A New Russian Martyr


 Russian Priest Gunned Down in Church

Orthodox Priest Known For Missionary Work Shot in Moscow

A Russian Orthodox priest known for his missionary work among Muslims was gunned down in his Moscow church, Russian officials said Friday. 

Thirty-four-year-old Daniil Sysoyev was shot at least four times at in the head and chest in the Church of St. Thomas by a masked gunman Thursday night, according to the Prosecutor General’s Investigative Committee. The assailant also wounded the church’s choirmaster, Vladimir Strelbitsky.

Sysoyev died on the way to the hospital. Strelbitsky is in critical condition.

“The main theory is that religious motives are behind the crime,” a prosecutor’s office spokesman told reporters.

Sysoyev routinely denounced Islam and actively reached out to Muslims and various religious sects to convert them. In a recent interview with a Russian newspaper, Sysoyev boasted that he had baptized 80 Muslims.

But with his ambitious missionary work came death threats.

“They’ve threatened to cut my head off 14 times,” Sysoyev told Komsomolskaya Pravda in the interview. “The FSB [Federal Security Service] got in touch with me a year ago to say they had uncovered a murder plot against me.”

He told a television interviewer in February 2008 that he considered it a sin not to preach to Muslims, according to the Interfax news agency.

Sysoyev was originally from the Russian Republic of Tatarstan, where a large majority of the population is Muslim. He published books titled “An Orthodox Response to Islam” and “Marrying a Muslim,” which criticized the faith and drew fierce responses from Muslim organizations.

‘No Reason to Kill’

Russia’s Council of Muftis strongly denounced the murder Friday, saying differences should be worked out in a civilized way.

“We talk to people, we meet them. They may not always agree with us, but that is no reason to kill. Life was given to us by the Almighty!” council official Damir Gizatullin told Interfax.

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, “This sin will not be left unanswered by God. And justice will hopefully be ensured by people,” he said. “But as long as the killer has not been identified, I ask you to refrain from any hasty accusations against individuals or groups.”

10 Responses to A New Russian Martyr

  1. Cyril says:

    David R.

    Because Martyr’s receive that baptism with which Christ was baptized (Mark 10:38), they are recognized as saints. It is dying as if you were emerging from the font, but here with the greatest of witnesses of having confessed Christ before men, and these are received with Christ confessing them before the Father.


  2. Memory Eternal! The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church. May Fr. Daniil’s work in converting Muslims to Orthodoxy bear fruit in the years to come to the greater glory of God.

  3. David Richards says:

    This man is already being called a new martyr, not only by this site but by other Orthodox I know and also by Patrick Barnes at Orthodoxinfo.com. Heck, Barnes and others even ask him to pray for us. Does anyone here think he may eventually be called blessed, or saint, because of his witness and life sacrifice? Is there any “shortcut” for those who shed their blood for the sake of Christ to be glorified?

  4. Cyril says:

    Memory Eternal, Fr. Daniil. We pray for your peace. Pray for us also, O holy martyr, that we might with patience face the evil you did.

    O Saints and Holy Martyrs of Russia, pray to God for us.


  5. Fr. Dn. Jeremiah says:

    M, you and other maybe interested in the following from Fr. Daniel’s widow, which a friend brought to my attention today.

    On My Husband’s Death – Julia Sysoyeva

  6. M says:

    Memory Eternal!

    Lord have mercy on his family and all who are suffering on account of this tragedy.

    Alas, the absurdity of evil. I don’t know how one can make sense of this tragedy. How is the suffering of his wife, children, parents, etc, in any sense necessary? If unnecessary, why didn’t God prevent it? If necessary, necessary to what end? Necessary for good? But then, how can a good be necessarily contingent upon an evil? Could God not have brought whatever good about without the evil?

    I am doubting that one can be at peace with any rationalization of this event. Perhaps the only way to find peace is through Orthodox praxis/ascesis.

    If bringing up theodicy on this thread is inappropriate, please forgive me, and ignore/delete this post.

  7. I am saddened by this story for many reasons. I don’t really know what to say. I admire someone who stood up to evil like this priest. I always feel inadequate when I hear these sorts of things. Does the phrase “whom the world was not worthy of” come close?

  8. Jason Loh says:

    Rest in peace, Daniil Sysoyev, for you have joined the company of saints in Heaven. Well done, good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!

  9. Jason Loh says:

    Rest in peace!

  10. jnorm888 says:

    Memory Eternal!


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