Today we commemorate the fortieth day of the repose of the ever-memorable Archimandrite Adrian (Kirsanov), the last elder of the Pskov Caves Monastery, who departed to the Lord on April 28. He was known for his simple words, efficacious prayer, exceedingly important revelations, and unforgettable meetings. Those who were fortunate enough to have communicated with the Pskov Caves elder Archimandrite Adrian (Kirsanov) remember this “incredibly happy person.”
“He didn’t suffer—he rejoiced”
The last time I happened to see Fr. Adrian was about a month ago. He was very weak, but he received me. We were able to talk a little and remember the past. I knew him for more than thirty-five years—it’s a great joy for me.
I remember, he was surprisingly light and joyful on the day of our meeting, although, admittedly, that’s how he always was. I don’t remember him gloomy. He could seem outwardly very angry, but in reality, Fr. Adrian was not this way. He was just focused on God, prayerfully gathered within himself.
Fr. Adrian was an incredibly happy man, if you can say that about an ascetic. This concentration of happiness within him, which I saw at this meeting for the umpteenth time, simply amazed me.
Of course, he had the infirmities of age: He was ninety-seven, and what can you say? But it was impossible to say about him, as you could of others, that he suffered. He rejoiced.
He rejoiced in God with a temporary joy and passed over into eternal joy.
“Fr. Adrian left us very important revelations of his last days”
Hieroschemamonk Valentin (Gurevich), spiritual father of Donskoy Monastery:
One of my friends, after he was baptized, immediately went to the Pskov Caves Monastery and as soon as he got there he witnessed the exorcism of demoniacs by the now-deceased Elder Adrian, and he saw how the demoniacs reacted to his prayer. It so struck this newly-illumined Christian, that, returning home, he became a zealous ascetic, constantly reading the Psalter…
Fr. Adrian said something amazing in his conversations shortly before his death. Examining his life, he realized that all of his work with exorcising the demon-possessed was in vain. Well, maybe not completely in vain from the point of view of “reassuring modern Thomases,” as is clear from the case with my newly-illumined friend; however, it was vain from the point of view of helping the demon-possessed themselves.
“There wasn’t a single case,” said the elder, “in which I really helped anyone, because in place of the demon driven out, seven evil spirits would then enter in (cf. Mt. 12:45). And these people came for exorcisms again…”
And he would lament again.
“The Lord allows demonic possession as a cross, so how could I, even in love, remove these crosses?”
When you have to commune demoniacs, tell them this: “It’s your cross, whether the demon acts inwardly or outwardly. Remember that there are people who bore this cross and suffering until the end, and they were saved.”
Fr. Valerian Krechetov blessed me once in Otradnoe to help one such demoniac. The demon, literally according to the Scriptures, “threw her into the fire and into the water.” That is, she would suddenly find herself putting her hands on the lit burner on a gas stove and would receive serious burns. Or she would suddenly fall into a pool. Another time she hit her head very hard on the stone floor in the church. I was at her house several times and was witness to how she would repeat the same prayer hourly, beginning with the words, “Blessed is the day and hour…” One time, another parishioner (and chanter) of the church in Akulovo (now also a priest) and I took her for treatment at one clinic, which we found out about from an announcement in the newspaper. But she herself, humbly accepting the affliction, refused any alleviation of her lot. When we arrived at the address given in the newspaper, she realized before us that it was a place where psychics work, and she flatly refused such “help,” calling these healers sorcerers. Thus suffering, she prayed for her family. She came from a large family and was orphaned during the First World War. She was raised in a children’s home together with her brothers and sisters. No one except her became a believer, and she took upon herself the podvig of praying for them… She went to church all the time. She had a bright end. She suffered, but she was saved. Our people sinned greatly before the Lord: The events of a century ago, and the following decades of instilled atheism—people are still reaping the bitter fruits of this retreat from God.
lust. No one will get away from me.” The evil spirits torment, whether internally or externally—this corruption is that very demonic activity.
Purification happens through great sorrows and difficulties—only then is there hope of entering the Kingdom of Heaven. As another Pskov Caves elder, Archimandrite John (Krestiankin) said: “Sin enters by the truckload, but we force it out of ourselves only one teaspoon at a time.”
Fr. Adrian left us this very important revelation of his last days: how much he himself endured revenge from the demons he had driven out; and yet these people didn’t go to church, didn’t truly repent, didn’t commune, and this demonic reality consumed them again.
And the witness to the True Light (Jn. 1:9) thereby appeared all the clearer in the life of Fr. Adrian himself.
“He was very humble and often unnoticed by those around him”
Mother Cornelia (Rees), editor of OrthoChristian.com:
I was a spiritual child of Fr. Adrian in the early 1990s when I lived in Pechory. I was spiritually nourished by him for a year and a half and spoke with him very closely, and did nothing without his blessing. It was he who blessed me to become a nun. Unfortunately, our earthly contact ceased from that point, but I hope that he always prayed for me.
Fr. Adrian was undoubtedly a true elder. Fr. John (Krestiankin) said this about him, for example. Although many near him didn’t recognize him as such, because he was very humble and often unnoticed by those around him. I have never seen such humble people, perhaps only other elders like him.
In terms of spiritual guidance, he was very strict. He himself lived a very intense spiritual life. I believe he had a very rich inner spiritual world, of which few knew.
He was performed the exorcism rite against demons for many years. And this was not his will—he was given this assignment, we can say. He had begun doing this while still in the Holy Trinity-St. Sergius Lavra, and he lived in Pechory as in exile. He was removed from the Lavra because the his exorcism of demoniacs caused the Soviet authorities trouble.
And because he exorcized the demon-possessed, there were always many such people around him. They even moved to live near the elder, because his exorcisms made them feel better. And as Fr. Adrian was engaged with them, he took their healing and spiritual recovery upon himself, holding them in very strict obedience. They were mainly women, many of whom led a semi-monastic way of life, as if they’d already gone to live in a monastery. They would work somewhere in the city, in the hospital or kindergarten for example, but fasted like nuns and generally led very strict lives. Perhaps some of the monks avoided seeking his counsel for this reason—that there were always many sick and demon-possessed women around him.
Fr. Adrian’s life was very difficult. He was born after the revolution in a very pious family, and it was hard for him to see what was happening all around when they were persecuting priests and laity, destroying churches, and so on.
Then the war began. The elder said that the Lord saved him in that he never killed anyone, and that his conscience, as a priest, was clean in that regard.
When I was in Pechory, I saw that he was physically very sick; his illnesses were aggravated by his work with exorcisms, and it was very difficult. Although he did exorcisms with a blessing, he suffered greatly from diabolic intrigues.
But as for me personally, I can say that he changed my life, as a firm desire to accept monasticism formed under his guidance.
He was very strong in spirit and of a very strict in life. For example, this was his daily routine: He went to sleep very late, at midnight or later, because he was reading his prayer rule or receiving people, but he got up again at three in the morning to read the monastic rule again. He could rest a little after reading the morning prayer rule, but then he would start receiving people again or serve, and I’m assuming he didn’t sleep at all before serving.
What can make an atheist cry?
I had a very serious problem, and with the blessing of the abbot of the Pskov Caves Monastery Archimandrite Tikhon (Sekretarev), they took me to the elder’s cell.
He was physically exhausted, you could say, but he had such strength of spirit, such grace, that he was literally glowing.
I explained my problem to him, and he simply said, “Well, don’t worry. Everything will be fine. Pray. The Lord is sending this temptation.”
“A temptation because of my sins?” I asked inquisitively.
“Who knows?” he again answered simply. “It’s known only to God.”
“And when will these temptations end, Batushka?” I asked, not being calmed. What happened then was truly unbearable.
“The Lord’s timing is unknown to us. But they will end—that’s for sure!”
He blessed me and anointed me with oil.
I spoke with him about various things. It was very surprising: A man who doesn’t read the news, doesn’t watch television, doesn’t listen to the radio, was in the know about everything and, as I understood it, knew everything in advance that we would later behold, because he beheld the essence of time.
He saw how mammon was gaining more and more souls and how the Golden Calf was reigning on the territory of the former Holy Rus’.
What sufferings the generation of elders endured—Fr. Adrian, Batushka John (Krestiankin), Archpriest Nikolai Guryanov! But they had such power against sin!
“Pray, pray! The Lord knows better than we when to send us temptations, when they will end, when to allow new ones…” Fr. Adrian instructed. “Pray, pray! The Lord is not without mercy; He hears your prayers.”
“Batushka, I pray, but it’s not working,” I would sometimes complain.
“We do not know the Lord’s timing,” he reminded us again.
When something strange started happening to my son last year, clearly connected with exposure to witchcraft, I took him to Fr. Adrian.
The elder wasn’t receiving anyone, but he made an exception.
My son was baptized in childhood, but he rarely went to church. He would stop by to light a candle… Like many young people, he doubted the existence of an afterlife:
“Dad, how is it possible? How many billions have gone on before us… And what, they’re living somewhere now? Where is there so much room?”
He had such typical views for people who just pop into church.
I took him to see Fr. Adrian. They talked for fifteen minutes, and this strong, thirty-year-old man, successful in business, came out with tears in his eyes: “Dad… What was that?”
“Son, you were speaking with a man for whom holiness is not an abstract concept.”
Seeing such people, even the most hardened atheists stop believing in the total victory of death over life.
Christ is Risen!
How Fr. Adrian “did nothing”
Hieromonk Kosma (Afanasiev), a monk of Donskoy Monastery:
I went to the Pskov Caves Monastery in hopes of seeing Fr. John (Krestiankin). I went to see him, but it turned out he wasn’t receiving anyone. And I already had to leave… What was I to do?
One of the brothers advised me: “Go to Fr. Adrian.”
I went. “Speak with me…”
“But I’m so tired,” he said, refusing.
I became dispirited, and suddenly he turned around: “Well, alright, let’s go.”
He hugged me and began to tell me his entire life! What problems and temptations he had. He didn’t let me say a word. How they persecuted and abused him.
I was sitting there, thinking, “I’d like to deal with my problems…” but he kept talking and talking.
And only at the end did I realize that he was telling me about everything that I had wanted to ask! He didn’t allow me to even open my mouth, but he answered all of my questions.
The last time I went to visit him he got so cheery:
“Koska’s here! Koska’s here!” There was so much joy in him. Such an abundance of grace!
Batushka was already weak in his last years. He would bless you and anoint you with oil—and you would receive strength as if from out of nowhere.
I remember one time I went to see him and he said, “And who am I? All kinds of people come to see me. They come from Canada, from Europe… Some governor gave me an award. But who am I? I just sit in my cell and do nothing.”
I am very grateful to Fr. Adrian. I pray that the Lord will grant him rest with His saints.
Towards eternal life
My mother was diagnosed with stage four cancer in 2013. It had already metastasized to her spine. She was suffering so much. I went to the Pskov Caves Monastery. I wasn’t able to see Fr. Adrian the first time. I returned to Moscow and gave a package with a note with my phone number for the elder to one of the monks of Sretensky Monastery.
After a while I got a call: “Batushka Adrian wants you to come see him.”
I went, and to my surprise, although there were many people, I was able to see him. I went in, and the thin, elderly man was sitting on a stool.
“Don’t worry. Your mother will live. She will be healed.”
I didn’t understand, and I asked him to repeat it.
“Give her a linden tea,” he said, “and receive Unction and Communion more often.”
I left the elder, called home, and confusedly told them to go to the drugstore for linden.
“Why? Have you gone nuts?” I heard on the line. But my mother had already passed out from the pain.
“Do as you’re told!”
We started pouring the concoction into her mouth one drop at a time, and most importantly, I’ve had Unction and Communion, and she very quickly started to get better.
We even had Unction together with Fr. Adrian. He basically never spoke on the telephone, but here I suddenly heard on the line from him: “No, don’t come. We will live until Pascha—everyone will be clear there.
And my mother already felt quite vigorous…
She communed on Holy Thursday and had Unction before Pascha. She felt poorly less often, and on Bright Friday, on the feast of the Lifegiving Spring Icon of the Mother of God, she departed to the Lord.
Only then did I understand the meaning of Batushka’s words.
Then my father got cancer. He was eighty, like my mother. And he was unbaptized! And he resisted it—“I don’t want to, and that’s it!” I turned to Batushka Adrian. I just got his blessing over the phone, and my sister reported that at that same time my father suddenly said, “I agree.”
Batushka’s prayers are very powerful.
My father was already in the hospital then. “Who,” we were thinking, “could we bring to him, so he wouldn’t drive the priest away?”
We found one hieromonk. He heard us out, but when he found out about Fr. Adrian, he stopped: “And Fr. Adrian blessed to baptize him?!”
I called the elder. His cell attendant gave him our question, and I heard Batushka name the hieromonk and bless: “Let him do the Baptism!”
I hung up the phone, but his cell attendant later told me it was precisely that moment that Fr. Adrian said, “But why tomorrow? They must do it today!”
Then my dad suddenly called: “They’re taking me in for an urgent surgery…”
“What operation?!” I thought. “He’s an eighty-year-old man. He’s going to die there!” I returned to the hieromonk, I dashed to the metro, and ran to the hospital room. It was July 1. It was hot.
“Do you agree to be baptized?”
My father was just baptized and communed when the nurses came in to get him ready for his operation.
The operation was difficult, but thank God, he survived. He continued living for a while. He would commune and receive Unction.
My father was buried on the feast Transfiguration in 2014. He departed to the Lord at peace with everyone and everything. He had a bright, somehow luminescent, or rather, transfigured face. Even children were drawn to his grave and not scared at all.
“I don’t pray for the unbaptized,” I remember Fr. Adrian saying.
But my father was baptized, and the elder’s prayers touched him as well.
I know that Fr. Adrian also pleaded for the husband of one of his spiritual daughters. He used to be somewhat of a good-for-nothing before he had his third stroke. He truly found himself in Hell, tormented by demons from all sides: “He didn’t go to church!” and he would yell, “I went! I went!” And then Fr. Adrian suddenly appeared. The elder led him out of there and communed him. It’s amazing that they remembered what occurred in all detail. And after surviving this he deeply repented and completely changed his life. And he’s still alive—I spoke with him not long ago.
I spoke with Fr. Adrian two years ago and I remember we came to an agreement: He would live for two more Paschas.
And indeed, two more Paschas passed!
I was with him last Sunday. We had such a good talk. He was even laughing. We were joking together.
Fr. Adrian was very peaceful about his sicknesses: “If they bless me to get better, I will, and if not, I won’t.”
They offered to operate on his cataracts a few years ago. He was speaking with his spiritual daughter Nun Macaria when he suddenly asked her, “Do you agree with the operation?”
“Batushka, if you go out into the world, if they drag you there from the monastery for the operation, you’ll be different…”
“Exactly! I’m not going anywhere. I see everything necessary.”
He already had another kind of sight; but why “had”? He has! Not for a fraction of a second do I doubt that Fr. Adrian is now rejoicing!
There is no sorrow. We even know that you can still turn to Fr. Adrian.