Prepared by Tatyana Shvetsova
March 8th, 1998, the first Sunday of Lent, witnessed the acquisition of the holy relics of a wonderful Orthodox zealot – the Blessed Matrona Nikonova, born in 1885 and deceased in 1952.
The great Russian Saint John of Kronstadt, upon discerning the 14-year old Matrona among a crowd of pilgrims come to see him, asked everyone to step asunder and let the girl come through and approach him. As she walked towards him, he exclaimed: “Here goes my successor, the eighth pillar of Russia.”
To this day no one can explain the significance of that phrase spoken by him. However, the fact that Saint John of Kronstadt, known for his gift of spiritual foresight, singled Matrona out in the crowd, and sought to converse with her, testifies to his having recognized the Holy seal on her.
Today there isn’t’ a single Orthodox believer in Russia who has not heard of the Blessed Matronushka, as she was lovingly called, and who doesn’t pray to her.
She is also known to thousands of people of other confessions, who turned to her in their hour of need for spiritual guidance, and were granted this help.
The Blessed Matrona was born in the village of Sebeno, Tula region, slightly over 300 kilometers south of Moscow, in a very poor peasant family in 1885.
She was the fourth child in the family, and as such – an unwelcome extra mouth to feed. Already prior to her birth her mother decided to give her away to an orphanage for children of the poor. However, right before childbirth she saw a wondrous dream:
The daughter that wasn’t born yet descended to her from the sky in the shape of a bird with human face. Her eyes were shut. As a God-loving, devout Christian, the woman took the dream for what it was – a sign from above, and abandoned all plans of giving up her child.
The girl was born totally blind, with firmly shut eyelids and a cross-shaped protrusion on her chest. As is the custom, she was christened 40 days after birth. When the local clergyman Vasiliy Troitsky dipped her into the font, a column of light, sweet-scented steam rose up from the font to the ceiling. The clergyman was amazed, and said: “I have christened many an infant, but have never seen anything like this! This infant shall be a saint!”
The child was christened Matrona, in honor of the venerable Matrona, a Greek zealot of the 5th century.
The Nikonov house stood facing the village church, consecrated in honor of Dormition of the Holy Mother of God. Since the family was noted for its piety, the parents and children frequently attended church. As for Matrona, she loved church services so much that she spent most of her time there.
Matrona had her own favorite spot in church, to the left from the main entrance door. She stood there with closed eyelids, rooted to the spot, and looked as though she was sleeping. Matrona knew the church chants and often sang along with the choir. It appears that already in her childhood she was granted the gift of ceaseless prayer.
The blind Matrona had been endowed by the Lord with spiritual foresight. Already in her infancy, at night, when everyone was asleep, the girl somehow made her way into the holy corner where the icons stood, took them down from the shelf, and attempted to converse with them. Her parents were most surprised when they found their little daughter occupied in this manner for the first time.
When Matrona grew up, she suddenly began evincing the gift of spiritual vision. Thus, once her mother, who was getting ready for church, began calling her husband to go with her. For some reason, though, he refused. He was praying at home. In the meantime, mother stood in church deeply perturbed by father’s conspicuous absence at the service. Due to this, she prayed most absentmindedly.
When she returned home from church, Matrona turned to her and said: “You were not at church, Mother.” “What do you mean, I wasn’t at church?” asked mother in surprise. “I have just returned from church — see?” The girl, however, remarked: “Now father – he was in church, but you were not there!” With her spiritual vision the girl had seen that the mother was only ‘physically’ attending church service, while in spirit she was outside the church…
Whenever at times mother would turn to Matrona pityingly and say: “You poor, unfortunate child!” surprised, she would respond: “I…? Unfortunate? Why, I am the happiest of people!” She knew that God had granted her so much more than to other people.
At the age of 7, besides the gift of spiritual vision, Matrona developed the gift of healing. This fact became widely known, and from that time on the Nikonovs’ home began to draw the ailing and afflicted from all over the region, who made their way here daily in the hopes the little girl would work a miracle for them. People begged Matrona to pray for them and cure them of their illnesses.
In gratitude for the help received, visitors left the young healer’s parents various gifts and food packages. Thus, the blind and poorly Matrona didn’t become a burden for her parents, as they’d feared, but was the family’s main breadwinner.
Residents of Matrona’s native village of Sebeno address her for help and guidance to this day.
“She helps us, indeed she does,” says the woman. “May she be in the Kingdom of Heaven! My daughter suffered tremendously from a pain in her arm. I said to her: “Valya, rub your hand with this oil.” I had taken the oil from the icon-lamp that glowed before the icon of the Blessed Matrona. She rubbed on the oil – and the pain disappeared. And once my cow stopped giving any milk… not a gram! I put some of that icon -lamp oil onto her udder and now she gives plenty of milk.
Well, what can I say… My own grandmother used to go to Matrona for help, she knew her well when she was alive. It’s interesting how although she was blind, Matrona always recognized who exactly had come to visit her, calling them by name whether she was acquainted with them or not!
At the age of 17 Matrona suddenly lost the use of her legs. From that moment on and to the end of her days she was unable to walk. However, she never complained of her fate meekly accepting this heavy burden from God.
Two icons of the Mother of God called the icon of our Lady “In Search of the Perishing” are linked with the name of the Blessed Matrona. One was written for the church in her native village. This is how it was.
Once Matrona said to her mother: “Mother, I keep dreaming of the icon of our Lady “In Search of the Perishing”. The Mother of God asks to be admitted to our church.” Then the girl instructed her mother to tell the local clergyman that in his library he had a book with a picture of the above-mentioned icon. The girl even mentioned on which shelf he would find the book he needed. When the book with the picture of the icon was found, Matrona asked the clergyman for his blessing so that she might commission an icon painter to make a copy of this icon for their church. After she received his blessing, Matrona turned to the believers of her village with a request to collect the needed money to pay the icon painter. The money was promptly collected and the icon was commissioned from an icon painter in the town of Bogoroditsk, in the Tula region.
When the icon was ready, the folk from Matrona’s village carried it in a cross-bearing procession from Bogoroditsk to the church in their native Sebeno.
With people leading her, Matrona set out to welcome the icon. At some point she addressed those leading her with the words: “Stop. Do not go any further…They are already close. They shall come and bring the icon in half an hour.” Indeed, 30 minutes later the cross-bearing procession appeared. They led Matrona up to the icon. She placed her hand on the corner of the icon and held on to it thus until the procession reached Sebeno.
This icon became the main local holy relic, and was famed for its miracles. When drought struck, they used to bring it out onto the meadow in the village center and hold a prayer service. After this people hardly had time to reach their homes when it began raining.
The other icon of Our Lady “In Search of the Perishing” was commissioned by Matrona for herself. After choosing an icon-painter, Matrona asked him if he would be able to paint the icon she wanted. He answered that this was all in the line of work for him. However, once he started, things didn’t go so well. As to why, the nun Antonina from the Convent of the Holy Intercession of the Mother of God in Moscow – where Matrona’s sacred relics lie, explains:
“He couldn’t paint the icon straight away because there was a sin he hadn’t repented of yet,” says Sister Antonina. “Matrona could see this sin with her spiritual vision, so she said to the painter: “You killed a man and didn’t confess and repent your sin. Go forth and confess.” The icon painter did as told and only then was he able to paint the icon. The icon turned out wonderful! It is now in the church where the relics of the Blessed Matrona lie. You are welcome to come to this icon.”
Let me add that many have received help from praying to this icon. As testimony of this, they have left as tributes to the Holy Mother of God gold and silver ornaments, that can be seen today on chainlets attached to the icon.
When still a teenager Matrona predicted the revolution in Russia. She described in detail how churches would be desecrated and plundered, how believers would be persecuted, and what a bloody struggle would unfold for the land…
On the eve of the revolution, Matrona advised the local landowner Yanjkov, whose family was charitable towards the Nikonovs, to sell his estate and go abroad. If he had listened to her, he wouldn’t have witnessed the pillaging of his estate and would have escaped death, while his daughter wouldn’t have become destitute.
Matrona herself was forced to lead a vagarious life in soviet years. In 1925 году at the age of 40 she was forced to leave her native village because of her two brothers, Mikhail and Ivan – both staunch communists, and, as such, atheists. The two were irritated by the ceaseless procession of needy and ailing folk coming to their homestead because of Matrona. Besides, bearing in mind the persecutions that revolutionary authorities subjected Orthodox Christians to, the brothers feared for their own lives and the lives of their family and kin.
For this reason Matrona, with the help of friends, found herself in Moscow, where she had relatives and acquaintances. She was forced to move from one apartment to another, avoiding confrontation with the atheist authorities.
The Lord kept watch over her… She always knew in advance when they were coming to arrest her, and so she was able to move on and avoid arrest. Her friends always managed to take her to some safe place in the nick of time.
Matrona’s life followed pretty much the same way as always: in the daytime she received visitors, and at night – she prayed. In this manner the years passed…
Living in Moscow, the Blessed Matrona spent the longest stretch of time staying in the home of Zinaida Zhdanova, whose mother came from the same village as Matrona. In this connection let’s make a brief digression into the pre-revolutionary past…
Zinaida Zhdanova recalled that her mother Yevdokiya was never attractive, and in her home village Sebeno was commonly regarded as an unpromising old maid. However, Matrona insisted that Yevdokiya’s husband would be a handsome gentleman sporting a mustache. None of the villagers believed her.
In the meantime, Matrona advised Yevdokiya to go to Moscow and seek employment there. Yevdokiya took her advice and after lengthy wanderings about Moscow finally landed the job of a cook in the wealthy Zhdanov household. These gentlefolk resided in the heart of Moscow, in an aristocratic area – Arbat.
The hostess had an only son – a very handsome and dignified man, whose bride was the Duchess Kseniya Shukhova. Once, at night, he heard the Savior’s voice say to him: “Vladimir! Marry Yevdokiya. Shaken by what had happened, the following morning he asked his mother if there was a Yevdokiya working in their employ. “Yes indeed,” replied the mother, “she is our cook.”
“Father went into the kitchen and upon seeing Yevdokiya almost fainted: he felt so sorry for himself!..” Vladimir Zhdanov’s daughter – Zinaida says. “Soon afterwards father, who was studying at the Institute of Transport, left for practical studies in the town of Perm, in the Urals. He drove in his own carriage with coachman.
Part of the way lay through a dense wood. Suddenly, a gnarled old man with a bundle on his back came towards them out of the wood. He wore white linen robe tied with a rope. Father said to the coachman: “Turn off the road, let the old man pass!” The coachman did as told, but the Elder stopped and said to my father: “Vladimir, marry Yevdokiya!” – and disappeared.
Upon arriving back in Moscow father saw an icon of the Venerable Saint Serafim of Sarov in one of the churches – and immediately recognized the Elder that he and his coachman had encountered.
In 1915 father was to go off on practice again, this time for a whole year. Mother sent the cook Yevdokiya with him, sure that the ungainly employee wouldn’t be any temptation for him.
However father, a sincerely religious man, ever respectful of the Lord’s will, nonetheless married the plain Yevdokiya, just as the Lord had instructed him. This was two years before the revolution. While in the year of the revolution – in 1917 – I was born. Father settled mother and me in a two-storey house in Sergiyev Posad, outside Moscow – a town which stands right in front of the Holy Trinity St.Sergius Monastery. He frequently visited us in that house.
Father was obliged to live separately from us since his parents never did accept the fact that a gentleman had married a cook, and refused to acknowledge my mother and myself. However, this marriage to a commoner saved father and many of his relatives who were close to the Emperor from execution by the Bolsheviks…
Nonetheless, father didn’t manage to avoid arrest and detention camps. They arrested him in autumn of 1941 in Moscow, when the Second World War was raging on, in the house of his late parents, where we were living at the time. For a long time we got no word of his whereabouts. However, Matronushka, who was living with us, said: “He is alive. He’ll be back! And on the eve you shall receive a letter from him. He will write to tell you where he is and ask you to save his books.”
Six years later we got just such a letter from father. It contained a postscript from his doctor saying that father was emaciated and on his deathbed. We found a woman who had an opportunity to clandestinely send father our parcel containing food. We constantly prayed for his survival. Finally, father came back to us!
He died in peaceful time from cancer. At the time we had living with us, besides the Blessed Matrona, an Elder by the name of Mitrofaniy, whom Matrona loved greatly. She used to say: “When I am gone, you shall have him for support.”
One morning the Blessed Mitrofaniy approached father’s bedside and said to him: “Vladimir, you know, tonight I saw your death. Do not fear it. It is very tall, and very terrifying… but to you it shall be very merciful!” Father grabbed his hand and kissed it.
On the third day after this I came into father’s room in the morning and felt a scent I had never known before. While a strange joy and anticipation gripped my being…
Before I could realize what this was, father said to me: “Zina! I shall be dying in a moment… Do not interfere!” I loved my father very much, but for some reason I wasn’t the least upset by his pronouncement. While mother lit an icon lamp before the icon next to dad’s sofa and started reading the Psalter. I got father’s burial clothes ready and showed them to him. Then for some reason I rushed to the kitchen… When I returned, I noticed father was looking intently to the right…” Father… can you see someone there?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied, “in a moment they shall smite off my legs.” At that point father’s legs, which had been bent at the knees, collapsed. “And now they shall smite off my arms – continued father. “And now come and hold up my head – they shall smite it off next.” Thus holding father’s head, I felt something like a moist knot or ball come out of his mouth. His head grew cold… Coming to my senses, I shouted: “Father! Look at me one last time!” And he turned his fast-fading glance towards me…
In the meantime, the room became filled with a sweet aroma. Mother and I felt joy, and no tears fell from our eyes… That was how blissful my father’s death was…
Many years later the Blessed Elder Mitrofaniy told me: “You know, I have seen your father. He is in Heaven, and he told me: “It isn’t at all terrifying to die!” I also dreamt of father, and in the dream he said to me: “Zina, the Lord has forgiven me all my sins!”
From then on I no longer feared death. As it turns out, for God-fearing devout Christians it can be both swift and joyous…”
“I was getting ready for entrance exams to Moscow’s Architecture Institute,” Zinaida Zhdanova recalls. “Prior to that I had already failed twice. I turned to the Blessed Matrona for help, requesting her to pray for me. She replied: “Oh, you shall pass, you shall pass!” But the competition was very strong, and besides, a great many of the applicants were offspring of the high and mighty, and as such were given preferential treatment. So I really had little hope. I tormented Matrona with my doubts, and still she persisted, saying: “You will be there, don’t worry!”
I took the exam and once again didn’t pass: I just missed by one point to make the grade… So I came to Matrona, crying, and she touched my head with her fingers and said: “You shall be there, I’m telling you!” I must say I felt totally confused.
A month passed. Studies had already begun at the Institute. I was strolling somewhere in the centre of Moscow, when one of the Administrators from the Institute recognized me, and asked: “Why aren’t you at classes?” I replied “I didn’t pass the entrance exams”. “What do you mean you didn’t pass?” he asked. “You’d better come with me.” And he led me to the Institute. When we arrived there, he told me to wait for him. In the meantime he made his way to the Director. When he came out from the Director he said to me: “Go to classes right now! You shall be enrolled by the end of the day!”
That is how Matrona’s prophesy came true.
And in 1941, the Lord revealed to me the mystery of my enrollment at the Institute. At the time our Architecture Institute was evacuated to Tashkent, capital of the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan. In the vestibule there lay a pile of personal files of students and staff workers of the Institute. I found my file there, too. What did I see? By God’s will when applying for the Institute, I had made a mistake in filling in my biography. I had written that my father was working for the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD). Some clerk had underlined this in red pen. In actual fact my father was employed in an organization under the jurisdiction of the NKVD. This unwitting mistake of mine had been conducive to my enrollment at the Institute.
Matrona was totally illiterate, yet the Lord revealed everything to her. Here is one example. In 1946 I was to present my diploma project at the Institute. It was the draft of a building of the Department of the Navy. My curator for some reason had a keen dislike for me. In five months of work he never once offered his advice and obviously indented to flunk my diploma project. Two weeks prior to its defense, he announced: “Tomorrow a commission is coming over to pronounce that you have failed your diploma project.”
I came home in tears. Father was in jail at the time, and mother and I lived on my student’s grant. I had but one hope left – to successfully graduate and begin working.
After listening to my complaints, Matrona responded: “Never mind! You will do fine! This evening when we have our tea, we shall talk.”
I could barely wait till evening. Finally, Matushka Matrona said to me: “Let us now go to Italy, to Florence, Rome, and see the works of the great Masters…”
At this point she began to describe Italian streets and buildings!.. Then she suddenly stopped and said: “Here is the Piti palazzo.” Here is another palace with arches… Why don’t you do it like this: with three lower floors of the building in large masonry and let there be two entrance arches.”
I was amazed at what she was saying. Of course, I took her advice and made alterations in my project.
In the morning I rushed to the Institute with a renewed project. At 10 a.m. the commission arrived. The architects scrutinized my work and said: “Why, that is excellent! What a good project!”
Thus, thanks to Matrona’s help, my diploma paper was a success.”
Zinaida Zhdanova referred to the Blessed Matrona as “the epitome of the angel–warrior, with sword of fire in hand fighting evil”. Matrona was born a Saint – something that set her apart from other Orthodox zealots who with their deeds overtime were granted the gift of Saintliness from the Lord.
Obviously, this helped her manage the torrent of sorrow and grief that countless visitors inundated her with daily.
People who came to her for help were Muscovites and from other towns, representing diverse stratum of society: some were common folk, others – intelligentsia, military folk. There were so many of them! At times the Blessed Matrona received up to forty people a day!
Small of stature and as fragile as a child, she usually sat down on her bed cross-legged, while the visitors stood before her on their knees. Matrona stretched out her two little hands and touched her fingertips to the person’s head. She would make the sign of the cross over them, pray for them, and then very briefly say a few words – the kind of words their soul most needed to hear… She never said anything superfluous.
At times she consoled a crying person by taking their head into her hands and simply holding them thus, praying all the while. And the person would leave thus fortified spiritually, although they had just been close to utter despair.
During the Great Patriotic war of 1941-1945 Matrona told Zinaida Zhdanova that she made invisible visits to the front to help our soldiers.
In those years she was often people’s only source of information regarding their relatives and friends. She replied to people’s questions saying: “Alive! Wait for him (her).” Or “They’ve died. Arrange for the burial service.”
Zinaida Zhdanova recalls the following incident: “My mother had a friend, who was notified of her husband’s death three times. Matrona, however, kept insisting: “He is alive. He shall come home on the day of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God and will knock on the window!” The war ended, but my mother’s friend still hadn’t found her husband. It was only two years after Victory day, in 1947 that he returned home. And it was, indeed, on the day of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God, just as Matrona had predicted.
Matrona cured people of various torments, cast on them by the demons.
For example, once four men brought an old lady to her, who was waving her arms like a windmill. After Matrona read some prayers over her, the woman grew calm and stopped waving her arms.
Another episode. The mother of one acquaintance of mine suddenly fell ill with epilepsy. During attacks, she fell to the floor, foaming at the mouth and squirming and arching convulsively.
They brought her to Matrona. The latter sat tensely, leaning forward and stretching out her little hands, and then pronounced: “Oh, what a big demon they’ve sent into her!” Reading the necessary prayers over the head of the unfortunate possessed woman, Matrona addressed the woman with the words: “I shall not cope with your demon alone. If you help me, then you shall live. You need to take the sacrament every Sunday”. And that is what the woman did.
A Catholic woman came to see Matrona. Her name was Helia. She wept as she showed us the hump that had grown on her back. All of us who were present in the house touched that hump and couldn’t believe our eyes: it was like a camel’s. As it transpired, these were the dealings of a witch who lived opposite Helia’s house.
That time Matrona had to work really hard. She read prayers over Helia for a whole week – and the woman’s hump disappeared.”
Matronushka was forced to not only treat the victims of witchcraft, but to fight with those practicing sorcery. She frequently told me that she was waging a struggle against witches and that struggle was taking up a lot of her strength.
True, sometimes those practicing sorcery came to her for help. I once heard her conversation with an old man, very dignified and sedate. He fell to his knees before Matrona and, weeping, told her that his only son was dying. Matrona immediately recognized that this was a sorcerer before her, and by practicing the devils’ will he’d brought death unto his own son. He hoped that Matrona would save his son. However, she said resolutely: “Be gone from me! You have no business with me!” After he’d gone she said to me: “Sorcerers know God! If only you all prayed the way they do when they beg for the Lord’s mercy and forgiveness for their evil sins!”
The Blessed Matrona’s nights were spent in prayer. She had almost no time left for sleep. Actually, she didn’t really sleep at all, but only drowsed off, with her arm tucked under her head.
With remarkable courage and stoicism, never complaining, Matrona carried her heavy burden of Elderhood to the end of her days…
Dying, she bequeathed all those who knew her to come to her grave and share with her their joys and sorrows as if she were alive, and asking her blessing regarding various serious events in their lives.
She predicted that several years after her death her grave would become a site of pilgrimage – and so it happened.
The burial service for Matrona was held at the old Moscow church of the Priestly Ordination, not far from Donskoy Monastery.
Gathered for the burial service were many monks from the famous Holy Trinity St.Sergius Monastery, who had personally known and honored the Blessed Matrona.:
“The burial service was amazing… the soul simply rejoiced,” a witness of those events the nun Antonina recalls. “And then they carried the coffin holding Matrona’s body to the cemetery. People followed on foot, right along the tram rails…
They dug a grave two meters deep, placed the coffin in and everyone threw a handful of sand, as is the custom…”
There were so many miracles and healings at Matrona’s grave that their account filled up a thick volume.
We would like to offer you one of testimonies from Muscovite Yuliya Medvedeva:
“Once I bought in church a book about the Blessed Matrona. I read it to the end, unable to put it down. I learned that she had been buried in Moscow at the Danilov cemetery and decided to visit her grave, because I read that she had summoned everyone to come to her grave after her death whenever they were in need of help. However, I wasn’t going there for help, but simply to become acquainted with her: I kept thinking of her as of a living person.
I came to the cemetery and saw a lot of people at Matrona’s grave. People were singing chants. When they finished, I suddenly heard in the silence a voice that sounded within me and was addressed to me: “So, we have met.” And then: “You are involved in astrology? Never mind, you shall give it up soon!”…
I was astounded. Indeed, at the time I was fascinated by astrology and regularly attended lectures in astrology. I was already aware that it was a sin, that practice in astrology was conducive to developing satanic pride in a person, that it spelled death for the soul, but I was simply too caught up in it. I felt helpless and too weak to fight this interest.
However, after those words of Matrona’s I discovered that astrology suddenly lost all attraction for me and I stopped attending lectures of astrologists. Moreover, this happened without any exertion of will on my part.
That is how Matrona the Blessed saved me from spiritual death.”
As we have already said, on March 8th 1998 the Appropriation of the holy relics of the Blessed Matrona took place. A year later she was canonized as a Moscow Saint. At the request of nuns of the Moscow Pokrovsky Convent (of the Holy Intercession of the Mother of God), who cared for her grave, the relics were transferred to that Convent. From then on the Convent has become a site of pilgrimage for people not only all across Russia, but from all over the world.
The nuns carefully collect and write down all testimonies of miraculous help received by people from the Blessed Matrona. A part of these have been published already. The Mother Superior of the Convent Hegumeness Feofaniya attests:
“She helped everyone. People come here from all over the world. Africans come here, they aren’t Orthodox Christians, however, Matrona the Blessed helped them, too. Thus, only yesterday people arrived from Switzerland. One can go on and on narrating cases of Matrona’s miraculous help. She aided officers and members of the government, too.
She helped our Convent when we were rebuilding it from ruins. In the years of soviet rule it had been closed down and almost completely ruined. Overtime, the territory and buildings that survived had been transferred to tenant companies. When in the 1990’s the Convent was returned to the Church it was a big problem evicting the tenants. In total disregard of all orders from the authorities they refused to leave. The sisters and I prayed a great deal, took sand from Blessed Matrona’s grave and sprinkled it around the premises where they lodged. Eventually they gave up and vacated our territory.
Today many of them are our friends and help the Convent.”
If we were to attempt to briefly determine just what was the main feat of the Blessed Matrona’s life, you come to the conclusion that it was in PATIENCE.
A great patience, stemming from a purity of heart and passionate love for people. …A kind of patience that the Holy Fathers of the Orthodox Church had prophesied would save people… The Blessed Matrona, just like any true Christian zealot, taught people Christianity not so much in words as in the feat of her whole life.
Physically blind, she taught and continues to teach us true spiritual vision.
It is hard to find a church in Russia these days where they wouldn’t have an icon of the Blessed Matrona. She is pictured in a white head scarf, with her eyes closed and raised palm of her right hand, as if blessing all those who address her…
The MP glorified Blessed Matrona (Nikonova, 1952) of Moscow, on May 2, 1999. The service was conducted by Patriarch Alexis II (Comrade Drozdov). This was around the time the MP was being forced by popular demand to accommodate the Russian people who expected their saints to be glorified.Canonization is a lengthy process. There exists a synodal commission, whose members study carefully every fact of the biography of the candidate for sainthood and test every doubtful spot in the distinctive 'application' (primarily questions of cooperation with the secret police and participation in schisms) over the course sometimes of several years. God forbid that a candidate 'gave information' in the inquest of his colleagues or even was a civilian informer of the special services [!] (It is known that in the 1930s many informers were shot.)"The Synodal Commission for the Canonization of Saints by direction of His Holiness (Alexis II), spent more than one month [!] inquiring into the possibility of glorifying the righteous Matrona.Formidable passions swirled around her canonization, and no wonder. After all, all sorts of things were said about Matrona. For example, that she spoke sympathetically about Stalin: "He loves Russia and put his whole spirit into the war." A reproach against the new saint put forward by a number of theologians is sorcery. Orthodox publicist (MP) Deacon Andrei Kuraev even declared that no icon of Matrona will be produced until it is proven that she was not a sorceress.For the Faithful believers there can be no doubt of the sanctity of Blessed Matrona. But the manner in which the MP handled this matter is most indicative. In Vertograd-Inform No. 12, December 1998 pp. 33-34 an instructor at the Moscow Patriarchate's St. Tikhon Orthodox Theological Institute admitted in writing that the staff of this institution is occupied in falsifying and fabricating the lives of the New Martyrs so that they appear to support Sergianism.MP, being forced to canonize Blessed Matrona, twists it into their advantage. Knowing the people honor and love her, they make her into an advocate for Stalin.– taken from an article in Orthodox Pilgrim June-July 1999, GOC St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church publication, Glen Allen, VA.