It was in the summer of 1921. There was a little village near Petrograd, along the Petrograd-
Viborg Railway. This village once had a Lithuanian
asylum for orphans; hence there was a Catholic church in that place. Soon after the Revolution the asylum was closed, as there were no funds to keep it going, and the priest in charge of the little church had to leave yet a few Catholic families remained on
in the village.
During the next four years the place underwent many a vicissitude, coming alternately into the hands of the Whites and the Reds. After all hostilities were over, the Reds settled
there, and the village resumed more or less of its former tranquillity, but its inhabitants missed their little church.
The village was naturally brought to rack and ruin during those four disastrous
years. Scarcely any houses were fit to live in, whilst the Reds had to keep a considerable garrison there in view of the situation of the village being close to the Finnish frontier. But there was no living accommodation and at last the authorities resolved
to turn both the asylum and its church into barracks. As these buildings were barred and locked, it was decided that the doors should be forced open.
On the eve of the day appointed for the
carrying out of this plan, a few Red soldiers sat in the village public house, discussing the details of its execution. They were overheard by some children, three boys who happened to belong to the few Catholic families of the place. The boys were all of
them big enough to remember how their mothers used to take them into the little church and teach them to genuflect before the altar, saying that "Jesus lived there." The children grasped the idea that Jesus house was to be insulted as they knew well what the
Red soldiers were like. The boys did not know that with the closing of the church the Blessed Sacrament had been removed. Their minds clung to the old associations, and they resolved to do all they could to shield Jesus.
The children found out that the raid would take place in the small hours of the following morning. Accordingly, they began to watch from midnight on. They crept into the old church through a window which for some unknown reason was left
half open, and overlooked the yard of one of the houses. A sister of one of the boys joined them, as she was as eager as her brother and his friends to "shield the dear, loving Jesus."
kept their brave watch all through the hours of the night, crouched at the altar steps, and early in the morning the door was broken open and the Reds came in. When they saw the children, at first they gruffly told them to be off, as this was no place for
them. The children remained where they were, and the Reds threatened to fire on them. The boys replied they would not suffer their dear Jesus to be insulted, and that they would remain there. The soldiers, most of them more than half tipsy, began to shoot
at the children, and two of them immediately fell. Then the soldiers told the remaining boy and his sister to "clear out," but the boy's only answer was to bar the way to the altar steps with his body.