“Whoever loves the Tsar and Russia loves God” – Father Guryanov

PHOTO: Father Nikolai (Guryanov), holding a portrait of Tsar Martyr Nicholas II,
painted in 2017 by the contemporary Russian artist Vladimir Latyntsev

“Whoever loves the Tsar and Russia loves God” – Father Guryanov

Nikolai Alekseevich Guryanov (1909-2002), is regarded as one of the most revered elders of the Russian Orthodox Church of the late 20th – early 21st centuries. He is greatly respected by Orthodox Christians and Russian Monarchists for keeping the memory of Emperor Nicholas II alive, during the Soviet years.

He was born on 24th May 1909, into a peasant family in Chudskiye Zakhody (now the village of Zakhody), a village situated in the Gdovsky District of the Pskov Oblast. Nikolai’s father, Alexei Ivanovich Guryanov, was the regent of the church choir, died in 1914. The elder brother, Mikhail Alekseevich Guryanov, taught at the St. Petersburg Conservatory; younger brothers, Peter and Anatoly, also had musical abilities. All three brothers died in the First World War (1914-18). Nikolai’s mother, Ekaterina Stepanovna Guryanova, helped her son in his labours for many years.

Nikolai’s father died in 1914. His mother lived a long life, she died on 23rd May 1969, and was buried in the cemetery on Zalit Island, situated on the Zalitsky Islands, located in the south-eastern part of Lake Pskov, 25 km northwest of Pskov.

From childhood, Nicholas served at the altar in the church of Michael the Archangel. As a child, Metropolitan Veniamin (Kazan) visited the parish . Father Nikolai recalled this event in the following way: “I was still a boy. Vladyka served, and I held his staff. Then he hugged me, kissed me and said: “How happy you are that you are with the Lord …“.

Teacher, prisoner, priest 

From 1958, Father Nikolai served as rector of St. Nicholas Church for 44 years, until his death in 2002. Orthodox Christians came from all over the country for spiritual support.

Next to the church stands a cross erected in memory of the service Nikolai Guryanov provided to the Russian Orthodox community.

PHOTO: the home of Father Nikolai (Guryanov) in Ostrov-Zalit, on the island of Talabsk

PHOTO: Father Nikolai (Guryanov) at his tiny home in Ostrov-Zalit

PHOTO: the cemetery in Ostrov-Zalit, on the island of Talabsk, where Father Nikolai (Guryanov) is buried

PHOTO: the grave of Father Nikolai (Guryanov), at the cemetery in Ostrov-Zalit, on the island of Talabsk

PHOTO: a framed portrait of Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II wearing a crown of thorns, and a wooden carving depicting the Holy Royal Martyrs, adorn the grave of Father Nikolai (Guryanov)

PHOTO: the 18th century Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, in Ostrov-Zalit, on the island of Talabsk, where Father Nikolai (Guryanov) served as rector for 44 years

PHOTO: the Chapel of St. Nicholas depicting the fresco (below) Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II – Redeemer of Russia

PHOTO: Fresco depicting Tsar-Martyr Nicholas II – Redeemer of Russia – located on the façade of the Chapel of St. Nicholas.

Veneration of the Holy Royal Martyrs

During his life, Father Guryanov’s room was filled with photos and images of Nicholas II and family. He kept albums, films, and documentaries about the last Russian Tsar. Guryanov also honoured Grigori Rasputin.

Father Nikolay had the gift of foresight: not only did he predicted the collapse of communism, he also predicted the canonization of Emperor Nicholas II and his family by the Russian Orthodox Church.

According to Father Guryanov, Nicholas II said The Jesus Prayer to himself daily: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

“The sword of a terrible war constantly hangs over Russia, and only our prayers to the Holy Tsar-Martyr Nicholas will take away the wrath of God from us. We must ask the Tsar that there should be no war. He loves and pities Russia. If only you knew how He cries for us!” – Father Nikolai (Guryanov) – 1909-2002

© Paul Gilbert. 27 November 2022