The Shadow of the Gloomy East/Chapter 14

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Ascetics versus Antichrist


THE ascetic Prior of the Tobolsk monastery, the monk Pimen, did not forget "little brother" Gregor. When the latter came to the surface of political life in Russia, and when his star shone forth upon the horizon of the Imperial Court, Pimen went to the Moscow Metropolitan Makar and the Kiev Metropolitan Vladimir and informed them who exactly Rasputin was.

Pimen's revelations, who at that time was already Bishop of Samara, made an overwhelming impression. The Metropolitans began to act in various ways, but soon received peremptory instructions to abstain from this agitation if they desired to retain their mitres.

They desisted and started to plot secretly against Rasputin.

Bishop Pimen, who expected to find in the Metropolitans energetic and determined allies, wrote them very sharp letters, and engaged in the struggle singlehanded. The threats of the provincial Governor and gendarmerie and the instructions and reprimands of the Holy Synod made no impression on him. He acted with vigour and skill.

He prepared his "spiritual flock" for the impending coming of Antichrist in the shape of man. "It will be possible," he said, "to fight against this Antichrist because it will be the first, still weak incarnation of evil. On the successful issue of this fight shall depend the postponement of the terrible era of the coming of other, stronger, Antichrists and their reign on earth, which is groaning under the weight of sin and of carnal and spiritual crimes."

The austere, ascetic Bishop had an assistant, a young monk, a student, an inspired orator and preacher, Heliodor Trufanov, who went a step further and called the revealed Antichrist by name. It was Gregor Rasputin, the notorious Grishka, deserter-monk, horse-thief, profligate, and murderer.

"Women and children, remember that cursed name!" exclaimed Heliodor, invoking the devout congregation. "If you meet him, spit into his face, throw mud at him, and the Church and the Lord will forgive those who stab him with the knife or strike him with the axe, for the knife will kill the body of a satanic serpent, and the axe will have struck down a barren and poisonous tree!"

Various men gathered round Heliodor and Pimen, some drawn by religious enthusiasm, others by political reasons.

At last Heliodor went to Petersburg to carry the struggle into the enemy's camp. Here, however, he met with the resistance of ecclesiastic authorities, who were terrorised by Tsarskoye Selo; he was arrested and imprisoned, but escaped, crossed the frontier, and published abroad his pamphlet on Grishka, full of invectives against the Tsaritsa, of personalities, expressing his own private views, but containing little real evidence.

During his stay on the Volga Hellodor had time to organise the Siberian attempt on his enemy, and another attempt in Petersburg, in which he was helped by the Metropolitan Makar and some of the Godfearing Moscow merchants of the "old belief."

Notwithstanding all attempts at suppression, the activity of Pimen and Hellodor created a sensation, a general curiosity regarding the "dark secret of Tsarskoye Selo," provoked several speeches in the Duma, a lively press campaign, and the formation of many groups for the purpose of struggling against Antichrist. The last embraced the Bishop of Novgorod Yevdokim, and the Bishop of Omsk Sylvester, who, later on, In 1919, Initiated the all-Russian Idea of Antichrist.