Archbishop Meletius (in the world – Michael Policarpovich Kartushin), cousin of the archbishop of Moscow, John (Kartushin), was born on the Popkov farm of the Ostrovskaya village in the Don Host Oblast in 1859. In 1886, he was ordained as a priest to the church of his native parish. In 1895, he became widowed. He was ordained as a bishop to the Saratov and Astrakhan cathedras on December 7, 1908 by archbishop John of Moscow and bishop Alexander of Ryazan and Yegoryevsk.
Accepting the cathedra, bishop Meletius, over the course of a year, strived to travel around the entire diocese and visit each parish. Based on the impressions he received, he determined the main directions of his archpastoral activity for many years to come. One of them was the fight against drunkenness. Bishop Meletius wrote and distributed dozens of appeals, epistles, letters and leaflets against drunkenness. In one of the appeals to the clergy and laity, he wrote:
“Drunkenness pours over the vast expanse of Mother Rus’ in a broad murky wave, carrying away thousands of unfortunate victims in its bloody flow. It also captures the Old Belief, which I had to personally witness from my own observation.”
Bishop Meletius believed that the clergy were obliged to play a major role in saving the people from drunkenness:
“Fathers, let us not be the idle spectators of national grief, of national tears and suffering.”
The actions of bishop Meletius as a warrior for sobriety brought him all-Russian renown. In 1911, according to a decision of the Holy Council, he headed a deputation of Old-believers to be presented to the Lord Emperor with a heartfelt request for measures to be taken in order to combat drunkenness.