On July 28, 2021, Nun Andronika (in the world Matrona Ivanovna Piskureva) reposed in the Lord. Having grown up at the Glinsk Hermitage, she was pastored by the Glinsk elders, who are now glorified among the saints.
Her father, Ivan Kirillovich, a spiritual child of St. Seraphim (Amelin), was repressed in the 1930s because his family hosted monks and pilgrims and was exiled together with the future Holy Hierarch Zinovy (Mazhuga), who was also from Glukhov. It was with the Piskurev family that Schema-Archimandrite Vitaly (Sidorenko) lived, hiding from persecution by the authorities. We here publish selected stories of Mother Andronika.
His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II often told Archbishop Alexei (Frolov): “We saw elders”—and they didn’t have to explain to one another what that meant. Mother Andronika is of this type. Receive her soul, O Lord.
“Mama, you’re pulling my leg. Tell me when?”
Mother Andronika The services were long at the Glinsk Hermitage. And we were little: We’d go confess, and then go out and sit on a bench. The services started at four in the morning and continued until three in the afternoon. We would fall over sometimes. The brethren were awoken in their cells for the services, and we pilgrims slept on the floor wherever we could. You’d throw your coat down and sleep. And if it was summer, we slept in coffins. They were everywhere outside, wooden, lying right next to one another. The confessors were always at the services, seen or unseen. But could children really endure this?
“Mama, will the service end soon?”
“Mama, will the service end soon?”
“Mama, you’re pulling my leg. Tell me when?”
Schema-Archimandrite Seraphim (Amelin) (center), Schema-Igumen Andronik (Lukash) (right), Schema-Iguem Seraphim (Romantsov) (left) And we would simply fall over—we wanted to sleep. In the corridor, in a nook behind the stove, there was a bench. Sometimes the fathers allowed my father to sit there. But the cripples would stand there in church. And we would confess and then go and sit on the bench by the church. Then Fr. Seraphim (Amelin), the abbot of Glinsk, would leave Confession, grab us by the scruff of our necks like kittens, and take us back into church. Batiushka was so strict!
“Go stand there!” he’d say in front of everyone, embarrassing us.
And then I remember, as soon as you’d crawl out somewhere on the porch, mama would grab you and take you back to Fr. Seraphim:
“Confess my daughter.”
And he’d say for the whole church to hear:
“Where were you?! Where were you?!”
“Batiushka, I was standing here, by the Cross…,” I’d say, hands shaking.
He was so strict, that he would even go get nuns on the second floor and take them down the steps by the scruff of their necks. That’s how Fr. Seraphim was—a venerable monk.
“Just don’t get married”
St. Andronik (Lukash) But Fr. Andronik (Lukash) was like a mother—he had pity. Fr. Andronik was just love, although he was also strict. He was the spiritual father of Fr. Vitaly (Sidorenko), who would give away all his things to pilgrims or to monks. He’d take everything right out of his cell when Fr. Andronik was absent—maybe he was prophesying this way, I don’t know . But as soon as Fr. Andronik returned, he would take him by the neck and pull him down the stairs.
But he pitied us children. And the brethren too. I remember the monks eating pears in Glinsk before the Transfiguration—pears grew there in the monastery. Fr. Seraphim forbade it, but Fr. Andronik allowed it, because they were hungry. Fr. Seraphim would say: “Cut up a pear.” And they’d cut them up. He was very strict. It was only the nuns that he would push around.
He always told our mother: “Teach them! And don’t let them get married.” And our father kept taking us to the monastery. Fr. Vitaly foretold monasticism for me and my sister forty years before we adopted it. And they tonsured us as Andronika and Vitalia.
Then one time when we were still young, we went to visit Fr. Seraphim (Romantsov) and said:
“We’re Ivan Kirillovich’s kids.”
Batiushka was already blind then.
“The older or younger ones?”
“How old are you?”
“Don’t get married.”
“But I want to.”
“Don’t get married. You’ll read the Our Father three times and you’ll be saved. Just don’t get married.”
“Liza, where’s the bag? Is the mug there? Is the sweatshirt there?”
And she said:
“They’re there, Batiushka.”
Everything was prophetic with them.
“Batiushka, take me with you!”
I remember I was leaving, and Fr. Andronik said to me:
“Give my farewell greetings to Glukhov.”
I didn’t understand:
“I’ll come again,” I said. I was thinking we’d see each other again, but he answered my thoughts:
I started assuring him again:
“I’ll definitely come again!”
And he said:
“We’ll see,” and he said it three times.
I left. Some time passed. It was 1974, March was coming… Batiushka Andronik died on the 21st. We got a telegram. I told my mother:
“Mama, Batiushka Andronik died,” and she was silent. She herself was already sick then.
I told my father:
“Pop, Fr. Andronik died. I’m going to Tbilisi,” and he was silent too… But before, when I would say I was going to Tbilisi, he would practically put me on the train himself. And now he was silent, and the days passed.
The 26th was coming, and my mama kept saying:
“Batiushka, take me with you! Batiushka, take me with you!” And in the night of the third day after Fr. Andronik’a repose, she died in my arms.
They were burying Batiushka in Tbilisi on the 27th, and we were burying my mother here on the same day. There were no batiushkas in Glukhov at all then, and then they suddenly came. It made things easier. Although all the churches in the district were closed, like Glinsk Hermitage itself for a long time, the Glinsk abbot came to us. He served a panikhida for mama at our house. He also sang mama’s funeral. We buried her, and on Fr. Andronik’s fortieth day we went to Tbilisi.
The blessing of the Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God
I remember at the panikhida the nuns were standing with huge candles. Vladyka Zinovy (Mazhuga) came out. They also gave out huge candles to all of us. When it was all over, I went up to Vladyka Zinovy and my breath got stuck in my throat:
“I can’t even say anything…,” was all I managed to choke out, as if in a spasm.
“Motya, my child, I know everything that you want to say. Your mother deserved it. She received our guests. Now go, rest,” he blessed.
We left the church after the panikhida, and Mother Maria was coming towards us. She would help Fr. Vitaly (Sidorenko) there.
“Sister Maria,” I said, “here, give twenty rubles to Fr. Vitaly. Tell him that our mother died.”
“He’s been commemorating her for a long time already. He wants to see you all.”
“Where is he?” Fr. Vitaly never went to see Fr. Andronik.
She said to us:
“No, right now.”
So she led us to Fr. Vitaly, and he met us with the Feodorovskaya Icon of the Mother of God. First he blessed me, then little Yura (we had our nephew with us), then Sister Valya (now Nun Vitalia). For some reason, it shook me when Fr. Vitaly blessed me with the icon.
“Motya’s burning! Motya’s burning!”
Then we all went together and served a panikhida at Fr. Andronik’s grave. I remember that in our youth we were dressed very well— Valya had gotten clothes while abroad. And I was wearing a nylon head covering. I was weeping, and Lida, my friend, was walking around Fr. Andronik’s grave saying:
“Batiushka, look, Valya and Motya are crying. Who will be their spiritual father?” Batiushka didn’t respond. She said again:
“Batiushka, look, Valya and Motya are crying. Who will be their spiritual father?”
“Batiushka! Motya’s burning! Motya’s burning!”
The kerchief on my head had caught fire from a candle. They quickly put it out, but it burned quite a large hole. Then Vladyka Zinovy met us in a white cassock.
“Well, what did Fr. Andronik tell you?” he asked, smiling.
And he took me, led me to the icon of the Smolensk Mother of God, and there, on the kiot, was a nylon scarf. He took it and covered me with it:
“Now go and rest.”
Prophecy explains prophecy
When Fr. Andronik was dying, I asked:
“Who do you want us to go to?”
“I’d entrust you to someone, but you wouldn’t like him. I hand you over to the Mother of God, and she herself will lead you to someone. A young priest will be better than an old priest.”
Then we had for both a father and a mother someone who was youngest of all, who was born on the feast of the Feodorovskaya Mother of God.
I was thinking then: “Yes, probably Fr. Pavlin (Mischenko; later Schema-Archimandrite Gury, who spent his last years at Novospassky Monastery in Moscowand was buried there).”
Time passed, and Fr. Gury tonsured others, but not Valya and me. Those girls (who are already schemanuns now) asked:
“Batiushka, why aren’t you tonsuring them?”
“I don’t have the right to tonsure them.”
“Because their elder entrusted them to the Mother of God.”
“What are you waiting for?! Hurry up and do it!”
In 1978, when my father was paralyzed, Fr. Vitaly came from Tbilisi with the blessing of Vladyka Zinovy to tonsure our father, but he kept refusing for a whole week. Then he called me and said:
“Batiushka is offering to tonsure me, but I didn’t accept it. What should I do?”
“What are you waiting for?!” I said. “Hurry up and do it!”
I was excitedly weeping the whole time during the tonsure. And afterwards, I went up to him:
“What is your name?”
And he too could barely speak from excitement:
Before that, my father had had a frightful dream: He was lying there and screaming! His legs had already become so thin, and he had already been lying there paralyzed all winter. But Fr. Vitaly said:
“He’ll get better after the tonsure, and he’ll even walk.”
And indeed, we’d already built the hut by then, and papa had already moved there himself. He lived another seven years. As soon as he walked into the hut, he yelled to me:
“St. Seraphim of Sarov was in the hut!”
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
He always had St. Seraphim’s icon with him. And he said to me:
“I had a dream.”
“What kind of dream?”
“I saw three beehives.”
I don’t know why he told me that then. But we were used to such answers. Everything had some kind of inner meaning.
“Batiushka was in the hut!”
Before my father’s death, Fr. Vitaly sent him a package with a ripe walnut, and funeral garb to bury him in.
And then at night this happened to me: I was lying on the couch; it was threewas in the morning whensuddenly a batiushka came to me—it wasn’t a dream but waking reality—and he hit me on the left side, near my heart. I jumped up and ran to the other room. Sister Maria was sleeping there. I said to her:
“Batiushka was in the hut!”
And she said to me, just as I had said to papa:
“Are you crazy?”
But it was precisely that night that papa was paralyzed for the second time. He lay there for another seven days and then reposed. He was conscious till the end, only he didn’t speak. He was just silent.