The life of the Blessed Matrona
BLESSED Matrona (Matrona Dimitrievna Nikonova) was born in 1881 in the village of Sebino, Epifan Uyezd (today Kimovsk District), Tula Governorate. The village is around twenty kilometers away from the well-known Kulikovo Field. Her parents – peasants Dimitry and Natalia – were pious and hard-working people living in poverty. There were four children in the family: two brothers – Ivan and Mikhail, and two sisters – Maria and Matrona. Matrona was the youngest. She was born when her parents were no longer young.
The Sebino house in Tula Province. The place of The Blessed Martona’s birth.
Matrona’s mother decided to give the unborn child to Prince Golitsyn Orphanage in the neighboring village of Buchalki but had a prophetic dream. The yet-unborn daughter appeared to Natalia in her dream. She was a white bird with a human face with closed eyes; she sat on Natalia’s right hand. The pious woman believed the dream was a sign and was afraid to give the child away to the orphanage. The daughter was born blind but mother loved her “hapless child.”
The Holy Scriptures testify that there are times when the Omniscient God pre-elects His servants before they are born. Thus, the Lord says to saint prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee” (Jer. 1:5). Having chosen Matrona for a special ministry, the Lord from the very beginning put a heavy cross on her, which she bore meekly and patiently throughout her life.
At her baptism, the girl was named Matrona after venerable Matrona of Constantinople, a Greek ascetic of the 5th century, whose memory day is celebrated on November 9 (22).
The fact that the girl was chosen by God was testified during her baptism, as the priest immersed the child into the Baptismal font, a pillar of fragrant thin smoke appeared above the baby. A relative of the blessed woman told this story, Pavel Ivanovich Prokhorov, who was present at the baptism. The priest, Father Vasily, a righteous and blessed man according to the laymen, was literally amazed, “I have baptized plenty of people, but I have never seen anything like that. This child will be holy.” And he said to Natalia, “If the girl asks for anything, please make sure you come directly to me and tell me what she needs.”
The baptism of Holy blessed Matrona. The icon of Holy righteous Blessed Matrona of Moscow with scenes from her life
The Cathedral of the assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Serbino in Tula region.The font in which the blessed Matrona accepted the Sacrament baptism.
He also added that Matrona would take up his place and would even predict his time of death. Moreover, it did happen so. One night, Matrona suddenly told her mother that Father Vasily had died. Shocked and scared, the parents rushed to the priest’s house. When they came, they found out that he had just passed away.
People also talk about an external, bodily sign that God chose the child – the girl had a little crossshaped swelling on her chest, a baptismal acheiropoietos cross. Once when she was six, her mother scolded her, “Why are you taking off your body cross?” “Mommy, I’ve got a cross of my own on my chest,” replied the girl. “Oh, dear daughter – apologized Natalia – please forgive me! I’m so sorry for blaming you.”
Natalia’s friend once said that when Matrona was still a baby, her mother was complaining, “What should I do? The girl refuses to take the breast on Wednesdays and Fridays. She sleeps day and night and won’t wake up.
Matrona was not just blind she had no eyes. The eye pits were closed with tightly shut eyelids, just like those of the white bird the mother saw in her dream. However, the Lord gave her spiritual vision. When still an infant, she would get into the holy corner while her parents were sleeping, bring down icons off the shelves in some unimaginable way, and put them on the table and play with them in the still of the night.
Other children would often call her names and even abused her – lashed her with nettle leaves knowing that she would never guess who was doing it. They would put her in a ditch and curiously watch as she felt her way out and strolled back home. That is why she stopped playing with children at her early ages and stayed at home most of the time.
At the age of seven or eight Matrona displayed her gifts of prophecy and healing.
The Nikonovs’ house was close to the Dormition Church – a beautiful temple, the only church in the neighborhood of seven or eight villages.
Cathedral of the assumption Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Sebino in Tula region.The place of The Blessed Martona’s birth
Matrona’s parents were very pious and loved attending religious services together. Matrona literally grew up in church. First, she attended church with her mother, and later on – by herself using every opportunity. First, she attended church with her mother, and later on – by herself using every opportunity. When the mother lost sight of the girl, she nearly always found her in the church. She even had her own place – on the left from the entrance, at the west wall, where she would stand motionless and quiet during worship. She knew church chanting quite well and would often chant along. She must have acquired the gift of ceaseless prayer when she was little.
Her mother, feeling pity for her, would sometimes say to Matrona, “You are my miserable child!” Surprised, Matrona would respond, “I’m not miserable! It is my brothers, Vanya and Misha, who are miserable.” She understood that God had given her much more than to other people.
From her early childhood, God endowed Matrona with a gift of spiritual reasoning, insightfulness, miracle making and healing. Her relatives started to notice that she knew not only people’s sins or iniquities, but also thoughts. She saw the imminent dangers, could foretell disasters in both nature and society. Her prayer could heal the sick and comfort the suffering. Soon people started to come to her. People would frequent the Nikonovs’ house, carts and wagons with sick people from nearby towns, villages and even other regions would fill the roads on the way here. Shut-ins were brought, whom the girl set on their feet. In addition, in gratitude to the girl, they would give food and presents to her parents. Therefore, instead of being a burden she became a breadwinner for her family.
Matrona’s parents loved to go to church together. On one church festival, Matrona’s mother was being dressed and called to her husband to join her. However, he refused. He stayed at home, prayed and chanted. Matrona was at home, too. As mother was in church, she could not help thinking about her husband. “Why he didn’t come?” - she felt sorry. The liturgy was over and Natalia came home, where Matrona said to her, “Mom, you have not been to church.” “What do you mean? I have just come – I’m taking off my coat!” The girl said, “Father was in church but you were not.” By her spiritual vision, she could see that her mother was in church only physically.
Once in autumn, as Matrona was sitting on the mound, her mother said, “Why are you sitting here, it is cold, come in.” Matrona said, “I can’t be at home – they’re setting fire under me, stabbing me with a pitchfork.” Natalia was puzzled: “There’s nobody there.” Matrona explained, “Mom, you don’t understand. Satan is tempting me!”
Once Matrona said to her mother, “Mom, get ready, soon I’m going to have a wedding.” Mother told this to the priest, who came and communed the girl (he would always come and give her the Holy Communion when she asked). Suddenly, in several days, they saw many carts coming to their house. People kept coming with their troubles and problems, bringing their sick, and surprisingly asking about Matronushka all the time. She prayed over them and healed many. Mother asked her, “Matrona, what is that?” She replied, “I told you I would have a wedding.”
Ksenia Ivanovna Sifarova, a relative of Matrona’s cousin, related that Matrona once said to her mother, “I am leaving now. There is going to be a fire tomorrow. But your house won’t be burn.” It happened as she told. A fire started in the morning and almost the entire village burned down, and then suddenly the wind changed and her mother’s house remained untouched by fire.
As an adolescent, she got a chance to become a pilgrim. A daughter of a local landowner, pious and kind girl Lidia Yankova, would take Matrona along to pilgrimages: to the Kiev Caves Lavra, the Holy Trinity St. Sergius Lavra, St. Petersburg, and other holy places in Russia. There is a story of how Matrona met Holy Righteous John of Kronstadt. After the Liturgy in St. Andrew Cathedral of Kronstadt, St. John asked people to step aside in order to give a way for 14-year-old Matrona coming to the solium. Then he said loud and clear, “Matronushka, my dear, come over. Here comes my successor – the eighth pillar of Russia.
The Holy Assumption Kiev-Pechersk Lavra. As an adolescent, Martona got a chance to make a pilgrimage to the Lavra.
The Holy Trinity – St. Segues Lavra As an adolescent, Matrona got a chance to make a pilgrimage to the Lavra.
Matronushka never explained the meaning of these words, but her relatives figured out that Fr. John prophesied about Matrona’s special ministry to Russia and Russian people during the years of persecution of the Church.
In a while, when Matrona was a little over sixteen, she was deprived of the ability to walk – her legs were paralyzed. The eldress herself pointed out the spiritual reason for that. It was in church after Holy Communion. As she was walking down the church, she knew that a woman would approach her and take away her ability to walk from her. Гt really happened. “I didn’t try to avoid it. It was the will of God.”
Holy Righteous John of Kronstadt. During the father’s John service at The St. Andrew Cathedral the little Matrona was standing “…the eighth Pillar of Russia."
The meeting of Holy Religious Blessed Matrona and John of Kronstadt. The icon of the Holy Religious Blessed Matrona with her vita.
She never walked again in her life but only sat. Her sitting in various houses and apartments, where she could find shelter, continued for another fifty years. She would never complain about her disability but bore humbly the heavy cross that God entrusted her.
Back when she was young, Matrona predicted the revolution, how “they would plunder and ruin churches and persecute everybody.” She would show vividly how they would divide the land, grab land plots greedily, get as much as they could and then leave everything behind and run for their lives. No one would need any land.
Matrona advised landowner Yankov from their village Sebino to sell everything before the revolution and leave the country. If he had listened to the blessed woman he would not have seen how his property was plundered and would have avoided his early death, and his daughter would not have had to live a vagabond life.
Matrona’s neighbor, Yevgenia Ivanovna Kalachkova, narrated that just before the revolution, one woman bought a house in Sebino. She came to Matrona and said, “I want to build a bell tower.”
“What you have in mind won’t happen,” said Matrona. The woman was surprised, “Why not? I have everything for that: the money and materials.” Yet the bell tower was never built.
Matrona (who became well known in the region and whose request was considered a blessing) insisted on painting the Theotokos icon the “Searcher for the Lost” for the Dormition Church. This is how it happened.
The icon was painted approximately in 1915. Matrona had kept her during all her life. Now this icon of the Mother of God is in Pokrov Convent in Moscow.
The icon «Sercher for the lost» which was bought by the blessed Matrona for the cathedral of Sevbino village. Currently it is kept in the Uspenskiy convent in the city of Novomoskovsk,Tula region
Matrona asked her mother to tell the priest that he had a book with a picture of the icon “In Search of the Lost” in his library on a certain shelf. The priest was quite surprised. He found the icon and Matrona said, “Mom, I am going to order an icon like that.” The mother, distressed, “How are we going to pay for it?” Matrona told her mother, “Mama, I’m dreaming and dreaming about this icon “In Search of the Lost”. The Mother of God is asking to come to our church. Matrona blessed women in all neighboring villages to raise money for the icon. Among those who contributed was a man who gave a ruble reluctantly, and his brother gave a kopeck just for fun. When the money was brought to Matrona, she looked through it and found this ruble and this kopeck and said to her mother, “Mom, give it back to them – it spoils all the money.”
When the necessary amount was collected, they ordered the icon from an artist from the town of Epiphan. His name remained unknown. Matrona asked him if he could paint such an icon. He said that he was used to that kind of orders. Matrona told him to repent of his sins, confess his sins and have the Holy Communion. Then she asked, “Are you absolutely sure you can paint this icon?” The artist said “yes” and started working.
After quite a while, he finally visited Matrona and said that he can’t do it. She said, “Go repent of your sins” (with her spiritual vision, she could see that he still had a sin he had not repented of). He was shocked to know she knew about it. He went to see a priest again, repented, and was communed. He asked Matrona for forgiveness. She said, “Go. Now you can paint the icon of the Heavenly Queen.”
The money raised in villages with the blessing of Matrona was paid for another Mother of God “Search of the Lost” icon ordered in Bogoroditsk.
Once it was ready, it was carried in a sacred procession with church banners from Bogoroditsk to the church in Sebino. Matrona was led under arms for four kilometers to meet the icon. All of a sudden, she said, “Don’t go any farther. They are coming. They’re close.” The woman born blind spoke as if she could see, “They’ll be here in half an hour and bring the icon.” They did—in half an hour, the procession appeared. A prayer service was held, and the procession headed for Sebino. Matrona now held onto the icon, now was led under arms nearby. This image of the Mother of God “Seeker of the Lost” became the holy thing of that place and was known for its miracle making. In times of drought, it was brought out to the meadow in the village center and a prayer service was hold. After that, no sooner had the people got back home than it started to rain.
Holy Religious Blessed Matrona is receiving the icon of The Holy Virgin “Search of the Lost.” The icon of the Holy Religious Blessed Matrona of Moscow with her vita
Blessed Matrona was surrounded by icons during her entire life. In the room, where she lived for quite a while, there were as many as three red corners with icons from top to bottom and oil lamps burning in front of them. There was a woman who worked in Moscow Church of the Deposition of the Robe and who frequented Matrona. She remembered her saying, “I know all the icons in your church, where each of them stands.”
People were also amazed at how Matrona had the same idea about the world around as people who can see. On one occasion, to sympathetic words of a person close to her, Zinaida Vladimirovna Zhdanova, “I’m so sorry, mother, you can’t see how beautiful the world is!” she replied, “Once, God opened my eyes and showed me the world and His creation. I could see the sun and stars and everything on earth – all its beauty: mountains, rivers, green grass, flowers, birds...”
Zinaida Vladimirovna Zhdanova. 1949. Holy Blessed Matrona had lived at the Zhdanov’s place from 1941 till 1949. Matrona (Matrona Dmitrievna Nikonova) lived at Starokonyushenny lane.
Yet there is even more amazing testimony to the insightfulness the blessed woman had. Z. V. Zhdanova recollects, “Mother Matrona was absolutely illiterate, but she knew everything. In 1946 I had a diploma project on the architectural ensemble of the Admiralty (back then, I studied in an architect school in Moscow). My supervisor harassed me for no reason at all. Over the period of five months, he never consulted me and decided to crack me down on my project. A fortnight before the viva he announced to me, “Tomorrow a committee is coming and will confirm that you work is unsatisfactory!” I came home crying. My father is in jail, there is nobody to help me, my mom depends on my support; and this was the only hope – to get the diploma and start working.
Italy. Florence. The bridge of Santa Trinity
Italy. Florence. Palazzo Pitti
Mother Matrona listened to me and said, “Come, come, you’ll do it! We’ll talk tonight, at tea time.” I could hardly wait for the evening to come. Finally, mother Matrona said, “You and I are going to Italy, to Florence and Rome, and we shall see the works of great artists...” And she started to enumerate streets and buildings! Then she stopped, “Here is Pitti Palazzo, here is another palace with arches. You should copy this – three lower floors with big bricks and two arches for entrance.” I was shocked by her vision. In the morning, I rushed to the school, put tracing paper on the drawing and made all corrections with brown ink. The committee came at ten. They looked at my project and said, “Well, not bad, looks great! Congratulations!”
There were many people who sought Matrona’s help. There was a man who lived four kilometers away from Sebino, who could not walk.
Holy Blessed Matrona is healing the sick man. The icon of Holy Religious Blessed Matrona with her vita
The healing of the sick man by the Holy Blessed Matrona by the faith of her sister. The icon of Holy Religious Blessed Matrona with her vita
Matrona said, “Let him crawl to me. Let him start in the morning and he will get here around three.” He did crawl all four kilometers and went back home on foot, totally healed.
Once, during the Easter week, three women from Orlovka village came to Matrona. Matrona received them sitting at a window. She gave a Communion bread to one of them, some water to another, and a red egg to the third, She told the third woman to eat the egg as soon as she got beyond the garden, to the barn floor. The woman put the egg in her bosom. When they passed the barn floor, the woman—as told—broke the egg and found a mouse in there. The women got frightened and hurried back. They came to the window, and Matrona said, “So, are you disgusted at eating a mouse?” —”Mother, but how can I possibly eat it?” —” And how did you dare to sell milk from a container with a mouse in it to people, let alone orphans, widows, and the poor, who did not have a cow? The mouse was in the milk. You would take it out and give milk to people.” And the woman said, “Matrona, dear, they never saw the mouse and didn’t know it.” —”But God saw it!”
There were many people coming to Matrona with their diseases and grief. Standing before God, she could help many.
A.F. Vybornova, whose father was baptized together with Matrona, speaks about the details of a healing like that. “My mother comes from the village of Ustye, and she had a brother there. One day he wakes up and his arms and legs don’t move; they became like lashes. He did not believe in Matrona’s healing abilities. The brother’s daughter went to get her mother in Sebino, “God-mother, hurry up, my father feels bad – he looks like he’s out of his mind: his arms are hanging, his eyes don’t look, and his tongue barely moves.” Mother got a horse ready and they rode down to Ustye. They came to my brother, and he looked at the mother and could hardly pronounce, “Sister.” She packed up my brother’s things and brought him to our village. She left him at home and went to ask Matrona if she could bring him. Therefore, she comes, and Matrona says, “Your brother said that I can’t do a thing, and himself has turned into a lash.” She had not even seen him before! Then she said, “Bring him in, I’ll help him.” She prayed over him, gave him some water and he fell asleep. He slept like a log and woke healthy. “Thank your sister; it is her faith that healed you,” were Matrona’s only words to him.”
Matrona’s helping for the sick not only had anything to do with spells, divination, traditional medicine, psychic practices, magic or other witchcraft, wherein the “healer” contacts dark forces, but was of a totally different, Christian nature. This is why sorcerers and other occult practitioners so hated Matrona, which is testified by the people who knew her well as she lived in Moscow. Primarily, Matrona prayed for people. Being a God-pleaser richly endowed with spiritual power from above, she pleaded with God to provide miraculous help to people. There are many examples in the history of the Eastern Orthodox Church, when not only priests or hermits could heal those in need, but also righteous people living in the world.
Matrona used to pray over water and give it to her visitors.
Those who drank it got healed of various diseases. The content of these prayers is unknown but it was in no way the sanctification of water performed by the order established by the Church—only ministers have canonical right to do that. But it is also known that not only holy water has good healing power but also the water from some water bodies, sources and wells marked by visitations and prayerful life of holy people, who lived nearby, or by appearance of miracle-making icons.