Schema-Archimandrite Simeon (Nesterenko) was the last Glinsk elder. He is buried in Sochi by the Church of the Dormition of the Mother of God. A chapel has been erected over his grave. Fr. Simeon’s spiritual children, local Orthodox people, and those visiting Sochi from all Russian cities and towns for rest and treatment come here all year round. Orthodox Christians arrive here from abroad too. I wrote a book about him, Miracle—A Quiet Matter, and I continue to collect testimonies to the holiness of Fr. Simeon. I recently heard the story of someone’s unusual path to Church life.
Maria Oragvelidze works in the chapel where Fr. Simeon is buried. She keeps everything in order and changes the flowers (people constantly bring them in large numbers).
Until recently, her relatives had different opinions about her ministry. Her mother approved, but her aunt Irina—her mother’s sister—venerated Batiushka but didn’t visit his grave. But she would decisively rebuke those who said, “there was nothing exceptional about Batiushka,” and tell them about the obvious miracles that occurred with those who entreated him at his grave. But her daughter Elena considered the labors of her cousin highly eccentric behavior—vanishing into the chapel from morning until late in the evening and addressing the reposed as the living. Elena had serious problems: Her husband left, leaving her alone with their child; people were trying to take her apartment away, they gave her nothing to do at work (so she had no earnings), but her boss was involved with magic and tried to get her involved. Maria tried to convince her to turn to Fr. Simeon for help, but she always found reasons to refuse.
Then a disaster happened: Irina had a stroke. They took her to the hospital in the ambulance. Elena called Maria. She immediately started praying to God and entreating Batiuskha Simeon for help. She went to the hospital. They had an entire ICU working right there in the emergency room. It was July and the heat was unbearable. Elena went outside and saw through the open window how the doctors were trying to save her mother. Then suddenly she saw someone sitting next to the doctors. He was looking at Elena, making her feel strangely uneasy. She saw that it was a very elderly man with a completely white beard, but with a smooth face without a single wrinkle. The elderly don’t have such faces. And what’s more, he was unnaturally calm, while everyone around him was terribly excited. He was wearing a dazzlingly white shirt. The doctors were in their light-blue shirts and pants uniforms.
Why was he so calm? Elena ran back into the emergency room and asked Maria: “Who’s that man? What kind of doctor doesn’t even try to help his colleagues?” Maria looked where Elena was pointing but didn’t see anyone. But then Elena didn’t see him anymore either.
Chapel of St. Simeon the Stylite, Sochi Irina died a week later. After her burial, Maria began to try to persuade Elena to come to the chapel to pray for the repose of her mother. Elena resisted for a long time:
“Why should I go to him? He didn’t hear your request. Mama still died.”
“He heard it. It means she needed to leave now. The Lord takes us to Himself when we are ready to move into eternity—at the best moment of our lives.”
Elena really didn’t want to go to the chapel, but still agreed out of love for her mother: “If it will ease her fate, I’ll go.” How surprised she was when she recognized the photograph of Fr. Simeon lying on his grave as the man sitting in the hospital.
“That’s him,” she said to Maria. “Only his face was younger.”
“They say that in the Heavenly Kingdom everyone is beautiful and young,” Maria sighed. “I was praying to him then, but he didn’t show me but you that he hears the requests addressed to him. I’ve never seen Batiushka after his repose, but you were honored to.”
This story made such an impression on Elena that from that day she always goes to church and confesses and communes. She goes to the chapel almost every day and together with her cousin Maria turns to Batiushka for help and admonition. And he very quickly responds to her requests. Everything worked out with her apartment and with work… Having doubted in her cousin’s sincerity, she heard the voice of Fr. Simeon: “Leave work and don’t communicate with your boss.” That’s what she did. She started her own business, and now everything is wonderful.