Yandex Metrika
The Life of Holy Righteous Eldress Matrona of Moscow

Blessed Matrona, Moscow’s Blind Seer

Blessed Matrona of Moscow

Saint Matrona the Wonderworker of Moscow (Blessed Matrona Dimitrievna Nikonova, Russian: Блаженная Матро́на Дими́триевна Ни́конова, romanized: Blazhennaya Matrona Dimitrievna Nikonova; 1881/1885[ – 2 May 1952), commemorated on 8 March (7 March in a leap year) – uncovering of the relics, and 2 May – Blessed Matrona’s repose, in both the Old and New Calendar Orthodox churches.

“Come, let us glorify with hymns of praise and pure hearts our blessed mother Matrona, who in days of godlessness and persecution became a steadfast pillar of piety and faith; while dwelling in a feeble body, she manifested the power of God’s grace and led many people around her to God, calling them to repentance and prayer for the land of Russia, thus fulfilling the assembly of the holy ones of Moscow, she was sent to us as a ceaseless intercessor and warm supplicant for us before God.”

(Sticheron at Vespers, Tone 6)

The line on Taganskaya Street in Moscow throbs with a familiar rhythm — a winter’s whisper, a summer’s roar. Past the bell tower and the church, behind a lace screen in the left chapel, lies a treasure: Mother Matrona, a handmaid of God so dear to people’s hearts, an earthly angel and a heavenly resident. Etched above the wooden reliquary is a promise: “All, all come to me and tell me, as if alive, about your sorrows, I will see you, hear you, and help you.”

“Rejoice, O sweet-smelling flower, perfuming us with the Holy Spirit!” — as if echoing this heartfelt prayer for us sinners, a thousand hands reach out, each bearing bunches of flowers — daisies, roses and carnations. The nuns bless these floral offerings before returning them to the faithful — a silent testament to Blessed Eldress Matrona’s enduring grace. “With your soul in heaven before the Throne of God, and your body resting on earth, endowed with grace from above, pouring forth various miracles. Look now with your merciful eye upon us, sinners…”

Church of the Protection of the Theotokos in Moscow

Church of the Protection of the Most Holy Theotokos of the Holy Protection Convent in Moscow, Russia

As a tribute to her love that extends into the heavenly realm, people send her a constant stream of letters, telegrams, and notes with heartfelt requests, words of warm appreciation and even birthday greetings. This extraordinary “correspondence” is a sign of Matushka Matrona’s enduring presence in the lives of countless people even today.

Believers’ correspondence with Blessed Matrona of Moscow

Believers’ correspondence with Blessed Matrona of Moscow

Saint Matrona’s life began not in the bustling streets of Moscow, but three hundred kilometres south, in the heart of the Tula province. Here, on the eastern edge of the legendary Kulikovo Field, where the Russian army defeated the Mongol-Tatars in 1380, on the right bank of the River Mokraya lies the quaint village of Sebino. Its name whispers of even older times, echoing the “Sebinskii Les,” a primaeval forest that once belonged to a noble Tatar named Sebin Bibik, according to local lore. The Bibikov family, it is said, traces its lineage back to him. Sebino embraces a beautiful Church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos, with a chapel dedicated to the revered Prince Alexander Nevsky.

Church of the Dormition of the Theotokos in St. Matrona's native village of Sebino, Tula Region, Russia

Church of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos in St. Matrona's native village of Sebino, Tula Region, Russia

The Assumption Church has a rich history marked by significant events. During World War II, the village faced destruction at the hands of the Nazi Germans. Today, the exact location of the house where the revered Mother Matrona spent her early years remains unknown. According to local elders, Matrona’s parents, Dmitry and Natalia Nikonov, resided near the church at the heart of the village. A monument now stands at the presumed site of her family home. Additionally, in 2002, a second chapel was consecrated at the Dormition Church in honour of the Blessed Matrona of Moscow.

Monument to St. Matrona of Moscow

Monument to St. Matrona of Moscow on the site where her family home presumably stood

Matronushka, as she was lovingly called, was a late child. She was born in 1885 and was a late child in a humble peasant family already blessed with three children: Maria, Mikhail, and Ivan. Initially considering placing the unborn child in Prince Golitsyn’s orphanage in a neighbouring village, Natalia had a dream one night. A white bird with a human face and closed eyes landed on her right hand. Interpreting this as a divine sign, Natalia, a God-fearing woman, kept the child when she was born blind.

The mother’s love for her “unfortunate child” only grew when she noticed a cross-shaped protrusion on the infant’s chest, believed to be an uncreated protective cross. During the child’s baptism by Priest Vasily Troitsky, who named her Matrona in honour of the ascetic Matrona of Constantinople from the 5th century, another sign of the girl’s divine election occurred: a pillar of light mist rose over the font, accompanied by a fragrant scent, leaving everyone present in awe. The astonished priest remarked, “I have baptised many children, but this is the first time I see such a thing; this baby will be holy.”

The font of the Assumption Church

The font of the Assumption Church, where the Blessed Matrona of Moscow received the sacrament of Baptism

Within the Nikonov household, numerous icons adorned the walls, becoming the first source of reassurance for the young girl. Matronushka grew up literally within the Church’s embrace. Initially, her parents would bring her, but whenever possible, she would use every opportunity to visit alone. She took her favourite place behind the grand entrance on the left, by the western wall of St Alexander side chapel. Here, she would stand perfectly still during services, offering lengthy prayers in a quiet corner.

The daughter of the local landowner, Lydia Aleksandrovna Yankova, frequently took the sightless girl on pilgrimages to holy sites. Thanks to Lydia’s kindness, Matrona visited both the Kiev-Pechersk Lavra and the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. By the age of fourteen, she stood in St. Andrew’s Cathedral during a service led by the great All-Russian shepherd, Saint John of Kronstadt. Recognizing Matrona’s exceptional devotion to God and her homeland, the holy shepherd called her his successor, the eighth pillar of Russia.

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It seemed Matrona possessed the gift of unceasing prayer from a young age. Though she was born blind, God bestowed upon her the gift of spiritual vision from infancy, granting her insight into the mysteries of Divine providence. Those close to her began to recognise Matronushka’s extraordinary spiritual gifts. Initially, only fellow villagers sought her counsel, but as word spread, people from faraway regions began to make the journey to meet with her.

The young girl possessed the ability to sense impending danger, issuing warnings of fires and other natural or societal upheavals. As early as eight years old, Matrona’s pure prayers brought healing to those who sought her help. Her growing renown within the area imbued her requests with an air of blessing, and at her urging, an icon of the Mother of God, “Seeker of the Perishing”, was painted for the Dormition Church in Sebino.

The icon "Seeking of the Lost"

The icon "Seeking of the Lost", ordered by Matrona for her village church. It is now kept in the Dormition Monastery near Tula.

This icon became the village’s most venerated holy relic, famed for its miraculous interventions. During periods of drought, villagers would carry it in procession to a central meadow for prayer services. As they returned home, rain would invariably begin to fall.

At the age of seventeen, Matrona’s life took a dramatic turn when her legs inexplicably gave way. Accepting this new burden with utter humility, she bore it for the next five decades. From that point on, she received visitors while seated. It was also during this time that she began saying pronouncements of impending dreadful days: “There will be looting, temples will be plundered, and everyone will be driven away…”

Blessed Matrona Dmitrievna Nikonova, passport photograph

Blessed Matrona Dmitrievna Nikonova, passport photograph

Her words, then received with disbelief, would later reveal themselves as chilling prophecies. Indeed, when the Bolsheviks seized power, Matrona’s brothers became ardent communists and village activists. The persecution of the Church caused them significant anxiety. Harbouring an Orthodox sister who attracted a steady stream of the afflicted could invite retribution upon the entire family. Thus, in 1925, Matrona was forced to leave her beloved village and settle in Moscow. With this exodus, her youthful years drew to a close, and the path of Blessed Matrona of Moscow, a woman destined to bear a heavy cross, began.

Blessed Matrona during her Moscow period of life

Blessed Matrona during her Moscow period of life

Moscow held a special place in Blessed Matrona’s heart. The saint called it the “holy city, the heart of Russia,” but life there proved a crucible for her. The bustling capital transformed Matrona Dimitrievna into a homeless wanderer, enduring hardships, deprivations, and constant danger. For over three decades, the righteous Eldress performed her ministry with spirituality and prayer without a permanent residence. She lived in various homes, finding temporary refuge only to move on again. The watchful eyes of the godless authorities meant constant fear of arrest. Yet, thousands flocked to Saint Matrona.

Miraculously, Matrona’s spiritual vision often forewarned her of impending police raids. She would then vanish, leaving her benefactors unharmed. However, on one occasion, the blessed Eldress chose to stay. When the police arrived, Matrona, accepting her fate due to her blindness, calmly urged the officer to rush home. His wife, she revealed, was in grave danger from a fire. The man, moved by the righteous Matrona’s words, later refused to arrest her.

Holy Righteous Eldress Matrona of Moscow

Holy Righteous Eldress Matrona of Moscow

Matrona’s life in Moscow mirrored the most terrifying times in Russian history: the aftermath of the Civil War, the grip of poverty and famine, the chilling “Great Purge” of 1937-1938 where people vanished without a trace, and the soul-crushing Great Patriotic War. It was a sea of human suffering. Matronushka would often repeat, “If people lose faith in God, they will be visited by disasters, and if they do not repent, they will perish and disappear from the face of the earth. Many nations have disappeared, but Russia has existed and will continue to exist. Pray, and ask for forgiveness! The Lord will not abandon you and will preserve our land!”

A steady stream of people poured out to Saint Matrona, seeking reassurance, hope, and healing for both their souls and bodies. It is said that Matrona’s prayers held the power to reveal the fates of soldiers fighting on the front lines. Thanks to her intercessions, many presumed dead found their way back home. One woman, who received not one, not two, but three death notices for her husband, was told by the saint, “He is alive. He will come to Kazanskaya and knock on the window.” Remarkably, the woman’s husband did return in 1947.

the Zhdanov family’s home.

Moscow, Starokonyushenny Lane, 30. From 1942 to 1949, the blessed Matrona lived in the Zhdanov family’s home.

Despite the persecution raging around her, Matronushka received a constant flow of visitors throughout the day. Sometimes, as many as forty people sought her counsel. Her holy prayers rescued many from disbelief, despair, and even spiritual ruin. Eldress Matrona possessed a unique gift — she would bless water with a prayer and offer it to those who came to her. This blessed water, when consumed or sprinkled, was said to offer protection from various misfortunes. At night, Matrona mirrored the practices of ancient ascetics, keeping vigil in prayer for the well-being of others. Her rest was minimal, consisting of mere snatches of sleep on a hard cot.

Skhodnya, an industrial settlement in the Khimki district near Moscow, became the final earthly abode of this chosen one of God. On 2 May 1952, after confessing her sins and receiving Holy Communion, the blessed Matrona peacefully departed to the Lord. She had a premonition of her death and even contemplated how her hands should be positioned in the coffin. The priest who arrived to administer her last rites expressed surprise at this concern. “Are you also afraid of death?” he inquired. “Yes,” Matrona honestly replied. She expressed a final wish — to be buried near the church at the Danilov cemetery in Moscow, “so I can hear the services.” At her request, Father Nikolai Golubtsov officiated at her funeral service in the Church of the Presentation of the Lord’s Robe on Donskaya Street.

Blessed Eldress Matrona’s repose

Blessed Eldress Matrona’s repose on 2 May 1952

The ascetic’s resting place at the Danilov cemetery quickly evolved into a revered pilgrimage site. With the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II in 1998, the holy relics of God’s handmaiden were unearthed and ceremoniously transferred to Danilovsky Monastery, and later to the Pokrovsky Convent near the Abelmannaya barrier in Moscow. Blessed Matrona was numbered among the saints for local veneration in Moscow in 1999, and five years later, her canonisation was recognised by the whole Church.

The Blessed Matrona of Moscow is commemorated several times throughout the year: on 8 March (7 March in leap years) — the uncovering of her relics; 2 May — the anniversary of her repose; and 22 November — her name day; and additionally, during services honouring the Saints of Moscow and Tula.

Canonization of the blessed Matrona

Canonization of the blessed Matrona on 2 May 1999

An icy rain falls, a biting wind blows, yet a long line of people snakes around the Church of the Protection. On 8 March, the church remains open all night. A steady stream of people flows towards Matronushka, bringing prayers, petitions, and overflowing with love. Blessed Matrona of Moscow, pray for us!

“O, most glorious wonder! O, mystery ineffable! The blind-born Matrona, renowned, who with spiritual eyes beheld the will of God, viewed the secret souls of men and bestowed abundant aid to all who had need. Let each who receives grace from her fervently glorify the Triune God and bring Him worthy praise.”

(Sticheron, tone 8)

hand-painted icon of Blessed Matrona of Moscow

You can order a hand-painted icon of Blessed Matrona of Moscow at St Elisabeth Convent following this link

Saint Matrona of Moscow - Troparion & Kontakion

Troparion — Tone 4

Offspring of the land of Tula, angelic ascetic of the city of Moscow, blessed Eldress Matrona. / You remained blind from birth until the end of your life, / but you received spiritual sight, clairvoyance, and intercession from God. / Most of all, you received the gift of healing the spiritual and bodily illnesses / of all who come to you and ask you with faith, O our joy.

Troparion — Tone 2

Today, O faithful, let us glorify the divinely-wise blessed Eldress Matrona, / who blossomed in the land of Tula and who gloriously adorned the city of Moscow; / for she, not knowing the light of day, / was illumined by the light of Christ and was enriched with the gift of healing. / Having been a migrant and a wanderer on earth, / now, in the heavenly Bridal Chamber, she stands before God's throne and prays for our souls.

Kontakion — Tone 7

Called to serve Christ from your mother’s womb, O righteous Matrona, / you walked the path of sorrows and tribulations, / showing steadfast faith and piety, / you were well pleasing to God. / Therefore, honouring your memory, we pray to you: / Help us to abide in the love of God, O blessed eldress!

Akathist to Saint Matrona of Moscow

Honourable relics of Saint Blessed Matrona of Moscow

Honourable relics of Saint Blessed Matrona of Moscow in the Holy Protection Stavropegial Monastery, Moscow, Russia.

We are ready to celebrate a prayer service to Blessed Mother Matrona for your health and that of your loved ones. Please send us your prayer request notes for commemoration by following the link.

Written by the team of

Image credits: Sourced from the Internet

May 01, 2024
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21 day ago

Stacie (Anastasia)

21 day ago
Beautiful!!! Thank you so much for making this holy saint known to me. May God continue to richly bless your work!