The only record of "vital statistics" which has been left us concerning Blessed Xenia is the epitaph on her gravestone: IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT. HERE RESTS THE BODY OF THE SERVANT OF GOD, XENIA GRIGORIEVNA, WIFE OF THE IMPERIAL CHORISTER, COLONEL ANDREI THEODOROVICH PETROV. WIDOWED AT THE AGE OF 26, A PILGRIM FOR 45 YEARS, SHE LIVED A TOTAL OF 71 YEARS. SHE WAS KNOWN BY THE NAME ANDREI THEODOROVICH. MAY WHOEVER KNEW ME PRAY FOR MY SOUL THAT HIS OWN MAY BE SAVED. AMEN.
Who wrote it, no one knows, but this is all we know about the early life of Blessed Xenia: only that she lived during the reigns of the Empresses Elizabeth Petrovna and Catherine II and that she was married to the imperial chorister, Col. Andrei Theodorovich Petrov. From this latter fact we may assume that she was of the lesser nobility.
Presumably, in her early years, she led an ordinary, though comfortable life, performing no services that merited recording or recognition. It would seem that she was happily married and completely devoted to her husband who was, perhaps, a bit worldly. He was still young and in good health when he died suddenly one night at a drinking party.
The unexpected death of her beloved husband completely shattered Xenia Grigorievna and her personal world. She was twenty-six years old, childless and her husband to whom she was passionately devoted had suddenly died without the benefit of the Holy Mysteries. The distraught widow looked around herself, at all her possessions, at her inane little world and suddenly began to realize the vanity and transitory nature of all earthly joys and treasures. She came to realize that there is true value only in heavenly treasures and real joy in Christ.
To the utter amazement of her friends and relatives, Xenia Grigorievna began to give away literally all that she possessed. Her money and personal belongings she gave to the poor and she even gave away her house to her dear friend Paraskeva Antonova.
Finally, her relatives decided that she had taken complete leave of her senses and they petitioned the trustees of her late husband’s estate to prevent Xenia from disposing of her wealth, on the grounds that she was mentally unbalanced due to her husband’s death. The trustees called Xenia in and, after a long and careful examination, ruled that she was perfectly sound of mind and had every right to dispose of her property as she pleased.
People preoccupied with worldly matters would naturally assume that anyone who gave away his wealth must be insane. They were incapable of seeing that Xenia had undergone a complete rebirth; she was changed from a worldly woman into a spiritual being.
Having realized that there can be no true happiness on earth and that worldly possessions are only a hindrance to the attaining of true joy in God, and having, therefore, relieved herself of all such hindrances, Xenia suddenly vanished from St. Petersburg for eight years. It is said that during these years she lived at some hermitage with a sisterhood of holy ascetics, learning about prayer and the spiritual life from an elder. It was during this time that she was called to the highest feat of spiritual perfection, that of being a fool for Christ’s sake.
To this end, she returned to St. Petersburg, clothed herself in one of her late husband’s old uniforms and linens and thereafter refused to respond the name of Xenia Grigorievna, answering instead only to the name of her late husband, Andrei Feodorovich. It was as if she, in her deep devotion to her husband, had hoped in some way to take upon herself the burden of his unrepented sins and of his unfortunate demise without the Holy Mysteries. Sorrowing for her own sins and for his, she left her home and began her long pilgrimage of wandering through the streets of the poorer district of St. Petersburg known as the Petersburg Borough (Peterburgskaya Storona). She was most often to be found in the vicinity of the parish of Saint Matthias where the poorest people lived in shabby huts.
At first, the people of the Borough thought that this strangely dressed, scarcely shod woman was merely a simple minded beggar, and evil people, especially the street urchins, would often persecute and laugh at her. With complete meekness, however, she kept before her the image of the guiltless Great Sufferer, Christ Jesus, who, without a murmur, heard all accusations, bore all persecutions, suffered terrible torture and crucifixion. Because of His example, the Blessed One strove to bear her hardships meekly and in silence, forgiving offenses in accordance with the last earthly prayer of Jesus, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
As our Lord Jesus Christ had said, "A candle is not bought to be hidden under a basket... but to be placed on a candle stand."
So it was with God pleasing Xenia. Gradually, people began to realize that Xenia was no mere beggar but someone much more. They began to invite her into their homes and offer her warm clothing for the severe Petersburg winters as well as alms. She would never accept the clothing and took only the small copper pennies, which were called the king on horseback because there was a horseman (actually, St.George) struck on them.
She would distribute these copper pennies to the poor, at times, apparently, with some prophecy. On one such occasion Xenia met a devout woman on the street. Handing her a five kopeck coin, she said, "Take this five piece, here is the king on horseback; it will be extinguished." The woman accepted the copper five piece and went on her way pondering the meaning of the Blessed One’s words. No sooner had she entered the street where she lived than she saw that her house was on fire. Running toward her home, she arrived just as the flames were being quenched. Then she realized that the Blessed One had been foretelling this with her strange words.
Exactly when Xenia began to manifest the gift of clairvoyance is not known to us, but it was quite certain that God did grant her this gift and that, with it, she was able to witness for Him and aid truly pious people near her. The gift of fore-vision which God grants to certain of His servants has many effects. It often serves to convince weak believers and strengthen them on the path of salvation; it can even lead sceptics to ponder God and smetimes, as a result, lead to salvation. With it sinners are chastised and set on the correct path once again and, for the truly pious, seeing this gift manifested in God's servants gives joy and comfort to their souls and is often to make smooth certain events in their lives. It is not an idle gift.
Two examples of this latter manifestation come to us from very pious, God-fearing people.
On one occasion Paraskeva Antonova was sitting in the home which the Blessed One had given her, when Xenia arrived for a visit. Entering the house, she looked irritably at Antonova and said, "Here you are sitting and sewing buttons and you don’t know that God has given you a son! Go at once to the Smolensk Cemetery!" Antonova, knowing Xenia to be truly saintly and knowing that no idle word came from her lips, did not even question this strange command but believed at once that something extraordinary was about to happen and she immediately hurried to the Smolensk Cemetery.
On one of the streets of Vasiliev Island near the cemetery, Antonova saw a large crowd of people. Being curious, she approached the crowd to see what was taking place. It seems that a coachman had knocked down a pregnant woman who then give birth to a child right there on the street and died immediately afterwards.
Filled with compassion for the child, Antonova took it to her own home. All the efforts of the St. Petersburg police to discover the identity of the mother or locate the father or relatives of the tiny orphan proved in vain and so the child remained with Paraskeva Antonova. She provided him with a good upbringing and a sound education, loving him as her own son. Eventually the boy became an eminent functionary and lovingly cared for his foster mother in her old age. He also revered, with sincere piety, the memory of the Servant of God, Xenia who had shown much kindness to his foster mother and who had taken such a hand in his own fate.
Among the friends of Blessed Xenia there was a widow, Mrs. Golubev, and her seventeen-year- old daughter who was noted for her beauty. Xenia like this girl very much because of her meek, quiet character and her kind heart. Once Xenia came to visit them and the girl began to make coffee. "My beauty, -- said Xenia, turning to the girl, -- here you are making coffee and your husband is burying his wife in Okhta. Run there quickly!"
The girl was shocked. "My what?! I don’t have a husband... and burying his wife!". "Go!" -- Xenia answered sternly, not liking any kind of objection. The Golubevs, knowing well that the Blessed One never said anything without a reason, immediately obeyed her command and set out for Okhta. Here they saw that a funeral procession was headed for the cemetery and they joined in with the crowd of mourners. A young woman, the wife of a doctor, had died in childbirth and was being buried.
The Liturgy was celebrated, then the funeral service, after which the Golubevs followed as the coffin was carried to the grave. The funeral had ended and the people began to leave; however, they chanced upon the sobbing young widower who, at the sight of the grave mound over the remains of his beloved wife, lost consciousness and fell to the ground near the Golubevs. Both mother and daughter strove to bring him back to consciousness and to comfort him. They became acquainted and, eventually, the young Golubeva became the wife of the doctor.
God’s gift of clairvoyance does not always deliver good news. Sometimes it is used to hint at the approaching illness or death of someone in order that they might prepare themselves for their fate. Such was the case when the God pleasing ascetic arrived to other guests in the Krapivin home at the time and they all stood and greeted the Blessed One warmly. Xenia conversed with them for a while and then rose to leave, thanking the hostess for her hospitality. As she was departing, however, she turned to Krapivina saying: "Here is green krapiva (nettle) but soon it will be wilted."
Whether or not Mrs. Krapivina understood these words is not known for certain, but other guests did not attach any special significance to them. Much to everyone’s amazement, though, Mrs. Krapivina, who was still young and in good health, suddenly became ill and died. Only then did the guests understand that the words, "Here is green krapiva (nettle) but soon it will be wilted," foretold the death of Mrs. Krapivin.
Seeing in Xenia this gift of clairvoyance and her meek and humble way of life, people began to realize that she was a true fool for Christ’s sake. Many residents of the Borough were sincerely happy to receive her in their homes and it was noticed that some sort of blessed peace and happiness always settled over any home that received her with sincerity. Mothers found that if the Blessed One fondled or rocked an ill child in its cradle, the child would always become well. So parents would hurry to Blessed Xenia with their children whenever she approached, convinced that if she blessed them, or even patted them on the head, they would remain healthy.
It is said that when shopkeepers and merchants saw the Blessed 0ne approaching, they would rush out of their shops to meet her, offering her a gift of some piece of merchandise. If she accepted the gift, or even just blessed it with her touch, that merchant would have excellent business the whole day. Cabmen would always try to drive Xenia somewhere, if only for a few yards, or they would beg her just to sit down in their carriage for a moment. Whichever cab she entered would do an excellent business that day.
People gradually began to accept her strange behavior as some sort of sign from God and often, her behavior would be strange indeed. Two days before the Feast of the Nativity of Christ, in 1761, for example, Blessed Xenia ran anxiously along the cold and snow filled streets of the Petersburg Borough, loudly crying out: "Bake bliny (pancakes), bake bliny, soon all of Russia will be baking bliny!" As usual, no one could figure out the meaning of these strange words of the Blessed One, but on the day of the Feast, the Empress Elisabeth Petrovna reposed suddenly. When the terrible news spread through the city, it became clear to all that the Servant of God had been foretelling the death of the Empress.
[Bliny are used at Russian funerals and memorials]
There were two other such occurrences which should be related here:
A year later on November 24 and 25, 1741, a coup d'etat took place, Ivan was set aside and Elisabeth Petrovna, daughter of Peter I, was proclaimed Empress. Ivan Antonovich was imprisoned in the Schlusselburg Fortress and his parents were sent into exile at Kholmogory where they eventually died. The unfortunate Ivan languished in prison for nearly 23 years. In 1764, during the reign of Catherine II, a certain Mirovich, an officer of the guard at Schlusselburg, plotted to free Ivan and restore him to the throne. Mirovich's attempt did not succeed, however, because the other officer remained loyal to the Empress. During this episode, Ivan Antonovich was killed.
Three weeks before this sad event , Blessed Xenia began to weep bitterly both day and night. Everyone whosaw her weeping thought that she had been seriously offended. When they asked her to explain to them what happened she would only reply: "There is blood, there is blood! There is a river of blood there!", and she would begin to weep all the more.
No one could understand what was agitating the usually peaceful and good-natured Xenia and moreover, no one could understand her frightening words. Three weeks later, however, when word of Ivan Antonovich's tragic death spread through St. Petersburg, everyone began to understand the words of the Blessed 0ne.
At the beginning of November, 1796, Xenia began to go around to all her aquaintences. She would tap at a window until someone looked out, and say, "Save up flour, soon we will bake bliny." Many fell into anxiety from her warning, thinking that some one near would die. In two days, the Empress Catherine reposed.
Occasionally, Xenia would drop in to visit some friend or acquaintance, converse for a while, and then suddenly fall silent, as if listening to something. All at once, she would leap up and leave quickly. If the hostess asked why she was leaving and where she was going, the Blessed One would only wave her stick in the air and say, "I must hurry, I am needed there."
She possessed absolutely nothing except the rags on her back and often, upon arriving at the home of a friend, she would cheerfully announce, "Here is all of me."
The blessed one always liked everyone to be frank and honest with her at all times. In any event, it did no good to try to hide ones problems or motives from her anyway. This fact was demonstrated to one of her friends, Evdokiya Denisievna Gaidukova, who reposed in 1827 and was buried near the grave of the Blessed 0ne. 0nce Xenia came to call on Evdokiya just before dinner. Pleased by Xenia's visit, the hostess immediately hurried to set the table and offered the Blessed 0ne some various leftovers. When the dinner ended, Evdokiya thanked Xenia for her visit and apologized for the poor dinner.
"Don't call me to account for the food, my dear Andrei Feodorovich," she said. "I simply have nothing else to give you. I didn't prepare anything today."
"Thank you, dear little mother, thank you for the food," Xenia preplied, "only why not tell the truth? You were afraid to give me some duck!"
Evdokiya was taken back. In fact there was a roast duck in her oven, which she had prepared for her absent husband. The embarrassed hostess went immediately to the oven and began to remove the duck.
"No no! What are you doing, I don't want any duck. I know very we you are happy to offer me whatever you have, but you are afraid fo your mare's head. Why anger him?"
Xenia used to call Evdkiya's husband a "mare's head". She did not like him because of his drunkenness, coarse character, and his fithy abusive language.
For a long time no one knew where the Blessed One spent her nights. The residents of the Borough were not the only ones to wonder about this, for the local police were also curious about the matter. Upon investigating they discovered that the elderly little woman spent her nights in an open field, praying and making prostrations in all four directions, and she did this no matter what the season or weather. It was a miracle of God that the Blessed One survived the severe St. Petersburg winters in this way. It happened at times that her nights would be spent in some other task. On one occasion in 1794, toward the end of Xenia’s long life, a new church was being built in the Smolensk Cemetery. Workers began to notice that, during the night, someone would haul mounds of brick to the top of the building where they were needed. The workers were amazed by this and resolved to find out who this tireless worker could be. By posting a watchman they were able to discover that it was the Servant of God, Xenia.
"It was necessary, -- says one writer, -- for her to possess either some super human power or to carry within herself such a strong spiritual fire, such a deep, undoubting faith with which the impossible becomes possible. When one considers God’s great saints, however, who performed such wondrous miracles by their faith, wonders incomprehensible to the human mind, we cannot consider the Blessed One’s ascetic feats as unprecedented or impossible for a person in the flesh. Xenia truly bore that faith with which all things are possible. While still living in her body, her soul always soared above this world, dwelling in a living, direct communion with God."
The Blessed One was always ready to help anyone in anyway possible. During the day she would wander about the streets, her face reflecting her internal spirit of meekness, humility and kindness by its warm, friendly glow. At night, in all seasons, she would go into a field and enter into conversation with God Himself. Finally the time came when Xenia was no longer to be found in the streets of the Petersburg Borough nor in the field; her radiant face shone no more amidst the rude shacks of the St. Matthias parish. God called His servant to rest from all her struggles and took her to Himself. Xenia was one of those candles which God lights on earth from time to time in order to light up the path of salvation for the faithful, as the Savior Himself had said, "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father Which is in Heaven" and "If, therefore, your entire body is full of light, no part of it being in darkness, then the whole of it shall be full of radiance as when the bright shining of a candle gives off its light."
Always compasionate and seeking to help everyone during her earthly pilgrimage, Xenia did not forsake sinful mankind when she left this world; for truly, the Church is one, both in heaven and on earth, and Blessed Xenia, having drawn ever closer to our Savior, continues to pray for the faithful of the Church Militant.
"How could we not wonder at thee or how could we fail to praise holy Xenia, thine angelic life, the purity of thy thoughts, thy humility and quiet meekness and thine inexhaustible charity?"
"Thou hast been adorned with all virtues, 0 Blessed 0ne; wherefore, the effable joy of the heavenlykingom awaits thee."
[From the "General Service for the Fools-for-Christ's-sake"]
Adapted from the Life published by Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville NY
Troparion to St. Xenia, in the Fourth Tone
Having renounced the vanity of the earthly world,/
Thou didst take up the cross of a homeless life of wandering;/
Thou didst not fear grief, privation, nor the mockery of men,/
And didst know the love of Christ./
Now taking sweet delight of this love in heaven,/
O Xenia, the blessed and divinely wise,//
Pray for the salvation of our souls.
The following accounts of help and intercessions granted by the prayers of Blessed Xenia represent only a minute portion of the actual number of such cases. Many of the testimonies of her intercessions were handed down by word of mouth and never recorded; many of the records which did exist vanished during the revolution.
The first section of these testimonies is taken from a compilation which was a carried out in the early years of this century [ie: early 1900's] and which compilation has been partially recrded in the Russian language book "The Servant of God, Blessed Xenia" published by the Holy Trinity Monastery, Jordanville N.Y. 0ther testimonies are from sources which are noted where they occur in the text. The compilation of such testimonies, however, is far from over. It is preceeding at this very time.
[Bessed Xenia was canonized by the Russian 0rthodox Church 0utside of Russia in 1978. Prior to canonizing a saint it is common to collect reliable accounts of their miracles. This collection is as of 1973. After canonization a saint is referred to as "Saint" instead of "Blessed" -jh]
Before presenting the testimonies themselves it is necessary to say a few words about the beautiful custom of 0rthodox Christians to serve memorial services [pannikhidas] for ascetics who are honored by the people as being "blessed" but who have not yet been revealed to the Church by God as having been glorified into Sainthood. The following explanation is given in the above cited book:
The 0rthodox Church of Christ, like a child-loving mother, teaches us that all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ [and belong to His Holy Church], both the living and the dead, compose a single community, a single family. And, as in a family, the near-ones and relatives help each other in everything, so we, as brethren in Christ, must also help each other: the living help the reposed and the reposed aid the living. The living must help all the deceased fathers and brothers with their prayers and the bringing of a bloodless sacrifice for them [i.e., having them commemorated at the liturgy], while those who have reposed, on their part, with their prayers before God, help all those still living on earth.
[After a "Blessed 0ne" is canonized, we no longer serve memorials for them, instead we have molebens served. -jh]
A Young Girl Is Saved From Misfortune
The widow of Lieutenant-General Kirov* was descended from a very high ranking family and was very wealthy both in her own right and from her husband's estate. She venerated the memory of Xenia highly and when it was decided to erect a chapel over the grave of the Blessed 0ne, the widow took an active part in the project and provided a sizeable sum of money for the construction. Mrs. Kirov had a daughter of marriable age and, not long after the erection of the chapel, the mother and daughter became acquainted with a young colonel. He began to visit them often, became close to the girl and finally proposed marriage to her. The proposal was accepted, the mother agreed and the wedding date was set.
Everyone who knew the widow and her daughter also knew of their devtion to Blessed Xenia and they were glad for the future happiness of the young couple. Both of the engaged ones were young, attractive and wealthy. Everything promised them future happiness. "It must be because of the prayers of Blessed Xenia that God has sent her such a wonderful husband," friends would speculate. "They love and honor her very much."
This was indeed the truth. Neither Mrs. Kirov nor her daughter would ever undertake any serious matter or important event without going to the grave of Blessed Xenia and having a priest serve a memorial service, asking for her help. In fact, Xenia did come to their aid, but in a rather different way than the Kirov's friends had guessed.
0n the day before the wedding, the widow and her daughter went to the Smolensk cemetery to have a pannikhida served for Blessed Xenia. During the service, they fervently asked the Blessed 0ne to pray for the future happiness of the engaged coupe. The Blessed 0ne responded immediately with her help.
While the Kirovs were still praying at Xenia's grave, the young girl's fiance' arrived at the Central Treasury in order to present documents for a rather large sum of money. Entering the large hall of the Treasury amongst the throng of clerks and merchants the Colonel pulled the documents out of his pocket and began preparing them, not noticing that a Treasury guard posted nearby was staring at him in fixed amazement. Having looked the Colonel over attentively he walked up to the Colonel and asked:
"How did you get here?"
The Coone looked up and seeing the guard, turned pale as a corpse and dropped the documents from his hand.
0ther persons nearby were stunned by this outburst on the part of the guard addressing an officer in such a manner and immediately surrounded both the sentry and the Colonel.
"Your Grace," the sentry spoke above the noise of the people to the paymaster. "This is not a colonel but a run-away convict! I delivered him to Siberia to the galleys several years ago. I still recognize him." The crowd had gathered and more guards were approaching.
The "Colonel" realizing that there was no exit for himself, finally acknowledged the truth of the accusation. He was led away to the authorities where he related in more detail his recent history:
"After I escaped from the galleys, I wandered in the Siberian taiga for a long time, exhausted, cold and hungry. Finally, I succeeded in crossing the Ural Mountains. 0nce, while, waking there along the road which ran through a thick, dark forest, scarcely able to move my feet from fatigue, I saw an officer in a carriage overtaking me. By his epaulettes I could tell that he was a colonel. Not wishing to meet anyone, I hurried off to the side of the road and continued on my way paying no attention to the officer and thinking that he did not notice me. I was mistaken, however, for the colonel did see me. Seeing my pitiful and exhausted condition, he called me to himself, asked who I was and, having found me to be an intelligent person he had compassion on me and invited me into his carriage.
"What more is there to say? We rode through a dense forest, so dense that no one could hear any cries for help. I took advantage of the situation and killed both the colonel and his driver. Then I undressed the colonel, put on his clothing, took his documents and money, disposed of the bodies and rode away quickly.
0n reaching St.Petersburg I easily succeeded in making myself out to be a colonel. I became acquainted with the daughter of a general and we would have been married tomorrow."
The "Colonel" was not long afterwards brought to trial and, in view of the magnitude of his crimes, he was sentenced to capita punishment.
*Kirov is a pseudonym. At the time this collection was first published, many of the people involved or their direct descendants were still living and, in order to avoid embarrassing any of them, only their initials were used in the book. Since the revolution it has not been possible to refer back to the original documents for the correct names.
Help Granted In Gaining Entrance Into The Cadet Corps
The wife of a colonel brought her two sons to St. Petersburg in order to enroll them in the Corps of Cadets, but all her efforts failed to produce results. Regardless of the fact that her children passed their examinations well, there were no vacancies for them in a single corps.
The mother eventually fell into deep despondency which turned into despair. Finally, it seemed that all hope was lost and the distraught mother decided to return home with her sons.
0n the day of departure, while walking along a bridge, she began to weep. At that moment some woman, a stranger to her dressed in a plain skirt and a woman's jacket, approached her and asked, "What are you weeping about? Go have a pannikhida served at the grave of Xenia and all will be well."
"And who is this Xenia?" asked the mother as she tried to regain composure.
"With a tongue in one's head, one can find the way to Rome," answered the unknown woman, and she disappeared down the street.
The colonel's wife immediately asked about Xenia and where the grave was located , went to the Smolensk Cemetery and had a pannikhida served for her memory.
Upon returning home, she received an invitation to appear at one of the corps of cadets. There she found that both of her sons had been accepted.
At first glance, it may appear that a purely worldly matter was resolved here. Being refused admittance to the cadet corps would have been a matter of dishonor for children of a colonel and for the colonel as well and so the whole affair may appear to be one only of personal pride.
We must not make our conclusions too hastily, however. We do not know all the facts.. Who knows what the real results were, but one fact is clear -- the mother was forced to turn to God for help and the fact that the prayers of the Blessed 0ne brought results could only have served to strengthen the faith of all those involved. Who knows but what a soul may have been saved as a result by having its weak faith strengthened or its lost faith rekindled. We do know that God works in many and diverse ways through His servants to save souls. This can be seen in the following case of Mr. V.A.
We should not judge what we do not understand, but as 0rthodox Christians, we accept all things on faith.
Help Given In Finding A Position
Doctor Bulakh came to St. Petersburg to enter service, but everywhere he applied, he received a refusal. For three weeks he set all his energies to the task, but in vain. He began to grow despondent. Friends advised him to pray at the grave of Blessed Xenia and have a pannikhida served for her. He followed the advice and, on the following day, he received an appointment in the city of Rzhev.
Whether or not God had some special reason for Doctor Bulakh to be in Rzhev instead of St, Petersburg, we cannot say; but the fact remains that the prayers of the Blessed 0ne availed.
Help Given In The Finding 0f A Position
Mr. Ispolatov encountered a similar situation when he arrived in St. Petersburg. 0n the day that he had a pannikhida served at the grave of Blessed Xenia, on the advice of relatives, he was offered four positions.
A multitude of other such cases have been related [to the compilers of these testimonies]by persons who have had pannikhidas served at the grave of the Blessed 0ne and later received employment.
A Man Is Saved From Self Destruction And Given A New Start In Life
Mr. V.A. was a draftsman by trade, but being a very light-minded person, he was a failure in life. He had received positions many times, but he could not hold a job anyplace for very long. He would work for a week or two and then resign or be fired, either he did not like the superiors or the work was too hard or the fellow-workers did not suit him.
After several years of this, his reputation became very low and it was embarrassing for him to encounter people. By this time he could only obtain temporary work and he barely eked out a living. Moreover, he had brought much grief to his pious, aged mother.
In the beginning of 1907, V.A. received a low paying assignment which he worked at in his own quarters. It happened that, during this time, his mother was at Smolensk Cemetery and brought home a picture of Blessed Xenia. When she arrived home, she hung the picture on the wall, made a wreath of various coloured wool and entwined the picture with it.
The son and a female friend who were present at the time began to laugh at the old woman. She talked to them for a long time exhorting them to have faith in Christ, but she could accomplish nothing.
0n the next day both V.A. and the woman who was laughing with him were dismissed from their jobs. For nearly five years, V.A. barely managed to live a hand to mouth existence with chanced work. The woman who was with him still had not received a permanent position at the time these testimonies were compiled [some five or six years later]. She had fallen into extreme poverty.
The aged mother, meanwhile, continued as before to pray to the Lord and to ask Blessed Xenia to pray also that her perishing son might be saved. And the Lord heard her prayers. It began to occur to V.A. that the , Lord might be punishing him for his mockery at his mother's faith and for his sacreligous offence against God and His holy saint. The more he thought about it, the more he became convinced of the justice of this punishment.
Finally a ray of light penetrated his soul. Awakening early one morning, he asked his mother to go with him to Xenia's grave, saying that he wanted to ask her forgiveness and her help. The astonished mother happily fulfilled this request and the Lord, with joy accepted the prodigal but repentant son.
Arriving home from the cemetery, V.A. immediately sent a letter to the employment officer of S.Z. Railway asking for any kind of employment. Into this letter, he placed a little piece of paper from the picture of Xenia. Help from the Blessed 0ne came quickly. Although V.A. had previously been refused work by this same railway, within a few days he received a letter from the supervisor saying that his application was accepted and he was even alloted the necessary sum to acquire the required clothing.
When he related this story to us, Mr. V.A. [name withheld -- he was still living at the time this material was first published] asked that it be printed in the very next edition of this collection, stating that he was willing to testify under oath to its veracity.
Help Given In The Finding 0f A Position
How great the faith of the common people and how deeply they venerate His holy ones is demonstrated by the case of Mr. Egorov, a sawmill worker. He worked for many years in the Lebdev sawmill where he was highly valued as an experienced, sobor and punctual worker. An 0ranienbaum timber merchant, however offered Egorov almost twice the salary to come and work for him. Half a year later, through circumstances independent of Egorov, he lost his position in 0ranienbaum and he set out for his homeland, Having returned to St. Petersburg, the deeply believing man, having firm faith in the help of God's servant Xenia, did not even go to sawmill applying for positions. Instead he merely sent out letters offering his services and then went to the Smolensk Cemetery to pray at the grave of the Blessed 0ne and to ask for her help in the matter of finding a job.
Egrov's faith did not deceive him, for soon he received three letters offering him positions with excellent salaries.
The Saving 0f A Child from Deafness
Three or four years ago I happened to be a guest in the home of an aristocratic family of St. Petersburg which left for somewhere abroad about a year and a half ago because of the disorders in Russia. The aged hostess [now reposed and buried in the Alexander Lavra] introduced me to her eleven year old granddaughter who was studying in the Institute.
Patting the little girl on the head, my hostess said, "Just look what a beautiful and healthy little granddaughter I have. And she is remarkable at playing the piano too! Would you believe once we were dangerously close to losing her and were near despair? Yet here she is and do you know who is responsible? You will never guess. Perhaps you think it was doctors who helped her illness? If so, you are wrong."
The elderly grandmother continued, "0lechka* was born healthy and she was given the best of care. When she had reached her third birthday, however --God alone know why, perhaps from a cold-- 0lechka came down with such a serious illness that we could not even think she would remain alive, or that, at best, she would remain deaf for life. We consulted very many doctors and all were agreed in this diagnosis."
*[0lechka is an affectionate diminutive of the name 0lga.]
I was interested to hear the history of this illness in more detail and so the hostess continued at my request. "Very well, but first, who would you say helped her to return to health and not lose her hearing?"
"Perhaps some home remedies," I guessed. "It often happens that even after doctors have failed in their medical attempts and nothing helps -- suddenly the remedies of the simplest people restores the ill one to their feet."
The old woman smiled and replied, "That is almost correct. Indeed it was a remedy well known and used often by the simple people. She was healed by just such a remedy -- that I advise you never to forget and to make use of as often as possible." At this point the grandmother sent the little girl to help her mother in the next room to entertain the other guests.
She began: My son married twelve years ago. He has only two children, both girls: 0lechka and Sasha. 0lechka is eleven years old and Sasha is seven. At the time when 0lechka became ill, Sasha was not yet born. 0lga was the only child, the joy of all of us. How we doted and fussed over her ... She was our only little one and we were completely enraptured with her. Then, suddenly one day she began to complain that her head hurt. We took her temperature and found it to be a little over 37°C. We immediately gave her tea with raspberry jam and several drops of aconite, put her to bed and thought that by morning she would be well. But 0lechka slept very poorly that night and her head pains continued the following day.
"We called a doctor and after a thorough examination he decided that 0lga was suffering from a mild case of influenza -- nothing dangerous. He prescribed medicine and left. We used this medicine for a day or two but there was no improvement in 0lga's condition. Her temperature rose one degree and she began to complain that her right ear hurt her. Again we called the doctor. He found that the influenza had become complicated and expressed the fear that an abscess was forming in the right ear. Again he prescribed medicine and promised to come on the following day. 0lga could not sleep at all that night; her temperature rose to 40° and the pain in her ear became unbearable.
"We called the doctor out that night, but he said that nothing could be done before morning, that the matter had taken a serious turn for the worse and that it would be better to call an ear specialist. Well you can imagine what a state we were all in, especially the mother and father!
"Immediately we sent word to several ear specialists requesting them to come for certain at 8 o'clock in the morning. Thank heaven they did not refuse our request and four of them appeared at the appointed time. 0ur doctor told them the history of 0lechka's illness and they all began to examine her while she either groaned pitifully or wept so loudly from the pain that it tore our hearts apart.
"Finally the examination of 0lechka's ear came to an end and we waited in terror for the diagnosis. What we heard drew us to even greater depths of desperation. The doctors found that 0lechka had an abscess behind the eardrum, that it was necessary to give this abscess time to ripen -- three or four days, during which the child must continue to suffer. After this, it would be necessary to drill through the eardrum to drain the abscess. If the operation were not performed, then the abscess would cause a blood infection and the child would undoubtedly die.
Can you imagine what we thought and how we felt at that time, especially my son and his wife? This torture continued for three whole days. None of us undressed or slept. We walked or sat near the room of little 0lechka and it seemed that we suffered as much as she did. We all tried to ignore the groans but none of us could force ourselves away from her door. How many prayers we said or how many tears we shed only God knows. But someone's prayers must have been heard by the Lord.
"The doctors visited 0lechka several times a day and tried to calm us; for two days they said the illness was going normally and on the morning of the third day they informed us that tomorrow it would be possible to perform the operation. Meanwhile, the little girl's suffering and ours, reached a new peak that day. What it was like for us then I can not even imagine now. The child moaned terribly; the father and mother were almost insane. I became completely useless. We all sat next to her door, unable to move. Tomorrow, we thought, they will operate; 0lechka will either die or remain deaf for life.
"We were already on the verge of total despair. But the Lord heard us and showed us His great mercy. Finally, the three of us, sitting in silence before 0olechka's room, gave up all hope and confidence in worldly help. With tears we turned to the Giver of all things and at last, cast all our hope upon Him. At that moment the child's nanny, Agathia, came up to my son and asked him for permission to go to the Smolensk Cemetery and pray at the grave of Blessed Xenia, you no doubt have heard of her?"
I nodded not wishing to cause my hostess to stop.
My hostess went on, "My son told her to do whatever she wished but for God's sake to help his little girl. Agathia left and we remained sitting in the corridor for some time and then suddenly 0lenchka's groans seemed to become quieter and quieter and finally she was completely silent.
"'0 my God! She had died!' -- the horrible thought flashed through all our minds at once and all three of us rushed into 0lechka's room. We looked: near the bed stood Agathia and the nurse; 0lechka was lying on her side, sleeping quietly and peacefully.
"'Glory tol God,' Agathia, whispering quietly to us. 'I went to the Smolensk Cemetery, to Blessed Xenia, prayed there and brought some sand from her grave and oil from the lamp in the chapel. Now it will be easier for 0lga.'
"We stood there as if we were out of our minds. We heard the nanny's words but we understood nothing, we only knew that a striking change had taken place with 0lenchka and that the danger was past.
"With an hysterical cry, the child's father threw himself on the breast of his wife and, I don't know whether it was from the long contained grief or from the unexpected joy of 0lechka's improvement, but he broke into such sobbing that we barely managed to calm him and drag him away from the cot to his own bed.
"I cannot remember just how my daughter-in-law and I left the room or how or where we fell asleep, not having slept for three days. In the morning, I found myself lying on the divan in my room when I heard the nurse calling to me, 'My lady, my lady, get up please -- the doctors have arrived but your son and the young lady cannot be wakened no matter how we try.'
"'What, what?!' I stammered, and lept up. 'How is 0lenchka?'
"'Glory to God,' the nurse repolied, 'she is resting and she rested all night peacefully.'
"I went immediately, uncombed and unwashed, to waken my son and daughter-in-law, told them that the doctors had arrived and that 0lga was sleeping peacefully.
"As if frightened by the fact that they had dared to leave the ill child for a whole night, they leapt up from bed, put on their dressing gowns and ran to 0lechka.
"I went into the living room to the doctors, apologized to them, excused myself for my appearance and told them that 0lga, glory to God, had been sleeping peacefully since the evening of the previous day. The doctors said they would wait, but to let the poor little soul strengthen herself with sleep, because the operation was not a light matter, especially for so small and weakened a child.
"The parents came in and confirmed that the child was sleeping. Her rest and the obvious relaxation of the pain had been a comfort to us all, but the presence of the doctors and the thought of the operation again reminded us of the danger of the situation, and once again our hearts became heavy. But what could we do? It was necessary to treat the child, the operation must be performed.
"We sat for one hour, then another. At first the doctors sat and quietly conversed with one another, but little by little they began to express their impatience and finally they asked that the child be wakened up. First the mother went in and, together with the nurse and Agathia began to try awakening the child, but the poor, exhausted little girl could not be wakened. The father went in and then the doctors and I. Each of us tried to waken her; she would turn a little but would not wake up.
"Finally, the mother took 0lechka in her arms and picked her up from the bed. As she lifted the child up we could see that the pillow, the sheet, 0lga's right cheek and neck, were all covered with pus. The abscess had broken through and the little girl continued to sleep peacefully in her mother's arms.
"The doctors were amazed by this happy turn of events. They instructed us how the ear must be washed and cared for. Having put 0lechka on clean linen, we went to the nanny to ask what she had done and how it was that the child became well.
"'I did nothing, my lady; I only went to Smolensk Cemetery to Matushka* Xenia, had a memorial service served there, took some oil from a lamp and some sand from the grave and hurried home. When I arrived here, I went straight to 0lechka, but I hid the little phial of oil in my pocket, and waited for the nurse to leave the room because I was afraid she would become angry with me if she saw that I wanted to put some holy oil into the infected ear.
*[Matushka is an endearing term meaning little mother.]
"'Suddenly the nurse asked me to sit by the bed while she went out for a minute. I was overjoyed at that. No sooner had the door closed behind her than I immediately went up to 0lenchka, moved the bandage aside from her ear, just a tiny bit, and poured some of the oil straight from the phial into her ear.
"'I don't know how deeply it penetrated because the swelling was so great. "Well," I thought, "let it be as is pleasing to God and to Matushka Xenia". I replaced the bandage on the little one's ear; she groaned a little, turned over on her right side and closed her eyes in sleep.
"'The nurse returned to the room, noticed how quiet 0lga had become and must have thought that she had died at last; but no, she was only sleeping. We went over to the child and saw that she was sleeping so sweetly and then all of you came into the room. I didn't do anything else.'
"'And who instructed you to go to Xenia? Where did you find out about her?' I asked.
"'I really don't know.' Agathia answered. 'I have known about her for a long time and I have been to her grave many times. I often saw people taking some sand and oil for healing but I have never done so myself because, thank God, I have always been healthy. Sitting there by the little lady's bed, however, I remembered about Matushka Xenia. Several times I wanted to ask you to let me go to her grave, but I was always afraid, thinking that you would laugh at me and scold me. Then, when the little lady seemed to be nearly dying, I thought, "let them laugh, let them scold me. I will ask anyway; they might just let me go and if not, I will try to find a way to go secretly.
"'But, glory to God, you let me go at once. I took the carriage and kept calling to the driver to hurry, thinking all the while: "0 Lord, won't You help 0lechka. Why is she suffering anyway?" The tears were flowing from my eyes so that I could hardly see when we arrived at the cemetery gates. I ran to the chapel, to Xenia. When I came in people were standing and praying; candles and lamps were burning around the grave and a priest in vestments stood on one side. I ran straight to him and asked him to serve a pannikhida for the Servant-of-God, Xenia, and pray for the child 0lga, who is ill and suffering terribly. He agreed to serve the memorial service but told me to pray as well.
"'I quickly bought two candles, placed one on the candle stand and held the other in my hand. I began crying during the service and knelt with my head to the ground. I am too simple and uneducated to pray well, but I kept on repeating, "0 Lord, save 0lga; Xenia help us". When the service had ended, I took with the blessing from the priest, some sand from Xenia's grave and some oil from the lamp and hurried home.
"'The oil I have already told you about. The soil I wound up in a piece of cloth and put under the little one's pillow. It is still lying there.'
"'From whom did you find out about Xenia? Who told you about her?' I asked again.
"'I really don't know, my lady,' Agathia replied. 'If anyone becomes ill or has troubles, they simply go to Xenia's grave, pray there, have a priest serve a memorial service for Xenia's soul and they receive help. If anyone is without a position, a kitchen maid, house maid, nurse or such, they go to Xenia, pray there and, sure enough, they find a position.'
"We were amazed by the simple, uncomplicated faith that Agathia possessed, but the evidence was conclusive. 0lechka had become well. Faith, truly, according to the Lord's word, can move mountains. 0n the day after 0lechka's healing, both my son and daughter-in-law went to Xenia's grave and had a pannikhida served in gratitude. Since then we have gone there often to have memorial services offered in thanks for her help in our terrible grief.
"And so," my hostess continued, "that is the folk remedy which mustn't be forgotten and which I always recommend to everyone. But you know, my dear, that times change, or so they say, but everything remains the same. The fact is that I have told many times about 0lechka's illness and of her miraculous healing, but it is an amazing thing that many people do not want to see anything miraculous in this cure. Everyone wants to seek some rational sort of explanation even where none is to be found. Yes, times have changed. May God grant more such cases. When trouble comes to them and all human help fails, we shall see how far they will get with 'rational' means. For my part, I haven't the slightest doubt that it is because of the prayers of the Servant-of-God, Xenia, that our 0lechka is healthy today and I shall always run to her in time of trouble, loving and respecting her deeply as a true saint of God."
The Saving 0f Another Child From Deafness
Another similar case occurred in the 0renburg Eparchy in November of 1911. A young girl named Valentina, the daughter of a priest, Father P. Speransky, developed a severe abscess in the right ear behind the ear drum. As in the case of little 0lga, the doctor, seeing the dangerous condition of the ill child, called for a consultation with a specialist. It was decided that an operation was absolutely necessary if Valentina was to live.
The parents, however, had heard of the case of 0lga and since they had a small bottle of oil from the lamp over the grave of the Blessed 0ne, they turned to her for her prayers. Not saying a word to the doctor, they poured oil from the small bottle into the infected ear and immediately [on November 10, 1911] sent a telegramme to the Smolensk Cemetery priest, requesting that a panikhida be served for the Servant-of-God, Xenia, asking for her prayers on behalf of the seriously ill child, Valentina.
Soon after this, the abscess receded, the pain ceased and the temperature fell to normal.
0n the following day, November 11, the doctor came in the morning, examined the ear and found that the danger had passed completely and that it was no longer necessary to perform the operation.
#9 The Saving From Death And Healing 0f A Crippling Illness 0f An Army 0fficer
During the course of several years, beginning at the time of the siege of the heights of Shipke during the defence of Mt. St. Nicholas from the Turks, Lt. Col. Vladimir Ivanovich Nikolsky began to develop serious leg troubles. 0n several occasions he caught severe colds and, having very little time and not liking to receive medical treatment, he allowed his illness to go untreated. These frequent severe colds damaged his health in general and further aggravated his leg condition. Finally he allowed his illness to develop so far that doctors ordered him to go to the Saki, but each time, upon return to duty, he would fall ill again, and develop a severe cold. Finally, his legs became so bad that he could move them only with difficulty.
The physicians and professors to whom he turned for help, having examined him, shrugged their shoulders and each said almost the same thing: "It is possible to attempt treatment, but I am not God!"
Seeing the apparent hopelessness of the situation, Nikolsky fell into complete despair. His distress was greatly increased by the awareness that he still had not provided for his family and it would have to live in virtual poverty after his death since the pension which he had earned would scarcely meet its daily needs.
While in such a state of despair he recalled one day that many people receive help and healing by the prayers of the Servant of God, Xenia. Nikolsky decided to go at once the the Smolensk Cemetery to visit the grave of the Blessed 0ne. To walk there was out of the question, yet he did not wish to take a coach, for he believed his prayer would be more worthy if he bore the pain that walking entailed him. He resolved to walk, therefore, from his home in Yamskaya Street to the Smolensk tramway, then ride to the end of line seventeen on Vasiliev Island and to walk from there to Xenia's chapel.
He set out very early in the morning, trudging along at a snail's pace to the tramway. The painful walk took the greater part of the morning and the rough tram ride lasted for forty or fifty minutes. The walk from the tram stop to Xenia's grave required another two hours of painful trudging. By the time he arrived at the chapel, it was already evening and the priest was completing the last panikhida of the day and preparing to go home.
Vladimir Ivanovich asked the priest to serve one more panikhida for the Blessed 0ne and then, with the help of the priest, he got to his knees and began to pray. When the service for the dead had ended, he kissed the cross over the grave. Since the chapel was already locked up, he departed together with the priest, asking about Xenia as they walked along.
Having said farewell to the priest, Vladimir Ivanovich suddenly became aware that he had just walked from the chapel to the tram stop, freely and without effort, although less than an hour before he had struggled for two hours in order to walk the same distance. He was amazed and decided to test his legs once more by walking to the Maly Prospect tramway station even though his tram coach was then approaching. He set out and walked the distance so quickly that the coach, which had to make many stops, did not catch up with him and he actually had to wait several minutes for it at the Maly Prospect.
Nikolsky could not begin to describe the sense of joy which overcame him then. He had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, severe varicose veins and a stagnation of toxic blood. He had been crippled and dying. Now , however, he is healthy and has continued to serve in the 93rd Infantry Regiment since 1873.
Healing 0f A Tooth Infection
Tatiana Prokopievna Ivanovna, a peasant woman who lived at #33 Galernaya Street in St. Petersburg, suffered for about two years with a toothache. She visited several hospitals in St. Petersburg, seeking relief, but nothing could be done for her. Whatever the illness was, perhaps a disease of the jawbone, it became worse and finally reached an almost unbearable degree. For three months Tatiana could hardly eat or sleep. She became weaker and weaker.
Finally, on January 17, the exhausted woman gave up all hope in earthly help and turned to God's Servant. She went to the Smolensk Cemetery herself, in spite of the terrible pain, and asked to have a panikhida served for Blessed Xenia. Taking some oil from from the votive lamp that hung over the grave, she smeared it on her cheek and jaw and the pain disappeared. Much time has now passed and the toothache has never returned. Ivanovna considers it a sacred obligation to visit the Smolensk Cemetery each year on January 17 and have a memorial service served for her soul.
The Saving 0f The Life 0f The Tsarevich Alexander
His Imperial Highness, the Tsarevich Alexander Alexandrovich [later Emperor Alexander III] was seriously ill and his life was in danger. His wife [Maria Feodorovna] looked after him constantly and seldom left his side.
0n one occasion , in a corridor, she was stopped by the palace furnace-tender who asked if he might offer some advice concerning the ill heir to the Throne. Having received permission to do so, he related how he himself had once been seriously ill, but had become well again after he was brought some soil from the grave of the Servant-of-God, Xenia. Then he gave the Tsarevna a portion of this sand, requesting that she place it under the pillow of the ill Tarevich, who was much respected and held in esteem by the people because of his kindness and ready accessibility.
The Tsarevna complied with these instructions of the devoted palace servant.
That night, while sitting at the bedside of her ill husband, she slept and during her sleep had a vision.
Before her stood an old woman, oddly dressed and of strange appearance. The woman said to her, "Your husband will become well and the child you are carrying will be a girl. Name her in my name -- Xenia. She will preserve your family from tragedy while she remains with you."
When Tsarevna the Maria awoke, the woman was no longer there. All that Xenia said to her in the dream, however, came to pass.
The Tsarevich became weolol and their next child was a girl, whom they caololed Xenia.
In gratitude for her help, the Tsarevna, even after she had become empress, visited the grave of the Blessed 0ne yearly and had a panikhida served for her. Neither the multitude nor the complexities of her affairs and duties could stop Maria Feodorovna from fulfilling this sincere obligation.
It is remarkable to note that only a few months after the Grand Duchess Xenia married and oleft the famioly, the Tsar, who was well and seemed to possess the strength of ten men, suddenly reposed.
A Mother Saved From Death
Mr. Kl__, a man of Polish descent and of Latin faith, worked for many years as an area clerk in the offices of the Gdovik district of the St.Petersburg Regional Government [Gubernia]. He was married to an 0rthodox Christian woman and they were very happy for the first few years of their married life. As then size of the family increased, however, the Kl__'s began to fall into poverty. No matter how hard the she tried to help her husband by earning money -- she even learned to sew and opened a dress shop in her home -- there was never enough.
Mr. Kl__. who had been a very peaceful person and in love with life during the first years of his marriage, now began to be irritable and to express greater and greater dissatisfaction with his position and with the conditions of his life. He began to be away from home often, sneaking off after work and nobody knew where he spent his nights. He refused to reply when his wife enquired concerning this and he began to treat the children coldly, becoming a stranger in his own home.
This worsening relationship with her husband added to her already strenuous toils and worries about the children began to strain the wife's health and her chest began to weaken. Then a new sorrow befell the family: the husband was fired from service. This last event finally broke the poor woman and she took to her bed. Doctors were consulted and they diagnosed tuberculosis. It was very painful for the unhappy mother to face the probability of leaving her large brood of children in the hands of her jobless husband.
With tears she begged God to grant guidance to her husband and save him and also to allow her to live long enough to raise her children. At the same time she induced her husband to write a letter for her to a close friend in St. Petersburg, Maria P., requesting that the friend go to the Smolensk Cemetery, to the grave of Blessed Xenia and have a panikhida offered for the Blessed 0ne, praying for the health of the ill wife and for her husband.
Upon receiving the letter, Maria hurried to Xenia, had the memorial service offered for her, prayed, took some sand from the grave and oil from the votive lamp and sent these to her ill friend.
The dying mother placed the soil under her pillow and the oil she smeared on her chest several times. From that time on. Mrs. Kl__'s illness began to subside. Within a month's time she was completely well and her husband had received a new position in Kovno with an even better salary. The family has lived there in peace and well-being to this day.
A Deserting Husband Found And A Woman Saved From Extreme Poverty
Several Cases 0f Help Given To The Same Person
The Saving 0f A Family 0n Three Separate 0ccassions
The Saving 0f A Son From Accidental Death
A Peasant Is Saved From Imprisonment Which Would Have Ruined His Family
Healing 0f A Long Illness:
In Kuban district, a man by the name of Stephan was ill for two years. His relatives put much effort forward for his recovery, but nothing helped. Having heard that Blesssed Xenia helps many who come to her with faith, one of the relatives of the ill-one, the honored citizen Ivan 0sipovich Andrienko, wrote a letter to the rector of the Smolensk Cemetery with a request that he serve a memorial service for the repose of Blessed Xenia and remember the name of the ill Stefan in his prayers.
The request of Mr. Andrienko, of course, was fufilled, and a notice to this effect was sent to him. Soon after this, Mr. Andrienko informed the rector: "I am very grateful to you for her prayers to the Lord. 0ur ill Stefan, by your prayers and those of the Blessed 0ne, has recovered. He was ill for two years, but is heathy at the present time."