Orthodox America

New Martyr Matrona   

In our age of moral and spiritual decline, only the heroic example of righteous men and women is able to ignite a zeal for godly living in accordance with the Divine commandments. It is essential, therefore, to preserve the pure image of their God-pleasing lives and to propagate their message, which shines with the simplicity or Christ, coming down to our own days, as preserved in the Orthodox Church consciousness. Having pleased God, they reflect His sanctity, according to His command: Be ye holy, for I am holy (Lev. 11:44). He made them His friends and endowed them with a power that does not disappear with their earthly death. The saints or God, canonized and uncanonized, are alive in Him and take part in the lives of those who are still on earth, when they are remembered and invoked.

Let us therefore hasten to the holy ones of God, becoming their friends and finding a living contact with them, especially by praying for them and entreating their prayers, so that they, seeing our ardent entreaty, will enlighten us and direct our lives away from this world that lies in evil.

Let the world have its own blind heroes, whose glory fades and can give nothing lasting to humanity-we have our own, even in these latter times, who shine with an immortal glory and lead our souls to heaven...

 (Hieromonk seraphim in The Orthodox Ward, Jan.-Feb., 1978)


And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee; for My strength is made perfect in weakness (IlCor 129)


The following was related to me by the late Bishop Stephan (Nikitin):.

In the. '30's I was imprisoned in a concentration camp. I was at that time a doctor and in the camp I was assigned as head of the clinic. Most of the prisoners were in such critical condition that it broke my heart and I released many of them from work so as to give them at least some relief; the weaker ones I sent to the hospital.

One day , as I was examining patients, the nurse who worked with me-also a camp prisoner-said to me, "Doctor1 I heard that a denunciation has been brought against you; you are being accused of excessive lenience in regard to prisoners and you are threatened with an extension of your term up.to fifteen years." The nurse was a sober woman, informed about what went on in the camp, and I had good reason to feel horrified at her words. I had been sentenced to three years which were soon to be completed., Already I was counting the months and weeks which separated me from my long-awaited freedom And suddenly-fifteen years!       +

All night I couldn’t sleep, and when I went to work the next morning, the nurse shook her head in distress upon seeing the drawn expression on my face. After we had finished the examinations she said hesitantly, "I would like, doctor, to give you some advice, but I'm aftaid you'll only laugh at me.” Tell me,” I said.

"In Penza, my home town, there lives a woman called Matronushka.  The Lord has granted her a special power of prayer. When once she begins to pray for someone, her prayer is always answered. Many people turn to her for help and she never refuses any- one. Why don't you ask her to help you?"

I laughed sorrowfully.  'By the time my letter reaches her, they'll have sentenced me to fifteen years."

"But it's not necessary to write to her. Just call out to her," said the nurse, a little abashed.

"Shout?! From here?" I asked. "She lives over a hundred kilometers away."

"I knew you'd laugh at me for saying that, but she can hear you from anywhere Do this: when you go out for your evening walk, fall behind the rest for a bit and shout out three times in a loud voice: 'Matronushka, help me, I'm in trouble.' She'll hear you and will answer."

Although this all seemed very strange, rather like magic as it were, nevertheless,  when I went out on my evening walk, I did as my friend had instructed4 A day passed, a week, a month..,. No one summoned me. In the meantime, changes were made in the camp administration: someone was removed, another was appointed. Another half year passed and there came the day of my release from the camp. When I was issued my documents in the commandant's office, I asked to be sent in the direction of the town where Matrona lived, since I had promised before calling out to her that if she helped me I would remember her in my daily prayers and that upon my release from camp I would straitway go and thank her

Having received my papers I heard that two fellows, who were also being released, were traveling to the same town where I was headed.  I joined them and we set off together. As we journeyed, I asked them if perchance they knew Matronushka.

"We know her very well; everyone knows her both in the town and for miles around. We'd take you to her if you like, but we live in the country, not in town, and we are anxious to get home. But just do this: when you arrive, ask. the first person you meet where Matronushka lives and they'll show you.

On my arrival I did just as my fellow travelers had told me. I asked the first boy I met. "Follow this street,'9 he said, "then turn by the post office into the alley. Matrona lies in the third house "

Trembling with excitement, I went up to the house and was about to knock at the door but it wasn't locked and opened easily. Standing at the threshold, I surveyed the nealy empty room in the middle of which stood a table; upon it was a fairly large box.

"May I come in?" I asked rather loudly.

"Comein, Seryozila," came a voice from the box.,

Startled by this unexpected reception, I proceeded hesitantly in the direction of the voice, Looking into the box on the table, l saw a small woman lying motionless. She was blind and possessed only rudimentary arms and legs. Her face was remarkably bright and kindly. After greeting her I asked "How do you know my name?"

"Why shouldint I know it?" came her weak but clear voice. "You called out to me and I prayed to God for you. This is how I know. Sit down, be my guest."

For a long time I sat at Matronushka's.

She told me that as a young child she had fallen ill with some disease which had stunted her growth and caused her to become immobile. At the age of two she had lost her sight from smallpox.. Her family was poor, and on her way to work her mother would lay her in a box and take her to church. Putting the box with the girl on a bench, she would leave her there until evening. Lying in the box, the young girl would listen to all the church services and sermons. The priest took. pity on the little girl and looked after her. The parishioners also became sorry for the child and would bring her a little something to eat or something to wear; someone else would caress her or help her to lie  more comfortably. In this way she grew up surrounded by an atmosphere of deep spirituality and prayer.

Then we spoke about the purpose of life, about faith, about God. Listening to her, I was •struck by the wisdom of her judgments and her spiritual insight. In parting she said, "When you will stand before the Throne of God, remember the slave of God, Matrona." At that time I had no thought of becoming a bishop and was not even a priest. Concerning herself, she said that she would die in prison.

Sitting beside her, I understood that before me lay not an ordinary sick woman but someone great in the eyes of God.. It was such a comfort and a joy to be with her that I hated to leave, and I promised myself to visit her again as soon as I could. But this never came to pass. Soon Matronushka was dragged off to prison, to Moscow, and there she died.


Holy New Martyr Matrona, pray to God for us!