You Can’t Escape from the Providence of God

Remembrances of Nun Andronika (Piskureva), Part 2

Part 1.

To talk about these sisters who were spiritually nurtured from childhood in the heyday of eldership at the Glinsk Hermitage, we can take the words of the one who eventually became for them “both a father and a mother”: “The elders passed me from one to the other.” We’re all shaped by our youth, and only those who manage to maintain purity of soul throughout their entire lives can so easily talk about their lives. We continue to publish the remembrances of the newly reposed Mother Andronika (Piskureva, †7/28/21).

The Lord will find a way to enlighten one who has been entrusted to God

Matrona Ivanovna (Piskureva), Andronika in monasticism Matrona Ivanovna (Piskureva), Andronika in monasticism When our spiritual father Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (Lukash) died, Schema-Archimandrite Vitaly (Sidorenko) started taking care of us. As long as the Glinsk Elders were alive, who else did we need? I remember one time our father went to see St. Kuksha of Odessa, and he said:

“And why did you come here, Ivan? You have such elders there in the Glinsk Hermitage.”

We still had Hieroschemamonk Gabriel (Tyushin; †1956) at Glinsk then. He was also a very prayerful elder. He was lying there, dying, and our papa was sitting over him weeping.

“What am I going to do? If he dies, how will I go on?”

And the schemamonk said:

“Ivan Kirillovich, you have to have faith. And take a blessing from the girl standing outside the door.”

Papa said:

“Eh, what?” he said, then went to open the door and Galka was standing there. She had brought some milk.

She’s now Mother Pitirima.

A letter from Schema-Archimandrite Vitaly

When Fr. Vitaly departed to the Lord in 1992, my sister and I were in a fluster: Who will be our spiritual father? And I remember Vladyka Nikon (Vasin), then Metropolitan of Lipetsk, now retired, was offered to us. We knew him as Kolya when he would go to Tbilisi; and who else was there…

The future Archbishop Alexei (Frolov) and Schema-Archimandrite Makary (Bolotov) in Burdino The future Archbishop Alexei (Frolov) and Schema-Archimandrite Makary (Bolotov) in Burdino     

Then, apparently in connection with the repose of Fr. Vitaly, I saw Fr. Makary (Bolotov) talking on TV (he’d also gone to Tbilisi), and then Archimandrite Innokenty (Prosvirnin). And since our father died, I was constantly reading the Psalter I had inherited from Fr. Vitaly. I had a piece of paper stuck in the Psalter at the fourteenth kathisma, and an envelope under the piece of paper. I was reading the Psalter every day and hadn’t seen this envelope. And now suddenly, after the death of Fr. Vitaly, I pulled it out, and in the envelope was a piece of paper, and on it was written: “Innokenty.”

I called my sister Valya, who was still in Murmansk then:

“That’s it, Val, I found him!” I said. “Innokenty.”

The password will be…

Archimandrite Innokenty (Prosvirnin) at Novospassky Monastery Archimandrite Innokenty (Prosvirnin) at Novospassky Monastery     

Fr. Innokenty was already in Moscow then, living at Novospassky Monastery. He was also close to Fr. Vitaly. I no longer remember whether he himself called Valya in Murmansk then and she came to see him. But then, when Fr. Innokenty was beaten, practically killed, so he couldn’t go, Valya had an order from him: “Go to Moscow and find Archimandrite Alexei [the future Archbishop Alexei (Frolov)—Ed.], and the password will be: ‘Valya of Murmansk.’”

So we met with someone we’d also known since his diaconate—Fr. Alexei.

I remember one time I later met with Archbishop Alipy (Pogrebnyak) of Krasnolimansk—now the vicar of the Gorlovka Diocese—in Novospassky Monastery in Moscow:

“Oh, you were Vasya, right?”

“Vasya,” the bishop confirmed.

Thus the Lord led us to Novospassky Monastery.

The future Bishop Alexei (Frolov) on the far right, with Metropolitan Zinovy (Mazhuga) The future Bishop Alexei (Frolov) on the far right, with Metropolitan Zinovy (Mazhuga)   

The future Bishop Alexei (Frolov) following behind Vladyka Zinovy (Mazhuga) The future Bishop Alexei (Frolov) following behind Vladyka Zinovy (Mazhuga)     

Go to Diveyevo—they’ll explain everything to you there

And at Novospassky, Fr. Alexei blessed us:

“Go to Diveyevo.”

So we left. My legs and back were already hurting. We knew Mother Mitrophania (Bykova) there—a spiritual daughter of Fr. Vitaly, and later Fr. Innokenty. We walked all along the holy canal there praying for the Mother of God to enlighten us. We looked for Fr. Nikon at Confession, as Sister Maria instructed us.

We went to Confession, and there was a batiushka in white standing there. I was weeping and said:

“The Elder died, and we’re alone.”

And he said:

“You know, there’s Archimandrite Alexei at Novospassky in Moscow. Go see him.”


He said the exact same thing to Valya! And we’d just come from there, from him…

“What measurements?!”

Then, when we returned, we sat with Fr. Alexei for a long time. He wouldn’t let us go, and I remember it just kept raining.

“We’re dead tired,” I said.

And he laughed:

“And I don’t want to let you go.”

So he didn’t want to and didn’t want to, and we sat and sat. Then he called for Fr. Jacob (Tupikov) and said to him:

“Take them,” and we didn’t even understand at first—take us where?

And he took us to the sewing shop to take our measurements, it turns out.

“What measurements?!” I asked. I didn’t understand. Valya poked me in the side:

“Be quiet.”

They took our measurements. “Well, let him do what he wants,” I thought.

The elders had been telling us about monasticism our entire lives. I remember when Fr. Vitaly or Vladyka Zinovy (Mazhuga), would see us, they’d say:

“Motya, choose any monastery. I’ll arrange things for you at any monastery.”

“Let’s think about this again!”

Then we arrived at Novospassky, and Vladyka suddenly told us in the evening after trapeza that we’d be tonsured that day.

“What?!” I first thought—he must be joking. “Let’s think about this again!”

“Go to church and pray,” he said.

Metropolitan Zinovy (Mazhuga) Metropolitan Zinovy (Mazhuga) We went to church. There didn’t seem to be anything ready for it. Vladyka himself sewed the ties on my paraman.

“What are you afraid of Valentina?” I remember him asking while sewing, turning to my sister.

She just shrugged her shoulders, everything falling out of her hands from the unexpected announcement. Vladyka tried to calm her down:

“A bishop’s going to do the tonsure.”

She was confused.

“Which one?!”

“Me,” he said, smiling.

He was consecrated on Transfiguration in 1995, and we were tonsured on December 11 of that same year.

A bow for the new nuns

“And what names do you want?” was the only thing he clarified with us just before the tonsure.

“Vitalia and Andronika,” we answered. (Although I thought he’d give me the name Seraphima).

Nuns Andronika (second from left) and Vitalia (far right) with parishioners of Novospassky Monastery Nuns Andronika (second from left) and Vitalia (far right) with parishioners of Novospassky Monastery     

I was fifty-six, and there were exactly fifty-six steps to climb up to the church. I was in such pain then that I wouldn’t even have been able to crawl,[1] but I didn’t say anything to Vladyka; I only asked:

“Should I crawl?”

He looked at me and said:

“No, walk.”

Although, he did humble us down. He told us about the Church of St. Sergius of Radonezh, where he tonsured us:

“This is your cradle, with St. Sergius.”

I remember he tied these ribbons on my apostolnik with a bow right away, and I went around like a first-grader with this bow. They say in Diveyevo there’s an expression: “First-grade” nun.

Communion is given for service

We communed at church for three days then. We had to stand for the entire three days after our tonsure, without sitting down.

The first day, Vladyka called to Tanya:

“They didn’t sleep? Didn’t lie down? Didn’t sit down?” he asked, showing he’d give us no quarter.

“No,” she said, in awe.

Vladyka, by the way, never blessed anyone to sit down right away after Communion. Communion is given for service. And sitting down means you’ve already done everything.

Just try to stand without sitting for more than a day... But then, they did give us the chance to sit down. They took us to eat. It was such a relief from my infirmities.

Vladyka, of course, was quick with our tonsure. We were unworthy.

(Olga Orlova: I couldn’t resist: “Were you tonsured right into the mantia?” I asked. “Well, what else?” Mother Andronika said, and started talking about their mantias).

“You want me to be your father and mother?”

I remember, Nadia bought us material for the mantias, and Lida from the sewing shop went to Vladyka:

“Vladyka, bless me to sew mantias for the mothers. The material was donated.”

“And in which monastery will they wear these mantias?”

Schema-Archimandrite Vitaly (Sidorenko) Schema-Archimandrite Vitaly (Sidorenko) She just stood there, not knowing how to answer. Then he clarified with us:

“And what did you wear, Andronika, when you were Fr. Vitaly?”

“A head covering.”

“Continue like that,” he blessed.

Then after the tonsure Vladyka came up to us:

“I tonsured you, and didn’t entrust you to anyone. Do you want me to be your father and mother?”


“I’d like some beer”

Before that, I never could have thought that this deacon we’d known from a young age would be our spiritual father. We still remember him from Zadonsk, when the Moscow youth would go there on break. They painted the roof. Who could take these guys smeared in paint seriously then?! The roof was covered with metal, and it was very hot in the summer. And they just laughed: “I’d like some beer.”

And Ninka, now Abbess Zinovia, teased:

“Look at this lame chicken [perhaps the future Vladyka Alexei was just getting over a broken leg—Ed.].

And she herself is lame! I thought to myself: “He’s like you.” And she suddenly chuckled, seriously confirming:

“He’s like me.”

Fr. Vitaly healed her in three months. He left, and she slept on his bed. And she should have died young, but Batiushka pled her case.

“Grace touched him, or maybe we’ve worn him out”

I remember—after the service we left, we communed. God granted that there was no one near the bishop’s building or on the stairs. He went up to the second landing, and I followed after him. He stopped, and I thought: “How Vladyka has aged—grace has probably touched him, or maybe we’ve worn him out.” He turned and answered my thoughts:

“Andronika, how I’ve aged, how my legs hurt.”

“And my back,” I said. My legs didn’t hurt yet at that time.

Vladyka turned to me, looked, smiled, and we went and sat at his table. I remember he told me then:

“Your Glukhov[2] will be great. There will be a lavra there.”

With one hand he received, with the other he gave away

We went to see Vladyka Alexei once, and he said to us:

“Well, come on, I’ll give you some tea.”

He opened the refrigerator:

“Oh!” he said, “I have ice cream.”

I didn’t even have time to tell him I had a cold, and he said, without even turning around:

“You don’t need any. It’s for Vitalia and me.”

He cut the brick of ice cream in half, brought it to the table, and started arranging the cups—some with broken handles, with chips along the edges… I watched and watched… Sister Vitalia had given him a very beautiful Japanese tea set just the day before, with a gold border around the edges. I sat in silence.

But when he gave me some cookies, so hard they could break your teeth, I couldn’t stand it anymore:

“And why are you giving us tea in such cups?”

“I don’t have any others,” he said happily.

“My sister gave you a tea set just yesterday.”

“…” He just sat and smiled.

With one hand he received, and with the other he gave away. Vladyka Alexei was just like Fr. Vitaly.

How Vladyka’s boots “fit”

I remember one time they brought some men’s boots for Vladyka from a certain priest. And Vladyka said:

“Here, Vitalia, try them on.”

“What do you mean, Vladyka?!” After all, they were men’s. And then he pointed to me and said: “Give them to her.”

He said:

“Andronika, try them on.”

I had just tried them on when the phone rang. I raised my head and heard someone asking on the phone: “Vladyka, I sent some boots for you. Well, do they fit?” Vladyka said to me:

“Well, Andronika?” he asked, nodding questioningly. “Do they fit?”

“They’re just right,” I whispered, looking around. Such ghastly men’s shoes.

And Vladyka gratefully said into the phone:

“They’re just right!”

He had given me my first boots the same way too. In general, he spoiled me. We were sitting after the service, and he looked at my feet:

“What size are you?”


And he gave me his shoes. I put them on. He ran off to his room in his socks, and put on some other shoes there.

When he’s both your father and your mother, he gives you twice as much

He said:

“Andronika, pick a hand.”


Or one time he looked at me:

“Look, you’re wearing a new sweater! And I have another for you.”

“I’ll take that one too,” and he gave me his sweater.

He had kindness in spades, but also strictness.

As long as I knew him, I never once went up to him without my throat going dry. I could stand at his door for three or four hours. But he told us that when he would go see Patriarch Alexei, his spiritual father, he would also be worried and would even stutter. Sometimes I would talk too much, and he’d say:

“Andronika, who’s sitting before you? Your spiritual father, a bishop.”

“Oh, forgive me, Vladyka,” I’d say, catching myself. “I’ll be quiet.”

He’d give me a strict look—and one glance from him was enough.

Part 3

Recorded by Olga Orlova
Translation by Jesse Dominick


[1] At the beginning of the monastic tonsure ceremony, the candidates crawl from the church doors to the ambo as the choir sings, “Haste Thee to open Thy Fatherly arms to me, for I, like the prodigal, have wasted my life…”

[2] Glukhov was one of the oldest cities of Kievan Rus’. St. Zinovy (Mazhuga) was born there, as were Mothers Andronika and Vitalia.

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