St. John’s miraculous power not infrequently also manifested itself in
church — especially when those who were possessed by evil spirits were brought
to the Chalice.
"A horrible impression was produced, recalls one dweller of Kronstadt,
"by the sick possessed who were brought to Father John in the cathedral.
During Father John’s sermon, during the singing of the Cherubic Hymn, but
especially during the singing in Great Lent of ‘Now the heavenly hosts,’
inhuman cries were emitted, wailings or barks. Some of the sick would fall to
the floor; on the floor they were shaken or beaten. Once when Father John was
giving Communion, I stood with my mother in the choir-place and saw how a few
men led, or, more correctly, carried up, a woman to him. She kept propping her
legs against each step. Her appearance was terrible. The handkerchief fell from
the head. Her hair became dishevelled. She was waving her arms about and kept
repeating all the time: ‘I’ll spit, I’ll spit anyway.’ When she was brought to
the Chalice, Batiushka told them to let her go and not to support her. Those
who accompanied her cautiously left her. Then Batiushka told the woman to cross
herself. She crossed herself, this time correctly. Batiushka asked her what her
name was. Father John gave her Holy Communion and, calmed, she walked away from
the Chalice, crossing herself and repeating: ‘Glory to Thee, Lord, glory to
Thee, Lord ...’"
St. John’s miraculous power in all its potency was manifested, however,
primarily outside the church — in those varied forms of intercourse with
people, in which was passed each one of his days. Insofar as this power
radiated from him in church, this remained unnoticed by worshippers — as the
miracles were performed at a distance, by letters, telegrams, prayerful
requests from all parts of vast Russia, streaking toward him at times without
any outward sign.
There is a characteristic witness written down in Harbin by my late wife,
recorded then by her among many others for one local publication, devoted to
‘This was — recalled Gouliaeff in tears — in 1903, in a small place called
Emba, in the province of Sihr-Darya. Being a young man, I was working on the
Tashkent Railways, engaged in making water pumps. That year we had a serious
typhoid epidemic; I became ill and was transported to the contagious barracks,
two miles from Emba, beyond the river. My condition was recognized as hopeless.
My temperature rose to 42 degrees. I was unconscious almost all the time,
became weakened to such an extent that I was quite incapable of lifting my arms
from the blanket. In the words of the sick-nurses, I kept singing church songs
in delirium, as our entire family was very religious. I was brought up on
church singing, not liking worldly music. My father was a simple peasant, but
there were also clergymen in our ancestry.
"I remember how I came to and felt that I was dying. I could not move
my hands, could not cross myself. Helplessly, I wept, and began in tears to
sing ‘Heavenly King’ as best I could ... Suddenly, halfway between the bed on
which I was lying and the door, a priest in gold vestments appeared as if in a
haze. He drew near to me, and I then saw perfectly clearly, lightly-flaxen
hair, a ruddy face, and blue, infinitely kind eyes.
The priest leant over to me ...
" — There is no need to cry; let’s pray.’
"And there and then he began to serve a molieben. He served neither
quietly nor loudly, with great concentration, earnestly and heartfelt. I was
looking at his kind face, examined, like a child, the patterns on his
vestments, listened to his voice, and understood that it was Father John of
Kronstadt who had come to me. With his coming my arm rose for the sign of the
cross. Father John blessed me. I clung to his hand. The hand was warm and very
soft. I remember this hand, as though it were with me now. Father John told me
that I would recover, but that I should never forget to pray and thank God.
Withdrawing, Batiushka also stepped away as it were to the door, into a white
"From this moment my quick recovery began, incomprehensible to all.
When my father came to visit me, I told him about the miracle I had seen,
described the priest to him, and my father, who knew Batiushka personally, was
amazed that I had described in such detail the entire person of Batiushka,
having never seen him in real life. Even the barely noticeable wart near his
eye, even the sound of his voice, the pattern on his vestments I described
without a flaw. But the very fact of Batiushka’s appearance to me was there and
then explained to me by my father: at the most hopeless moment, he had sent a
telegram to Father John in Kronstadt, asking him for his prayers. On the very
day that Father John had appeared to me, he had served a molieben for my
Here there was a telegram. But St. John had no need of physical means to
communicate with people. Archimandrite Raphael, father-superior of Our Lady of
Zadonsk Monastery (Voronezh diocese), who became a monk with St. John’s
blessing and who died a martyr under the Bolsheviks in 1922 on the first day of
Pascha in the seventy-eighth year of his life, witnessed that when he became a
priest, St. John called him to himself in Kronstadt four times, appearing to
him in his sleep and summoning him to appear for joint prayer with him. Father
Raphael would come, remaining the whole week. The prayerful consolation which
he received from jointly concelebrating the Divine Liturgy was such that, as he
later put it, he did not know whether he was in his body or outside it. Thus,
now, during a discussion once with Father Raphael, St. John disclosed to him
that he knew by whom and where his name was mentioned, and that this prayerful
proximity with him would remain active beyond the grave — thus would he beseech
God! While here is another of the many occasions when also during his life was
his mysterious miraculous assistance manifested — without any physical
‘The sister of the Russian consul in the town of Kiahta (on the Chinese
border) was suffering there for a long time and very gravely from a serious
ailment, from which, apparently, there was no hope of ever recovering. The
malady was so severe that the sufferer was even thinking of poisoning herself,
and so, under the influence of this terrible thought, she sees a dream. She sees
herself on the edge of a dark and horrible abyss, would have liked to step away
from it, but some fateful force pushes her forward and drags her into the
chasm, from which there is no escape and where death inevitably awaits her.
Horror envelops the sufferer, a cold sweat stands out on her face, her heart
palpitates from mortal fear, the ground shakes under her, she feels her feet
slipping to the very edge of the bottomless pit, over which is spread an evil
darkness, while in its depths an entire hell is bubbling and boiling. Finally,
she loses the ground from under her feet and her body hangs in space, ready to
plunge into death’s embrace, which has widely opened its extended jaws... There
appears to be no salvation; the last thought which flashed through her
consciousness was of the Savior, crucified on the Cross... At the same time, as
if in the clouds, a priest appeared in front of her, with the stamp of meekness
and mercy on his brow... ‘In the name of the Savior life is being granted to
you,’ he said, and, grabbing her with a mighty and firm hand, again put her on
firm ground. He then showed her to a hitherto unnoticeable path, by which she
could get away from the chasm, and guided her with these parting words: ‘Go and
give thanks to God for the salvation you have been granted!’ Upon awakening,
the sufferer told her brother and all her near ones about her marvelous dream,
during which she described in detail the priest she had seen in her dream,
whose appearance had become strongly impressed upon her imagination; as to who
the priest she had seen might be, to this question no one was able to provide
"Some time elapsed after this dream; all who heard about it had
forgotten it, but then even the sufferer herself thought less and less of it, although
she did keep hidden in her heart the conviction that her prophetic dream had to
have some special significance, And suddenly, completely by accident, she came
to see a picture of Father John of Kronstadt, about whose outward appearance
she had no idea to that time, although she had heard much about him, for the
whole of Russia was filled with news about him. Just imagine her amazement and
that of her relatives when she recognized in the picture of Father John the
very same priest who had saved her from peril in her dream. She immediately
wired Father John in Kronstadt, asking his prayers and intercessions before the
throne of the King of kings. Father John did not delay in carrying out her
request, served a molieben for her health, of which he advised her in due
course. From that time, the incurable sickness, which threatened the sufferer
with inevitable death, took a turn for the better, and in a short time the
patient completely recovered. She was so grateful that, upon recovering, she
was not afraid to undertake a distant, long and difficult journey and, together
with her brother, came from Kiahta to Kronstadt so as to personally thank the
kind pastor, who had besought a cure for her with his prayers."
Miracles were not exceptional phenomena in the life of St. John: he lived by
a miracle and in a miracle. His very existence was a complete miracle — this
constant movement, this restless activity with an almost total absence of rest
and sleep for a man of exceptionally frail health, and this all the way up to
an extremely old age! And his actual relations with people — this was a type of
uninterrupted clairvoyance, constantly manifesting itself with people,
miraculous by its very nature, and on top of that constantly and evidently
surpassing "the order of nature!" And it is difficult to say in what
the "miraculousness" was more marvelous: in the strikingly obvious,
powerful, terrifying and shattering phenomena of healing miracles, or in
manifestations of spiritual vision which were barely noticeable to the outward
eye — in the finest and deepest influences on man’s soul, of each individual
person from the great mass of people who everywhere surrounded St. John. A
word, a gesture, material aid, hiding behind its outward (at times literally
lifesaving) sustenance a deep, inner meaning as well, so that it appeared to
have fallen from heaven after being prepared precisely to fulfill a certain
need all of a sudden, even down to the most minute details; everything in St.
John’s activity was bestowed by grace. He lived and conducted himself among
people like everyone else, without separating himself from them in any way and
remaining in the most intimate contact with them, but he saw something
different from what all around him could see — he looked upon earthly things
with spiritual eyes... He saw the past and the future, read in the hearts of
people, as in an open book, the most hidden thoughts... He also saw the forces
of darkness which fill the element of the air... He even revealed this at times
to people close to him... He saw, for example, demons, swirling near funeral
processions, accompanying the bodies of unrepentant sinners to their final
The descriptions of miracles performed by St. John are countless. I will
reproduce but the smallest number of them from those which were recorded by my
late wife in Harbin, from interviews with living witnesses of these miracles.
By this we will see St. John in another plane as well — in his activities
outside the church building, and in this way his portrait will be made more
complete, which until now we have seen mainly either from afar, at a distance,
or inside the walls of a church.
"My first recollection of Father John of Kronstadt," says Mrs. X
emotionally, "was the day of the baptism of my younger sister. I was then
four years and five months old. I remember how, after the baptism, Father John
was sitting in the dining room and was pouring tea for everyone, while each one
of us children he fondled, and called one of us ‘Red Ribbon,’ another ‘Bright Sun.’
Father John called my younger brother ‘Little Lamb’ — he was curly-haired.
Mother later recounted that when she asked Batiushka to baptize my younger
sister, Father John replied that he would no longer baptize in his capacity of
a priest, but would only be godfather. He had too many godchildren by that
time. But for my mother, for whom he had baptized all her children, he agreed
to make an exception and baptize her last child also.
‘The second clear recollection of Father John’s visit remained with me when
I was six years old. Father John was sitting at our home in the dining room. He
called me to him.
"Mother, passing by, says:
"‘Batiushka, she is not worth fondling, she’s lazy, does not pray to
God.’ Father John asked me: ‘Are you really lazy?’ I replied: Yes.’ ‘And which
prayers do you know?’ I counted off the ones that I knew. Batiushka said: There
is no need for so many; say only one — "Our Father"— but do not
hurry.’ I was elated at not having appeared such a lazybones in his eyes.
"Shortly I was a witness to a miracle, performed by Batiushka in our
house. A sick boy of our acquaintance was brought in from Petersburg. His leg
was in splints! Batiushka served a molieben at our place, after the molieben
took of the splints, instructed the leg to be bound up only by a bandage, and
that very evening the boy was already playing with us, completely well. When
Batiushka was asked what had been the matter with the child. Father John
replied: ‘It is necessary for the father to drink less, then the boy will recover.’
It is true; the boy’s father was a drunkard.
"And here is a second miraculous event also in our home. It happened
one evening that Batiushka was saying a molieben in the sitting room. The room
was illuminated by a lampada before an icon of the Mother of God, and by three
candles lit up next to a water-filled vase, prepared to be blessed, and also by
a lamp under a lampshade. I often happened to be present during Father John’s
moliebens, but this particular molieben remained in my memory for the rest of
my life. Batiushka prayed with special fervor and confidently said: ‘Queen of
Heaven, we beseech you and you will help us.’ There was no doubt that
everything would be as Batiushka had requested. This evening he was serving at
the request of students, friends of my elder brother. One of the students,
looking sad, stood near the door. None of us knew the reason for his sorrow.
When Batiushka had finished the molieben, he passed next to him into the front
room, blessed him, and unnoticeably slipped him some money. When Batiushka
left, the deeply moved student said that Batiushka had given him exactly the
amount of money with which he had to pay his tuition fees. Were it not for his
help, he would have had to leave the university. He had never spoken about this
fact — the more remarkable was Father John’s gesture.
"While here is a third occurrence, which did not take place in our
house this time, but which also happened in front of my eyes. My sister and I
were often in the Working House, playing with the children of those who worked
there. But Mother did not permit us to enter the rooms of the visitors. Two
ladies arrived from Siberia, or from the Urals, both very wealthy. They owned
some sort of factories over there, but I cannot remember now. The ladies took a
liking to my sister and me at our encounter with them in the garden and
hallway, and they dragged us into their room. Soon the ringing of bells
announced Father John’s arrival. At the request of the newly arrived ladies,
Batiushka said a molieben; one of the ladies gave Batiushka a parcel of money.
Batiushka declined to accept it: Take it back,’ he says, ‘you will find it
useful yourselves.’ The lady began to assure him that to her the amount was so
insignificant, there was no need even to discuss it. Batiushka did not take the
money anyway. That very evening a telegram was received, announcing that all
the factories and house had burnt down, and this parcel of money was useful to
the bankrupt wealthy ladies for their return journey..."
Let us restrict ourselves by reproducing just one more account from this
series, made by Mr. Am:
"My father had friends in his regiment, the two Eropkin brothers:
Nicholas, an aide-de-camp at court, and Ipplit, a regiment commander (His
Majesty’s Cuirassier Guards). Once the elder brother, Nicholas, was visiting
us, and suddenly had a strange and cruel attack — of what character, I am now
unable to explain. But his condition was so serious that the doctor who was
called did not allow him to be taken home, but made arrangements for the
patient to remain lying in our house, without moving, in complete rest. A
separate room was made available to the patient, a consultation of the very
best and well-known doctors was called. The patient’s condition was diagnosed
as very serious.
"A few days passed and Doctor Botkin warned my mother that within two
or three days the officer would die and, probably, in a state of very stormy
and violent agony, for which reason it was desirable to have some male nurses
with him, who were physically very strong. Indeed the patient’s fits kept
becoming more turbulent. Just in case. Father called out a few cuirassier
soldiers who had to remain in the kitchen.
"Mother suggested to my father to call upon Father John, requesting him
to give the patient Holy Communion. This disconcerted my father, who knew
Eropkin as a man who was not only an unbeliever, but who even made fun of
believers. He was afraid the patient might be disrespectful toward Batiushka.
But Mother reasoned thus: ‘Father John must be pre-warned about everything, and
then he will act as he sees fit.’
"Father John arrived the following day. Without inquiring about
anything of my father, he immediately said: ‘Well, show me to the patient; as
for those who are sitting in the kitchen — send them home in peace...’ This
straight away astounded us, as we couldn’t understand how he could have known
about the cuirassiers, called out by Father just in case... Father John was led
to the patient. Batiushka, upon entering, said:
"‘Hello, Batiushka,’ very calmly and respectfully replied the patient.
"You’re gravely ill. Are you receiving proper attention?’
"‘Certainly, by the grace of His Majesty I am attended by the best
doctors. I am not refused anything.’
"‘Well, but the main medicine you have not yet taken! Christ’s Holy
Mysteries! Would you like to take Holy Communion?’
"The patient replied that he had not been to Communion for over twenty
years and considered this to be, for him, impossible.
"The more reason for confession and Communion,’ said Batiushka.
"‘All right,’ agreed the cavalry captain.
"Batiushka stood near the patient’s bed.
"Unforgettable is his conversation with God, flaming intensity,
demanding intercession. After this, all of us left the room.
"After about half an hour, the door of the room opened and Batiushka
loudly said, calling out to us:
"‘Well, and now all of you come in and congratulate the patient... He
has been honored to accept the Lord.’
"‘All of us entered the room. The face of the cavalry captain was
unrecognizable: it was radiant and peaceful.
"Mother invited Father John into the dining room for tea. Father John
accepted and even promised to eat something.
"‘And you, Captain, now go to sleep quite calmly and peacefully, like a
child.’ Tenderly he turned to the patient, looked at him even more tenderly,
and silently went out.
"We walked through to the dining room.
"‘Well, and now he will silently fall asleep forever,’ Batiushka told
us. By morning, the cavalry captain was no more."
In conclusion, a piece out of the recollection of that woman who saw a
vision in church, reproducing a picture of the already departing Batiushka:
"In the beginning of September 1908 I became ill with cholera, and
Prof. Chistovich, at the request of his friend, Doctor Shverdloff, placed me in
the Military Academy of Medicine, where, apart from myself, there were only
military cadets. I was in a very bad way. Then Daria Iakovlevna — also a soul
close to Batiushka — rushed to him in Kronstadt to ask for his prayers.
Batiushka, when he heard, just kept sighing: ‘Oh, the poor thing, the poor
thing!’ But his wife said to him: ‘John, Nicky will remain an orphan... You are
able to do it. Pray!’ Then he went into his study. A couple of hours later he
returned, radiant, and said: ‘She will remain! The Lord has returned her to
life! And she already had one foot in the grave!’
"At that very time I had already been removed over there to die in
another building. But the nurse, who came to love me, in desperation injected
me with a tremendous dose of camphor, and I revived and remained...
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