The video we present here on the repose day of Russia’s famous and beloved elder of the Pskov-Caves Monastery was produced by Studio Neophyte in 2015 and shown on Russian national television. It is a biographical sketch of Archimandrite John Krestiankin during his service as an elder, containing rare footage of Fr. John himself.
The English translation, we will state up front, is rather bad—probably a machine translation. Please bear that in mind, and substitute the phrase “old man” with “elder” (starets). Especially when the adjective “starchesky” is used meaning “as an elder, like an elder”—in one place it is translated as “senile”. Please ignore that—Fr. John was far from senile. Also, some of the main figures have since moved on or up—the abbot of the Pskov Caves Monastery of the time, Archimandrite Tikhon (Sekretariov), reposed in the Lord two years ago. Then Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) is now the new abbot, as well as the Metropolitan of Pskov and Porkhov, the monastery's ruling hierarch.
The whole phenomenon of the elder, Fr. John Krestiankin, is hard to convey in words. It’s even hard to convey in film. Anyone who ever had the blessing to meet Fr. John when he was still with us can tell you that the grace pouring through this man was indescribable, and something that one remembers, even lives by, for the rest of his life. But let this film be, albeit through a glass darkly, a glimpse of this inimitable gift in a human being to the suffering Russian people.