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  The Cry of the New Martyrs -  More About Optina


(From letters from Russia)

      I shall give you some news from life at Optina Hermitage. On October 16, 1988, the honorable and fragrant relics of Elder Ambrose were found, and on October 23 there took place his glorification which spilled forth in a truly All-Russian celebration. 

       A bright sunny day lit up the paradisical comer of Russia--Optina Hermitage--on the day of Elder Ambrose' repose. It seemed that nature itself exulted, looking upon the glorification celebration. The service began at 6 o'clock in the morning, after which there was a procession into the skete. The late Liturgy was celebrated at 10 o'clock according to the hierarchical rite, in the presence of thousands of believers and an even greater number of on-lookers. It is doubtful if all those present were fully aware of what was actually taking place. The believers were so overjoyed; they couldn't believe that it was the first glorification of relics in all these evil [post-Revolutionary] times. The non-believers were stunned that in the midst of ruins, devastation, neglect, suddenly there arose a monastery, just like a lifeless grain or seed becomes in spring an exquisite flower or a beautiful tree,

      The entire service was a stream of tears of joy and compunction at the miracle--the birth of Optina Monastery beneath the protection of the relics of St. Ambrose. The Liturgy continued with a procession with the relics and a moleben in the courtyard between the Kazan Church and the Church of the Entrance into the Tempe. In looking at the praying people, one could say that the Saint himself was standing invisibly at the heart of each individual, illumining it with love and heavenly joy. It was a sea of joy and a sea of tears of compunction. Now the Saint is with us, with all Russia, not only in spirit but also through his glorified body. Each person praying no matter who he was--sinner or someone working on his salvation, everyone smelled the fragrance which came into the Saint's relics; and this means that his prayer's pleasing to God, it reaches God on behalf of each and every person who finds himself in Optina. 

      At the finding of the holy relics of St. Ambrose of Optina (October 16), two other graves were by chance uncovered, and then were discovered the incorrupt bodies of Elder Macarius (Ivanov) and Elder Anatoly.

      On October 10 (23, new style) the glorification of St. Ambrose of Optina took place, and on November 18 an icon of the Kazan Mother of God began to stream with myrrh. The father superior, Archimandrite Evlogy, in venerating the icon before the vigil service, noticed that it was partially covered with a film of oil, and he wiped it with his hand. When he then went to the cliros and began to pray, he detected a sweet fragrance At first he thought that perhaps one of the brothers had used perfume and he made a sharp remark to this effect. But all denied it, and then Fr. Evlogy discovered that the fragrance was from the hand he had used to wipe the icon. In this way it became clear that the icon was exuding myrrh. The all-night vigil was served with an akathist, during which the myrrh continued to flow. Within a few days it ceased. 

(Translated from "Pravoslavnaya Rus” 2/28/89)

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