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a passionate repentance


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may God stand


It was nearly half a century ago that I first
heard of this miracle wrought by St. Nicholas.
Never had I chanced to read anything about it in
the writings of the Church. I would not want this
case of the saintly bishop's help to depart to my grave with me.

During the mid-1940s (I can't recall the exact
date), I had to spend the night in the city of
Munchen [Munich] in West Germany. The city was in
ruins after the war, and I would be forced to
spend the night outside. Fortunately, there
chanced to be a "Good Samaritan" church-house in
the city, and I was provided with its address.

There were two of us in the room. Myself, and a
man unknown to me, some 40-45 years of age. We
introduced ourselves, each to the other. I do not
remember either his name or his surname -- and
they probably would not have been "real," anyway.
We had to sleep on wooden benches and chairs. So,
in order to pass the night more quickly, we fell
to talking. I can't remember why, but my
co-locutor, for some reason or other, asked me
whether I was acquainted with the miracle of St.
Nicholas that took place in Kiev in the 1920s. I
did not know of it, and he related the following tale to me:

In Kiev, at Podol (the northern section of the
city), there dwelt an elderly widow with her son
and daughter. The old woman dearly loved St.
Nicholas and, in all cases of difficulty, would
go to his church to pray before the image [obraz]
of the saintly bishop [sviatitel'], always
receiving consolation and the easing of her
misfortune. Her son, seemingly a student, became an officer.

The governments of the city changed frequently:
Whites, Reds, a Hetman, a Directory, Poles,
Germans, etc. All former officers were arrested
on the spot, the old woman's son among them. His
sister rushed about from one "department" of the
time to another. She ran her legs off, but
achieved nothing. But the old woman ran off to
St. Nicholas. Long did she pray before his ikon;
then she returned home, consoled -- the saintly
bishop will help. She sat down to have a spot of
tea, while her daughter's hands simply fell to
her sides. O, woe! her brother had vanished!

The son returned home at dawn of the following
day. Famished, beaten, dirty, weary. According to
him, a large group of officers under a strong
convoy of guards was being led off to Pechersk.
This is the hilly section of town, opposite from
Podol, by the Kiev-Caves Lavra. There was a large
hippodrome there, where horse races were held.
Beyond it, there was a grove, and
rampart-trenches which had been dug in Peter I's
day, as a defence against the Swedes. It was in
that grove, by the rampart-trenches, that the shootings took place.

They had come up to the hippodrome when,
suddenly, some little old man or other stepped
out from around a corner. He approached the
convoy-commandant and asked: "Where are you taking them?"

The commandant replied, rudely: "To Dukhonin's
H.Q.!" (which meant, in the jargon of the time,
"to be shot"). "Go away, old man!"

The old man left, but, in doing so, he took the
old woman's son by the hand and said: "Let him go. I know him."

Neither the commandant nor the escort-guards
replied with even so much as a single word, nor
did they hinder him. The little old man led the
young fellow out around the corner and, saying,
"Go on home to your mother," vanished away somewhere.

The old woman was overjoyed and immediately set
off to thank St. Nicholas. The son wanted to do
nothing more than to lie down and have a good,
long sleep, but his mother took him along with
her to the church. He had probably been there on
previous occasions, but had been but little interested in anything.

The little old woman led him up to a huge image
of the saintly bishop. The son turned ashen-pale
and began to tremble. He could only whisper:
"Mother, dear, but that's the very same elder who led me to freedom..."

Wondrous is God in His Saints.

Many of the details of this tale were precise and
animated. Who had my co-locutor been? Perhaps he
had been speaking of himself? I don't know...

-- N. P. F.

California 1993

[Translated from the Russian text appearing in
"Pravoslavnaya Rus'" ("Orthodox Rus'"), No. 13,
1997 by G. Spruksts. English-language translation
copyright © 1997 by The St. Stefan Of Perm'
Guild, The Russian Cultural Heritage Society, and
the translator. All rights reserved.]
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