Life of Hieroschemamonk Feofil Part 10

The life of, Fool-for-Christ's sake, blessed Hieroschemamonk, Feofil (Theophilus). Chapter 10.

Chapter 10

Gift of Forvision

We have related several cases and examples in the previous chapters which have convinced us of the reality of the gift of forevision possessed by Starets Feofil and of how wisely and exactly he used this gift for the advice and correction of the souls of vain and sinful mankind. In addition to these aforementioned incidents, we present here a few more cases of the gift of forevision of the Blessed One.

The Preobrazhenskaya Hermitage

1. On the morning of August 14, 1852, the Blessed One set out in his cart from Kitayev to the Lavra. It was the eve of the Feast of the Dormition and Feofil intended to spend a night and a day there. As he was passing through the forest near the place where the Preobrazhenskaya Hermitage now stands, the bullock turned to the right as if it were lost, but the Starets, occupied with reading the psalter, did not seem to notice this and so the bullock continued on his way into the dense woods. Some men with axes who were walking from the nearest village noticed this error and began crying out to the Starets:

"Batiushka! Your bullock is lost. Look — he's not going in the right direction."

The Blessed One seemed to tear himself away from reading the Psalter, then turned to the men and said:

"Let him go his way. He knows better than we do what he needs there. It is done so that I can pray to God in this place."

With these words, the Starets got out of his wagon, took an axe from one of the men, cut down a small tree and hewed a small cross from it. At that time the whole area around where the Preobrazhenskaya Hermitage now stands was dense woods and thoughts about building in it had never even entered anyone's mind. Never-the-less, the Blessed Feofil, foreseeing in spirit the future grace of the place, prayed to God and as once Andrew-the-First-Called had erected a cross on the heights of Kiev, so the Blessed Starets now planted his cross on this spot and said:

"Remember, friends! On this spot a monastery will be built and many of the living and the dead will settle in it."

What was foretold was fulfilled. In 1872, at the place where Feofil had erected his cross, the beginnings of the Preobrazhenskaya Hermitage was built, and aside from living people, seeking peace for their souls, the dead were laid to rest there for their eternal peace, in expectation of the approaching day of God's fearful judgement.

The founding of the Trinity-Ionovsky Monastery.

2. The Blessed One foretold the following concerning the founding of the Holy Trinity-Ionovsky Monastery.

On the Samburg farm of the Kitayevskaya Hermitage lived the postulant nun, Pelagia. She felt a sincere veneration towards the Starets and lovingly fulfilled any obedience the Blessed One might give her. If he told her to have a shirt washed, she would wash it; if he told her to harness the bullock, she would go to harness it; if he sent her to the Dnieper to wash a pair of boots, she would do so. Because of her constant service and simple obedience, the Starets loved the postulant very much and would often protect her from various temptations and troubles.

Once, a starets-hieroschemamonk from Mount Athos came to the Lavra and offered to secretly tonsure Pelagia and three other postulants of the farm. Not wishing to accept this tempting offer without the blessing of Starets Feofil, the postulants went to him for advice. The Blessed One did not say a word to them but brought out a loaf without the inside and said:

"Your thoughts are as empty as this bread," and he forbade Pelagia to be confused by vainglorious thoughts.

Another time the Starets called her to himself and gave he. a bottle. "Go and buy yourself some honey, incense, and candles," he said, "and remember the number 12." Pelagia did as she was told and as she was returning, the Starets met her near the market, surrounded by many people.

"Well, did you buy it?" he asked.

"I bought it, Batiushka," answered Pelagia.

"Well then, begin praying for my father and I will pray for your father right now."

And he began to prostrate himself in the middle of the street. Pelagia was embarrassed. People were standing all around, as if looking at some marvel, but having overcome her embarrassment, she too began to make prostrations.

Several days passed. Suddenly Pelagia received a letter from her relatives that on the twelfth of that month, her father had died after an illness.

But let us return to the aim of our story. Starets Feofil once met Pelagia on the road and ordered her to take the bullock by the rope and lead it to the Lavra while he himself turned around in the wagon towards the east and began his usual reading of the Psalter. As they were going beyond Zberints, at the place where the Holy Trinity-Ionovsky Monastery now stands, the Blessed One stopped the bullock and told his fellow traveler to give it some hay. Then he called her to himself and said:

"Pelagia! If you threw a large seine net into the depths of the Dnieper, what would you pull out?"

"Everything, Batiuska," Pelagia answered, having thought about it.

"Both large and tiny fish. There would be pike, and carp, and roach in it, and mussels and frogs as well."

"Well, then, know that on this spot God's grace will soon shine and a large monastery will be built on it. And as in the seine of the fisherman there is found everything, so in this young cloister not all will be the same in spiritual growth. There will appear in it 'pike' of high ascetic life, and there will also steal into it worthless 'shells', little caring for the purity of the soul."

And raising his eyes to heaven, the Starets blessed the place in all four directions and, having prayed for half an hour, he continued on his way to the Lavra.

And now, today, when the prophecy of the Blessed Starets has been fulfilled in all accuracy, and, in place of the shifting sands, we see a beautiful, well-built monastery, our minds automatically recall the prophetic words: "The wilderness ant the solitary place shall be glad~€.. And the tesert shall rejoice. and blossom as a rose...It shall blossom abuntantly and rejoice...; they shall see the glory of the Lord ant the excellency of our Got" (Is. 35:1-2).

The boat and the Fish

3. The Blessed One was walking along the shore of the Dnieper to the Lavra. His cell-mate, Panteleimon, was with him It was about two hours before the church bells begin to ring. Coming to the place where the Lavra caves dominate the hill, the Starets saw a boat tied on the shore of the Dnieper and said:

"Do you know what I've thought of, Panteleimon?"

"What is that, Batiushka?" "Let us both go over to the other side of the Dnieper. No one over there is praying to God, so we'll pray for everyone and then read the holy Psalter."

"As you wish, Batiushka."

The two came up to the shore and the Blessed One untied the boat which was without an oar, then told Panteleimon to sit down in it-

"But how will we go?" the cell-mate asked him in bewilder-ment. "There is no oar, Batiushka. I will run for an oar; there is a guard house nearby."

"No need. Sit down, I tell you." -

"But what about the oar? Or will we use our hands?'

"What do you, need an oar for, you simpleton?"

"To move ahead in the water. To steer the boat."

"Sit down! Sit down! The Lord directs the whole world and He will direct our little shell."

Panteleimon sat down and watched to see what would happen next. The Blessed One pushed the little boat away from the shore, seated himself in the stern and opened his Psalter.

"Bless, O Lord!" he said and immersed himself in his reading.

And what a miracle! The boat peacefully went ahead by itself. Panteleimon sat amazed and breathless. He could not utter a single word. The ripples of the river rocked the frail vessel. The sun was warmly shining and a gentle breeze was blowing. The distance to the opposite shore grew less.

Suddenly, something flashed before the eyes of the cell-mate. From the water lept several gold fish and, landing in the bottom of the boat, they began to play about, their scales brightly sparkling in the sun. Panteleimon glanced at the Blessed Starets in utter bewilderment.

"Silence! Be quiet!" the Blessed One said. "These are God's angels. The Lord has sent them for our consolation."

Panteleimon entered an indescribable rapture and sat staring at the fish. As the boat began to near the shore, the fish lept over the side and disappeared into the depths.

On the return trip, the very same thing occurred.

"Guard your lips," said the Starets to his cell-mate as they left the banks of the Dniepr, "and place a barrier to your mouth. See that you do not tell anyone about what you saw until after I die."

Panteleimon kept all this in great secret until the demise of the Blessed Starets and only after his repose did he begin to tell about this miracle to many of the Lavra brothers.

Marvelous is the Lord, Who creates all that He wants on earth, in the seas, and in all the depths. In His hands are the depths of the earth and the heights of the mountains. The sea is His for He created it.

A miracle

4. Another incident which the cell-mate related is no less amazing.

The Starets had been moved to the Goloseyevskaya Herrnitage. One day in May of 1853, about six months before his death, the Blessed One said to his cell-mate:

"Panteleimon! Let us go into the woods and pray to God."

As they walked, the Starets read the Gospel, sang the psalms, and knitted a stocking, while Panteleimon cut hay along the way and gathered it into a net in order to treat the bullock on their return home. They walked an exceptionally long way, and when evening came on and the sun began to set, the travellers turned homeward. Walking past the place where the Preobra-zhenskaya Hermitage now stands, the Starets stopped and said:

"How about resting on this hill for a while, Panteleimon, and feasting our eyes on the view of the holy Lavra?"

The weary cell-mate was just waiting for this and he spread out on the grass and began to doze off. Starets Feofil took out a piece of ice, put it in water and added some honey and drank it in order to strengthen his exhausted body. Half an hour passed. Suddenly, the Blessed One cried:

"Panteleimon! Some strangers are approaching. Run out and call them here."

The drowsy cell-mate raised his head and saw a group of pilgrims coming down the road. He called them over to the Starets.

"May God help you!" the Blessed One greeted them.

"Thank you, Batiushka," the men replied.

"Perhaps you haven't had anything to eat yet? asked Feofil.

"Hardly, Batiushka. We've chewed on some dried bread crusts in water but there has been no hot food on our tongue for a whole week."

"Never mind. Sit down and chat for a while. The Mother of God will feed everyone at once."

Then, having seated the travellers, the Blessed One took a small cast-iron tripod out of his basket, dug a small hole in the ground, and sent Panteleimon out to gather some twigs.

"Twigs?! What good will they do to you, Batiushka!" the bewildered cell-mate responded, knowing that there was nothing to cook.

"Simpleton!" the Blessed One chided him. "We'll boil gruel. You see, it is necessary to feed the pilgrims."

The twigs were brought but there was still no fire.

"What trouble!" Panteleimon exclaimed with annoyance. "There is nothing to start a fire with, Batiushka."

"And God?!" the Starets said impressively.

Then raising his eyes, he began to pray:

"O Lord! At Thy command, fire goes before Thee and lightning illumines the heavens. Hear, O Lord, the voice of my prayers when I call unto Thee, when I raise my hands to Thy holy temple. Hear my supplications; may the poor eat and be filled and praise Thy All-Blessed Name!"

With these words, he prostrated to the east and then blessed the little tripod saying, "In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit..."

But barely had he finished these words when, from under the tripod, a wisp of blue smoke appeared. The twigs began to smoke and soon burst into bright flames.

Upon seeing such a miracle, Panteleimon wanted to run but the Starets stopped him and, wagging his finger, he ordered him to throw some short grass into the pot while he himself dropped in several pebbles and a piece of ice taken from the basket. When all this began to boil, the Blessed One, not interrupting his mental prayer, blessed the tripod once more and mixed the contents of the pot.

"Well, taste it now," he said, turning to his cell-mate.

Panteleimon scooped out a bit of the gruel on the end of a spoon and carefully licked it with his tongue. Then he scooped up a whole spoonful and ate it.

"Batiushka!!" he cried out in astonishment. "Really and truly, it's semolina."

"Hurry and pour it out for the guests, simpleton, before it gets cold."

The cell-mate, joyously and with fear, seized the pot and began to ladle out the gruel into the travelling cups of the dumbfounded pilgrims. But no matter how much he poured out, the amount of gruel in the pot did not lessen. Everyone had been provided for and had eaten his fill, but the pot remained full. Just as the loaves and fishes were multiplied in the wilderness to feed the multitude, so also was the gruel now multiplied in answer to the prayers of Starets Feofil.

"Well, God be with you," said the Blessed One gently, turning to the travellers when they had finished eating. "Go to the holy Lavra and pray for everyone."

Completely staggered by the miracle they had just witnessed with their own eyes, the pilgrims set out for the Lavra and there began to tell everyone, with joy and fear of the miracle. For all that you ask in prayer, with true faith, you will receive.

Abbess Seraphima

5. On July 5, 1853, at 8 A.M., Abbess Seraphima of the Kievo-Florovsky Monastery and the nun Agnia, her treasurer, arrived at the Lavra in order to petition Metropolitan Filaret to serve a liturgy in their cloister on the feast day of its church, which was named in honour of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God.

Vladika received the visitors warmly and agreed to accept their invitation with pleasure.

"Good, good," he said. "I will definitely be there. Just prepare all that is necessary for the service."

The Abbess then started to take leave of the Metropolitan, but he detained her.

"Are you planning to return home now, honorable Mother?"

"Well, yes, we had planned to, Your Eminence."

"But I am serving a special liturgy today in the St. Sergei Church at the Kitayevskaya Hermitage. By good fortune you are here and so perhaps you would consent to joining us for the service?" "Your blessing, holy Vladika. With great pleasure."

The Metropolitan began rushing to get ready for the journey, but, to his great chagrin, he could not find his prayer rope.

"Oh, what a grief you are," Vladika said to himself. "You must have forgotten the prayer rope and left it at Goloseyev-skaya."

He called to his cell-mate. Father Nazary, but Seraphima interjected:

"Perhaps you could use mine, Vladika?"

"Yours? But what will you do for a prayer rope? They say that it is a bad omen to go without it, but what else is to be done. Let me use yours."

The Abbess gave her prayer rope to Vladika and then, leaving him to finish his preparations, she set out ahead for Kitayev with Sister Agnia. On that day the Kitayevskaya Hermitage was in a great bustle. The Metropolitan had informed them of his arrival quite late and the sextons, taken unawares, were rushing about in all directions sweeping, cleaning, and preparing vestments, while the sacristan and the superior of the hermitage had worked themselves into complete exhaustion. In order not to miss the arrival of the Vladika, watches had been sent to the belfry at dawn. At that time the higher clergy always travelled in carriages drawn by four horses, and the sentries were just waiting for such a foursome to appear.

Suddenly, one of the watches sighted the four-horse carriage of the Florovsky abbess approaching in the distance. and assuming that it was Metropolitan Filaret's carriage, with the exuberance peculiar to young postulants, cried out, "He is coming!" The bell-ringer was just waiting for this and, with a strong, skilled hand, he began ringing the bells with all his might.

The brothers quickly poured out of the church with banners, cross, and holy water and stood waiting to receive Vladika. The four-horse carriage drove up, the coachman stopped his team, but instead of the expected Metropolitan, out stepped Abbess Serafima of the Florovsky Monastery. There was some confusion, but matters were soon set in order again.

Soon, the Metropolitan arrived and the liturgy was served with the proper ceremony. The church and the monastery yard were especially crowded due to the influx of summer residents in the neighborhood and a large crowd of pilgrims from the Lavra. The Blessed Feofil took part in the liturgy and service of thanks-giving and according to his custom, during the liturgy, he stood apart from the other celebrants, half-turned aside. After the liturgy, the Metropolitan began to bless the people and Abbess Seraphima, together with Sister Agnia, set out for the gate in order to go home.

While they were walking along the side of the church, Feofil met them and not answering Seraphima's greetings, he pulled a bottle of sand out of his pocket and poured it on her from head to toe.

Seraphima cried out in fright and unhappily hurried to the gate with her co-traveller. But just as they were seating themselves in the carriage, Ivan, Feofil's cell-mate, ran up to them and gave Agnia a long woman's gown, inside of which was tied a whole sheaf of rye.

"Oh, my God! What is this?" said Agnia, flinching back.

"Don't be afraid," answered the cell-mate. "Batiushka Feofil sent this. He said,'Tell Agnia to remove the heads and keep them, but to send the straws back to me'."

Agnia accepted the gift with great confusion and put it inside the carriage. The coachman waved his whip and sent the horses forward.

What did the Blessed One foretell with these strange actions?

Immediately upon returning home, Seraphima felt unwell and towards evening became ill and went to bed. By the time the Kazan feast day arrived and the Metropolitan came to serve the liturgy, she was so ill that she could not rise from her bed.

When Vladika found out about Seraphima's sudden illness, he was extremely saddened. "Preserve her, Oh God," he said with unhidden sorrow. "She is so young and full of life and now she has become ill. Pray for her, sisters in Christ, pray fervently and may the Lord preserve her safely and unharmed." He then turned to the Governor-General, Prince Vasilchikov, who was a fine example of a true and God-loving son of the Church, and said, "Let us go and confort her."

When they arrived in her cell, the ill one was lying motionless. Seeing the presence of her high ranking visitors, she moved and wanted to rise from the bed, but the Vladika forbade her to strain herself. "The prayer rope, do you remember the prayer rope?" he asked the ill abbess in a saddened voice. "My little observation about the omen has come about. Yes, it has come about."

Having given the ill one a holy blessing, he wished her a speedy recovery and left the cell. Towards evening Seraphilna became much worse and on July 10, on the Feast of St. Antony of Pechersk, she felt herself coming to life's end. She ordered a carriage to be sent to the Lavra to bring her spiritual father, Hieroschemamonk Parfeny. When the Starets came to her with the Holy Gifts, it was already too late. Abbess Seraphima had already yielded up her soul.

On July 12, the treasurer, Agnia,(2) was elected to replace the deceased abbess. And so, the prophecy of the Blessed Starets came to pass.

Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich

6. At 7 P.M. on September 13, 1851, His Majesty, Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich, together with the Grand Dukes Nikolai Nikolaevich and Mikhail Nikolaevich, entered Kiev.(3) Since it was already dark, and because His Majesty was travelling on the Zhitomir road from Lusk, and the Lavra did not lie on his route, he was unable to visit it that evening. Instead, he went directly to his apartment at the home of the military governor. On the following day, September 14, which was the Feast of the Elevation of the Cross, the imperial travellers attended the Lavra liturgy which was served by Metropolitan Filaret. Then at 10:45 there was a review of the troops on the Esplanade Square from where His Majesty continued to St. Sophia Cathedral. From there, he proceeded to the Mikhailovsky Monastery, after which he viewed the city, the newly erected fortifications and other buildings and the arsenal.

On September 15, His Majesty, together with the Grand Dukes, left to review the troops in Elisavetgrad.

At noon, on September 19, Nikolai Pavlovich returned to Kiev alone, leaving the two Grand Dukes behind. At 2:30 P.M., accompanied by the Governor-General and military engineers, he examined the fortification works and walked from the new (Nikolsky) gates to the yard of the engineers' command and past the Lavra stables which were situated near the Nikolsky Monastery (often called "Little Nikolai") to the military cathedral (the "Great Nikolai"). Having examined the cathedral, His Majesty said to the dean who had greeted him:

"It is a good cathedral. It should be restored."

Then, pointing to the iconostas which was darkened with age, he asked who had built it. The protopriest replied that it was built by Hetman Mazepa in 1690.

The Sovereign said, "He is cursed here, but he is also prayed for here, in order that God may forgive him."

Then the Tsar pointed out some icons which were hung along the walls in such a way that the people were required to stand with their backs to them and he ordered that they be moved nearer to the iconostas or placed in the sanctuary.

From the military cathedral, His Majesty set out for the tomb of Askold which, according to the decision of the city planners, was to be dug up to make way for a new access route to the bridge on the main highway. The Sovereign ordered that the plans be altered so that the highway would pass by the tomb and spare the entire cemetery which was around it. Then Nikolai Pavlovich continued to inspect the fortress and citadel until 3:30 at which time the Sovereign entered his carriage and, accompanied by his suite, engineers, and city authorities, set out for his quarters. Then a most unusual and significant event took place.

The Tsar meets Feofil

Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich of Russia

As the carriage was driving through Perchersk, and about to turn a corner, His Imperial Majesty met with Feofil who came plodding around the corner on his bullock. No sooner did the Tsar's horses come even with Feofil's cart than they stopped as if they had suddenly become frozen to the ground. All the efforts of the coachman to make the horses proceed were in vain. The horses strained to the right and to the left but they could not move the carriage from its spot.

Seeing the monk in a ragged cloak near him, the Sovereign became interested in finding out who he was. The Tsar's suite and the city authorities quickly rushed to Feofil and brought him to the Sovereign's carriage.

"What kind of person are you?" Nikolai Pavlovich sternly asked Feofil, taking him in with a penetrating glance.

"I am a man of God," the Blessed One replied with childlike simplicity.

"I know you are God's, but where do you come from and where are you going?"

"Where I am from — I am there no longer. Where I am now — everyone can see. Where I will be later — God alone knows."

Nikolai Pavlovich gave a questioning look to his suite and they, extremely embarrassed by Feofil's reply, hastened to explain that this simple person was the monk Feofil, a fool-for-Christ's-sake, of the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra.

"A God's fool-monk?" asked Nikolal Pavlovich with amazement. "Strange."

But wishing to end the embarrassment of those accompanymg him, he kindly turned to Feofil and said:

"Well, go with God and wish me a happy journey."

"No, Your Majesty. You have to go through thorns," the Blessed One answered to this, peacefully climbing into his cart.

At that very moment the horses strained to one side and the Tsar's carriage sped ahead. The Sovereign heard these prophetically significant words of Starets Feofil and looked back intently at the strange monk.

The Tsar visits the Lavra

On the morning of September 20, the Tsar unexpectedly visited the Lavra and without any welcoming, he entered the cathedral church where the liturgy was taking place and "It is meet to praise Thee" was being sung. After the usual parting prayers. the Sovereign, having eliminated the ceremonial "seeing off" from the church to the holy gate, accepted the Metropolitan's blessing and set out for St. Petersburg.

In 1852, Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich visited, for the last time [7] the city which was dear to his heart, not long before the beginning of the war with Turkey which led to the unfortunate Crimean campaign and placed the Sovereign in his untimely grave. The Tsar arrived in Kiev at 11 A.M. on Sunday, October 5, accompanied by the Grand Dukes Nikolai Nikolaevich and Mikhail Nikolaevich.

The Tsar is distressed

At 1 P.M. the Sovereign went to the Lavra where he visited the Metropolitan and conversed with him in his private chambers. The Tsar was extremely sullen and unhappy. His brow furrowed and his gaze clouded with constant thought, Nikolai Pavlovich recalled the Christians in the East who were being protected by him, and who were now again being oppressed by the Turks. The heart of the Russian Tsar, softened by prayer in the church, was filled with pity for the unfortunate sufferers. He also recalled how the Turks had formerly oppressed the Slavs and the Greeks and how the Russian Sovereigns had tried to lighten their sufferings and even he, Nikolai Pavlovich, had to declare a bloody war. The Turks were defeated then and asked for peace and Greece was recognized as an independent state. Now they were again beginning to oppress the Christians under their power and again were forcing the Tsar to declare war against them. But now the strength of the Turks was being multiplied threefold — the English and the French, wishing to weaken the strength of Russia, were preparing to help them. At the end of the conversation, the Sovereign, as if hinting to Vladika about the alarming state of thepolitical affairs, expressed that a menacing cloud was spreading over the fatherland, but that he was doing aIl in his power to prevent the dear native land from being stained and to deal with the enemies in dignity.

"I do not want to shed the blood of the faithful sons of my fatherland needlessly, but our vainglorious enemies are forcing me to bare my sword; My plans are not yet made — no! But my heart feels that the time is nearing and they will soon be brought to fulfilment."

After these words, the Sovereign sadly lowered his head and fell into deep thought.

"Oh, how I would like to know what awaits Russia in the future," he continued after some silence.

"But no-one knows this except God alone," the Metropolitan remarked with a sigh.

"Yes, I know that it is so," replied the Sovereign. "But I also know that the Holy Kiev-Pecherskaya Lavra, which has from time immemorial served as a seed-bed of faith and piety, was always rich with pious monks who have carried within themselves the spirit of truly ascetic life. Do you not have any elders who are filled with spintual grace and whom I might ask for advice on my forthcoming political projects?"

"There is, Your Majesty," the Metropolitan replied. "There is such a one. And although his mode of life in no way resembles the model of life of the other monks of the monastery, I can assure Your Imperial Majesty with confidence, that under the cover of his simplicity and foolishness there is hidden the grace of the Holy Spirit and an undoubted gift of forevision."

"Is it that tall monk whom I met once in the city? As nearly as I can remember, he was riding on a cart pulled by a bullock."

"That is correct, Your Majesty," answered the Vladika Metropolitan. "That is he, Schemamonk Feofil. If it would be pleasing to Your Imperial Majesty, I will not hesitate to present him before you. He lives in the Kitayevskaya Hermitage and within an hour my carriage could have him here."

"No, it is not necessary. We will go there ourselves. That would be much better."

It was settled that they would leave for the Kitayevskaya Hermitage immediately after dinner. At the agreed time, the Tsar and Vladika set out in the Metropolitan's carriage to visit Feofil.

The anthill

And what the the Blessed One do? In spite of the fact that a messenger had arrived at Kitayev from the Metropolitan with orders to keep Starets Feofil at the monastery all day, the elder managed to slip through the gate and into the woods. Seeing in spirit the nearing of the Tsar's carriage, he went out to meet it in Goloseyevo. Running through the bushes and scratching his hands and face into bloodiness, he found a large anthill some distance from the road. He dug into it with his hands and lay down in the middle of it on his back.

The weather that day was sunny and warm and the drive was very pleasant, but all the while the Tsar was silent and in deep thought, looking about the surrounding countryside, pointing to an object which had caught his eye. "A dead body, or what?"

Vladika looked in the direction in which the Tsar was pointing, but his aging eyes could not see what was lying there.

"Gavril!" he turned to his valet who was sitting in the coach-box. "Have a look brother."

"There is a man lying there, Your Eminence," Gavrilka answered, turning around. "But he is not dead, he's alive. See there, his feet are moving."

"What is he lying on?" the Sovereign azsked.

"It would seem that he is lying on an ant-hill, Your lrnperial Majesty," answered GavriLlsa.

"Strange," said the Tsar to this and ordered the coachman to turn off to the side.

When the travellers got out of the carriage and approached the ant-hill, Feofil was lying there, not moving. His arms were folded on his chest crosswise, as in death, and his eyes were completely closed. Ants swarmed in masses all over his body and face, but he, as if feeling nothing, pretended to be dead.

"This is Schemamonk Feofil," the Metropolitan quietly whispered to the Sovereign and walked up closer. "This is that very starets whom we are going to visit."

"Why is he lying here?' Nikolai Pavlovich asked in amazement. "Find out, won't you?"

"Feofil!" Vladika bent towards the Blessed One. "Why are you lying here?”


"Get up, I tell you, you culprit! The Sovereign wants to talk to you."

Neither sound nor movement

"Strange!" said the Sovereign with annoyance and, angrily waving his hand, he turned back to the carriage.

"No! This is not to be forgotten without reflection, Your Imperial Majesty," noted the Metropolitan to the Monarch when they sat down in the carriage. "My heart knows that this prank of his has a very deep significance."

But no matter how hard Vladika tried to reason out the meaning of the Staret's behaviour for the Sovereign, he could not give a clear, positive answer.

The war with Turkey

Some time elapsed and the war with Turkey was declared. On September 2, 1854, the allied fleet pulled in to the shores of the Crimea and landed a large army of about 70,000 English, French, and Turkish troops. The Russian troops were comparatively few in number, but never-the-less, they stood and fought. Russian sailors sank a part of their own fleet in the entrance to Sevastopol Bay in order to block the way of the enemy fleet and they carried cannons from the ships to the shore to form a battery. The naval forces became infantry and prepared for the desperate defence under the heroic leadership of admirals Kornilov, Nakhimov, Istomin, and others.

The enemy approached Sevastopol, as a maritime city, was not fortified from the land. But the Russians did not lose spirit and in several days they erected earthen fortifications for a distance of seven versts. They worked day and night. The troops were helped by the inhabitants, not excluding women and children who carried earth for the embankments. One battery was erected exclusively by women for which it was named "The Maidens".

War began. Bombs, shells, and shot fell like hail from both sides. From early morning until late at night the enemy fire did not cease. The entire world marvelled at the staunchness and extraordinary bravery of the Russian troops. But the Russian forces became thinned out as the lines of the valiant defenders fell. The cemetery grew. Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich, depressed with sorrow, became noticeably thin. His health began to break up from worries and troubles. Finally, he caught a severe cold and took to his bed.

The demise of Tsar Nikolai Pavlovich

And then, at the beginning of the Battle of Sinope, the news arrived from the battle front of the unbelievable losses of Russian forces and even of such heroes as Nakhimov and Kornilov - all this completely broke the heart of the Sovereign. On Feb. 18, 1855, Tsar Nikolai Pavlovich peacefully demised, having been tormented with worries and worn with sorrow.

The venerable Archpastor wept openly when he received the staggering news of the death of the beloved Monarch, for no-one felt more affection and love for the deceased Sovereign than did Metropolitan Filaret.

"We no longer have our very own father in Russia," the Metropolitan said to his cell-mate, Father Sergei, his voice quivering with sorrow. "We will no longer see him in our holy monastery; no longer will we admire his strong step; we will not hear his royal voice or see his shining eyes."

After these words, the Metropolitan called his valet, Gavrila Feodorovich Golushka, and said: "Do you remember, Gavril, our trip with the Sovereign to Kitayev? And do you remember the ant-hill and Feofil on it?"

"How could I forget, holy Vladika, even though that was three years ago."

"Take note, then, that up to now I could not understand his strange behaviour. Now, the prophecy of the Starets is as clear as God's day. The ants were the malicious enemies of our fatherland, trying to torment the great body of Russia. The arms folded on his chest and the closed eyes of Feofil were the sudden, untimely death of our beloved Batiushka-Tsar."


(2) Abbess Agnia was born Anna Grindling. She was converted to Orthodoxy from the Lutheran sect and became a postulant at the Florovsky Monastery in 1829. She was endowed with an extraordinary meekness of spirit and a loving heart for which she was especially loved by the Blessed Starets. In 1850, Feofil tonsured her to the schema with the name of Barbara but she kept this secret until her death on September 30, 1865.

(3) Emperor Nikolai Pavlovich visited Kiev fifteen times and was in the Lavra about thirty times.
He visited Kiev for the first time in 1816 while still a Grand Duke.

The second visit took place on June 23-26, 1629, after he had become Tsar.

The third visit was on May 31 to June 2, 1830.

The fourth, in September, 1832.

The fifth, on September 10-11, 1835.

During his sixth visit, which occurred on August 14-16, 1837, His Majesty, in accordance with a promise to Metropolitan Filaret, attended the liturgy celebrating the feast day of the Lavra, The Repose of the Theotokoa (August 15). After the liturgy, the Tsar proceeded to the Metropolitan's chambers for a visit. While crossing the Lavra courtyard, he noticed the customary dinner being given out to the poor and, the pilgrims. This custom, which was observed each year, had been established by the founders of the Lavra, Sts. Antony and Feodosy, and was maintained according to their will. Having been told the details of this event, His Majesty wished to try the food which was being distributed to the people. They brought him a wooden plate and a wooden spoon with bread, sour cabbage soup and millet gruel with milk. His Majesty ate the food, praised its taste and said, "I am very pleased that the ancient customs are observed. I wish that in the future the holy traditions of our blessed fathers will be preserved in their entirety for the guidance of our contemporaries and for the instruction of posterity." The wooden utensils used by the Tsar were preserved in the Lavra Vestry in memory of his visit. His Majesty left Kiev on August 16.

The seventh visit took place from August 10 to 12, 1840.

He arrived for the ninth time on May 21, 1845, accompanied by the Grand Duke Konstantin Konstantinovich and the following day of the Ascension, he was at the Sofia Cathedral for the liturgy. Later, he visited the Lavra. Since His Majesty's arrival was unannounced, it threw the brotherhood into a great bustle. The monks were in the refectory at the time and when His Majesty's arrival became known, all began to rush about. Some spread rugs, others put on robes, while still others lighted candles. But His Majesty had gone into the church. He looked around and saw no-one but an old man lighting the chandelier. His Majesty touched the old man on the elbow and said, "Leave it; it is not necessary." The monk did not turn around, assuming that one of the postulants, who did not know of the Tsar's arrival, was speaking to him. He pushed the Sovereign with his elbow and angrily retorted, "No-one is asking you. Go away! I know myself what is necessary." His Majesty smiled and went on his way. The old man was horrified when he was later told that his sharp reply had been made to the Tsar. Having venerated the holy cons and relics, His Majesty received the Metropolitan's blessing and left for St. Petersburg.

The tenth time His Majesty was in Kiev and at the Lavra for a total of seven hours since he was only passing through.

On September 8, 1847, His Majesty made his eleventh arrival in Kiev. He was expected to arrive at 6 P.M., but for some reason he arrived at 6 A.M. Nikolai Pavlovich rode up to the Holy Lavra gates, left the carriage and set out for the Great Church accompanied only his Adjutant-General, Orlov. The doors of the church were still closed because of the early hour. The wide Lavra courtyard and specially the threshold of the church were filled with sleeping pilgrims who had gathered here for the forthcoming feastday of the Birth of the Theotokos. His Majesty stopped before the church, examined the depictions of the saints at the entrance of the church and read the troparion and kondakion of the church's feast (The Repose of the Theotokos) inscribed in gold letters on both sides of the church doors. Soon a monk appeared in the courtyard. His Majesty called him over and inquired about the times of the services in the Lavra Chuch and asked that the doors be opened. Entering the church, as usual, His Majesty venerated the holy relics and icons and was ready to leave when the deputy of the Lavra, Archimandrite Lavrenty, appeared and escorted His Majesty to the gates. Because of the early hour of his arrival and departure, almost no-one noticed His Majesty, neither the monastery brethren, nor the in-habitants of Pechersk.

His Majesty's twelfth visit occurred on September 21, 1850. On Sunday, September 24, Nikolai Pavlovich attended the liturgy in the Lavra which was served by the Metropolitan. At the end of the service, His Majesty spoke with Filaret and mentioned, in the conversation, "Your service was beautiful. Only tell the deacons not to yell." It must be noted that at that time, the senior deacon in the Lavra was Antony. His voice was thunderous but somewhat sharp. It was once joked that his singing of "Many Years" could be heard all the way to Belaya Tserkov. Of course, in the Tsar's presence, Antony tried especially hard to distinguish himself with his voice, but its harsh timbre, as we have seen, did not appeal to His Majesty. In order to prevent a repetition of the incident, the Metropolitan issued the following order to the Ecclesiastical Sobor of the Lavra: "His Majesty the Emperor who was present during the serving of the divine liturgy on September 24, deigned to express a most gracious approval of the service. At the same time, His Majesty, having noticed the highly unpleasant shouting of the senior deacon, Antony, deigned to order me to restrain deacons in general from the excessive raising of voices during services." The Ecclesiastical Sobor hastened to implement this order. On September 25, at 10:30 A.M., His Majesty left Kiev... and etc. (Archives of the Kievo-Pecherskaya Lavra; Matters concerning High-Ranking Visits)

From: Hieroschemamonk Feofil, Fool-for-Christ's-Sake, Ascetic and Visionary of the Kiev-Caves Lavra. Compiled by Vladimir Znosko.