How the New Martyrs of Optina Saved the Village of Petrovskoe


This story happened literally just a few days ago, on May 10, and therefore the state of wonderment before the majesty of God is still fresh, and I would like to tell everything, as it really was, minute-by-minute, so the reader would utter these simple and sacred words with me: Glory to God for all things!

In March, when the snow was deep, I bought a small plot of land. I took pretty long to search and choose; it absolutely had to be located on a hill, and below, in the distance, would be a village and church. I dreamed of building a house someday, putting up a greenhouse, digging a well, and spending my free time there. I found such a plot in the Voskrensk Region; the realtor took me there in his car, saying, “You’ll like it,” and carefully drove to the right place—there’s no road there, or rather, there is, but it’s just dirt, and during the muddy season you can’t get through; but I was calm—I’m not going to live there now, but in the future… and I could see they were building a road there. We shook hands and the deal was made.

Quite a long time passed, and I received the documents from the chamber of registration; I chose a free day and went to look at my plot of land. Whoever knows route M-5, as the people of Ryazan call it, will understand how much it is disposed to gardening and horticulture: They’re selling seedlings, sprouts, and seeds at every step here, and for those who decided to permanently move to the village, there’s the chance to buy chickens, geese, rabbits, turkeys, and pigs. You look at this splendor and you understand a simple truth: The Russian village is alive. Your soul rejoices.

Looking at the surrounding magnificence, I already figured out where I would plant strawberries, where blackcurrants, and how I would fence myself off from the neighbors with phlox. I really love those flowers for their sweet aroma and their unpretentiousness. The nature and weather greatly contributed to my dreams. Dandelions began to bloom in the fields all around, the wind quietly blowing them so they would welcome the drivers…

I arrived at the village and the first thing I did was go to the store. A village store, for whoever doesn’t know, is a kind of information station, where everyone knows everything. I spoke with the saleswoman, the customers, and I heard some unpleasant news: There’s been a junkyard on my plot for a long time now. However, as one of the villagers assured me, it would be easy enough to clean up—the garbage could be easily burned, and when it burns out, I could fence in the garden and plow the land, which they say everyone is doing now. On that note we all left, and I went to the field to gather colt’s foot leaves to dry them out and make great herbal teas in the winter. There are many useful herbs in May, if I could manage to store them up.

So, I finally decided to go and see how big this dump was, and what to do—since I’m already here, I have to figure out something.

A three-meter fire appeared before my eyes, burning everything: Last year’s weeds, cars and tractor tires, melted plastic bottles, tin containers flying up in the air, and nearby, at the neighbors’, there were wooden homes, saunas, and construction trailers. I must admit, I’d never seen anything like that before. The first thing I did was dial 112. They told me there were four other fires in our region at that time, and a truck could only come from Nevyansk in about an hour. When I asked why it couldn’t come right away, they explained that the Nevyansk fire department was busy, but they were finishing up. Basically, I had to wait.

I started screaming like a lunatic, calling the neighbors for help; they ran out, bringing buckets of water, but it was a drop in the sea; we started to put it out together, beating the fire with shovels and carrying the burning firebrands further away, but it soon became clear that it was useless. I called the emergency number again and got the same answer: “Wait! And please, don’t tie up the line; there’s a ton of fires on Route 23...”

That evening, at home, I was looking at the telephone—it turns out I had called forty-six times… The neighbors and I were quickly exhausted, and they ran home screaming and crying, to have time to grab their necessary documents and valuables and get them out of the house. I looked attentively at the flames, and, completely without any feeling and without any particular hope, I said, “Optina New Martyrs! Hieromonk Vasily! Monk Trophim! Monk Therapont! Please, I beg you, help…” but I thought to myself that I should have prayed earlier, as soon as the fire broke out—not now, when it was already clear that nothing could be saved. I looked again through the flames at the church below—no, I wouldn’t live here. How could I look my neighbors in the eyes? And would they keep living here?

Meanwhile, the cherry blossoms right by the road began to burn. That’s it. Goodbye. I had only to drive away in my car; the flames were crawling along the ground right up to the tires. I sat down behind the wheel, drove away, got out of the car and felt that the soles of my sneakers were hot. And the sun, at its very zenith, was blindingly bright. Quietly, head down, I went to the place where my gate could have been, and right behind it, my house and well… I lifted my eyes and saw that a light breeze was picking up, blowing the fire in another direction towards some young and fresh grass, where there was no “food” for the fire; it didn’t spread to the neighbors’ despite the fact that there was only a chain-link fence there. Even the sparks didn’t fly to the neighbor’s garden where there was a sauna right up against the fence, and right behind it—canisters of fuel…

The fire burned precisely only on my site, as if along a ruler, burning up the trash, the hedges, and the old weeds. My neighbors came running and gasped—no, it can’t be! And, unfortunately, many of them started swearing. I stood there frozen. I still freeze when, again and again I imagine the scene, as the flames spread exactly along a line—not a single ember or spark in my neighbor’s yard. Like a soft, cool breeze, at first the feelings of fear and helplessness visited me, and then—trembling before the greatness of God as it became clear that God is near and that He will certainly help. It’s hard to convey in words—it has to be experienced. But no, it’s better not to…

Then I came to the conclusion that when you’re in an extreme situation, it’s very hard to pray, or rather, prayer doesn’t even come to mind: You run, you fuss, and you scream until you realize that you don’t matter.

The fire department came from Nevyansk and reported on the radio, “At this point, the fire has been completely extinguished.” They walked around the smoldering ashes in their firefighter gear, asked a few things, and left. The next day I bought some construction bags and gloves and went to collect the remaining garbage and I found, among other things, several bottles of fuel oil which miraculously had not exploded; and I remembered that the Optina New Martyr Trophim knew a lot about machinery and was always tinkering with metal; his hands, they say, were usually covered in oil. They had found a note on Monk Therapont’s table: “If you need my help, I will help.” And Hieromonk Vasily was my former colleague—he was also a journalist by education. In a word, near and dear people…

Olga Izhenyakova
Translated by Jesse Dominick


See also
Optina Monastery celebrates memorial for 1993 Paschal Martyrs at their graves (+ VIDEO) Optina Monastery celebrates memorial for 1993 Paschal Martyrs at their graves (+ VIDEO) Optina Monastery celebrates memorial for 1993 Paschal Martyrs at their graves (+ VIDEO) Optina Monastery celebrates memorial for 1993 Paschal Martyrs at their graves (+ VIDEO)
On holy Pascha, the feast of the Resurrection of Christ, a memorial service was celebrated in the chapel of the Resurrection of Christ in Optina Monastery, where Hieromonk Vasily (Roslyakov), Monk Trophim (Tatarinov), and Monk Ferapont (Pushkarev), who were martyred in the monastery on Pascha in 1993, are buried.
Miracles of the Optina Martyrs—Fr. Vasily, Fr. Trophim, and Fr. Therapont Miracles of the Optina Martyrs—Fr. Vasily, Fr. Trophim, and Fr. Therapont Miracles of the Optina Martyrs—Fr. Vasily, Fr. Trophim, and Fr. Therapont Miracles of the Optina Martyrs—Fr. Vasily, Fr. Trophim, and Fr. Therapont
On April 5/18, 1993, three monks of the famous Optina Monastery in Russia were slain with a knife that had the numbers “666” on inscribed on the handle. It was the act of a Satanist, whose master hates all mankind but especially monks. But these men, Hieromonk Vasily and monks Trophim and Therapont, are now venerated by the Church as martyrs—and many facts in the lives show that the Lord had prepared His chosen ones for such an end. Now through their prayers, miracles happen. Here are a few examples taken from the Optina Monastery website.
Holy New Martyrs of Optina Holy New Martyrs of Optina Holy New Martyrs of Optina Holy New Martyrs of Optina
And so, the newly re-opened Optina, which in centuries past had given the world many saints, now gave up three Martyrs. Their faith in God and love for all did not die with their murders, however. Averin killed monks Ferapont and Trophim while they were announcing to the world the Resurrection of Christ. Hieromonk Vasily was killed when he was going to the skete to hear confessions, but all faithful Orthodox Christians know that death is not the end, but the beginning.
Anthony5/25/2018 9:33 am
When the author says that in times of emergency the last thing a person does is pray, this is probably true for a lot of people. That's why Ayie Lemesou, Athanasie says we should be praying as much and as hard as we can when times are good so that prayer can keep us in the times of hardship.
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