HIEROMARTYR SERAPHIM OF VYATKA (+ 1943)
By Vladimir Moss
Priest Seraphim Vladimirovich Agafonnikov was born in 1904 in the village of Bogoslovskoye, Kotelnichi uyezd, Vyatka province into the family of a priest, Hieromartyr Vladimir Mikhailovich Agafonnikov. Until 1914 he lived with his parents and studied at the village school. Then he went to study at a gymnasium in Vyatka until 1918, that is, until the murder of his father. Not being able to continue his education, he worked for a year as a copyist in the Batalovsky volost military commissariat, and then until 1922 he served on the railway at Vyatka station. Because of malnourishment he was not able to work for a year. Then he began to serve as a reader in his native village. In 1927 he was ordained to the diaconate. His widowed mother, a village teacher, was deprived of her house in the same year, so Fr. Seraphim had to serve in other parishes – first the village of Arkhangelskoye, Kotelnichi uyezd (1927), then the village of Istobenskoye, Verkhshizhemsky uyezd (1928). In 1934 he was ordained to the priesthood by the Catacomb Bishop Sergius (Druzhinin) in Yoshkar-Ola, Mari republic, and went to serve in the village of Vozhgaly, Kumensky region, Vyatka province. Because of impossibly high taxes, the church in which Fr. Seraphim was serving was closed. Then, at the request of the villagers of Vozhgaly, he continued to serve needs in local houses. He could not set himself up anywhere as a priest, and they did not accept him to work anywhere. In 1928, with great difficulty, Fr. Seraphim constructed a little house with his own hands on the outskirts of Kirov (Vyatka), but it was confiscated. After this one of his parishioners gave him a shed built of logs, from which, together with his brother, he built a home for his family. Until the moment of his arrest he was illegally carrying out needs for believers in Kirov.
On November 29, 1939 he was denounced for serving church rites in the homes of believers, and was arrested and cast into prison in Kirov. On April 20, 1940 he was condemned in accordance with article 58-10 part 1, and sentenced to ten years in prison. According to his niece, he was interrogated several times a day, with one interrogator taking the place of another, and undoubtedly tortured. He was not allowed to sleep night or day. “At the beginning of the investigation Fr. Seraphim declared that he did not occupy himself with politics, did not conduct agitation against Soviet power and did not criticise the measures introduced by the authorities. At the end, after unceasing physical and psychological pressure, he made a slip of the tongue, and the Soviet juridical meat-grinder deprived him of freedom for ten years, but within three years all trace of him had been lost.” On April 22, 1940 Fr. Seraphim was taken under convoy to colony no. 3 at Kirs station, Omutinsky region, Kirov province. He died there in 1943. “We may suppose,” writes his niece, “only that in 1943 Fr. Seraphim was killed in prison or was starved to death.”