Biography of Father Sergey Soloviev

Born in Moscow in 1885. Nephew of the well-known philosopher Vladimir Soloviev. Graduated from the Historical Philology Department of Moscow University. From 1916 he was a writer and scholar; he taught Greek language and literature at Moscow University. He studied at Moscow Orthodox Theological Academy; ordained in 1916 and from 1919 served in Saratov region. At Christmas 1920 he was received into the Catholic Church, but doubts about his decision led to his return to Orthodoxy in 1922. In 1923, after conversations with Father Leonid Feodorov and Father Mikhail Tsakul, he again converted to Catholicism. Simultaneously with his pastoral work, he was engaged in literary work, writing a biography of Vladimir Soloviev and a number of other works. In 1926 he was appointed vice-exarch of the Russian Catholics. He performed his priestly service without official registration because of the small number of parishioners – and he also often illegally celebrated Mass at private apartments. Bishop Neveu highly valued Father Sergey. On the night of February 15/16, 1931, he was arrested in Moscow in a case against the community of Russian Catholics, along with the Moscow dean [of Roman Catholics], Father Karol Łupinowicz, and a group of 120 parishioners. Charged with having contact with Bishop Neveu and receiving money from him for assisting imprisoned Catholics. The GPU forced him to renounce his priesthood; moral tortures led to a serious nervous breakdown, and then he signed the most serious accusations against himself and the Catholic community. August 18, 1931 – sentenced to ten years in corrective labor camps, commuted to exile to Kazakhstan [OGPU Collegium]. October 7, 1931 – sent for treatment at a psychiatric hospital; October 23, 1931 – turned over to the custody of his relatives. Died in Kazan, March 2, 1942. We present excerpts from the memoirs of Sister Catherine Rubashova, a Dominican Sister from Fr. Sergey’s community: “It was the beginning of 1926 when I first met Sergey Soloviev. He was forty years old, or perhaps forty-one. He was tall, rather thin, with dark brown hair; his eyes were a bright blue, with long eyelashes. I heard that in his childhood he was called “Little Lord Fauntleroy.” Thus I remember him. I also remember his laughter – he laughed often, loud and sadly. You could sense that there was some kind of nervousness that he was restraining with difficulty. The more I got to know him, the more I saw the sharpness of his mind, his peculiar sharp-wittedness, the depth of his thinking, his exceptional friendliness toward people, his childlike simplicity and his amazing inability to adjust to all worldly affairs. […] Over the course of five years we saw each other every day and sometimes even twice a day – we were great friends even though he was twenty-four years older than I. He knew so well how to approach each person. Father Sergey said Mass in the church of the Immaculate Conception on Malaya Gruzinskaya Street, a large Gothic-style church. The small group of Russian Catholics who remained at liberty after the arrests in 1923 and 1924 were given the side altar of Our Lady of Ostra Brama for their Slavonic liturgy. Father Sergey said Mass each day at this altar, and on the eve of the major feasts he observed the all-night vigil. Rarely would one ever see so beautiful a liturgy (this part of his work was completely gratis). The church was large, tall and unheated. Father Sergey’s lips became bloodied from touching them every day to the freezing cold metal of the chalice. […] When Mass in Slavonic was no longer permitted in the church, Father Sergey continued to say Mass in his friends’ apartments. He also gave papers in their apartments: I remember his works on Saint Sergius of Radonezh, Serafim of Sarov, the unification of the Churches and other theological themes. He had an excellent command of language, both in conversation and in scholarly works; his thinking was always original and deep, his speech was artistically gifted.” Sources: Von Burman, p. 611; Osipova (1996), p. 201; Osipova (1999), pp. 192-193; Soloviev et al.; Smirnov, pp. 77-93; Sokolovskyi, pp. 196-197; Dzwonkowksi, pp. 448-449
Variant Names:
Soloviev, Sergey; Solov'ev, Sergeĭ Mikhaĭlovich
Moscow (Russia); Saratovskai︠a︡ oblastʹ (Russia); Kazakhstan; Kazanʹ (Russia)
male; clergy and religious; survived