Icon of St Nicholas the Wonderworker

Contemporary Miracles of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker 

Last year we began pub­lish­ing a series of accounts of con­tem­po­rary mir­a­cles grant­ed by God through the inter­ces­sion of St Nicholas. This series was first col­lect­ed and pub­lished as a book by Alexan­der Rakov and  seri­al­ized in the Russ­ian lan­guage mag­a­zine “Ortho­dox Saint Peters­burg.” We now con­tin­ue this series. 

The Merciful Wonderworker 

I heard this account of the Holy Hier­ar­ch Nicholas’ inter­ces­sion from my moth­er-in-law, Evdokia S. Tereshkovetz. As a young man, her father received a sum­mons to join the army dur­ing Russia’s war against Turkey. At that time he was already mar­ried, had a young child and a home­stead in the vil­lage of Nitsgal. 

On the way to the recruit­ment sta­tion his com­pan­ions were laugh­ing and jok­ing, but Sidor (Evdokia’s father) con­tin­u­al­ly prayed to the Holy Hier­ar­ch Nicholas the Won­der­work­er. A med­ical check­up was done. Sidor was in good health, but for some rea­son one of the exam­in­ers on the com­mis­sion asked: “Do you want to go to war?” “You will send me no mat­ter what I say,” Sidor replied. They inquired if he had a wife and fam­i­ly. Then, quite unex­pect­ed­ly, they sent him home. 

From that time on he had an even greater ven­er­a­tion for Saint Nicholas. His fam­i­ly grew, and he taught his many chil­dren to pray to this mer­ci­ful won­der­work­er. My moth­er in law is now eighty-sev­en years old, and she trea­sures her large, antique icon of St Nicholas. 

Evdokia also told me of anoth­er inci­dent. In their vil­lage of Nits­gal there lived a wealthy man. He was mar­ried, but had no chil­dren; he led a dis­solute life, drank and par­tied a lot. His wife took in a young niece to bring up as their own, and he even tempt­ed her. This caused so much grief to the wife that she cried con­stant­ly and asked St Nicholas for help. 

Once when the wife was not home her hus­band fell asleep and saw demons in the guise of two unknown, fero­cious men. He was so fright­ened that he decid­ed to vis­it a priest to repent of his sins right in the mid­dle of the night. The demons said to him: “We will go with you!” 

It was a per­ilous jour­ney, and the man con­stant­ly prayed to St Nicholas as he walked. There was a riv­er to cross, and it seemed to him that there were two bridges over the water. The demons began to push him for­ward, say­ing: “Go, go!’ But through the prayers of St Nicholas he turned around and made his way to the hut of an old, pious woman who lived near­by. His per­sis­tent knock­ing woke her up, and she found him in a ter­ri­fied state. She had him ven­er­ate an icon, and then he him­self saw that there were no bridges over the riv­er at all… 

From that time on he quit drink­ing and began to live right­eous­ly. St Nicholas mirac­u­lous­ly saved this man. In grat­i­tude, he ordered an icon of the saint to be writ­ten and donat­ed it to the local church. 

My friend was on a pil­grim­age to Elgavsky Skete, which is close to Riga, and heard the fol­low­ing account. One man stole an icon of St Nicholas the Won­der­work­er from the church at the skete. Then St Nicholas appeared to him in a dream and com­mand­ed that he return the icon. The thief com­plied, but gave the icon to anoth­er church; soon it was returned to the skete. 

Olga Tereshkovetz, the city of Dau­gavpils, Latvia 

A Dream

Once, when I was work­ing as the direc­tor of a cul­tur­al cen­ter I was invit­ed to spend New Year’s Eve at a restau­rant. This was dur­ing the Nativ­i­ty fast, but I was inter­est­ed in the pay­ment which was offered and agreed to go. The night before I was in my own dream: in our parish church the relics of St Nicholas the Won­der­work­er are on dis­play. Every­one is tak­ing a turn to come up and ven­er­ate them. My turn came up, too. But when I leaned over the holy relics, St Nicholas rose, pushed me aside in anger and began to berate me in front of the whole congregation. 

I woke up from a ter­ri­ble sense of shame and fear, and could not fall asleep again for a long time. I prayed and cried, but clar­i­ty of mind came lat­er. I did not change my mind about going to the restaurant—the pay­ment was half of my usu­al salary. The feel­ing of fear and shame did not leave me, how­ev­er. It pre­vent­ed me from falling into deep­er and more dis­gust­ing sins that New Year’s Eve. Yet it is impos­si­ble to stay clean when one jumps into a dirty puddle. 

The extra mon­ey I made was spent on med­ica­tions for my daugh­ter who had sud­den­ly become ill. I became despon­dent, think­ing of my irrepara­ble worth­less­ness. But St Nicholas was mer­ci­ful to me and brought me con­so­la­tion lat­er. Some kind peo­ple gave me an icon with an unusu­al depic­tion of St Nicholas. The saint’s face, how­ev­er, looks exact­ly as I remem­ber it in my dream. Every day I ask for­give­ness of St Nicholas, for I am not wor­thy to bear his name; I ask for help and inter­ces­sion. And I know: though I am a per­ish­ing and sin­ful man, this God pleas­er nev­er for­sakes me. 

Nicholas Iva­nenko, city of Vilei­ka, region of Min­sk (Belarus)

A Bundle of Bagels 

In 1942 our fam­i­ly was evac­u­at­ed from Leningrad to the Yaroslavl Region. We bought a tiny hut there. My moth­er was sick by this time, but we had to live some­how. We were starv­ing, and herd­ed live­stock to make enough mon­ey to scant­i­ly feed ourselves. 

One win­ter day my youngest sis­ter began to plead my moth­er for a small dried bagel, a sushech­ka. We had no flour in the house, let alone any­thing else, but the girl insist­ed. Then my moth­er, los­ing her patience, turned her to the icon of St Nicholas and said: “Stand here and ask St Nicholas to send you а sushech­ka.”

After that con­ver­sa­tion there was a ter­ri­ble snow storm for two days. Huge piles of snow sur­round­ed the entrance to our hut. On the morn­ing of the sec­ond day, when the sun final­ly came out, moth­er heard some­one soft­ly knock­ing on our front door. She sent me to open it, think­ing that it was our neigh­bor. From our door I could see a large bun­dle of fresh­ly baked bagels hang­ing on our fence. I ran to my moth­er and told her of the mir­a­cle. Moth­er was not con­vinced. She had us put on our over­coats, and we went to the vil­lage to see if some­one had for­got­ten them. 

The snow was fresh, and there were no foot­prints any­where. Our neigh­bor knew noth­ing. No one in the vil­lage had any idea about them. We did not find the own­er of the bagels and came home. 

This was tru­ly a mir­a­cle, because no one in the vil­lage could have giv­en us such a gift: every­one there was starv­ing. Once we got home, my moth­er placed us before the icon of the blessed saint and said: “Give thanks to St Nicholas the Won­der­work­er,” and gave us each a bagel. That bun­dle last­ed us a long time. 

Iri­na Sobol­e­va

A Protector of Soldiers 

I am a mem­ber of the Cos­sack army from the region of Oren­burg, and took part in heavy fight­ing in sev­er­al “hot spots.” I am alive sole­ly through the help of St Nicholas the Won­der­work­er. I was blessed to receive a lit­tle icon with his image at the Don­skoy Monastery in Moscow just before I was sent to Abk­hazia in 1993. 

The icon was always in my left chest pock­et, and that side of my body was nev­er wound­ed. Into the right side I received nine pieces of shrap­nel and a bul­let as well as suf­fer­ing a con­tu­sion from an explo­sion that per­ma­nent­ly dam­aged the hear­ing in my right ear. The same thing hap­pened in Chech­nya. The icon stayed in my left pock­et, but my right side was so dam­aged that I now receive a dis­abil­i­ty pension. 

Alex­ei the Cos­sack

He Who Chased Death Away 

This inci­dent hap­pened to me in Feb­ru­ary of 1994. While vis­it­ing my daugh­ter in the town of Shek­sna in the Volog­da Region, I was tak­en to the hos­pi­tal with severe bleed­ing. My con­di­tion was crit­i­cal because of the great loss of blood .

In a semi-con­scious state I saw a fig­ure of a woman dressed in bridal white behind a row of new­ly ploughed black earth. I took a clos­er look and saw that her hands were black. This fright­ened me and I under­stood that this was death. Then at the same time there appeared a tall, lumi­nous elder­ly man who hid me from view by lean­ing over the bed. I remem­bered his image well. After this vision my health began to improve. 

Lat­er I began to go to church and would often scru­ti­nize the faces of the saints on the icons. I found the one I was look­ing for: St Nicholas the Won­der­work­er. Now I attend the church of St Nicholas in Vologda. 

Nina Roguli­na, city of Vologda 

The Beloved Saint of the Russian People 

In 1918, dur­ing the Bol­she­vik rev­o­lu­tion, all of Moscow was shocked by a sign which was giv­en through the image of St Nicholas. One of his icons which hung on a wall in the Krem­lin was cov­ered with a red cloth. Before the eyes of a great mul­ti­tude peo­ple on Red Square, this cloth which hid the face of St Nicholas ripped apart on its own. Pieces of the mate­r­i­al fell onto the ground, and St Nicholas’ image was again seen by all. This was inter­pret­ed as the future deliv­er­ance from the “red cloak” which had descend­ed upon the Krem­lin and Holy Rus’. 

Besides this, many oth­er signs were giv­en through icons of St Nicholas through­out the years. Here we will men­tion just a few. 

Dur­ing WWII the gov­ern­ment was evac­u­at­ing the pop­u­la­tion from the front line in trucks. An old woman was hold­ing a bun­dle in her hands. 

The com­mis­sar asked: “What do you have there?” 

“An icon of St Nicholas,” the woman replied. 

“Drop it!” the com­mis­sar commanded. 

“No, I will not,” protest­ed the woman. 

The com­mis­sar pulled out a revolver, point­ed it at the old woman and demand­ed: “If you do not drop it imme­di­ate­ly, I will shoot you!” 

“Go ahead and shoot, I will not part with it. This icon has kept me safe through­out my life,” came the answer. 

At that moment a Ger­man mis­sile explod­ed over the head of the com­mis­sar, and he was blown to pieces. The old woman sim­ply sat down from fear, and con­tin­ued to hold the icon which was so dear to her. 

Just before the war we saw a large icon of St Nicholas on one of the analo­gions at the women’s monastery ded­i­cat­ed to the Entry of the Moth­er of God into the Tem­ple in Bel­grade. It had mirac­u­lous­ly renewed itself. The for­mer­ly dark­ened image was sparkling with all its many col­ors, which had become fresh and luminous. 

Along with all the mar­tyrs who accept­ed death from the god­less ones in the name of God’s truth, St Nicholas seems to speak to us through the words of Apos­tle Paul: Be fol­low­ers of me, as I am a fol­low­er of Christ. (1 Cor. 4, 16) 

Arch­bish­op Nikon (Rozh­den­stven­skii)