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In October 1905, passions ran high in Kiev. To counter the revolutionary youth, workers, and intellectuals openly opposing the semi-feudal rule of the Romanovs, the tsarist government turned a blind eye to the "patriotic" demonstrations of the Black Hundreds. By giving carte blanche to these thugs, the authorities targeted a traditional enemy—the Jewish population—as their main victim. Senator Turau, who investigated the true causes of the riots in Odessa and Kiev, later stated that the instigators of the pogroms included not only marginal individuals, shopkeepers, and master artisans competing with the Jews, but also police officials.

On one of these autumn days, as the situation in Kiev spiraled out of control, an angry crowd headed towards Jewish shops in Podol. In the distance, they saw Orthodox banners. An Orthodox procession, led by Father Alexander Glagolev, Rector of the Church of St. Nikolay Dobry, was making its way through Kontraktovaya Square, passing by Gostiny Dvor. Singing "O Holy God...", Glagolev, in priestly vestments with banners and a cross, was hurrying to prevent a planned pogrom.

Soon, another Orthodox procession appeared, led by Father Mikhail Edlinskiy, a friend of Glagolev and a member of the Kiev Religious Reformative and Educational Society, as well as Rector of the Church of Boris and Gleb. The two processions met at the crossroads of Bratskaya and Alexandrovskaya streets, approaching the aggressive crowd. Father Alexander addressed the crowd with a fiery speech, admonishing them not to participate in this evil, unchristian act. Gradually, the crowd retreated; pogromists armed with axes and knives removed their hats and, singing "God Save Your People...", began to disperse. The pogrom was averted.

Father Alexander Glagolev was not only a parish priest but also a prominent scholar, passionate about Hebrew and biblical archaeology. He had a deep understanding of the Jewish people, who were persecuted by many, and as a true Christian, he repeatedly tried to help them in their adversity.

A friend of the Bulgakov family, Alexander Glagolev, who married the writer Mikhail Bulgakov and his first wife Tatyana Lappa, became known to literature fans as the prototype for Father Alexander in the novel "The White Guard".

(Bulgakov scholars provide a slightly different formulation: Father Alexander was the only character in the novel "The White Guard" who entered the novel under his own name.)

Alexander was born on February 14, 1872, in the village of Pokrovsky, Tula province, into the family of Olimpiada and Alexander Glagolevs. The family included other children: Natalia, Vera, and Fyodor. Alexander Senior, a priest from a hereditary noble background, recognized Sasha Junior's remarkable aptitude for learning early on, especially his keen interest in the lives of saints. Recognizing his son’s talent, the father sent him to study at the Beyevskoe Theological School of Tula State. Following his graduation, Sasha Glagolev pursued further studies at the Tula Theological Seminary, where his classmates were consistently impressed by his mastery of foreign languages, both ancient and modern, including Ancient Hebrew, Old Aramaic, Ancient Greek, and Latin, as well as French, German, English, and several others.

In 1894, Alexander Glagolev secured admission to the Kiev Theological Academy on a scholarship. His academic prowess soon caught the attention of the authorities. Four years later, at the recommendation of the renowned Palestinian scholar and Hebraist, Ioakim Olesnitskiy, Alexander was granted a scholarship to pursue a professorial title at the academy. By June of 1899, he was already serving as an assistant professor in the Department of Ancient Hebrew and Biblical Archaeology, and by November 1900, he had been appointed associate professor.

In 1899, Alexander married Zinaida Petrovna Slesarevskaya, the daughter of Petr Kirillovich Slesarevskiy, an assistant librarian at the Kiev Theological Academy. The couple went on to have three children: Alexey, Sergey, and Varvara. During the Second World War, Sergey served in the army, while Varvara accompanied her husband, a military colonel, in Ichnya.

Despite family responsibilities and professional obligations, Alexandr Alexandrovich found time to complete his dissertation. In September 1900, he earned a master’s degree in theology for his work titled “The Old Testament Teaching about Angels.” Decades later, the priest Alexander Men reflected on Glagolev’s dissertation, noting that he introduced several thought-provoking considerations, often anticipating the conclusions of modern biblical studies.

Alexander Glagolev was an active member of various scholarly societies, including the Kiev department of the Imperial Palestinian Orthodox Society and the Church-Historian and Archaeological Society at the Kiev Theological Academy. He also contributed to the Commission on the edition of the Slavic Bible and collaborated on various church publications. Notably, he authored commentaries on 1 and 2 Kings, the Book of Tobit, Proverbs, the Song of Songs, the prophets Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, and the Epistles, which were featured in the Commentary or Exposition edited by A. P. Lopukhin and his successors.

Glagolev's interests extended beyond scholarly pursuits to include a keen engagement with the modern Zionist movement. In 1902-1905, his seminal work, "The Zionist Movement in Contemporary Hebraism and its Relevance to the Historical Mission of Biblical Israel," was published. At a meeting of the Church-Historical and Archaeological Society in 1905, Glagolev presented an article discussing the Seventh World Zionist Congress, convened that same year in Basel.

However, Glagolev's endeavors were not confined to academia. A deeply religious man, Alexander Alexandrovich sought to uphold his family's priestly legacy. In May 1903, he was ordained to the priesthood at the Church of All Saints in Schekavitsa. Soon after, on June 15, he was promoted to the priesthood at the Church of Nikolay Dobry in Kiev, where he served faithfully for over 30 years.

While maintaining his teaching responsibilities at the Theological Academy, Glagolev remained steadfast in his commitment to his primary field of study. He expressed dismay at a new academic statute introduced in the autumn of 1910, which eliminated the mandatory study of Ancient Hebrew at the Academy. His efforts to reinstate Hebrew as a compulsory subject were arduous but ultimately successful. In the summer of 1911, Alexander Alexandrovich led the inaugural excursion, or pilgrimage tour, to the Holy Land for students of the Kiev Theological Academy.

During these years, the priest Glagolev found himself embroiled in the infamous Beilis case, a pivotal event in his life. Originating from rumors in 1911 alleging that the murdered teenager Andrei Yushchinsky fell victim to a clandestine Jewish ritual in Kiev's clay pits, the case quickly escalated into a sensational trial. Amidst the political turmoil of 1911, the Russian right capitalized on the case to bolster their agenda, transforming a routine murder into a sinister blood libel.

In May 1913, during the initial court proceedings, Alexander Glagolev provided his expertise on whether the killing of Andrei Yushchinsky constituted a ritual murder. Invited to testify as a specialist in Old Testament studies and Jewish culture, Glagolev vehemently refuted the notion, citing Mosaic law's prohibition against shedding human blood and consuming blood. His arguments were bolstered by corroborating testimony from other experts, including Academician Pavel Kokovtsov, Professor Ivan Troitsky of St. Petersburg's Theological Academy, Rabbi Yaakov Mazeh, and philosopher and Hebraist Pavel Tikhomirov.

Despite facing harassment from reactionary circles, Father Alexander maintained his principled stance throughout the trial. His theological arguments ultimately undermined the prosecution's case, leading to the acquittal of Mendel Beilis, who subsequently left Russia with his family, never to return.

In 1914, Father Alexander was elevated to the rank of archpriest. Despite the challenges posed by the Civil War and the subsequent rise of Bolshevik power, he remained steadfast in his service at the temple of Nikolay Dobry. In 1923, following the arrest of Bishop Vasiliy Bogdashevsky, Father Alexander assumed the role of acting rector at the Kiev Theological Academy. Even after the official closure of the Academy in May 1924, Glagolev continued to impart theological instruction through pastoral courses for another three years.

In the early 1930s, Glagolev faced personal hardship when he and his wife were evicted from their home. Seeking refuge, they found shelter on the church staircase leading to the bell tower. Father Alexander resorted to sleeping on a trunk, while Mother Zinaida prepared meals on another staircase.

Subsequently, Father Alexander was arrested on charges of affiliation with the "Genuine Orthodox Church" and spent six months in Lukyanivska prison. His eldest son, Alexey, was also detained in May 1932, although he was later released due to insufficient evidence.

As turmoil engulfed the region, the temple of Nikolay Dobry was closed and subjected to shelling. Archpriest Glagolev relocated his ministry to the temple of Nikolay Naberezhniy, where he was joined by his old friend Mikhail Yedlinsky. Their friendship had been forged during the First Russian Revolution, where they collaborated in quelling pogroms.

Tragedy struck in 1936 with the death of Father Alexander's wife, Mother Zinaida, dealing him a heavy emotional blow. Concurrently, he harbored concerns for his elder son, a student at the Kiev Pedagogical Institute's Faculty of Physics and Mathematics. Despite being a delicate intellectual, Alexey openly professed his Orthodox faith, notably carrying a cross through the streets of Podol, which had been discarded from the dome of the Nikolay Dobry Church in 1936. Despite threats, Alexey defiantly retained the discarded cross and other religious artifacts in his residence.

On October 20, 1937, Father Alexander was arrested for the second and final time. Metropolitan Konstantin (Diakov) of Kiev was also implicated in the same case, arrested during a service at the Pokrovsky Temple. Both were charged with active involvement in the "Anti-Soviet Fascist Organization of Churchmen." However, beneath these official allegations lay the concealed leadership of Diakov and Glagolev in the underground "Tikhon’s Church," which refused to collaborate with the Bolshevik regime. In 1934, when Bishop Damaskin (Tsedrik), a leader of the "Genuine Orthodox Church," approached Archpriest Glagolev with an invitation to join, Father Alexander declined, believing it preferable to maintain an active parish presence, despite oppression, rather than resorting to underground activities.

The investigation into the case of Kiev's priests was overseen by Zusya Goldfarb, a security officer of the NKVD (UGB) of the Ukrainian SSR 4th Department. While there was no official record of Archpriest Glagolev's interrogation protocol in the case, only handwritten statements remained. One such statement suggested that around the beginning of 1936, Alexander Glagolev had "entered the circle of counterrevolutionary sentiments and aspirations," with implications regarding united church practices, although the statement abruptly ends mid-sentence.

In the second statement dated October 23, 1937, Alexander Alexandrovich outlined his daily routine, highlighting his limited opportunities to visit acquaintances due to a demanding schedule. He particularly mentioned Archbishop Philaret of Volyn and Zhytomyr, who had been arrested by NKVD personnel on June 16, 1937. Due to the cramped living conditions in the bell tower, Glagolev noted that his spiritual children seldom visited him. Even amidst adversity, Father Alexander refrained from making unfounded accusations against innocent individuals.

Four days later, Archpriest Glagolev expressed his intention to inform the NKVD investigator about his supposed anti-Soviet activities, although he did not believe these actions violated his "civil loyalty to the authorities." The list of alleged transgressions against Glagolev included trips to Moscow to visit the Patriarchal Locum Tenens, Metropolitan Sergiy, without the approval of GPU agents, providing reviews on academic works, delivering lectures for aspiring theological students, and receiving a money order from Professor Fyodor Titov of Belgrade University, who sent $10 for the children of the holy martyr or so-called Kiev new martyr. Notably, Archpriest Glagolev did not sign his statements.

According to the case documents, Alexander Glagolev passed away on November 25, 1937, in the therapeutic department of a prison hospital. Despite being under investigation for over a month, the priest martyr reportedly succumbed to urosepsis and heart failure, conditions he had not previously complained about. His death remained as mysterious as that of Kiev Metropolis Konstantin Diakov, who was also implicated in the same case and reportedly died in prison from arteriosclerosis.

Maliy, the deputy head of investigation supervision in the state security bodies, remarked on the unusual circumstances surrounding the case. Notably, only a copy of Glagolev's death certificate was included in the documentation, not the original. The copy indicated that Alexander Alexandrovich died on November 25, 1937, while the dismissal order from the Chekists stated that Glagolev passed away a month later. No medical report regarding Konstantin Diakov's demise was provided. Additionally, the death certificates filed indicated that on November 10, 1937, during an interrogation at the NKVD (of the Ukrainian SSR) building, two unidentified men died.

Archpriest Mikhail Yedlinsky, a close friend and fellow clergyman arrested the day after Father Alexander, also met a tragic fate—he was reportedly shot to death on November 17, 1937.

In 1941, following the outbreak of the German-Soviet War, the eldest son of the late Father Alexander, remained with his family in Kiev. Aleksey was ordained as a priest and commenced his service at the open and welcoming temple of John the Warrior, which was part of the Pokrovsk Church.

Throughout the war, Aleksey Glagolev, his wife Tatiana Pavlova, their daughter Magdalina, and son Nikolay, displayed extraordinary courage by harboring Jews Izabella Mirkina and her daughter Irina for two years, risking their own lives in the process. The Glagolev family earned a revered place in the hearts of Kievans for their efforts to protect the Pasechniy family and their valiant but unsuccessful attempt to save the Germaises, a family of converted Jews, from the clutches of the Nazis. In the autumn of 1943, just prior to the liberation of Kiev, both Aleksey Alexandrovich and his son Nikolay found themselves confined to a German concentration camp on Artema Street. Fortunately, they managed to escape and awaited the arrival of the Red Army.

In 1963, a renewed investigation into the case of Archpriest Alexander Glagolev was initiated, spurred by his son Alexey, whose heroic actions were recognized at the state level. KGB investigators located the former NKVD employee, Zusya Goldfarb, who had overseen the case of this revered martyr. Goldfarb, now a military pensioner, journeyed to Kiev to provide testimony. He recalled overseeing a case involving a priest, though he struggled to recall the specific year or name of the accused individual. He did remember one particular incident—leaving the priest alone with a fellow employee and returning to find the accused lying lifeless on the floor. The doctor summoned pronounced death due to a long-standing illness that had worsened. Goldfarb purportedly believed he was referring to the death of Kiev Metropolis Konstantin Diakov.

Goldfarb asserted that although he had signed key documents related to Glagolev's case, he had not conducted any interrogations himself. Moreover, he claimed that, during his tenure as an NKVD investigator, no unlawful investigative methods were employed against those detained. These assertions contradicted the recollections of Priest Kondrat Kravchenko, who had been imprisoned in Kiev alongside Glagolev. According to Kravchenko, Father Alexander had been subjected to 18 interrogations, enduring hours of forced standing with his head thrown back during nighttime sessions. Throughout, Father Alexander consistently responded with the plea, "Lord, have mercy!"

In 1963, authorities did not formally exonerate Alexander Glagolev. The long-awaited rehabilitation occurred three decades later, during the era of Ukrainian independence. On September 15, 1993, the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine dismissed the criminal case against Alexander Glagolev and Konstantin Diakov due to the absence of criminal wrongdoing in their actions.

Earlier, on September 12, 1991, Israel's national memorial Yad Vashem awarded Alexey and Tatiana Glagolev, along with their daughter Magdalina (now Palyan), the distinguished title of Righteous Among the Nations of the World. On October 8, 2000, Nikolay Glagolev, the grandson of Father Alexander, was also honored with this title. Additionally, the Glagolev family of Sergey, who served on the front lines, along with his wife Maria, her mother Alexandra Egorycheva, and her sisters, received the esteemed title of Righteous Among the Nations for their efforts in aiding Jews during the Babi Yar massacre.


Bibliography and sources:

Case #627 on the charge of Diakov Konstantin Grigorievich, Glagolev Alexander Alexandrovich under article 54-10 and 54-11 Ukraine SSR// the Regional State Administration, SBU, F.6, “top secret”or “special folder” 1, case 71156

Yakovchuk Vasily (Archdeacon). The Pastoral Activity of Archpriest Alexander Glagolev in 1920-30s.

Archdeacon Vasily Yakovchuk. What is an archival silence? Review of the investigation file of Priest Alexander Glagolev.

Glagoleva-Palyan M.A. The memories about Alexander Alexandrovich Glagolev//Egupets. 2001.- #8. – P.311-338.

The Word of Righteous. The Glagolevs Family.

Yaskevich L.E. The life of Priest Alexander Glagolev.

Simankova E. Priest Alexander Glagolev proved that Beilis could not drink “the blood of babies”.

Translation of Olga Kohanevych, granddaughter of Righteous among the Nations Maria Zhosul.

Alexander Glagolev

1872 – 1937

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