MIRACLES ON THE ROADS OF WAR
Prepared by Tatiana Shvetsova
On the frontlines and roads of our country’s Great Patriotic war of 1941-1945 against Hitler’s invaders, numerous miracles are known to have occurred due to the fervid prayers of Orthodox Christians. Many of then were entered into a volume that came off the press in Moscow in 2004 – “Miracles on the roads of war”. We shall acquaint you with several documentary narratives, taken from this volume. In our opinion today these stories can help present day Christians in various adversities, when it seems as if there is no way out.
“When the Great Patriotic war of our country against Hitler’s invaders broke out, on June 22nd 1941, the Patriarch of Antioch Alexander III addressed Christians of the world with a message to pray for Russia’s salvation. One of those to respond to this appeal was Metropolitan Ilya of the Lebanon Hills. This non-Russian person understood better than many others the significance of our Orthodox country for the rest of the world. Metropolitan Ilya decided to go into seclusion and pray to the Holy Virgin to show him a means of sending deliverance to Russia. He descended into a stone underground dwelling, where no sounds could reach him, and where there was nothing but the icon of the Holy Virgin. The Metropolitan abstained from food and drink, and stood on his knees praying all of the time…
Every morning they brought him fresh reports from the frontlines of the Great Patriotic war regarding the number of killed, and how far the enemy had advanced…
After three days of vigil metropolitan Ilya had a vision of the Holy Virgin in a pillar of fire, announcing that he’d been chosen by God to convey His message to the Russian people. If all these requests weren’t met, Russia would perish.
The Lord’s message, conveyed by The Holy Mother of God, said that Orthodox churches and monasteries, Seminaries and Theological Academies should be opened all across Russia. The clergy should be brought back from the frontlines and prisons so that they might start services. A Cross-bearing procession should walk around Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) with the Kazan icon of the Mother of God, so that the enemy under no circumstances seize this ‘chosen’ city. A service must be conducted in Moscow before the Kazan icon of the Mother of God, after which the icon should be sent to Stalingrad, which must likewise be defended at all cost. The Kazan icon should go with the troops to the very borders of Russia.
Metropolitan Ilya immediately got in touch with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church and the Soviet government and conveyed to them all that the Holy Virgin had revealed to him. Today our archives contain letters and telegrammes sent by Metropolitan Ilya to Moscow.
Stalin summoned the representatives of the Orthodox clergy and promised to fulfill all that was requested in the message conveyed by metropolitan Ilya. He saw no other possible way of saving the situation, since the country lacked the resources to contain the advancing enemy. Nazi troops were just outside Moscow, and death and famine roamed our land.
In Leningrad, besieged by the Nazis, they brought the Kazan icon of the Mother of God out of the Vladimir Cathedral and walked around the entire city with it in a cross-bearing procession. The city held out and didn’t surrender to the besieging Nazi army. Yet again, facts supported the truth of the words spoken by the Venerable Mitrofan of Voronezh, who said that a town named in honor of Apostle Peter had been chosen by the Holy Mother of God. While the Kazan icon of the Mother of God remained in the city and there were Christians praying, the enemy would never penetrate it.
The Holy Virgin interceded on Moscow’s behalf, too. Right after the Kazan icon of the Mother of God was flown around Moscow on a plane, the Nazis fled from the city, as if driven by some panic terror, leaving behind the dead and broken weaponry. None of Hitler’s generals could comprehend just what had happened: why their excellently equipped and trained troops, already flush up against Moscow, suddenly retreated.
Later, on the approaches to Stalingrad, the Kazan icon of the Mother of God was with our troops on the right bank of the Volga. People prayed before it incessantly… Hitler’s troops never did manage to cross the river, despite all their efforts. There was a moment when the defenders of Stalingrad found themselves on a small patch of ground near the river, yet the Kazan icon was with them, and they stood firm.”
Thus, with the revival of Orthodoxy in our country during the war, our army began to oust the Nazis from its own territory, and later – from the Nazi occupied European countries. Our army chased the invaders back to Berlin, where the Great Patriotic war and World War Two ended in May 1945.
Here is a testimony of our contemporary speaking of his relative who participated in the war:
“My Uncle had a vision of the Holy Mother of God during the war. This was during battles of the Kursk Bulge. The Holy Virgin appeared in the sky and pointed towards the Germans, as if directing our advance. The entire squadron saw Her. We all fell to our knees, believers and atheists alike. We prayed heartily to the Holy Mother of God… From that moment on our troops began to advance successfully. My Uncle, who was formerly an atheist, was transformed into an Orthodox believer.”
And now, a story from ex-frontline serviceman Pyotr Polynov:
“The place where we sat in our trenches seemed very special… It was as if someone was helping us: the Nazis were attacking with superior forces, yet we kept rebuffing their onslaughts, and with surprisingly minor losses. However, the day I want to tell you about was an unlucky day. The battle was particularly fierce. The entire no-man’s land was covered in dead bodies of both sides. The battle ceased only by sunset. We occupied ourselves as best as we could while waiting for supper to be brought.
I got out my tobacco pouch and sat smoking, while my countryman, Ivan Bozhkov walked to the side of the trench. Suddenly I saw him poking his head out of the trench.
“What are you doing?” I shouted to him. “Waiting to make some German sniper happy?”
Bozhkov knelt back into the trench. He looked odd… And then he said to me in a very quiet voice:
“Listen, there is a woman crying out there…”
“You’re just hearing things,” I told him. “What would a woman be doing here?”
However, when the shooting from the German side died down, we really did hear a woman crying. Bozhkov placed his helmet on and climbed out over the breastwork.
“The mist is really thick out there,” he said to us, “and through the mist a woman is walking towards us across the no-man’s land… She is bending down over the killed and weeping! My God! She is so like the Holy Virgin Mary… Fellows! The Lord has chosen us… a miracle is happening before our very eyes!.. A holy vision!..”
We carefully looked out of the trenches.
In the rolling mist, a woman was making her way across the strip of no-man’s land. She was wearing long, dark robes… Bending down over the dead, she wept bitter tears for them…
Suddenly someone said: “Look! The Germans are watching the vision, too. See their helmets sticking out of the trenches… There is certainly something strange about this… Look how tall she is, twice as tall as an ordinary woman…”
My God, how she wept! It rent our hearts!…
While we were observing the vision, a strange thick mist engulfed most of the no-man’s land. I thought to myself: “It’s as if a shroud is covering the dead…” The Virgin suddenly stopped weeping, turned to face our trenches, and bowing in our direction, disappeared. Bozhkov said loudly: “The Mother of God bowed in our direction! It means victory shall be on our side!” And indeed, it was so.
And here is another story, narrated by a witness of the event.
On September 28th 1942 the occupant forces drove all the residents of the village of Rozhkovka, in Byelorussia to the edge of the settlement. 57 families – women, the old folks, and children – looked in horror at the gun barrels pointed at them. The translator unfolded a slip of paper bearing a swastika. It was an order to execute all residents of the village for corroborating with the partisans and shielding saboteurs. The villagers themselves dug a huge common grave for themselves. The grave grew bigger and bigger, and death – ever closer… “Lord save us! Holy Mother of God, have mercy on us!” they all prayed as one. Nothing short of a miracle could save them.
At the moment when it seemed it was hopeless, the image of the Virgin appeared in the sky.
It was seen by a German pilot. The Virgin was walking aross the Heavens with the Infant in her arms, as if walking on earth. He heard her voice, saying: “Find on the map the village Rozhkovka. Change your course and fly there! Stop the execution!”
According to witnesses, when the residents of Rozhkovka were ready to die, a Nazi plane suddenly landed in the field. An officer jumped out, weighed down by orders of distinction, and shouted to the SS men:
“Do not shoot! In two days I’ll bring you an order annulling the execution!”
Indeed, this order was delivered by the pilot in two days time, at noon. All the people were saved.
“A month later,” recalls one resident of Rozhkovka, “the same German pilot brought an icon to our village and passed it over to us. He said the ‘Madonna’ (Our Heavenly Mother!) had been carved on a wooden board by a wounded soldier at his request. On that icon, the Holy Virgin was just as the German pilot had seen Her in the sky!
Decades have passed since the end of the war, yet the icon has never been restored – the colors shine brightly, as if just painted on over the carved image. The icon is self-renewing…”
In conclusion, yet another story of an eye-witness.
“At the time, we were living in Ukraine, not far from Kursk region. It was 1943. The frontline was very close. That was the time when preparations were underway for the celebrated battle of the Kursk Bulge. However, we had no notion of this then. Once, father came into our house and said: “Mother! Go out and see what’s happening!.. You can go, too!” he addressed us, youngsters.
We all rushed outside. Father pointed to the sky and said: “Watch!” We looked up and saw a man walking across the sky! All the residents of the village saw it! Someone got some field-glasses. Through them we could clearly see a man in dark monk’s robes, with grey hair, walking in the sky. He had a cross on his chest. He was walking and censing…
He walked like that for quite a long time.
Then the monk turned in the direction of Russia and gradually faded into a tiny black spot on the sky and disappeared.
This was right on the eve of the decisive tank battle near Prohorovka. I sometimes told people of this incident from my war-time childhood. Once I narrated it to some young fellows at work. A while later, they brought me the recollections of one general, a participant in the Kursk Battle, and I read an amazing thing there. It turns out that before the beginning of the battle there was a moment when the German tanks were all ready to advance, while ours had just been brought by rail, and were standing on the train platforms. All the Nazis had to do was drive up and fire right at the station in order to destroy all Soviet tanks. However, for some 40 minutes not one of the German tanks could start up! Without any visible reasons! This time was enough to unload our tanks and set them in battle order. Thus, there began the greatest tank battle in history, where we scored a decisive victory!
After reading this, I put two and two together and realized what my childhood vision on the eve of the battle had meant. As to the question just who it was walking in the sky with a censer that day, we got our answer from the now-deceased Father Superior of the Pskovo-Pechiorsk Monastery Father Alipiy (Voronov).
It transpired this had been St.Sergius of Radonezh, the Hegumen of the Russian Land. He interceded on our behalf in those direful days…”
Source:The Voice of Russia