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Personal Stories of Our Sisters about Saint Elisabeth

I am Grateful to Our Heavenly Patroness St Elisabeth for... Part 1

Grand Duchess Elisabeth

On the feast day of the Holy Royal Martyr, Grand Duchess Elisabeth, we asked our nuns, sisters of mercy and those who worked in our Convent to share their personal stories of how they came to know Saint Elisabeth. We also invited them to complete this sentence, “I’m grateful to our heavenly patroness for…”

Nun Anastasia Lashuk

I feel grateful to our heavenly patroness for many things - for the fact that I am a nun of our Convent, for our Convent as it is, for our spiritual father, and our Mother Abbess and the Sisters.

To me, the Holy Royal Martyr Elisabeth is an example of a truly beautiful life with Christ.

When it comes to talking about Saint  Elisabeth, I always try to emphasise the fact that she forgave the murderer of the dearest and most beloved person in her life - her husband. Personally, I have a hard time forgiving and apologizing; I put myself first and want justice.  St. Elisabeth gives an example of true forgiveness despite the deep pain she suffered. It helps me a lot.

Saint Elisabeth`s letters are very dear to my heart. My soul resonates with her words about aspiration to serve God and our neighbour. What is important for us is to stand with God and understand the Divine Providence for ourselves.

Every Sunday, as we celebrate the Akathist service to Saint Elisabeth and during the Midnight Office, I pray to her and ask her to guide me in my obediences. Although I may forget this in the hustle and bustle of the day, she always listens to my requests and helps me along the way.

I am grateful to Saint Elisabeth that I was blessed to visit her Convent in Moscow where she would pray and serve others. I have venerated her holy relics there and this supports me a lot.

I often do things unconsciously. I just feel what exactly needs to be done. For example, I have a desire to approach this or that person and comfort them. I understand that it is not me, but Mother Elisabeth who takes care of them through me.

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We try to relieve the physical suffering of those we serve, but more importantly, we must take care of their souls to be saved. Our Nuns and Sisters of Mercy make it their priority to bring the light of Christ's love into the lives of other people.

We hear words about obedience in the Akathist service to St Elisabeth, as she herself would always ask for a blessing or advice on everything she would do. Obedience is the foundation of monastic life, and I pray to Saint Elisabeth that she may teach me how to be obedient.

I feel inspired by the example of nun Barbara who voluntarily followed Saint Elisabeth and suffered martyrdom with her. Through her holy prayers, I hope that I will never betray God, our Spiritual Father, the Mother Abbess or the Sisters but remain faithful to them until the end.

Nun Anfisa (Ostapchuk)

Back in 1996, thanks to my friends, I was blessed to visit the holy relics of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov.

Standing next to the reliquary, I asked Father Seraphim a question that everyone asks themselves at some point in their life - “What should  I do now? What should I do with my life?” 

I asked him to guide me, and Father Seraphim responded quickly, acting through a sister of his Monastery.

In the narthex of the church, there was a small bookstall. When I approached the nun in charge of it, she immediately offered me a thin book with a short biography and the Akthist of the Royal Holy Martyr, Grand Duchess Elisabeth. Since then my whole life has been under her protection and guidance.

Unfortunately, when I look back on that “mystery” - my first encounter with Saint Elisabeth - I sometimes feel incredibly ashamed of myself and my life. I often find myself imagining what she would say, how she would react, what decision she would make or how she would like it to be done…

I feel eternally grateful to our heavenly patroness for who she is and for the opportunity to have this radiant bridge that connects heaven and earth. 

She could have chosen to leave Russia after the Revolution as they advised her and live her life for herself, but she didn’t. Instead, she took up her cross and dedicated her God-given life to me and to many others.

Nun Elisabeth (Shukovich)

I marvel at her courage. To get everything ready for an exhibition dedicated to Saint Elisabeth, we were studying many related documents. I believe she was really close to God which helped her to remain brave, faithful and loving…

St Elisabeth was thrown into an old mine along with several other people where they would die a long and painful death, with broken bones. They would eat the earth… As for Saint Elisabeth, she continued to care for the other victims, dressing their wounds and singing  the Cherubic Hymn. 

Her ability to feel other people’s pain is very close to my heart. The Holy Royal Martyr Elisabeth had experienced much pain herself and would share the pain of her neighbour. 

I am grateful to Saint Elisabeth for putting me on the path of monasticism, for bringing me to our Convent and for the wonderful Sisters I found here. She continues to guide and strengthen us every day even though we are not always able to see our connection to her and to God. It is always there waiting for you in silence.

God always answers her holy prayers. Every time I call  her name, the answer comes with lightning speed. It would be a great joy for me to meet her in person.

Nun Taisiya (Yakovleva)

A deep inner life and complete trust in God is what comes to mind when we think of the Grand Duchess Elisabeth, Holy Royal Martyr. I think she was a very humble person. She had more than her share of sorrows during the course of her life, and despite her sorrows, she maintained her inner dignity, peace of mind and gentleness.

I was blessed to visit the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent last year. The trip turned out to be quite remarkable. When we were visiting, a general cleaning was taking place in the Convent, and we were not allowed to enter any of its churches. 

All the doors were closed to us, but it felt so peaceful there. The peace and quietness of the Convent amidst the bustling atmosphere of the city center. 

The presence of the Holy Founder is certainly felt everywhere around the Convent. It was her wish not to let us inside the churches. I think she taught us a valuable lesson on humility.

Three weeks later I traveled to Jerusalem to bring the Holy Fire to our Convent. I was blessed to venerate the holy relics of Saint Elisabeth there. What a happy moment it was! At her feet there was a framed icon, so I wanted to take a picture of it to show the artisans of our workshop. Suddenly a nun ran towards me and started shouting at me! How noisy she was… 

It was a Great Saturday, there was an endless stream of pilgrims, and she had been under high tension, understandingly… When she stopped scolding, I quietly apologised although I am naturally of a very hot temper. I see it as another lesson from Saint  Elisabeth. It is the love of God that is revealed to us all. 

I visited St. Elisabeth in two different places, and both times, it was the same story. I was not allowed in the Marfo-Mariinsky Convent in Moscow. I was reprimanded  in the church of St. Mary Magdalene in Jerusalem, and still the Saint is always there for us!

I have read many letters of the Grand Duchess Elisabeth. She suffered many sorrows. She lived a life full of trials and inner pain. You can easily see it in her pictures - not even one of her smiling. Her face is filled with a quiet sadness and sorrow. I was deeply moved by it. Behind her holiness lies hard inner work.

Being here in the Convent is a blessing from the Saint herself. We have her pictures, portraits and icons placed everywhere in our workshop to have her visibly present with us. After all, it is her Monastery, and we are in obedience to her. She supports and helps us a lot. Even in the most hopeless situations, we know that God guides us through her holy prayers. 

I am grateful to Saint Elisabeth for her prayer, protection and intercession. Having Saint Elisabeth as our heavenly patroness inspires us to change ourselves for the better and achieve perfection.

Nun Fevronia (Gelman)

I am grateful to our heavenly patroness that I am a sister of our Convent. I am grateful for her example of monastic life, not abstract and distant, but really important that we can follow here and now. 

In our Convent, we aim to follow in the footsteps of Saint  Elisabeth, who served God by helping others and I am happy to be at least a small part of this good cause.

I am grateful to the Holy Abbess Elisabeth for a unique opportunity to make obediences in our monastic farmstead where I can serve those who have been rejected by society. It is truly a school of genuine monasticism. In fact, the example of Grand Duchess Elisabeth greatly changed my mindset and my whole life. She is a good role model for me.

Nun Vasilissa (Starenkaya)

When I give tours of our Convent, I share with the pilgrims and guests that the Holy Abbess Elisabeth continues to serve people through our Convent and Lay Sisterhood. 

Through each of us, Saint Elisabeth continues to comfort, support and care for the suffering, the poor and the sick in hospitals and nursing  homes. She entrusted us with this ministry and for that I am very grateful to her. 

I wish I could do everything in moderation, with steadfast faith and trust in God as the Holy Royal Martyr Grand Duchess Elisabeth did.

You can also send us prayer requests for your loved ones that will be included in our festive services on July 17 and 18. We also serve the weekly Akathist to St. Elisabeth on Sundays.
To submit a prayer note, please follow the link below and select the desired option:
https://obitel-minsk.org/prayer-request

To be continued…

I AM GRATEFUL TO OUR HEAVENLY PATRONESS ST ELISABETH FOR... PART 2

July 12, 2023
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