In the words of Tertullian, “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.” In 2001, another martyr for the Orthodox Christian Faith took his place among that cloud of witnesses: Priest Igor Rozin of Russia’s predominantly Muslim Kabardino-Balkar Republic, located in the northern Caucasus Mountains. An alpine rescuer who saved those lost in the mountains, he was baptized at the age of 36, ordained to the priesthood at 42, and martyred by a Muslim extremist at 44. During his brief life as a pastor, he attained his true calling: the rescue of souls lost in the moral wastelands of modern society. His life was one of total self-sacrifice for the sake of those around him, whether Christian or Muslim.
Translated from Russian sources, this is the touching story of a man who lived to the fullest the Gospel teaching: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13). Despite frequent threats to his life by those who wanted to silence the preaching of Christ’s Gospel of peace, Fr. Igor remained heedless of his own personal safety in order to minister to those thirsting for words of life. Although he was a strong man, able to defend himself, he did not strike down his murderer, but meekly accepted his fate, thus witnessing to his flock and to the world that the Christian Faith is precious, even more than one’s own earthly life. Confirming that his sacrifice was pleasing to God, Fr. Igor met his martyric end on the commemoration day of a saint he greatly revered—St. Ignatius Brianchaninov, in whose diocese he lived and served.
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