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
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.
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)