SCHEMA-ABBESS MICHAELA OF KOSTROMA (+ 1935)
By Vladimir Moss
Schema-Abbess Michaela, in the world Vera Anatolyevna Merkulova, was born in 1878 (or 1874) in the village of Sumarokovo, Kostroma uyezd, Kostroma province. In 1891 she became a novice with the name Veronica in the Bodbiisky monastery of St. Nina in Georgia. In 1906 she became a nun in the Holy Trinity women’s monastery in the village of Novoye, Galich uyezd, Kostroma province. She became well-known as an eldress in Kostroma, receiving up to a thousand visitors a day. She received a blessing from the Sarov elders to go barefoot, but after a serious illness one of her legs stopped functioning. In 1920 she was arrested, and in 1921, after beatings and mockings, Matushka Vera’s second leg stopped functioning. From that time she could move only with assistance from others. On July 13, 1931 she was sentenced to three years in prison. After serving her sentence in Vladimir central prison, she went to live in the village of Matveyevo, Parfenyevsky region, Kostroma province in 1935, when she was arrested again. By that time she had already been arrested more than a dozen times. After these punishments she continued to serve God and man. She helped the unfortunate, the hungry and the homeless. She looked after the surrounding villages, and about twenty homeless children of exiled people were gathered round her. During interrogations she behaved calmly and confidently, like a person who knows God’s Providence for Russia and Soviet power. With profound conviction she would say: “Soviet power itself will bow before religion”. She was a fool for Christ and clairvoyant. She foretold the whole of Fr. Seraphim’s future life. They tortured her by placing her with naked feet on a red-hot plate. During her tortures she looked indescribably beautiful. She suffered in the town of Soligalich.