Torture in China

by Fr. Aleksey Mikrikov

Icon of Saint Philaret
Saint Philaret, glorified 2001
Image: Orthodox Christian Witness

From 1904 to 1945 the Japanese occupied Manchuria. The Japanese tried at all costs to keep this Chinese province in their hands, since it supplied huge supplies for Japan and gave them a foothold on the continent, and to them this made strong international military-political sense. But the Japanese were hampered by the Russian immigrants, who had a different mentality. To use the Russian young people in the military the Japanese first attempted to destroy the social- religious mentality of our immigration. To this end they placed an idol of the goddess Amateresu opposite St. Nicholas Cathedral so that the Russian people, going to the divine services, had first to bow to the idol, and then they could go to pray to Christ God.

Metropolitan Melety reacted immediately: he issued a proclamation in which he explained the inadmissibility of bowing to an idol. Then the Japanese began to accuse Metropolitan Melety and the clergy with contradicting their authority. Archimandrite Philaret especially decisively objected to the Japanese. The Japanese seized him and began to torture him. They lacerated his cheek and almost tore out an eye, but he survived the torture. The head torturer then said to Fr. Philaret: "We have an electronically heated tool, under whose influence all have agreed to fulfill our requests; you will agree also! (Fr. Philaret personally told me this himself.) The torturer brought out the glowing electrical tool.

Then Fr. Philaret prayed to St. Nicholas the Miracle-worker with the words: "Holy Hierarch Nicholas, help me, otherwise I might fall into betrayal."

It was time for the torture. The torturer bared him to the belt and began to burn his back with the hot iron. And, O, the miracle! Fr. Philaret smelled the smell of the burned flesh, but he did not feel pain. Happiness was in his soul. The tormentor did not understand, why does he keep silent, why does he not scream, why does he not writhe in unbearable pain?

Then the tormentor turned and looked at the face of Fr. Philaret. And when he saw his face, he threw up his hands amazed, and muttered something in Japanese, and ran off, conquered by the superhuman force of patience.

No one could endure such tortures without Christ's divine aid. But the tortures were so cruel that he was close to death. The almost dying Fr. Philaret was given back to his relatives.

This will give you some idea of it: later he said to me: "I was in hell itself."

But God did not let him die. The wounds healed, only his eye was somewhat deformed.

And the Japanese no longer demanded the bows from Orthodox people. All this I heard from Fr. Philaret, but I said nothing since I thought everyone knew all this.

From Reminiscences of a Russian Clergyman About Saint Philaret Metropolitan of New York, the New Confessor (Primarily about His Years in China) by Fr. Aleksey Mikriko. Holy Orthodox Metropolis of Boston.

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