Orthodox America

   Matushka Maria of Gatchina

The small town of Gatchina, some 30 miles from Petrograd, was the destination of many people weighed down by sorrows, grief. depression and despondency. They came to visit a nun, Matushka Maria , who was vouchsafed from the Lord a great gift: consolation of the sorrowing. This gift was granted after she had patiently endured much suffering her- self. She had been afflicted with encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) and then Parkinson's Disease which left her a total invalid: her whole body was immovable and she spoke in a monotone with half-closed mouth. She exhibited none of the usual signs of her disease -irritability, egocentrism, stubbornness-but was extremely meek, undemanding and constantly engrossed in prayer. Her brother looked after her with self-sacrifice and received her many visitors. And it was not only ordinary people who came, but also Church hierarchs, among whom was Metropolitan Joseph; in her reception room hung his photo graph with the inscription: "To the deeply respected Matushka Maria, who, among many grieving ones, has consoled also me a sinner."

About 1930 she and her brother were arrested and accused of "counter-revolutionary propaganda" (they refused to recognize Metropolitan Sergius' Declaration). T he innocent and helpless invalid was dragged by her arms along the floor and the ground and flung into the truck of the Checkists. Like most invalid prisoners she was soon killed.