One of the figures in this photograph is St Maksim Sandovich (1886-1914), Hieromartyr of Lemkovshchyna, murdered by the Hapsburg authorities on trumped-up charges for preaching Orthodoxy in Podkarpatska Rus.
Then, on Sunday, 6 September, whilst at prayer at the dawn of the new day, Fr Maksim could hear the noise of a crowd beyond the walls of their prison. The noise was accompanied finally by a load thud as a moustachioed German captain, named Dietrich, from Linz entered the prison grounds, accompanied by two soldiers and four gendarmes. The captain was known to be a cruel and sadistic person. This group was followed by the prison wardens, some civil servants, officers, and a group of curious women led by Pan Mitshka, the leader of the Gorlice District. As silence fell, the order was given to the warden to bring Fr Maksim from his cell.
With that order, two soldiers led the twenty-eight-year-old Orthodox priest from the prison. Fr Maksim suddenly realised where they were taking him, and he humbly and with dignity asked, “Be so good as not to hold me. I will go peacefully wherever you wish”. Even the taunting of the crowd did not affect his courageous bearing as he walked calmly and with a measured gait to the fateful wall, as befitting a follower of Christ.
Captain Dietrich ripped Fr Maksim’s cross from his chest, tossing it on the ground where he trampled it with his feet. As the captain bound Fr Maksim’s hands behind his back and blindfolded him, Fr Maksim exclaimed that it was not necessary, as he had no intention of running away. But, the “brave” captain laughed and then marked with white chalk a line on Fr Maksim’s black cassock as a target for the riflemen. In the silence of the moment as the executioners were arranged, Pan Mitshka read the death sentence. With a short command from the captain, the sabre was raised and lowered. With that action, shots echoed through the prison.
Fr Maksim’s voice could then be heard, at first, strongly, but, diminishing as he spoke, “Long live the Russian people”. Then, leaning against the wall, “Long live the Holy Orthodox Faith”. And, finally, and barely audible, “Long live Slavdom”. As his powerful frame slid down the wall, a gendarme ended Fr Maksim’s suffering by firing three shots from his pistol into Fr Maksim’s head.
The photograph is courtesy of Sasha Ressetar of Harrisburg PA, a pious Orthodox Christian, a great musician, and the son of a long priestly line. Sasha is blood-kin to St Maksim Sandovich. The Ressetar family knows the cost of confessing the Orthodox faith, full and entire. Thank you, Sasha! Keep the Faith!
This is what Yushchenko wishes to do to Fr Dmitri Sidor and the present Carpatho-Russian confessors of the Orthodox Faith. Support our Carpatho-Russian coreligionists in their bid for state sovereignty. Speak up and don’t be shy! Our brothers and sisters in Podkarpatska Rus are depending on you!
Editor’s Update 01/01/09:
OrthodoxWiki incorrectly gives the date of St Maksim’s execution as 6 August 1914. It is corrected to 6 September 1914 per information conveyed to me by Fr Daniel Ressetar, Sasha’s proud dad. Thanks for the update, I am taking this source warily in future as it is proving to be spotty in content and not in touch with many elements in the Church. Caveat lector!