Moldovan Church establishes feasts of 20th-century monastic saint and wonderworking icon

Chișinău, Moldova, October 26, 2023

Photo: Facebook Photo: Facebook The Holy Synod of the Moldovan Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate) met in Chișinău yesterday under the chairmanship of His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir.

In addition to a number of administrative matters, the Synod also established two feasts, according to the Synodal report.

First, the hierarchs established the Churchwide feast of Venerable Makary of Saharna Monastery (†1969). Met. Vladimir presented a report on the matter, noting that St. Makary had been locally canonized in December 1994, but with yesterday’s Synodal decision, he will be entered into the Synaxarion for the whole of the Moldovan Church. The text of the hagiography for St. Makary was also approved.

The matter of more broadly canonizing St. Makary was first raised in 2019.

The Synod also approved the local veneration of the wonderworking Zloţi Icon of the Mother of God, to be celebrated on July 24/August 6.


Concerning the wonderworking icon, the monks of Zloţi Monastery write:

Through this holy icon, new help was sent to us, the monks, to build such a beautiful monastery. People from the entire Republic of Moldova come to her for help. She is called the wonderworker—the Mother of God for all those in distress. Throughout this period from 1995 to the present, many Christians have received various healings, both spiritual and physical.

Every day, in front of this holy icon, the Paraklesis and the Akathist to the Mother of God are read, and hundreds of names of Christians who have various difficulties in this life are mentioned. Most Christians come to Zloţi Monastery to venerate this holy icon and to be recorded to be remembered in the holy prayers to the Mother of God.


The relics of St. Makary of Saharna. Photo: The relics of St. Makary of Saharna. Photo:     

Venerable Makary was born into a pious family in 1888. It is said that his mother received a revelation before his birth, though she never revealed its contents to anyone, only bearing the seal of the revelation upon her face.

Even as a boy, he always had a sense of respect for God and loved to sing the hymns he heard in church. One time when his father scolded him and slapped him, he responded: “You will see how you will kiss my hand.”

He loved to visit Saharna Monastery and often traveled there on foot. He was struck and deeply moved by everything he found there” the high hills, the cold spring, the hermitage with its rock church, the beautifully painted churches, and the melodious songs of the monks.

At the age of 12, he convinced his parents to let him join the monastery. He was initially refused due to his age, but he eventually convinced Abbot Joseph to receive him, having impressed him with his wisdom. From the very beginning, he joyfully fulfilled all the obediences entrusted to him. Later, having received the monastic tonsure, he multiplied his virtues, demonstrating his boundless love and patience to all, and he was soon ordained as a deacon and then priest. He dedicated himself wholly to preaching the word of God with love.

The monks and local faithful soon began to seek him out for a salvific word, and he was appointed the spiritual father of the monastery. The door to his cell was ever open to all. It was during this time that he began to read prayers for those afflicted by demons, and miracles and healing began to flow, which, out of humility, he did not realize were happening thanks to his prayers. He was later decorated with the title of “igumen” thanks to his many virtues, grounded in love of the Lord.

The monastery later become a convent and the fathers left for other monasteries. But missing his native monastery, Fr. Makary received a blessing to return and serve as spiritual father for the nuns.

The monastery was closed in 1964 and transformed into a psychiatric hospital. He spent another 2 years in a dug-out shelter on the edge of the village, where the people remained close to him. There, in his shelter, he baptized and married the faithful and taught the people the word of Truth.

“Father climbed Golgotha's hill with Christ daily, suffering along with Him and enjoying this fellowship with the Savior of the world.” Although he was old, the Soviets forced him to work with the others, removing stones from quarries, building roads, and other difficult tasks. However, he was eventually allowed to retire to his native village due to his weakness and illnesses.

On the night of April 22-23, 1969, Fr. Makary, surrounded by friends and spiritual children, peacefully gave his soul into the hands of God, saying humbly, “Glory to Thee, O Lord…”

After his death, he continued to live in the hearts of those who knew him and turned to him in prayer, and countless miracles and healings were worked by his prayers.

Saharna Monastery was reopened in 1991. The brotherhood learned of the holy life of Venerable Makary from the pious villagers, and burning with desire to have the protection of a saint over the reviving monastery, they entreated Met. Vladimir to exhume his relics and bring them to the monastery. Having received the blessing, his relics were found to be incorrupt. The process of canonization began, and he was locally canonized on December 21, 1995. His feast was established as May 13/26.

St. Makary is the first locally-canonized saint in the Orthodox Church of post-soviet Moldova.

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