Παρασκευή, 15 Απριλίου 2011

BLESSED MATRONUSHKA THE BARE-FOOTED
(+ 1911)

By Vladimir  Moss

In the nineteenth century, in the village of Vanino, Kostroma province, there was born into the peasant family of the Scherbinins a girl, who was called Matrona. Beside Matrona, Peter and Agatha Scherbinin had three sons: Macarius, Alexander and Ivan, all of whom worked in the fields.
Nothing is known about her childhood years. She married a merchant of the city of Kostroma, Yegor Mylnikov. The family had a little house and a grocer’s stall. During the Russo-Turkish war of 1877-78 her husband was enrolled in the army. Matronushka set off with him to the front. She was a nurse. It was then that her humble soul, which received from God the great gift of compassion, was revealed in full measure. She helped everyone as far as she could, and gave all her pitiful salary to the poor soldiers.
After the death of her husband in the war, Matrona decided to devote the whole of the rest of her life to God. At the end of the war she returned to Kostroma, sold her property, gave the money to the poor and set off to live as a wanderer. She laid upon herself a vow of foolishness for Christ’s sake, and from that moment until her death (in the course of 33 years) she walked only barefoot. Even in winter Matronushka wore only light clothing – always white. She visited the wonderworkers of Solovki, wandered around the holy places of Russia and four times walked barefoot to Jerusalem. On one of her visits to Jerusalem she took the schema with the name Maria, having vowed to God to conceal this fact from everyone.
Matonushka spent the last thirty years of her life in St. Petersburg. At first she lived on the Petersburg side, and then for sixteen years by a chapel in the name of the Mother of God “the Joy of All Who Sorrow”. Barefoot in winter and summer, in her light white clothing, with a staff in her hand, she often prayed at this chapel.
Every year Matronushka was visited by several thousand people. They asked for her prayers in illnesses, in the sorrows of life and in the most various needs. She radiated love and warmth. She was clairvoyant, and her prayers, through the will of God, had great power.
She accepted everyone, gave comfort and advice and prayed together with the sufferers. By her prayers people were delivered from the terrible infirmity of alcoholism, and many cases off miraculous healings have been recorded. If people had a serious need, they received what was necessary after they had prayed together with her to the Lord. Matronushka warned many of impending dangers. People listened attentively to her advice. The clairvoyant eldress helped people through her prayers, saved them from coming misfortunes, and to many she revealed the Providence of God. Many highly-placed subjects of the Tsar who had been sent to places that were afflicted by wars and epidemics came to her. The eldress sprinkled holy water on everyone, blessed them with an icon, and they remained unharmed amidst the mortal danger. But sometimes the blessed eldress refused to pray for health, and unerringly indicated the day of the death of the sick person.
Having received much money in gifts, Matronushka immediately distributed it to the homeless beggars. She sent contributions to poor parishes and monasteries, and also bought Gospels and icons with which she blessed the people who came to her.
From the beginning of 1909 Matronushka began to prepare herself for death. Every Sunday for the last two years of her life she received Holy Communion and several times received Holy Unction. At the beginning of March, 1911 she felt very weak. By the end of the month the eldress said: “I will leave you together with water and ice.” She reposed peacefully on March 30 / April 12, 1911 when the ice on the Neva was beginning to break up. The day of her burial coincided with Palm Sunday. It is noteworthy that the liturgy on the day of her funeral was carried out by Fr. Peter Skipetrov, who in a few years’ time would become the first of the New Martyrs of Petrograd.
Matronushka greatly venerated by the Royal Family, and when the Empress Alexandra Fyodorovna heard of her repose she wept for a long time. On her orders a wreath was sent to her grave.
The blessed one was buried in the yard of the chapel where the icon of the Mother of God the Joy of All Who Sorrow was situated. During the revolution the church and the grave were destroyed. The covering of the grave was restored only in 1999. Today the podvorye of the Zelenetsky monastery is in the church.



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