In Memoriam: Archimandrite Innokenty (Bystrov)
(To the 35th Anniversary of His Repose)
On the night of September 26-27, 1981, the feast day of the Elevation of the Cross of the Lord, after a long, serious illness, Archimandrite Innokenty (Bystrov) reposed in the Lord.
Fr Innokenty was born in Irkutsk on December 4, 1890, and baptized with the name Vasily. His parents were Vasily and Anna Bystrov. His father died early, when young Vasily was only two. He had two brothers, Innokenty and Alexander, and a sister, Varvara. The latter two siblings also died at an early age.
Vasily spent his childhood in Irkutsk, where he sang in the church choir. In 1906, he moved to Vladivostok and studied choir directing, and was then appointed director of a cathedral choir. In 1909, he married, then moved to Nikolo-Ussuriisk, where he began teaching liturgical music.
In 1914, his wife, a teacher by the name of Elizaveta, died. Vasily then dedicated his life to serving the Church. Returning to Vladivostok in 1925, he was ordained to the preisthood and resumed leading the cathedral choir, and also began teaching the Law of God. In 1930, he was arrested and sent to a lumber camp, whence he managed to escape to Harbin, China. He lived there until 1935, taking part in local Church life, after moving the the island of Yavu, where he ministered to Russian refugees.
In 1950, Protopriest Vasily moved to the United States, and lived in San Francisco’s St Tikhon of Zadonsk House. A year later, Fr Vasily moved to New Kursk-Root Hermitage in Mahopac, NY. At the time, Bishop Seraphim (Ivanov) was the monastery’s abbot, who tonsured Fr Vasily to monasticism and gave him the name Innokenty. Fr Innokenty was soon elevated to the rank of hegumen, then, in 1958, archimandrite. Upon the appointment of Bishop Seraphim to the Chicago Diocese, Fr Innokenty became the abbot of New Kursk-Root Hermitage. Fr Innokenty labored for 25 long years at the monastery. Through his efforts and prayers, he attracted many worshipers, especially on the feast day of the Kursk Root Icon of the Mother of God "of the Sign.”
In 1977, Archimandrite Innokenty was sent to the Holy Land and served at Mt of Olives Ascension Convent and St Mary Magdalene Convent in Gethsemane. He lived in Ascension Convent and prayed at the great holy sites of Jerusalem, finding consolation and spiritual joy in praying for his many spiritual children.
In the spring of 1981, it was discovered that Fr Innokenty had esophageal cancer. After Holy Pascha, he returned to the USA and his spiritual children had him hospitalized, where he was cured.
After he was discharged from the hospital, he was settled at Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY, where he frequently communed of the Holy Gifts of Christ. A week before his death, the Queen of Heaven visited him in the form of the Kursk-Root Icon.