For the first time in over than half a century in Beijing in the former bishop's quarters of the the Russian Spiritual Mission in China (RSMC) which since 1956 are located on the territory Russia's Embassy in the Peoples Republic of China services were conducted to honor the 222 Chinese
martyrs executed in 1900 for the Orthodox faith during the Yihetuan Rebellion. On the morning of June 24th - on the day for observing the memory of the Chinese martyrs, priest Dionisy Pozdniaev of the Dept. of External Church Relations/MP served the Divine liturgy, according to
The Yihetuan Rebellion, also known as the "Boxer" Rebellion due to a mistranslation by English sinologists, left a terrible bloody mark on history of the beginning of the XX century. Among those brutally killed and tortured by the rebels were not only foreign preachers and technical
experts, merchants and scientists, but also Chinese officials, soldiers and officers, peasants.
Special cruelty distinguished the rebels when they killed Chinese who professed the teaching the Christ. Churches were pillaged and fell to ruins. The courtyard of Russian Orthodox Mission was turned to ashes.
Yihetuan killed all without discrimination - women, children, old men; their victims were subjected to the most refined tortures. The night of June 23 to June 24th (on new calendar), 1900 entered history as "Bartholomew's night of Beiping" (as Beijing was known until 1949).
In May 1902 decree No. 2874 of the Most Holy Synod established a day for celebrating the 222 Chinese martyrs. Their holy relics were placed under the altar of the temple of All Holy Martyrs which was built in the center of Mission territory. In the temple constructed in an old Russian
tent-style, together with holy relics of the Chinese flock, were later buried archpastors of the Russian Orthodox Church: Metropolitan Innokenty (Figurnovsky), the chief of the XVIII Mission who built the temple of the All Holy Martyrs, Archbishop Simon (Vinogradov), the chief of the XIX Mission.
Next to the temple there was the tomb of general Dmitry Leonidovich Horvat, the last Russian managing director of KVZHD. A monument to the 222 Chinese martyrs also stood near the temple. According to some sources, in the Chinese martyrs monument in Beijing, in the right side addition to the temple, were also secretly buried in 1947 the remains of victims of the
Alapayevsk murders, members of the Imperial family. In 1956 after the property of the RSMC was transferred to USSR authorities, the temple was destroyed.
Remembering at the All Night Vigil and at Divine Liturgy the Christian feats of endurance of the of 222 Chinese martyrs, the Russian Orthodox, who assembled for the service in what were previously the bishop's quarters, prayed before festal icons that the Lord grant them to re-discover the relics of "Chinese martyrs who, for Christ, fell victim in the city of Beijing".
Moreover, recent investigations carried out with special equipment on the territory of Russia's Embassy to the PRC, at the foundation of the temple of All Holy Martyrs do not exlude the possibility of finding the holy relics in the destroyed temple's altar section.
"O, holy martyrs of China, pray to God for us."
Published by Orthodoxy in China, June 24, 2005
English Translation by Nina Tkachuk Dimas