The Moscow period of live of Blessed Matrona
The picture of Blessed Matrona.Matrona Dimitrieva Nikonova. 1881 – 2nd May 1952.
In 1925 Matrona moved to Moscow where she lived for the rest of her life. The huge capital had plenty of miserable and lost people who had fallen away from faith, as well as spiritually sick people with poisoned conscience. Living in Moscow for about thirty years, she performed the ministry, which prevented many people from death, and brought them to salvation.
Moscow.Zamoskvorechye neighborhood. The Blessed Matrona lived in this area. She inhabited here in the old allies with her friends and relatives.
The blessed woman loved Moscow, saying that it was a holy city, the heart of Russia. Matrona’s both brothers, Mikhail and Ivan, joined the Communist party. Mikhail became a village activist. It is obvious, that the brothers could hardly stand a blessed woman staying with them and receiving people daily and, by her own example, taught people to keep faith. They were afraid of persecution. Out of pity for them, as well as for her old parents (Matrona’s mother died in 1945), Matrona moved to Moscow. Her vagabond life—moving from relatives to acquaintances, from various houses to apartments— began. Normally, Matrona would not get registered where she stayed, and only by miracle avoided being arrested on several occasions. Novitiate nurses lived with her and took care of her.
It was a new period of her life of a hero of faith. She became a homeless wanderer. At times, she had to live with people being hostile to her. Yet it was hard to find a place to live in Moscow, so she was not captious.
Z.V. Zhdanova told about hardships the blessed woman had to endure sometimes. “I moved to Sokolniki, where mother lived in a small plywood house somebody gave her temporarily. It was a late autumn. I entered the house and saw thick, damp and dank steam—a small cast-iron stove was burning. I approached mother Matrona as she was lying facing the wall. She could not turn to me, her hair was frozen to the wall – we barely pulled it off. I was terrified, “Mother, how come? You know that I live only with my mom, my brother is at war, father in jail – and we do not know how he is doing – and we have two rooms in a warm house. Forty-two square meters, a separate entrance. Why didn’t you ask us to accommodate you?” Mother sighed heavily and said, “God didn’t allow me, so that you would not regret later.”
Sokolniki.Moscow. The Tihon Zadonskiy’s church. The Blessed Matrona lived in this area of Moscow, in the veneer summerhouse.
Before the war, Matrona lived on Ulyanovskaya Street at priest Vasily’s, her novitiate Pelageya’s husband, before he got to jail.
Moscow. Nikoloyamskaya (Yulyanovskaya) street. The Blessed Matrona lived in the house of the priest Father Vasily located in this street
30, Starokonyushenny alley, Moscow 1929. Here The Blessed Matrona had been living since 1942 to 1949 in the family of Zhdanov.
She also lived on Pyatnitskaya Street, in Sokolniki (in a summer plywood hut), on Vishnyakovsky Alley (in her niece’s basement). She also lived near Nikitsky Gates, in Petrovsko-Rozumovskoye, stayed with her nephew in Sergiyev Posad (Zagorsk), in Tsaritsyn. She lived the longest (from 1942 to 1949) on Arbat Street, at Starokonnyushenny Alley. Here, in an old wooden family house, in a 48-meter room, lived E.M. Zhdanova, Matrona’s fellow villager, with her daughter Zinaida. It is in this room that three corners were occupied with icons from top to bottom. Old oil lamps hung before the icons, and heavy expensive curtains on the windows (before the revolution, the house belonged to Zhdanova’s husband, who comes from a rich and well-known family).
Starokonuyshenny alley,Moscow. The Blessed Matrona had been living here in the family of Zhdanov since 1942 to 1949.
They say that Matrona – knowing in her spirit that there was trouble ahead – would always leave some places in a hurry a day before the police would come, since she lived without registration. The time was hard and people were afraid to have her registered with them. Thereby it is not only herself who she saved from repressions but also her hosts.
Matrona was several times on the verge of being arrested. Many people who were close to her were arrested, put in jail (or exiled). Zinaida Zhdanova was convicted as a participant of a church-monarchic group.
Ksenia Ivanovna Sifarova told that Matrona’s nephew Ivan lived in Zagorsk. Once, suddenly, she mentally summons him.
Sergiev Posad. Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra. 1923. The Blessed Matrona lived with her nephew Ivan in Sergiev Posad.
He came to his boss and said, “I need a day off, I can’t wait any longer—I badly need to visit my aunt.” he came not knowing what the problem was. Matrona told him, “Come on, hurry up, take me to Zagorsk, to your mother-in-law.” No sooner had they left than the police came. It happened on multiple occasions: as soon as they wanted to arrest her, she had already left the day before.
Anna Filippovna Vybornova recalls, once, a police officer came over to arrest Matrona, and she told him, “Go, hurry up, a bad accident happened in your home! And the blind woman will not get away from you – I keep sitting on bed and go nowhere.” So he listened. He went home and found out that his wife had burned badly because of a kerosene stove. But he took her to the hospital just in time. Next day, he comes to work and they ask him, “So, did you get the blind woman?” And he replied, “I’m never going to get the blind woman. If she hadn’t told me, I would have lost my wife. But because of her help I could take her to the hospital just in time.”
The Blessed Matrona prophesying to the guard about the fire. The icon of The Holy Blessed Matrona with her vita.
The photo of The Blessed mother Matrona. Matrona Dmitrievna Nikonova. 1881- 2-nd May 1952
Living in Moscow, Matrona would sometimes go back to her village – either someone asked her to come, or she would feel homesick or miss her mother.
From the outside, her life was monotonous: in the daytime—visitors, at night—prayer. Like ancient heroes of faith, she would never really sleep, but doze off lying on the side, putting her little fist under the head. And years passed by…
Once, in 1939 or 1940, Matrona said, “You are all fighting trying to divide something, and don’t know that a war is coming.
The praying of The Holy Religious Blessed Matrona in front of the image of the Blessed virgin Mary for the salvation of Russia. The icon of The Holy Blessed Matrona with with her vita.
In early 1941, Z.V. Zhdanova’s cousin, Olga Noskova, asked mother Matrona for advice, whether she should take a vacation (she could get a holiday package, but she did not feel like having a vacation in winter). Mother said, “Go now, because there will be no vacations for a long time. A war is coming. Nevertheless, we will win. The enemy won’t touch Moscow; it will only burn a little. And you don’t need to leave Moscow.”
When the war began, mother Matrona asked all her visitors to bring willow branches. She broke them in twigs of equal length, peeled the bark and prayed. People close to her remember that her fingers were covered with wounds. Matrona could be spiritually present in different places—there was no spacial distance for her spiritual vision. She would often say that she visited the battlefields helping our soldiers. She told everyone that Germans would not take Tula. Her prophecy came true.
Matrona used to have up to forty visitors per day. People came with their sorrows and grief both spiritual and physical. She never refused to help, except to those who had evil intentions. Some people thought mother Matrona was a traditional medicine practitioner, who could break a curse or the evil eye. Nevertheless, after talking to her they understood that she was a God’s person and would convert to Church and to its salutatory sacraments. She helped people unselfishly, and never charged anything.
Mother was always loud and clear when she prayed. People who knew her well say that she prayed wellknown prayers, which people prayed in church and at home. “Our Father,” “Let God arise,” Psalm 90, “Lord Almighty, God of hosts and of all flesh” (from morning prayers). She emphasized that she did not help by herself, but God did by her prayers, “Is Matrona God? God helps!” – She would respond to Ksenia Gavrilovna Potapova’s request to help her.
By healing the sick, mother Matrona required from them faith in God and changing of their sinful lives. Thus, she asked one visitor whether she believed that the Lord was able to heal her. There was another, an epileptic, whom she tells not to miss Sunday worships, confessing her sins and having the Holy Communion at each of them. She blesses those who have only civil marriage to have a marriage in Church. She tells everybody to wear a baptismal cross.
What problems did people bring to mother Matrona? Very common ones, i.e. an incurable disease, a loss, a husband who left the family, a broken heart, a sudden unemployment or persecutions from management. Everyday needs and questions, like should I get married? Should I move to another place or get another job? There were quite a few people obsessed with various afflictions: someone fell suddenly ill, another one started to bark all of a sudden, someone’s hands or legs went numb, someone is hallucinating. People call such people “spoiled” by sorcerers, witch doctors and wizards. These are people, who have been exposed to some demonic powers.
One time, four men brought an old woman to Matrona. She was waving her arms as a mill. Once mother prayed over her, she relaxed and were healed.
The Holy Blessed Matrona is healing the raging woman. The icon of the Holy Blessed Matrona with her vita
The Holy Blessed Matrona is turning the unfaithful slave to the Christianity The icon of the Holy Blessed Martona with her vita
Praskovya Sergeevna Anosova who on many occasions visited her brother in an asylum, remembers, “One day, when we were on a way to him, a man and his wife were sitting next to us going to the hospital to take their daughter home. We were going back home together. All of a sudden, the 18-year-old girl started to bark. And I said to her mother, “I am really sorry for you... We are going to pass Tsaritsyn. How about taking your daughter to Matrona?” At first, the girl’s father, a general, didn’t even want to hear about that. But his wife insisted and we went to Matrona. As they started to bring the girl closer to Matrona, the girl started to look like a pole, arms like sticks, and then she started to spit at Matrona trying to break free. Matrona said, “Leave her, she won’t do anything now.” The girl was released. She fell and started to spin on the floor vomiting with blood. And then she fell asleep and slept for three days. Her parents looked after her. And when she woke up and saw her mother, she asked. “Mom, where are we?” The mother replied, “We are at the place of an insightful person...” And she told her everything. And the girl got completely healed.
Z.V. Zhdanova told that in 1946, a woman came to their apartment, where Matrona also lived back then. The woman was a high official. Her only son had gone insane, her husband had been killed at war, and she wasn’t a believer of course. She had taken the sick son to Europe but no well-known doctors could help him. “I have come out of despair,—she said,—I have nowhere else to go to.” Matrona asked, “If God heals your son, will you believe in God?” The woman said, “I don’t know, what it is—to believe.” Matrona asked for some water and in the presence of the poor woman started to pray loudly over the water. Giving her the water, the blessed woman said, “Now go to Kashchenko clinic (a psychiatric clinic in Moscow—Ed. note), talk to the orderly there and tell them to hold her tight as they lead her. She will struggle and you try to splash some of this water into his eyes and make sure it gets into his mouth.” Zinaida Vladimirovna recalls, “In a while, my brother and I eyewitnessed how this woman came to see Matrona again. She thanked mother Matrona standing on her knees and saying that her son was now well. This is how it happened. She came to the hospital and did everything mother Matrona had told her. There was a hall there, to which her son was brought in on one side of the barrier, and she came from the other side. She had a vial with the water in her pocket. The son was struggling and screaming. “Mom, throw it away, the thing in your pocket, don’t torture me!” She was shocked – how did he know? She quickly splashed some water into his eyes, some got to his mouth, and suddenly he calmed down, his eyes became clear and he said, “I feel good!” And he was discharged soon thereafter.” Matrona would often put her hands on her head and say, “Whoa-whoa, now I am going to trim your wings, but go ahead and fight for the time being!” “Who are you?” —she asked, and something buzzed in the man. Mother Matrona said again, “Who are you?” —the buzz was even louder, and she prayed and said, “Well, mosquito, enough with your fighting!” The man left healed.
Matrona also helped people who had problems in their family life. On one occasion, a woman visited Matrona and said that she was forced to get married a man she didn’t love, so now they had problems. Matrona said, “Who is to blame? You are. Because the Lord is the head, and the Lord is masculine, and we, women, have to obey men, and you should keep your crown for the rest of your life. It is your fault that you have problems with him...” The woman listened to the blessed woman, and her family life improved.
“Mother Matrona fought for every soul coming to her for her entire life - recollects Zinaida Zhdanova, - and she always won. She never complained about the hardships of what she did. I still regret never taking pity on mother Matrona, even though I could see how hard it was for her, how compassionate she was for each one of us. The light of those days still makes me feel warm. Oil lamps burned before icons in the house, and mother Matrona’s love and her silence embraced your soul. The house was filled with holiness, peace and blessed warmth. The war was being waged, and we lived as if in heaven.”
What do people remember about Matrona? She had tiny and short arms and legs—as if those of a child. People remember her sitting on a bed or a chest with her legs crossed. Fluffy hair parting in the middle. Tightly shut eyelids. A kind and lucid face. A gentle voice.
She comforted and soothed the sick, stroked them on the head making the sign of the cross over them—now joking, now rebuking and instructing. She was not strict. She was patient to people’s weaknesses, compassionate, kind, considerate, and always happy and never complaining about her diseases or sufferings. Mother did not preach or lecture. She gave specific piece of advice, how to act in a certain situation, prayed and blessed.
In general, she was laconic and gave short answers to visitors. Some of her general instructions have been preserved.
Mother taught that we should never judge our neighbors. She used to say, “Why judge other people? It is better think about yourself more often. Each sheep will be hung by its tail. What do you have to do with someone else’s tails?” Matrona taught to commit you to the will of God. Lead a prayerful life. Keep making the sign of the cross on yourself and things around, thereby guarding against evil forces. She recommended partaking of the Holy Sacraments of Christ more often. “Protect yourself with the cross, prayer, holy water, and Holy Communion... Let oil lamps always burn before icons.
She taught how to love and forgive the elderly and weak. “If old people, sick people or crazy people say something which hurts, don’t listen and simply help them. You should help the sick eagerly and also forgive them, no matter what they say or do.”
Matrona did not allow believing in dreams, “Disregard them, dreams may be from the evil one – to distress you or ensnare you with thoughts.”
Matrona cautioned against running around to various priests looking for “elders” or “insightful people.” She said that if you run around to different fathers you might lose your spiritual power and the right direction in life.
Here is what she said, “The world is in evil and temptation, and temptation of souls will be obvious. Beware!” “If you seek advice from an elder or priest, pray that the Lord give him wisdom to give you the correct answer.” She taught never to be curious about priests and their life. To those who sought Christian perfection, she advised not to stand out by external appearance among other people (black clothes, etc.). She taught to bear sufferings. She said to Z.V. Zhdanova, “Go to church and look at nobody, pray with your eyes closed or look at an image or icon.” Seraphim of Sarov and other saints also have a similar admonition. In general, Matrona’s instructions had nothing that would contradict the patristic doctrines.
Mother used to say that using cosmetics is a great sin, whereby you spoil and deform the image of the human nature; you complement what the Lord has not given to you and create a false beauty, which results in perversion.
Matrona said the following about girls who started to believe in God, “Girls, God will forgive you everything if you are faithful to Him.” If a girl gives a vow never to get married, she shall stick to the vow for the rest of her life. God will give you a crown for that.”
Matrona used to say, “If an enemy approaches, make sure you pray. A sudden death happens if you live without prayer. “Your enemy sits on your left shoulder, and an angel on the right shoulder, and each of them has a book: our sins are recorded into one book, and our good works—to the other. Make the sign of the cross more often! The sign of the cross is like a lock on a door.” She taught to make sure you make the sign of the cross over your meal. “Receive salvation and protect yourselves by the power of the True and Life-Giving Cross!”
This is what mother said about sorcerers, “He, who voluntarily entered into a union with an evil power and started to practice witchery, has no way out. Don’t go to witch doctors, they may heal one thing but spoil your soul.”
Mother Matrona used to say to her loved ones that she fought sorcerers and evil forces and waged an invisible war on them. At one point, a good-looking old man came to visit. He had a beard, looked respectable. He fell on his knees before her and said, shedding tears, “My only son is dying.” Mother Matrona leaned down to him and asked quietly, “How did you do it to him? For death or not? He said, “For death.” And mother said, “Go, go away from me. You shouldn’t come to me.” After he left, she said, “Sorcerers do know God! I wish you prayed as fervently as they do when they pray God to forgive their evil!”
Mother Matrona venerated deceased priest Valentin Amfiteatrov. She said that he was a great man before God and that he helps those suffering people who come to his grave. She sent some of her visitors to get some sand from his grave.
Massive apostasy from Church, militant atheism, increasing alienation and bitterness between people, denial by millions of traditional faith and sinful life without repentance resulted in severe spiritual consequences for many. Matrona understood and felt that very well.
On the days of demonstrations, mother asked everybody to stay inside, shut windows and doors: hosts of demons were filling the entire space, all the air and embrace all people. (Perhaps, blessed Matrona, who often spoke allegorically, wanted to remind people of the necessity to keep shut the “windows of the soul” from the evil spirits—this is what the Holy Fathers call human emotions)
Z.V. Zhdanova asked Matushka, “Why did God let it happen that so many churches were closed and ruined?” (She meant in the years after the revolution.) Mother replied, “This is the will of God. The number of churches was reduced because there will be few believers and there will be no ministers.” —”Why is no one fighting against that?” —”People are hypnotized, they are not themselves; horrible powers have come... This power is in the air, it penetrates everywhere. In the past, swamps and thick woods were home for this power, because people went to church, wore crosses and were protected at home by icons, oil lamps and were blessed. Demons used to fly past such homes, and now they inhabit people, because people don’t believe and reject God.”
In an attempt to have a glimpse of her spiritual life, some curious visitors tried to peek at what Matrona did at night. One girl saw that she was praying and bowing all night long...
Moscow. The Church of the Nativity of the John Baptist on the Red Presnya street. The blessed Matrona received communion in this temple at the priest f. Dmitry.
Living at the Zhdanov’s in Starokonnyushenny Alley, Matrona confessed to and was communed by priest Dimitry from the church on Krasnaya Presnya Street. Incessant prayers helped Matrona to carry her cross of serving people, which was really a heroic act, martyrdom and the highest expression of love. Praying over the demon-possessed, interceding for each of them by sharing human afflictions, mother Matrona grew so tired that by the end of the day, she could no longer talk with her loved ones and only groaned quietly lying on her little fist. The inner, spiritual life of the blessed woman remained secret even for the people who knew her well. It will remain secret for the rest.
Not knowing of mother Matrona’s spiritual life, people, nevertheless, had no doubts about her being holy and really a hero of faith. Matrona’s heroism was her great patience coming from her pure heart and fervent love of God. It is this patience, which will save Christians in the last days, which the Holy Fathers of the Church prophesied about. Being a real hero of faith, the blessed woman taught not by words but by her entire life. Being blind physically, she taught and teaches today the true spiritual vision. Not being able to walk, she taught and teaches today how to walk up the hard path of salvation.
Zinaida Vladimirovna Zhdanova writes in her memoirs, “So who was my dear Matrona? Mother Matrona was an incarnate warrior-angel as if holding a fiery sword in her hands to fight the evil power. She healed people with prayer and water... She was small as a child, and always reclined on her side, on her little fist. This is how she slept and she never lain comfortably. When receiving visitors, she would sit up cross-legged, two little hands stretched out over the head of the visitor, put her fingers on the head of the person standing before her, make the sign of the cross, say the most important thing that this person’s soul needs and pray.
She lived and did not have her own corner, property or savings. She would live at the place of whoever invited her. She lived on the offerings, but could not dispose them. She was in obedience to a cruel Pelagia, who managed everything and gave her own relatives all the offerings that people brought to Pelageya. Mother could neither eat nor drink without her permission.
Mother seemed to know all events in advance. Each day of her life was a stream of sufferings and troubles of people coming to her. She helped the sick, comforted and healed them. There were many healings by her prayers. She took the head of a crying visitor with her hands, soothed him, and warmed with her holiness, and the visitor leaved elated. She, totally exhausted, only sight and prayed all night long. She had a little dimple on her forehead from her fingers, from frequent signs of the cross. She made the sign of the cross slowly, diligently, her fingers looking for the dimple...” During the war, there were many occasions when she responded to visitors’ questions “alive or not.” To some, she said – “he’s alive, wait.” To others, - “perform a funeral service and commemorate.”
One can assume that people seeking spiritual counsel and guidance also visited Matrona. Many Moscow priests and monks from Trinity Lavra of St. Sergius knew about mother Matrona. By a reason known only to God, mother Matrona did not have an attentive observer or disciple beside her, who could lift the veil covering her spiritual activities and write about it for the edification of descendants.
Fellow villagers would frequent her as well, bringing notes gathered from neighboring villagers, to which she wrote answers. Even if someone from as far as two or three hundred kilometers away would visit her, she knew the name of the person. Citizens of Moscow and other cities, hearing about the insightful woman, would also come to visit. People of various ages – young, old, and middle-aged. She would receive some, and would not receive others. She spoke in parables to some people and in simple language to others.
“Mother, I got problems with my nerves...” She answered, “What nerves, there are no nerves at war and in jail... You should be self-possessed and be patient.”
Mother taught that one should always seek medical assistance. Your body is a house given by God, and you need to fix it. God created the world, and medicinal herbs, and you should never ignore that.
Mother sympathized with her loved ones, “I feel so sorry for you, and you will live till the last days. Life will become worse and worse. Hard. A time will come, when they will put the cross and bread in front of you and say, “Choose!”” “We will choose the cross,” they said. —”How could one live then?” —”We will pray, take some dirt, make little balls, pray to God, will eat them and be full!” On another occasion, she encouraged in a hard situation and said that you should not be scared, no matter how scary it is. “They pull a child sitting in a sleigh and don’t worry! The Lord will manage!” Matrona used to repeat, “If people lose their faith in God, they will face afflictions, and if they don’t repent, they will perish and disappear. So many nations disappeared, but Russia exists and will exist. Pray, ask, repent! The Lord will not leave you and preserve our land!”
Skhodnya. The Moscow suburb
Matrona found her final shelter in this world at Station Skhodnya near Moscow (23 Kurgannaya Street), where she lived with a distant relative of hers, having left the room in Starokonnyushenny Alley. Here visitors came and brought their troubles too. It was only before the very death that mother Matrona, being weak, limited the reception of visitors. Nevertheless, people kept coming, and there were some from whom she could not turn away.