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Peace Man

On the Day of Remembrance of Bishop Methodius (Kulman)

For the first time I met the name of Bishop Methodius (Kulman), collecting material about the charity work of pastors of the Russian diaspora. Then it turned out that as early as 20 years ago I came across certain yellowed issues of the magazine "Eternal", which he published. And along Vvedenskaya street, where house number 19 stands, where his family lived, I went to a rowing club for training at school. His parish church was the Peter and Paul Cathedral, in which today you are visiting Russian emperors. In the family of the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich, his father was a home teacher, and this prince was the only one from the royal family who came to Moscow in 1905 to support Elizabeth Fedorovna in grief after the murder of her husband.

The fate and tribulations of the Russian emigration, the heroes of the war of 1812 and Slavic lands, about which the future Bishop wrote a dissertation in Prague, help to prisoners of war in France, charity pilgrimages to the Holy Land – Russian history comes to life, passing through the fate of the rector of the small Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Anyer. His brief and capacious sermons – “A Little About Many Things” – revitalize the heart, you feel that life is behind each of their words, you can build a soul on them. But in the magazine "Eternal" he did not publish himself. He wanted to make available the treasures of Orthodoxy. And I would like to share the memory of Lord Methodius, whom few today know, but who is a true treasure of faith.

Bishop-philanthropist Methodius (Kulman), an ascetic of piety, departed to the Lord on April 13, 1974, on Holy Saturday. On his marble tombstone in the crypt of the Church of the Assumption of the Mother of God in Sainte-Genevieve-des-Bois, it is written: "Rector of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Agnere, renewal of Russian pilgrimages to the Holy Land." With these two words – the abbot and renewal – containing in them all their meanings, the exiled, emigrant life of Vladyka Methodius is exhausted.

His childhood and youth passed in Russia. He was born in 1902 in St. Petersburg in the family of Nikolai Karlovich Kulman, professor of Russian language and literature. He was baptized by uncle, priest Alexander, in the Mikhailo-Arkhangelsk church in the village of Borovenka, Novorusskaya province. My father graduated from the historical and philological faculty of St. Petersburg University, taught Russian literature at the Women's Pedagogical Institute and the Alexander Lyceum, was a home teacher for the children of Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich (K. R.).

Mother, Ekaterina Iasonovna, daughter of Major General Iason Dmitrievich Smirnov, director of the 3rd Moscow Cadet Corps, knew three foreign languages, was caring and patient. Two sisters and a brother, like Volodya, studied in gymnasiums. Despite the widespread socialist propaganda in secondary and higher educational institutions, the family remained churchly, prayed and communed in the Peter and Paul Cathedral, and visited the Lintul and Valaam monasteries.

In 1917, Nikolai Karlovich was arrested, but soon released. Together with his family, he leaves for Nikolaev. Young Vladimir’s endure the change of power in southern Russia as a sobering up from the utopias of communism (apparently, he still had some propaganda ideas): when he saw the mutilated victims of the “extraordinary” violence after another capture of Nikolaev, he would forever cease to trust the “fighters for a brighter future”.

When the Reds approached Nikolaev, the family managed to catch a river boat, taken in tow by a steamer, and sailed to Bulgaria. In the sea during a storm, the tugboat broke … a prayer to St. Nicholas from a pure heart – and the boat carried ashore. Then I had to swim to Varna, where the family spent more than a year, and Vladimir graduated from high school. The Bulgarians remembered the liberators from the Turkish yoke and helped the Russians, especially the exarch Metropolitan Stefan (Shokov) and the Varna Metropolitan Simeon (Popov).
In 1922, the Kulmans moved to Prague, where the “Russian action” of the Czechoslovak government began to accept Russian refugees to study and work. The graduation work of Vladimir Kulman, a student at Charles University, was dedicated to the journey through the Slovenian lands in 1804 by Russian young scientists A. S. Kaisarov and A. I. Turgenev.

Undoubtedly, by 1926, before receiving the PhD (Ph.D. in Russian literature) degree from Charles University, the life path of his father, N.K. Kulman, was looming before Vladimir Kulman. This is evidenced by his student participation in the Prague "Skete" of poets, the most famous literary association in Prague. He followed in the footsteps of his father almost until his admission to the St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris. But the rejection of the atheistic activity of his day, the subsequent acquaintance and attendance at divine services to Archbishop Sergius (Queen), the unexpected death of his younger brother Konstantin – all this influenced the choice of a different life path. And also – the appeal in Russia by Patriarch Tikhon “To the peoples of the world and to the Orthodox person”, found by Vladimir in the Prague Slavic Library: “Hurry to the aid of the poor with hands full of gifts of mercy, with a heart full of love and desire to save a dying brother.”

In 1928 he entered the St. Sergius Theological Institute in Paris, in 1930 he was tonsured a monk in honor of the disciple of St. Sergius, Methodius Peshnoshsky, and in 1931 he was ordained and appointed rector in Anyer, where he served for 43 years, until the end of my days.


Hieromonk Methodius in Agnier

The publishing activities of Bishop Methodius are second to none. The monthly magazine "Eternal" is published from 1948 to 1974 under his personal editing. The patristic books, from the Interpretation of the Gospel to the biography of Hieroschimonhos Ambrosius of Optina, “Parish Leaves”, and with the beginning of pilgrimages to the Holy Land since 1952 – “Pilgrimage Leaves”, separate books on worship, sermons, and the history of the Holy Land.

At a small church in the suburbs of Paris, a parish shelter for women was organized, then a monastic community, a Thursday school, a kindergarten, an outpatient center, assistance was provided to the poor during the occupation of France. No wonder Metropolitan Eulogius (St. George) considered the church in Anyer one of the best.

Pilgrimages to the Holy Land allowed us to deliver clothing and money to our Russian cloisters, forgotten from the First World War, which became the fullness of Christian mercy and uplift for the Russian emigration. And until now, the “Collection of Pilgrim's Chants” by Bishop Methodius is reprinted and used in pilgrimages to the Holy Land.

Acquaintance with his life and works introduces us into the peaceful spirit of Christian work in the midst of a non-peaceful XX century.


Commemorative plaque in the temple of the Alexander Metochion, Jerusalem

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