Biography of Father Nikolay Tolstoy

Born into a family of the nobility in St. Petersburg in 1867. Graduated from the Pazheski Corps in St. Petersburg; was an Officer of the Guard. In 1893 he graduated from Moscow (Orthodox) Theological Academy; ordained an Orthodox priest in 1890. Even during his studies at the Orthodox seminary, he had maintained contacts with Dominicans in Rome and Jesuits in Paris. In November 1894, in Rome, he openly declared his conversion to Catholicism of the Eastern Rite. He was forbidden to serve in Russia. He remained abroad from 1894 until 1905: he was received by Pope Leo XIII, then he lived with the Assumptionists in Paris and in 1897, in Lemberg [Lviv] he met with Father Andrey Sheptytsky, abbot of the Monastery of St. Onophrius and the future Greek-Catholic metropolitan for Galicia. In 1905, after the tsar’s manifesto on freedom of religious confession, he returned to Russia, serving first in parishes in Moscow, then from 1907, in Kiev and Odessa. From 1908 he was editor of the journal Church Public Life [Tserkovno-obshchestvennaia zhizn’]. He energetically participated in the creation of the Eastern Rite in Russia. From 1919 he lived in Bobrov, Voronezh oblast; in 1920 he returned to Kiev, where he served at the Greek Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus; he took an active part in the work of the Brotherhood of St. Leo. From 1924 he lived in Odessa. At the trial of Father Paul Asheberg, he testified against him; in 1925 he returned to Kiev where he often served at Sacred Heart of Jesus Church. He re-married, and was thus precluded from priestly service. He gave up his church office (having learned that his son was collaborating with the GPU). Worked as a proofreader at a printing house. February 17, 1928 – Izvestiia published his accusatory article against the Polish clergy. From 1929 he worked as a translator at Tsvet-met-zoloto in the Urals and the Caucasus. From 1935 he was a security guard in a student dormitory in Kiev. In 1935 he served as a witness for the prosecution in the case against a “Fascist Counter-Revolutionary Organization of Roman Catholic and Uniate Clergy of Right-Bank Ukraine.” December 14, 1937 – arrested on charges of “espionage activity on behalf of a certain foreign state” and placed in the Special Compound of Kiev Prison. In the indictment Father Nikolay was charged as “one of the leaders of the Uniate movement in Ukraine, which aimed at the Polonization of the Ukrainian population and preparation for rendering active assistance to Ukrainian Uniates of the Polish Army in an invasion of Ukraine.” January 25, 1938 – sentenced to death under Articles 54-2 and 54-6 of the Criminal Code of the Ukrainian SSR [Special Board, Directorate, NKVD, UkrSSR]. February 4, 1938 – shot, in Kiev Prison. He was seventy-one years old. Sources: Osipova (1996), p. 203; Parafiial’na gazeta (1995), No. 43; p. 4; Investigatory File of N.A. Tolstoi, Archive, TsGAOO (Ukraine); Sokolovskyi, pp. 204-205; Dzwonkowski, pp. 482-483
Variant Names:
Tolstoy, Nikolay; Tolstoĭ, Nikolaĭ Alekseevich
Saint Petersburg (Russia); Moscow (Russia); Rome; Paris (France); Lʹviv (Ukraine); Kiev (Ukraine); Odesa (Ukraine); Voronezhskai︠a︡ oblastʹ (Russia); Ural Mountains (Russia); Caucasus
male; clergy and religious; executed