How Could Vladyka Have Foreseen This?!

Remembrances of Nuns Andronika and Vitalia (Piskureva), Part 3

Part 2

Mother Andronika (left), Mother Vitalia (right) Mother Andronika (left), Mother Vitalia (right)     

Mother Andronika (Piskureva) reposed in the Lord on July 28, 2021. Her sister, Mother Vitalia, reposed on August 13.

Their family, spiritually nourished in the Glinsk Hermitage by the great and venerable Elders, was known since the times of the persecution for the faith for its labor of hospitality. Schema-Archimandrite Vitaly (Sidorenko) lived with them at one time, hiding out for not having a passport. They also received pilgrims, who were forbidden to stay in the monastery at that time. The head of the family, Ivan Kirillovich, was even arrested for it and went into exile together with Metropolitan Zinovy (Mazhuga), now glorified among the saints.

Mother Vitalia was quiet, laconic, and spoke very seriously. And when Mother Andronika would enter the conversation, it would immediately turn to something cheerful. There was something on the verge of foolishness for Christ in how she spoke. Sometimes people would just roar with laughter.

We continue to publish the memories of Mother Andronika and her sister Mother Vitalia.

Where are you going to bury me?

Mother Vitalia:

Everything in life happens according to the providence of God. Metropolitan Pitirim (Nechaev) and Archimandrite Innokenty (Prosvirnin) were closely associated with the Glinsk Elders. Vladyka Alexei (Frolov) also joined this spiritual tradition in his youth, through his elder in the monastic tonsure, whom Fr. Innokenty unexpectedly ended up being.[1] Vladyka Alexei also received the spirit of the Glinsk Elders. When our spiritual father, Schema-Archimandrite Andronik (Lukash) reposed, my sister and I were pastored by Schema-Archimandrite Vitaly (Sidorenko); and when he too reposed, we couldn’t find a spiritual father for a long time. Then my sister found a note in the Psalter left to us by Fr. Vitaly, with a name: Innokenty. Thus we wound up with Fr. Innokenty. He still had my sister’s and my addresses that he found on Fr. Vitaly’s table, and he, still Fr. Alexei then, sent us telegrams informing us about Batiushka’s death.

Archbishop Alexei (Frolov) with Metropolitan Pitirim (Nechaev) Archbishop Alexei (Frolov) with Metropolitan Pitirim (Nechaev)     

The following year after the death of Fr. Innokenty, Fr. Alexei was consecrated to the episcopate (on Transfiguration in 1995), and he tonsured my sister and I on December 11 of the same year. After our tonsures, Fr. Vitaly and Fr. Innokenty appeared to him. Vladyka told us: “I went and stood between them.”

Archimandrite Innokenty (Prosvirnin) Archimandrite Innokenty (Prosvirnin) He also told us about how not long before the death of Fr. Innokenty, he was walking with him around Novospassky Monastery—just going for a walk, praying, when Fr. Innokenty suddenly asked:

“Where are you going to bury me?”

Fr. Alexei stopped right there where they were walking—by the Transfiguration Cathedral—and pointed:

“Right here.”

He looked at him so expressively—the Patriarch is supposed to decide that… And Fr. Innokenty soon passed away. And they really did start digging his grave on that very spot. His Holiness was at Valaam. “If they kick me out, they kick me out, but I will bury Fr. Innokenty here,” Fr. Alexei said then. But when the Patriarch returned, everything turned out alright.

This story repeated itself at the burial of Fr. Guriy (Mischenko), a Glinsk monk who, like Fr. Innokenty, spent his last years at Novospassky Monastery. Someone from the authorities even came then. Vladyka didn’t try to explain anything to them, making a helpless gesture: “Dig him up if you want.” They hesitated for a while, and left.

Then my sister, Mother Andronika, standing between two graves, looking at one then the other, said: “Who buries people this way?”—that is, with the graves so far apart? Vladyka Alexei looked at her so expressively. And later it turned out he was buried between Fr. Innokenty and the Glinsk schemamonk.

How could Vladyka have foreseen this?!

Vladyka Alexei was clearly clairvoyant. He would often send us to venerate this or that sacred object, and would let us know in advance what would happen and how. I remember one time I went to Novospassky, when they had brought a revered icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker to Moscow. Only the chapel at Christ the Savior Cathedral had been rebuilt at that time.

Mother Vitalia (Piskureva) Mother Vitalia (Piskureva) “Vitalia, do you want to go venerate the icon?” Vladyka asked me.

“I do. Where do I have to go?”

“They’re bringing it to Christ the Savior Cathedral.”

“Will I get in?” I said doubtfully (there wasn’t such clear organization for such events then as there is now).

“You will,” he assured me.

He blessed me and I was about to go, but then I suddenly thought: I still don’t know the city very well. I called a friend and asked her to go with me. She agreed, and we went.

There was such a hullabaloo about holy objects then!... Before that, perhaps only the relics of the Great Martyr and Healer Panteleimon had been to the capital. And as we were standing there, we realized there was restricted access. And there were so many people! We couldn’t even dream of getting in… Everything was cordoned off. We were just standing and waiting and waiting. They weren’t letting anyone in, and it was already becoming evening and getting dark.

“We probably won’t get in,” I sighed.

“Let’s go home,” my friend said in agreement.

“How is this possible?” I thought. “Vladyka promised me…” And we had just started to leave when I looked and saw the abbot of the Glinsk Hermitage, Vladyka Panteleimon (Baschuk) coming, and he knows me! There were two or three others with him. So they’ll let everyone through. So I found hope again:

“Vladyka!” I said, rushing up to him. “Bless!”

His eyes were like saucers: What a chance encounter!

He had come from the Glinsk Hermitage, and I found myself in Moscow…

“Vladyka, will you take us?”

“Yes,” he said. He didn’t even have time to come to his senses.

And so, as Vladyka Alexei said, we really did get into the chapel to venerate the icon. It was already nine at night.

How did such an encounter happen? And how could Vladyka have foreseen it?!

On the eve of the death of His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II

And one time I was visiting Vladyka Alexei, and he said to me:

“Are you going to the Kremlin for church? For the Entrance?”

“I’m going.”

“Then here’s a ticket,” he said, holding it out to me (to get into the Kremlin’s Dormition Cathedral).

I went. For some reason, there weren’t that many people. His Holiness Patriarch Alexei II was serving. December 4, 2008…

Patriarch Alexei serving Communion Patriarch Alexei serving Communion They usually don’t let me get to the Patriarch for Communion, and I just stand off to the side. “If they don’t let me get to His Holiness, I’ll commune from Vladyka…” Everyone rushed forward as soon as the Patriarch came out, squishing me into the fence. Then suddenly the seminarian who was controlling the flow of people came right to where I was and energetically moved everyone out of the way.

“Won’t you let me through? I’m a spiritual child of Vladyka Alexei…” I said softly [Mother Vitalia’s voice really was inconspicuous, unobtrusive.—O.O.].

And he suddenly said:

“Please, go ahead Mother.”

It was surprising—there were even people with children standing there, and a deacon, and for some reason they let me go ahead.

Vladyka was in the altar, and His Holiness was communing the people. I can’t describe what I was feeling. I got up to the chalice and said:


His Holiness leaned in towards me:


“Vi…ta…li…a,” I repeated, my voice quivering. I was almost ready to cry.

“Vi-ta-li-a!” His Holiness said loudly and majestically, in a long drawl, giving me Communion.

I had an unforgettable feeling after Communion. And the next day came some unexpected news, like a thunderclap: The Patriarch died!

A general premonition

Mother Andronika (Piskureva):

I also remember my last Communion from His Holiness Patriarch Alexei. We didn’t get to Moscow that often then. And I remember I communed on the Eve of the Nativity, then on Nativity, and the next day I was at the service in the Kremlin again. I was standing there and my heart was bursting. How I wanted to commune! One of the nuns near me heard my thoughts:

“Go over there and confess,” she said.

I went over, and there was a priest standing there—a simple batiushka. It was so easy for me to confess to him—I opened my whole soul to the very depths. But in the end I said:

“This is my third day in a row.”

He blessed:

“Take Communion! You won’t have an opportunity like this again.”

Mother Andronika Mother Andronika     

How did he know?

Patriarch Alexei came out with the chalice, and I went up… There was some monk from Mt. Athos too (his name was Fr. Seraphim, I remember). I saw he had a cast. I had a broken arm then too. And I said to him:

“Go ahead. I’ll go after you.”

But he was too modest: “Why should I go ahead, with a broken arm?” he thought.

“Which one?”


“For me, it’s the right,” I said, smiling and pushing him ahead: “Come on, come on.”

So we moved ahead slowly, and what happened next, I can’t understand: The children and women, who usually hold the defense tightly, all moved off to the side. Maybe this monk and I had such an extremely pitiful look, but suddenly everyone parted, and we went forward…

Mother Andronika at the grave of Vladyka Alexei (Frolov) Mother Andronika at the grave of Vladyka Alexei (Frolov) I felt Vladyka Alexei looking at me as though he were cutting right through me. I didn’t look up. I bowed my head and stood and prayed. I moved forward in baby steps. His Holiness communed the monk, me, and someone else behind me and then gave the chalice to Vladyka. After I communed, I remember having an indescribable feeling.

Then I left the church. I usually waited for Vladyka Alexei to give me a lift to Novospassky Monastery, and I was walking and looking around: “Thank God, there’s no one!” I made it to the monastery myself, in such an extraordinary state.

The next day, I went to greet Vladyka with the Nativity of Christ. We would celebrate throughout the entire Christmastide. I took a mandarin orange with me; I didn’t have any other gifts. “And he’ll probably give it away…” I thought, sighing. And then Vladyka saw me.

“Ahhh, it’s you!” he said, grabbing me by the hand and dragging me up the stairs behind him.

I was already out of breath, and he said:

“What are you doing?! What are you doing?!” he said, giving me a real dressing down.

I started crying:

“Vladyka, I know I broke the rule… But this was probably my last chance to receive Communion from the Patriarch.” It was about a year before the Patriarch reposed, because this was January, and he reposed in December.

But Vladyka suddenly became very serious and suddenly hugged me and kissed me on the head.

And that’s what happened with my last Communion from His Holiness.

Part 4

Recorded by Olga Orlova
Translation by Jesse Dominick


[1] The then-Fr. Anatoly Frolov was waiting for his spiritual father—Schema-Archimandrite Gregory (Davydov) from the Belgorod region—to arrive for his tonsure, but for some reason he never showed up. The rector of the Moscow Theological Academy, then Vladyka Vladimir (Sabodan) of Dmitrov, didn’t wait any longer and said to bring the first father he came across, which ended up being Archimandrite Innokenty (Prosvirnin).

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