops).
Here he also met the famous and pious Korean missionary Bishop Chrysanth (Shchetkovsky – 1869-1906). Bishop Chrysanth gave Gregory a letter of recommendation to Bishop Sergiy, Rector of the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy at the St Alexander Nevsky Monastery (and future Patriarch), and to the Inspector of the Academy, Fr Theophan (Bystrov), the confessor of the Imperial Family. So it was that Gregory made his way on foot to Saint Petersburg and finally met Bishop Sergiy at the Monastery in October 1905, probably meeting Fr John of Kronstadt once more. Here he was introduced to a number of different churchmen, including Fr Theophan. The young Fr Theophan was at the time much admired for his spirituality and sincerity, even by atheists, and was well-known to spiritual-minded aristocrats of Saint Petersburg.
Fr Theophan was so overwhelmingly impressed by Gregory, of whom he had previously heard as ‘the prophet from Siberia’, that he invited him to stay in his home and Gregory became one of his most important friends in Saint Petersburg. He openly considered Gregory to be a saint. Fr Theophan told many that Gregory was quite exceptional, an Old Testament prophet and a man with gifts of prayer and holiness, which were usually granted only to the most experienced monks. As Shelley later wrote (p. 69): ‘There was so much of the Old Testament prophet in Rasputin that it may not be wrong to compare him to one of those strange, rugged seers who played so great a role at the courts of the kings of Israel’.
Thus, Gregory became known to the future Patriarch Sergiy and the future Metropolitan Benjamin (Fedchenkov), who was then a young student, and many other bishops and churchmen, as well as aristocratic laypeople. They were all of the same opinion that Gregory was a man of God and an elder. All noticed his simplicity, frankness, truthfulness, sincerity, purity, unusually penetrating eyes which looked straight through people, with a remarkable perspicacity and visionary power of prophecy. They were also astonished by his knowledge of the Scriptures and even more by his understanding of them. Although Gregory had not studied, he understood much more than those who had studied.
- The Wandering Pilgrim at the Emperor’s Court: 1905-1906
Soon Gregory met some of Fr Theophan’s spiritual children, the Montenegrin women involved with the Tsar’s cousins, the Grand Dukes Peter and Nikolai Nikolayevich, whom they married. All four of them, like many European aristocrats of the time, were obsessed by the supernatural. Naively trying to draw them away from the dangers of the occult, Fr Theophan warmly recommended Gregory to them as a man of God. Thus it was that the self-interested and highly ambitious Grand Duke Nikolai introduced Gregory to the Tsar and his family on 1 November 1905 at the Peterhof Palace, hoping to gain some advantage from this introduction. (When he did not, he and his previusly divorced wife, from 1908 on began slandering Gregory, just as the Grand Duke, like many others, had also slandered the future St John of Kronstadt, as a debauchee).
The Tsar recorded his first meeting with Gregory in his diary, writing that he and Alexandra had made the acquaintance of a man of God – ‘Gregory, from Tobolsk province’. They had been deeply impressed by him and indeed the meeting lasted for three hours. The meeting occurred at a critical moment in his reign during the barbaric anti-Russian terrorist campaign, which murdered thousands, which had come on top of the treacherous Western-backed Japanese attack on Russia and sabotaged Russia’s victory. It also notably came after the Tsar’s offer to abdicate and become Patriarch had been refused by the bureaucrats of the Holy Synod, who did not want to have a Patriarch. Shortly after this first meeting Gregory returned home to Prokovskoe.
His second meeting with the Imperial Family took place eight months later, on 18 July 1906. On this visit to Saint Petersburg, Gregory also met Fr John of Kronstadt publicly again, though it seems that they also met several times privately; Gregory openly considered that Fr John was a saint and wrote about him as such. At this time Gregory stayed for some months with the future New Martyr Fr Roman Medved and his family in Saint Petersburg. Fr Roman was a friend of Fr Theophan, well-connected at the time, and he greatly valued the healings and the extraordinary prophecies of Gregory, all of which came true. It was while staying with them that in August 1906 Gregory healed the daughter of the Prime Minister Stolypin after a terrorist bomb attack on his home in which 24 people had died.
After this Gregory asked to be allowed to present the Tsar with an icon of St Simeon of Verkhoturye, the much-venerated Siberian saint. This he did at their third meeting on 13 October 1906, when he met the Imperial children for the first time. Here too was a prophecy, for an icon of this very saint stood in the shrine outside the Ipatiev House where the Imperial Family was to be martyred on 4/17 July 1918 – only fifty miles from Gregory’s home. This third meeting was Gregory’s first visit to the Palace and the Tsar again recorded the very strong impression made on the Imperial Couple by Gregory in their hour-long conversation. Gregory’s attitude to the Imperial Family was to be not just respectful, but full of love. He never boasted of his acquaintance with them and was always discreet.
On 15 December 1906 Gregory petitioned the Tsar to be permitted to modify his very common surname to Rasputin-Novy (not Novykh, as some mistakenly have it). The new name meant ‘Rasputin the New’. This was so that others in the village of Pokrovskoe or nearby, some also called Gregory Rasputin, would not confuse him. Tsar Nicholas swiftly granted the request, little knowing that almost exactly ten years later Gregory would be assassinated. At the end of 1907 that the Tsar’s infant son and heir, Alexei, then aged three, had a crisis of haemophilia (passed down from Queen Victoria, Alexandra’s grandmother).. His doctors could do nothing for him. However, Gregory, alerted by the Empress, stopped the bleeding and eased the pain of the Tsarevich. Gregory was to heal him again on several other occasions, for example in March 1912, October 1912 (see below), July 1913, September 1914, December 1915 (see below), February 1916 and April 1916.
The Tsarina and her closest friend, the devout Anna Vyrubova (1884-1964), who in Finnish exile became a nun and is venerated by some as Mother Maria of Helsinki, soon became convinced that Rasputin had miraculous powers. His enemies, left without any explanation for the miracles, nonsensically suggested that Gregory had used hypnosis or some secret herbs to stem the flow of blood! The conviction that he had miraculous powers became especially strong when Gregory healed at a distance, without even being present. Moreover, Gregory correctly foretold that once the heir had reached the age of twelve in 1916, his illness would dissipate and that he would be able to live a normal life as an adult. This was a great consolation to his parents and indeed after 1916 the prophecy came true. Even after his murder, Gregory would appeared to Alexei in dreams and comfort him. The link between the two was very close indeed.
- Eldership: 1907-1916
After the first meeting in 1905, the two meetings in 1906, altogether three meetings between Gregory and the Tsar and Tsarina took place in 1907, five in 1908 and five in 1909. They became even more frequent after this, whenever Gregory was in Saint Petersburg and not at home. In 1911, 1912, 1913 and 1914 Gregory was invited by the Tsar to their beloved Crimea, where he visited them. At some point now the Tsar granted Gregory the right to wear a small priest’s cross, which he wore around his neck on a cord (not a chain); his service was that of a pastor. These meetings would usually take place in the modest home of Anna Vyrubova, the Tsarina’s friend who lived near the palace in Tsarskoe Selo. Anna, a woman filled with compassion and much mocked for her simple piety, became a close disciple of Gregory, so much so that during the First World War she would see him at least once or twice a week.
At this time, whenever he was in Saint Petersburg, Gregory lived with various families until he moved into a modest apartment with very modest furniture, which did not even belong to him. In 1910 his two daughters moved in with him so that they could receive a good education in Saint Petersburg, which Gregory greatly valued. Gregory would get up early every day to go to church. His diet consisted of black bread, dried bread, sometimes with jam he had been given, sometimes with fish and vegetables, such as cabbage, gherkins, radish and onion. Cabbage with gherkins was his favourite dish. He never ate meat or dairy produce. Here and in these conditions he received those who came to him for advice. Gregory received those who came to him for advice for hours, from eighty to several hundred people a day.
He especially received the poor, but also generals, students, priests, journalists, ministers, officers, aristocrats, merchants and pious women of all sorts. Some of Gregory’s visitors were sincere and deserving; others were intriguers and crooks. Any money that visitors gave him he always passed on to those in need. With gifts of money he also built the school and an extension to the church in his native Pokrovskoe. The Grand Duchess Anastasia, wife of the Grand Duke Peter Nikolayevich, gave him money specifically to build a solid two-storey house for his family, when she visited him there in 1907. (This house was purposely destroyed by the atheist authorities in 1980, fearful that it would become a place of pilgrimage, just like the Ipatiev House in Ekaterinburg, demolished just before this by the drunkard Boris Yeltsin).
Gregory was like a breath of fresh spiritual air amid the stultifying bureaucracy of the State Church world of Saint Petersburg. Here, even more than elsewhere, the Church suffered on the one hand from spiritually suffocating moralism and ritualism, and on the other hand from spiritually suffocating liberalism and modernism under its notorious careerist Metropolitan, the liberal Antony (Vadkovsky). This was spiritual death. This was clear in the Theological Academies, which had become ‘the graves of Orthodoxy’ (in the words of the prominent churchman, Prince N. Zhevakhov), and the seminaries which produced atheists, as described by Metropolitan Antony (Khrapovitsky) and Zhevakhov of the Holy Synod in their memoirs. Gregory soon gained many disciples in this spiritual desert. From 1910 on he was talked about by all.
In October 1912 the Tsarevich Alexei developed a haemorrhage in his thigh and groin after a fall while getting out of a boat at the royal hunting grounds at Spala near Warsaw. For three weeks he lay between life and death, in severe pain and delirious with fever. In desperation, the Tsarina asked Anna Vyrubova to send Gregory (who was at home in Siberia) a telegram, asking him to pray for Alexei. Gregory wrote back quickly, telling the Tsarina that ‘God has seen your tears and heard your prayers. Do not grieve. The Little One will not die. Do not allow the doctors to bother him too much’. To the astonishment of the doctors, who had been quite unable to do anything, Alexei’s bleeding stopped the following day. It was another miracle.
Gregory’s many healings seemed to come straight out of the Acts of the Apostles. Among others he offered to heal Prince Yusupov, one of his future murderers, of his illness, but he refused. Gregory became well-known, receiving many invitations to speak at aristocratic salons. He gave advice, he consoled, acting as an Elder, both to simple peasants, merchants and aristocrats, as well as to the Tsar himself, speaking with the authority that many clergy – bureaucrats, ritualists and careerists – then quite lacked, as the Tsar noted. Little wonder that in 1913 Gregory was to consider that the bureaucratic Synod had been excessive by far and downright wrong in its violent persecution and repatriation of hundreds of simplistic but still profoundly pious ‘Name-Glorifier’ monks from Mt Athos. Gregory interceded for them and made their lot easier. The repatriated Name-Glorifiers included Monk Daniel Pechorkin, who was later martyred by the Soviets.
In 1907, 1911, 1912 and 1915 there appeared booklets of Gregory’s writings, consisting of short works on Christian piety and reflections and on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land and Constantinople, taking in Ephesus, Patmos, Rhodes, Cyprus and Beirut, from February to May 1911. These were written down and edited from the words of the semi-literate Gregory by various disciples, including the Tsarina herself, from 1911 on. These works have been collected and republished in our own days. Totalling over 100 pages, they show that Gregory was fully Orthodox, a sincere and righteous man who knew the Holy Spirit. Gregory did not mention political matters in his writings or indeed in his talks, as he had no interest in either the political left or right. He simply supported the Tsar and wanted all to be reconciled under him. For him the Tsar and Russia were the same, according to his mystical faith in the Tsar as God’s Anointed.
- Jealousy and Slander: 1907-1916
Social climbers and aristocrats were frustrated that Gregory was unbribable – not least the Prime Minister Kokovtsov, who was to offer him a colossal bribe of 200,000 roubles to leave Saint Petersburg and saw it rejected. Whenever given honest money, Gregory devoted it to others and to the church and school in Pokrovskoe. His home there became a centre of hospitality for wandering pilgrims and local people, who long after recalled Gregory as ‘a holy soul’. However, even in 1907 the local clergy, well-known for stealing money and getting drunk (the two besetting sins of the worst clergy at the time), had become jealous. They never did services on time, when they did them at all, and their attitude was dry and ritualistic. Unable to preach, they never gave any spiritual food to their flock, who duly ignored them and the village church. These local clergy invented various slanders, such as that Gregory belonged to a strange (possibly by then fictitious) sect of orgiastic flagellants, called ‘khlysttsy’.
Although their slanders were supported, as does happen to the righteous, by their Bishop, Antony (Karzhavin), a dry formalist who was also jealous of Gregory’s real faith and popularity, there was no truth in them. Fortunately, Gregory was strongly defended by the pious clergy of his Diocese as ‘a righteous and holy man, a benefactor and man of zeal’ (these clergy are listed by Fomin in Vol III, p. 481; one of them, Fr, now St, Augustine (Pyatnitsky), a friend of Gregory, was to be martyred in 1918). However, these stories were eagerly picked up in Saint Petersburg by those of ill-will and jealousy, who by discrediting Gregory thought to discredit the Tsar. Well before Gregory’s arrival in Saint Petersburg, various charlatans with their occultist movements, such as spiritualism and theosophy, had become popular among the capital’s pagan aristocracy. Many of them were intensely curious about the occult and the supernatural generally.
Thus, despite their initial fascination with the peasant Gregory and invitations to their salons, the decadent Saint Petersburg elite never accepted him. They were notable rather for their intense hatred of the Tsar and their desire to seize power for themselves. Gregory was far too loyal to the Tsar and too strict an Orthodox for the aristocrats and bureaucrats of Saint Petersburg, who were intensely jealous of him. Of them Gregory said: ‘These people will ruin Russia. They hate the Russian peasants like cattle. They are not Russians. They speak our tongue and cross themselves sin the Orthodox way, but their hearts are foreign’ (Shelley, p. 67). Gregory was appalled by the belief of these aristocrats that grace can be found through self-flagellation. Often heavy drinkers, the aristocrats were shocked by Gregory’s vigorous and successful combat against alcoholism in the Russian Temperance Movement from 1907 on.
At first, Gregory had literally been lionized in the Capital like an exotic animal, but Gregory disturbed the aristocrats by telling the truth. Jealousy gradually came to the fore and by 1910 jealousy had turned to open slander. Foul slanders concerning Gregory began from 1910 on, becoming ever more vile, especially from 1912, insinuating depravity between Gregory, the Tsarina and Anna Vyrubova, using forgeries, fake photos, fake memoirs, a fake diary, fake letters, fake photographs and at least one double of Gregory to support their lies. These lies are repeated to this day by Radzinsky, but hack-writers had a field day even then. Interestingly, the slanderers always accused Gregory of precisely their own vices, especially alcoholism and sexual depravity. As Shelley says in his memoirs on p. 53: ‘I realised that the fearful things attributed to Rasputin were, in many cases, the actual doings of his accusers. Perhaps no man in history has been so furiously calumniated.’
The well-connected slanderers enlisted the support of their friends in the Secret Police, who had in any case as a matter of routine been following Gregory since 1909, whenever he met the Imperial Family in Saint Petersburg. As their predictable reports had initially consisted of tedious lists of dates and times of Gregory’s meetings with his various spiritual children of all conditions, from 1912 on, fictional episodes were inserted, with accounts of salacious meetings (Bokhanov, Chapter XI). The corrupt General Dzhunkovsky had overall responsibility for these fictitious episodes, which seem to have been written by Beletsky, the Director of Police, or by a hack-writer employed by him, perhaps a journalist called Duvidzon. In any case, they ceased in February 1916, when Beletsky was fired.
These episodes also introduced alleged gross interference by Gregory in matters of Church and State, appointing Ministers and Metropolitans alike for bribes. The reports also invented the lie that Gregory wished to become a priest. These episodes, held in Russian State Archives, are all in typed form, having been edited from the original handwritten notes. Platonov gives an extensive analysis of these reports, noting that there is absolutely no corroboration of them, for example, from supposed prostitutes. They are badly constructed and the scandalous episodes, both salacious and political, are clearly interpolations, as they describe completely bizarre events, which have no logical link to observations before and after them and many can clearly be disproved.
It was only when these reports became available at source in quite recent times was it realized that they are entirely fictitious. In slandering Gregory, both right-wing aristocrats and bureaucrats and left-wing journalists and politicians, members of the ‘Duma-Sanhedrin’ (the description used by Elder Nikolay (Guryanov)), saw an opportunity first to discredit and then to depose the Tsar and so seize power for themselves. Regardless of whether the slanders came from right-wing aristocratic money-grubbers (some of these even dared to call themselves ‘monarchists!) or left-wing terrorist power-grabbers, the two sides of the same worldly coin, they were all designed to make Gregory into their scapegoat – an excuse to attack the Monarchy.
A few who did not know Gregory actually believed these slanders out of naivety, but most believed them out of sheer ill-will. For example, in one notorious rigged-up incident in June 1915 in a Moscow restaurant/night-club called ‘Yar’ (‘Fury’) a Gregory look-alike disgusted everyone with his debauchery and drunkenness (Bokhanov Chaper IX). Naturally, the tabloid press and all others haters of the Monarchy reported that this was Gregory, although in fact Gregory was not in Moscow at the time (Mironov, pp. 120-127 and Platonov, Chapter 5). Other reports made out that Gregory frequented prostitutes in Saint Petersburg. In reality the figure in question was a look-alike, for at the time Gregory was at home in Siberia 1500 miles away (Dehn, p. 95). The use of doubles became especially common in the last year of his life (Platonov, Chapter 7).
- Believers in Gregory: 1907-1916
Gregory remained tenaciously single-minded despite all the attacks; he knew that he had to do what God had sent him to do (Fomin, Vol IX, p. 162). Those who knew him by far the best, the Tsar and Tsarina (and their Children, inasmuch as they were aware of anything), never for one moment believed the slanders about their ‘Friend’ (See pp. 349-352 of Vol 8 of Fomin’s research). It was impossible for them to see in one who was clearly a prophet, healer and miracle-worker a man of evil life. Like Gregory, the Tsar and Tsarina were profoundly hurt by the treachery of the aristocracy around them, expressed in their ability to believe such fabrications. The Tsar and Tsarina were both slandered in exactly the same way as Gregory. A few, like Anna Vyrubova, restored to life by Gregory after her train crash on 2 January 1915, or the Imperial chaplain Fr Alexander Vasiliev, remained faithful, considering Gregory to be a saint.
Another of Gregory’s defenders was the missionary preacher, monarchist and future New Martyr, Fr John Vostorgov (+ 1918), who called Gregory ‘a true Christian’. As one who was also slandered for being faithful to Orthodoxy, the Tsar and his Fatherland, Fr John defended Gregory, who in turn supported Fr John. Another defender was the new Bishop of Tobolsk, Bishop Aleksiy (Molchanov) (+ 1914), who in November 1912 concluded the then still unfinished diocesan report on Gregory started by his predecessor with the words that the accusation that Gregory belonged to an orgiastic sect was based on ignorance. As an expert on sects, Bp Aleksiy had clearly seen through the jealousy of the former bishop and unworthy local clergy, who had accused Gregory of sectarianism. Bishop Aleksiy dismissed and replaced these clergy.
There were also other bishop-friends of Gregory, the devout Bishop Barnabas (+ 1924) (Nakropin) who like Gregory did much to promote the canonisation of St John of Tobolsk, Bishop Aleksiy (Dorodnitsyn) and Bishop Palladiy (Dobronravov), Bishops of Saratov and Tsaritsyn. They had both studied in Kazan, known as a missionary centre, and Gregory had met Bishop Aleksiy there in 1905. The latter would become the rector of the famous Novospassky Monastery in Moscow, which was closely linked with Gregory. The Bishop died in prison in 1922 and many consider him to have been a saint. Then there were Bishop Vladimir (Sokolovsky-Avtonomov – 1852-1931), who was shot by the atheists, and Bishop Seraphim (Golubyatnikov – 1856-1921), who much admired Gregory. Those who knew Gregory and knew him the best were the very ones who spoke and later wrote the most appreciatively of him.
These included, for example, his daughter Matrona, his spiritual children Anna Vyrubova and M.E. Golovina (whose invaluable record was published in Paris only in 1995, some 30 years after she died). Also, the pious missionary Metropolitan (now St) Makary of Moscow revered Gregory, recognising in him a righteous Orthodox and ‘a holy man’. In 1917 this Metropolitan was uncanonically deposed by the Kerensky regime, which notoriously meddled in the Church’s internal affairs and tried to manipulate the 1917-18 Moscow Church Council. Contemporary believers include the ever-memorable Fr Dmitry Dudko and my late friend, Fr Vasily Fonchenkov, formerly the rector of our parish in Salzburg.
One who for a time believed the slanders, but also actually knew Gregory, was Fr Theophan, his former admirer. The reason for his complete change of view was his gullibility in believing slanders against Gregory made in 1909, something for which he would later bitterly repent as an archbishop in the emigration in France. Another case of a churchman and former admirer who then believed the slanders but lived to repent was the future New Martyr, Bishop Germogen (Dolganov). He was renowned for his utter sincerity, but also extreme and sometimes blind zeal, passion, almost rude frankness and also poor administrative skills, for which he was later dismissed. Having met Gregory in 1908, he became upset by Gregory’s unwillingness to be manipulated by him for his then right-wing political plans.
What he did not understand was that Gregory was neither of the right or the left, but a real monarchist. In any case, at the end of 1911 he fell out with Gregory. After the Revolution Bishop Germogen repented for believing these slanders, following a vision of Gregory to him in his temporary exile (Zhevakhov and Platonov, p. 285) and so cleansed himself before he too was martyred – as Bishop of Tobolsk, the very diocese of Gregory. Here Bishop Germogen was drowned in the river by the Bolsheviks. The funeral service for him was to take place in the very chapel built onto the church in Pokrovskoe which Gregory had paid for. Such had become the mystical connection between the two. Bishop Germogen was buried in the very tomb that had contained the relics of the last saint canonised by Tsar Nicholas, St John of Tobolsk, the ancestor of our spiritual guardian, St John (Maximovich). Bishop Germogen is now a New Martyr.
- Unbelievers in Gregory: 1907-1916
Several politicians and aristocrats like the Grand Duke Nikolay, who during the War publicly threatened to hang Gregory, though even in 1915 still considered him ‘amazing’ (Fomin, Vol IX, p. 214) hated him. So did the powerful, scheming clique around him. These included the Ministers of Internal Affairs, the amoral social climber Khvostov and the notorious General Dzhunkovsky, the Director of Police Beletsky and the treasonous politicians Guchkov, Rodzianko and Lvov. There were also others at Court, like the disturbed intriguer Sophia Tyucheva, sent from Moscow to slander Gregory, who could not stand Gregory – though this spinster only saw him once and never once talked to him.
In self-justification these intriguers all deliberately slandered Gregory. Among churchmen who believed the slanders there was the highly political future Metr Evlogy (Georgievsky), who never met Gregory. Another case was his friend, the notorious modernist and freemason Fr George Shavelsky. Yet another was Metr Vladimir (Bogoyavlensky). However, he was cleansed, becoming the first bishop to become a New Martyr, in Kiev. All these relied on hearsay to form their opinions, just like the Tsar’s secular-minded Danish mother, his sister Ksenia and her lover.
Tragically, the Tsarina’s very naïve and undiscerning sister, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth, who lived in Moscow, also believed. Never having met Gregory, she had been completely convinced of Gregory’s depravity by a whole clique of Protestant-minded individuals who surrounded and manipulated her with their rationalism (for the full list of them, see Fomin, Vol IX, pp. 392-395). These even tried, and failed, to compromise the over-trusting Gregory in restaurants in both Moscow and Saint Petersburg. The intriguers included two Moscow priests. Elizabeth’s unusual naivety would in time be cleansed by her sacrifices, confession of the Faith and victorious martyrdom.
However, by far the worst case of slander against Gregory was that of a former admirer and entirely unrepentant Fr Iliodor (Sergey Trufanov. Out of jealousy he fell out with Gregory in December 1911 and proceeded to slander him. In 1912 he renounced the Faith and the Church and fled. As a result of public slanders, especially those made by Iliodor, on 29 June/12 July 1914, the day after the assassination of the Austrian Archduke in Sarajevo and so on the eve of the First World War, another attempt to assassinate Gregory took place. A young peasant woman called Chionia Guseva, mentally deranged from syphilis, which had deformed her physically, attempted to murder Gregory by stabbing him in the stomach outside his home in Pokrovskoe.
As Fomin recounts in hundreds of pages in Volume VI of his study, Gregory was seriously wounded and for a time it was not clear that he would survive. Indeed, he suffered for long afterwards. However, certain newspapers rejoiced and even announced that Gregory had died. Nevertheless, after surgery in hospital in Tyumen, where in 1892 he had worked as an assistant during a cholera epidemic, he recovered. Guseva claimed to have acted alone, having read about Gregory in slanderous newspapers, which were in fact guilty of inciting her to murder. Believing him to be a rapist, a ‘false prophet and even an antichrist’, she had acted. In reality, Guseva was a follower of this self-exalted Fr Iliodor, the controversial and notorious extreme right-winger, immoral adventurist and the greatest of all of the slanderers of Gregory.
Once a close friend of the naïvely zealous Bishop Germogen, Iliodor too became a slanderer of Gregory after the latter had refused to support him and fell out with Gregory at the end of 1911. A ferocious anti-Semite and political intriguer, Iliodor had been part of a group in the aristocracy who had attempted to drive a wedge between the Imperial Family and Gregory. The police believed that Iliodor had played some role in the attempt on Gregory’s life and he was banished from Saint Petersburg and defrocked, fleeing the country before he could be questioned about the attempted murder. Guseva was found to be not responsible for her actions due to insanity and was committed to a mental hospital. (When released by the equally insane Kerensky government, in 1919 she attempted to assassinate the saintly Patriarch Tikhon). As for Iliodor, he married and ended up as an impoverished janitor in New York, dying in 1952.
- The Path to Victory: 1914-1916
Like all practising Orthodox Christians, Gregory saw salvation as dependent on our seeking first the Kingdom of God. Therefore, he was opposed to war, both from a moral point of view, but also as something which leads to political, economic and social catastrophe. Thus, in 1912 he had already pleaded with the Tsar to oppose a potential war with warmongering Austro-Hungary. A war was being urged by the militaristic Germanophobe Grand Duke Nikolay Nikolayevich. Gregory’s opposition probably played the main role in avoiding war then. In 1914 he also directly opposed the Russian entry into the Kaiser’s War, though his influence was much limited by his enforced Siberian absence from the Capital.
Indeed, some have seen in the assassination in Sarajevo and the attempted assassination of Gregory on the next day not a coincidence, but an organised plot. However it may be, from his hospital bed in Tyumen in July 1914 Gregory sent some twenty telegrams to the Tsar (these are collected in the book of his writings, ‘The Chains of Love’), prophesying that if War broke out, it would be the end of Russia and the Tsar. He even considered that if Guseva had not nearly murdered him in Pokrovskoe, he would have been able to travel to Saint Petersburg and war could have been prevented. His prophecy (‘Just give us another ten years’), correct in every detail, as were all his prophecies, was not heard, such was the militarism of the aristocracy, especially of the ultra-ambitious and remarkably rude Grand Duke Nikolay Nikolayevich, who had always wanted to be Tsar.
Deliberately twisting Gregory’s peace-making Christian opinions, during World War I Gregory became the focus of slanders about unpatriotic influence at the Court. The Tsarina, who was of Anglo-Hessian, not Prussian, descent, was also slandered as acting as a spy in the enemy’s employ. In fact she was a Russian patriot and had long despised the Prussian unifiers of Germany for destroying her native and independent Hesse. In fact, once war had broken out, Gregory stated several times that it had to be continued to the end and to victory, which was quite possible for Russia, though at a great cost to the peasant-soldiers. The incompetent Russian generals (just like their French and British counterparts, ‘donkeys leading lions’), the other corrupt and ultra-rich aristocrats and meddling bureaucrats run by the aristocrats and their minions, all contributed to Russian losses in the War.
The jealous and anti-Christian politicians and journalists (most of them Non-Russians) were hostile to Gregory’s spiritual influence on the Tsar. And this in a land where there was no censorship or libel laws, unlike in Western Europe. Their intrigues and lies in the newspapers were to weaken support for the Imperial Family. Their lies were all aimed at attempting to seize power for themselves and destroy the Church, as they had been plotting for decades, as had already occurred in the failed Decembrist conspiracy of aristocrats in 1825. The situation was only saved when in August 1915 the Tsar himself successfully took over the command of the Army, as he had wanted to do from the very start.
When the Tsar assumed leadership of the Imperial Army, sacking his utterly incompetent uncle the Grand Duke Nikolay Nikolayevich, hope of victory came. The Grand Duke, whose disastrous military leadership had caused setback after setback on the Front, had in fact been planning a coup d’etat with the help of treasonous ministers and the notorious Protopresbyter George Shavelsky. They were much opposed to Gregory, who was supported by the living spiritual forces in the Church, so many of whom were to become New Martyrs. Thus, in November 1916 the Optina elder and now saint Anatoly (Potapov) had said in Petrograd that it was not God’s will for Gregory to be removed from his position.
On 3 December 1915 another incident occurred with Alexey. The boy lay bleeding profusely. On 4 December Gregory again intervened in prayer and reassured the Imperial Couple that all would be well. Again, to the astonishment of the powerless doctors, Gregory was to prove to be right. On 6 December Gregory was able to get to the Tsarevich’s bedside, made the sign of the cross over him and he was healed. The Tsar’s sister, Olga Alexandrovna, confirmed this in her memoirs, unable to give any explanation, but simply confirming the fact. Many others agreed with her. Meanwhile, the Tsar had greatly improved Army morale, stabilised the Front with a successful operation in September 1915 and rearmed the troops ready for 1916.
- The British Establishment Intervenes: 1916
There followed the Tsar’s hugely successful 1916 summer offensive, usually miscalled the ‘Brusilov Offensive’, which was by far the most successful Allied offensive of the War. In December 1916 the Tsar addressed his Armed Forces, underlining his determination to fight against the invaders until ethnic borders had been reached in Eastern and Central Europe. He was determined to ‘deprussianise’ Germany, restoring independent German principalities. Constantinople was to be freed after 450 years and a free, reunited Poland would be established. The British elite were by now greatly alarmed, seeing that a victorious and rearmed Russia was poised to win the war in 1917.
Given their own incompetence on the Western Front, bogged down in trenches in a murderous stalemate, the British saw that Russia would soon liberate Vienna, Berlin and Constantinople, their forces arriving on the border with France. Thus, Russia would control all of Europe as far as France and Italy, so becoming the main European Power. Although it had been delayed by the British and US-backed and armed Japanese attack on Russia in 1904, it would also become the main Asian Power. British Establishment jealousy of Russia, now on high alert, went back to Tudor times, but had reached a high point in the nineteenth century. Then in imperialist paranoia after the Indian War of Liberation of 1857-58, known in Britain as the ‘Indian Mutiny’, Britain had invaded Russia in the disastrous so-called ‘Crimean War’ in 1854 and invented ‘The Great Game’.
This imaginary and murderous scenario, not at all a game, had suggested that Russia was about to liberate British-enslaved India. This is what led to the repeated and failed British invasions of Afghanistan, the British massacres in Tibet in 1903-4 and the British arming of Japan with dreadnoughts, inciting it to war against Russia. This paranoia, led by Disraeli among others, had created an incessant campaign of ethnocentric stereotypes, racism and mythmaking to make out that ‘the Russian bear’ was ‘Asiatic’, ‘dangerous’, ‘primitive’ and its rulers were tyrants – unlike those of the British Establishment! Russian rulers were always the main objects of British propaganda, just as nowadays, with the absurd but self-justifying NATO propaganda that President Putin is about to invade today’s US-owned Eastern Europe!
Therefore, the British government, led by the notorious sexually-obsessed Lloyd George, hatched a plot against Gregory. It would use its spies in Saint Petersburg, including especially a certain Oswald Rayner (all of them are catalogued with their photographs by Fomin on pp. 302-325 of Vol IX of his study) to undermine the Tsar and so Christian Civilisation. The first step would be to assassinate the Tsar’s spiritual mentor, Gregory. For this their agents would naturally remain in the background, hiding behind the treasonous services of local Anglophile Russian aristocrats, who had always sought power for themselves.
Thus, the Allies would be able to set up a puppet-regime in Russia, led perhaps by the Germanophobe Grand Duke Nikolay Nikolayevich and other traitors among the Grand Dukes. Thus, Russia with all its wealth would at last be theirs, achieving as Lloyd-George openly proclaimed in Parliament after the overthrow of the Tsar, ‘one of our main war aims’. The main British helper would be the ultra-wealthy aristocrat, homosexual and transvestite admirer of Oscar Wilde, Prince Felix Yusupov.
Backed by many aristocrats, Yusupov actually knew Gregory and crucially had been at University College in Oxford (just over sixty years before this author; his daughter died in 1983 in the small town outside Paris where I then lived). Furthermore, it was in Oxford that Yusupov had already met Gregory’s future assassin, Oswald Rayner. Yusupov was heavily involved in occult practices (see his chilling drawings of demons in Fomin, Vol IX, p. 269). Moreover, he was married to the Tsar’s niece. (This marriage was obviously a disaster and after it the famous Yusupov family died out, for there could be no descendants. Yusupov continued to cause great scandal in the Russian emigration in France with his transvestite activities).
- The Murder: December 1916
There had already been several attempts on Gregory’s life. The first had been on 16 December (the same date as his murder five years later) 1911, the second was a plot involving General Dumbadze in the Crimea, the third was Guseva’s in 1914, as we have related, the fourth was on 7 January 1915 when a car had ‘accidentally’ collided with Gregory’s sledge, and a fifth was an unrealised plot by the notorious Minister of Internal Affairs, Khvostov, in February 1916. This time was different. Rayner and the other spies in Saint Petersburg were under the command of the British spymaster and future minister, Samuel Hoare. All were supervised by the treacherous British ambassador Buchanan.
Realising that Gregory’s Faith made him a threat to their planned seizure of power, Yusupov, the Tsar’s cowardly nephew, the bisexual anglophile Grand Duke Dmitry Pavlovich Romanov, an extreme right-wing politician called Vladimir Purishkevich (‘only the wall is further to the right than me’), helped by a lawyer and senior freemason V. A. Maklakov, their friends, Sergei Sukhotin and Dr Stanislav Lazovert, concocted a plan. Purishkevich had for years been plotting to overthrow the Tsar and replace him with a weak puppet like Dmitry Pavlovich, whom he could control with his Fascist inclinations. He had been known to say: ‘As long as Rasputin is alive, we cannot win’ (Mironov, p. 107). Their plan, with British approval, was ready by the end of November 1916.
All of them wanted to dethrone the Tsar and replace him with a powerless, right-wing puppet of their choice, rather as in the case of the British monarchy. British spies were only too happy to support them. They would torture Gregory and then use the British spies to finish him off in December 1916 in the Yusupovs’ Moyka Palace, before the victorious Russian year of 1917 could begin. The forthcoming Russian victory would thus be turned into the Russian catastrophe, for without these traitors there would have been no Lenin, no Trotsky, no Stalin and no Khrushchev. Thus, shortly after midnight on 17 December 1916, Yusupov would and did lure Gregory, who remained trusting, but felt a dark premonition, to his Palace under false pretences.
Here Yusupov ushered Gregory into the basement, where he offered him tea and cakes, some of which he thought had been laced with cyanide by the anti-Tsar Maklakov. To Yusupov’s surprise, Gregory was not affected. This was because the legally-minded Maklakov had not supplied cyanide, but aspirin, as he was frightened at the talkative Purishevich’s inability to keep the plot secret. At around 2.30 am Yusupov excused himself to go upstairs, where his fellow conspirators were waiting. Taking a revolver from Dmitry Pavlovich, Yusupov returned to the basement. Here, pointing to a medieval Italian crucifix on a wall in the room, Yusupov told Gregory that he had ‘better look at the crucifix and say a prayer’. Then he shot him in the chest.
Probably it was at this point that the conspirators began torturing him. Wounds to his eyes, ears and sides showed wounds that can only be understood as torture. Believing him to be dead, they then drove to Gregory’s apartment with their accomplice Sukhotin wearing Gregory’s coat and hat, in an attempt to make it look as though Gregory had returned home that night. On returning to the Moyka Palace, Yusupov went back to the basement. Suddenly, Gregory, only wounded, staggered up and tried to defend himself against Yusupov, who freed himself and fled in cowardly terror upstairs. Gregory went outside to the Palace courtyard before being shot dead by a panicking Rayner and collapsing into a snowdrift. Gregory died of three gunshot wounds, the last of which was Rayner’s close-range shot to his forehead.
Thus, in the early morning of 17/30 December 1916 Gregory was murdered by British spies and jealous aristocrats, who opposed the prophet’s Christian Faith, the Christian Tsar and Christian Russia. Whether representatives of the Russian aristocracy or the British Establishment, they had all put themselves above Christ and so destroyed Russian Civilisation and its underlying authentically Christian values. The conspirators wrapped Gregory’s body, drove it to the nearby Petrovsky Bridge and dropped it into the Malaya Neva River, with the idea that people would think it had been a drowning accident. However, news of Gregory’s murder spread quickly, as the clumsy Purishkevich had spoken openly about Gregory’s murder to two soldiers and a policeman who was investigating reports of shots shortly after the event. He then urged them not to tell anyone.
- The First Shot of the Russian Revolution: 1916-1918
The next morning an investigation was launched. When two workmen noticed blood on the railings and support of the Petrovsky Bridge and a boot was found on the ice below, river police began searching the area for a body. It was found under the river ice on 19 December/1 January, approximately 200 yards downstream from the bridge. He was recognised at once. The frozen fingers of his right hand were folded in the form of the sign of the cross. Large crowds, mainly composed of women, gathered to take water from the river which they considered had been made holy by the blood of a martyr. Popular veneration had begun; only the aristocrats and middle classes rejoiced at the death of a peasant. Ordinary folk were horrified at the murder of one of their kind. A few, instinctively, realised that the Monarchy was finished, for only Gregory had been supporting it. With his murder, all was finished.
An autopsy was conducted by Dr Dmitry Kosorotov, the city’s senior autopsy surgeon. The report that he wrote was lost, but he later stated that Gregory’s body had shown signs of severe trauma, including three gunshot wounds – one of which had been sustained at close range and to the forehead. There was also a slice wound to his left side and several other injuries, many of which Kosorotov felt had been sustained post-mortem. Kosorotov found a single bullet in Gregory’s body, but stated that it was too badly deformed and of a type too widely used to trace. He found no evidence that Gregory had been poisoned and found no water in Gregory’s lungs – reports that Gregory had been thrown into the water alive were incorrect.
Gregory was buried on 21 December/2 January in the grounds of the Imperial Palace at Tsarskoe Selo. Bishop Isidore (Kolokolov), now a New Martyr, led the funeral liturgy. The burial site was next to the foundations of a small and unfinished church to be dedicated to St Seraphim of Sarov, who had been canonised on the insistence of Tsar Nicholas. Anna Vyrubova had wanted to build the church with compensation money she had received from her railway accident in 1915. The funeral was attended only by the Imperial Family, still reeling from the horror of the murder and the treason of those well-known to them, not least a Romanov, and by a few of their intimates. However, in March 1917 Gregory’s body was exhumed, his hands still like those of a living person, and incinerated on a bonfire on orders of the Kerensky regime which had replaced the rule of God’s Anointed (Bokhanov, pp. 31-34).
This destruction of the body was in order to prevent Gregory’s burial site from being a shrine for the faithful, as it had already become, and has become again since the fall of the atheist yoke in Russia. Already in early 1917 a brochure had appeared in Saint Petersburg about Gregory, calling him ‘The New Martyr’. Thus, his body met the same fate as the bodies of the Imperial Family, whose remains the Bolsheviks also tried to consume by fire. In life as in death, they shared the same destiny. Gregory had made several prophecies about his murder, which he had been expecting. Thus: ‘Do you know that I will soon die in terrible sufferings? But what can be done? God has assigned me the great feat of dying for the salvation of my dear sovereigns and Holy Rus’.
Significantly, he had also prophesied: ‘They will surely kill me and all of you will also die. They will kill all of you. And Papa and Mama’ (the Tsar and the Tsarina). ‘I have a premonition that I will leave you before 1 January (1917)…If Russian peasants, my brothers, kill me, then you the Russian Tsar have nothing to fear…But if aristocrats and nobles kill me and they shed my blood, then their hands will remain stained with my blood….’. (Platonov, pp. 159-60). The British Establishment and their equally amoral Russian aristocrat puppets had now opened a Pandora’s box. For Gregory was only the first martyr of the palace revolt of the traitors, deChristianised aristocrats, generals and politicians, which became known as ‘The Russian Revolution’. Their treason would lead to millions and millions of martyrs, an irremovable stain on world history and on their consciences.
On the eve of the Revolution, but before Gregory’s murder, Maria Golovina, one of his closest disciples, had asked him if there would be a Revolution. He had answered: ‘Only a small one, if I am here to stop it, but…’. (Fomin, Vol VIII, p. 340). In other words, Gregory’s murder meant there was no longer anything to stop those processes of spiritual decay which in the end would lead to the deaths of tens of millions in the Soviet Union. As Tsar Nicholas himself repeatedly said: ‘If it were not for Gregory’s prayers, they would long ago have murdered me’ (Fomin, Vol VIII, p. 350). Just as they had murdered his grandfather, Alexander II. Those who finally succeeded in murdering Gregory would have the blood of far more than just one man on their hands.
After his murder Gregory continued to be vilely slandered, both in Soviet Russia and in the Russian emigration. He was especially slandered by exiled Saint Petersburg and Baltic aristocrats in Paris and other Western capitals – not least by those bearing the surname Romanov. Instead of repenting for their treason and slanders, they blamed Gregory for the fall of the Russian Empire and, particularly, for the loss of their personal power and wealth. In reality, they were themselves to blame; like the Western Powers whom they represented, they had not understood that when Russia is no longer Christian, then it is militantly atheistic. Unlike in Western culture there is nothing inbetween; authentic Christian culture in Russia is not going to be replaced by Western secular culture. Destroy authentic Orthodox Christianity in Russia at your peril.
These slanders continue among their descendants to this very day, over 100 years later. Within my memory their descendants in Paris would refuse even to talk to Gregory’s great-grand-daughter, Laurence, who lives there. Gregory is still slandered as a drunk and a debauchee in books, articles, plays and films, both in post-Soviet Russia and in the West. Today some extremist right-wingers with their pro-Nazi ideology use him as a peg for their anti-Semitic nationalism (their excuse being that most of the Bolsheviks were Jews). Others, including contemporary, so-called ‘Orthodox’, academics, infected by anti-spiritual Protestant-style rationalism, use him as a peg for their Soviet-coloured anti-Tsar prejudices.
Pharisees and scribes, all of them. They are all merely repeating the errors of the murderers, the right-wing nationalist and pseudo-monarchist Purishkevich and the liberal Oxford graduate Yusupov, notorious for his scandalous depravity, both before and after the Revolution. They were supported both by anti-German British assassins and left-wing Bolsheviks. All of them, right or left, are in fact just the two sides of the same anti-Christian coin. That is why they all slander Gregory, as they also slander the Tsar-Martyr Nicholas and his Family, who was murdered not in Saint Petersburg or Moscow, but far away along the route from Gregory’s Siberian home.
On the other hand, there are those Orthodox who love the Imperial Martyrs, especially in Saint Petersburg and Ekaterinburg, and who also venerate Gregory as a saint, usually under the name ‘St Gregory the New’ or ‘The Martyr Gregory’. The apartment where he last lived in Saint Petersburg, at 64 Gorokhovaya Street, and the place of his burial have become places of pilgrimage for them. However, there is very little veneration for him among the masses, among whom his name is still slandered. Among the episcopate there is as yet no call for his canonization, despite some sympathy expressed by a few, icons painted (as early as 1931 – Fomin, Vol IX, p. 473), services composed and prayers invoked by the few.
Naturally, any possible future canonisation is out of the question until the facts are better known and veneration of the Imperial Martyrs themselves spreads, creating popular reverence. Until that moment, Russia will never recover from her apostasy and its resulting endemic corruption. As for the rest of the world, it will continue to be blinded by its delusions of self-belief and self-justification, which have now brought it to the verge of extinction. As Elder Nikolai (Guryanov) said: ‘As the Truth of God begins to be revealed, so everything in Russia will change’. For only once all has changed among the Russian masses, will the Monarchy be restored there, so that the vital changes in the rest of the world can then follow.
We cannot forget that in August 1917 the Imperial Family sailed past Gregory’s house in Pokrovskoe, as they were taken into exile. The next year, on Palm Sunday, 14 April 1918, the carriage which took the Tsar from his Gethsemane to his Golgotha, from his captivity in Tobolsk to his martyrdom in nearby Ekaterinburg, passed by Gregory’s very house in Pokrovskoe, again exactly as Gregory had prophesied (Dehn, p. 96 and Fomin, Vol IX, p. 411). In passing by, it was blessed by Gregory’s faithful widow, Praskovya. Later the Tsarina and the Grand Duchess Maria followed him along the same route. Gregory and the Imperial Family were inseparable, even now they followed the same route. May God grant repentance and spiritual purity to all to see that route and the Truth of God.
Archpriest Andrew Phillips,
St John of Shanghai Orthodox Church,
Colchester, Essex, England
9/22 January 2020
151st anniversary of Gregory’s birth
Although many books have been written about Gregory Rasputin, mainly in the last century, there are few in any Western language, which bear a resemblance to the truth, being works of sensationalist tabloid journalism, anti-Russian political propaganda, or else forgeries. Exceptions are the reprinted ‘The Real Tsaritsa’ by Lili Dehn, Shelley’s ‘The Speckled Domes’ of 1925, and the now unobtainable Memoirs of Gregory’s daughter, Matrona, published in French in 1925, uncorrupted, unlike the German, English and particularly awful Russian versions, published in 2002. Perhaps the most valuable document to translate would be the also now unobtainable 112-page Memoirs of Mounia (Maria) Golovina, who like the Tsarina expressed the mystical understanding of Gregory, first published in French in Paris in 1995, but written decades before. The works below are in Russian, except for those by Cook, Cullen, Dehn and Shelley:
Bokhanov A. N., Rasputin, Fact and Fiction, Moscow, 2006
Cook Andrew, To Kill Rasputin, 2005
Cullen Richard, Rasputin, The Role of Britain’s Secret Service in His Torture and Murder, 2010
Dehn Lili, The Real Tsaritsa, Nabu Press, reprint, 2011
Fedchenkov Metr. Benjamin, One the Edge of Two Eras, Moscow, 2004
Fomin S., Gregory Rasputin, An Investigation, 7 Volumes + plus an invaluable eighth volume of sources called ‘Our Dear Father’, which includes Gregory’s biography written by his daughter Matrona and the defence of Gregory by M.E. Golovina, and a ninth volume or album with all known images of Gregory and further information about his murder, Moscow, Forum, 2007-2015
Mironova T., From Beneath the Lie. A Slandered Life. A Slandered Death, Vesti, Saint Petersburg, 2005
Platonov O., A Life for the Tsar, Rodnaya Strana, Moscow, 2015
Rasputin-Novy Gregory E., The Chains of Love, Articles, Letters, Reflections, Sayings, Saint Petersburg 2017, (254 pages in Pocketbook Format)
Shelley Gerard, The Speckled Domes, Episodes of an Englishman’s Life in Russia, New York 1925
Zhevakhov N.D. Memoirs, Saint Petersburg, 2014.
The best source for a very extensive number of articles on Gregory Rasputin-Novy, by authors like Yury Rassulin, Igor Yevsin, Fr Sergiy Chechanichev, Fr Alexander Zakharov and others, is the Russian national website: http://ruskline.ru/