The Belarusian Orthodox Church is glorified by the names of many local saints. February 6 is the Feast day of not only the Blessed Xenia of St Petersburg, but also of another prominent saint, almost our contemporary, Blessed Eldress Valentina of Minsk. Similarly to St Matrona of Moscow, she was bedridden for more than 30 years, but that did not prevent her from receiving and comforting everyone who came to her.
One pilgrim named Natalia once shared the following story. Natalia once went on a pilgrimage to St Petersburg where she honoured the memory of the blessed saint and asked for her grace-filled help. As she was returning to Minsk, Mother Xenia appeared to her in a dream and asked, “Why did you come to see me? You have a saint (Valentina of Minsk - ed.) back home who is just like me”.
The holy eldress reposed relatively recently in 1966. Exactly 40 years after her blessed death, on February 6, 2006, she was canonised as a saint. The holy relics of the ascetic are located in the rural cemetery of Krysovo village, 40 km from Minsk.
During her lifetime, Blessed Valentina once said, "Come to my grave as if I were alive; I will help you."
An endless stream of people from different parts of the country and even abroad has been flowing to St Valentina for decades now. As a caring mother, she lovingly accepts everyone coming with a pure heart and seeking God's help. Her prayers help people heal of serious illnesses, get rid of addictions, conceive children, and, most importantly, discover their way to God.
Mother Valentina is deeply revered in our convent. For example, our Pilgrim's House has a chapel consecrated in her honour, where an akathist to her is read every Friday. Icons of St Valentina of Minsk can be found in the Convent's churches of St Elisabeth and of St John of Shanghai.
The memorial day of Blessed Valentina is a great holiday for believers in Belarus. Following the tradition, established in our convent, we start this day by celebrating a Divine Liturgy. After that the monastics together with the clergy members and the lay sisters and brothers go to Krysovo village and hold a prayer service there.
If you are ever there on that day, you definitely won’t miss the saint's resting place. By February 6, pilgrims diligently and lovingly decorate the grave and the alley leading to it with flowers, spruce boughs and spikelets.
On this day, Christians come to venerate the Blessed Valentina from early morning until late evening, forming a long queue even in frosty weather. Some of the visitors come to thank mother Valentina for her help, and others ask for her prayers. The saint receives and comforts everyone just as she did during her earthly life, never leaving her visitors without help and even a small treat. After the prayer, the modern pilgrims are treated to some hot tea and refreshments from mother Valentina.
Among them is Metropolitan Benjamin, Patriarchal Exarch of All Belarus, as well as bishops and priests coming from all over the country to the grave of Blessed Valentina. Together they celebrate a festive prayer service, joined by all the pilgrims.
People visiting St Valentina on her feast day notice that their hearts become filled with peace and silence, and the right answers come in difficult life situations.
If you do not have an opportunity to come to St Valentina's grave on that day, pray to her sincerely at home. Being at the Throne of God, she hears all our pleas, wherever we are.
Prayer to the Blessed Valentina of Minsk:
“Our blessed mother among the saints, Valentina! In the days of your earthly life, you received with love all the suffering and the infirm coming to you in sorrows and illnesses, and healed their ailments with your prayers. In the same way beseech the Lord today to heal everyone who comes to you with faith and affection, especially protect them from sinful falls and guide them to the path of salvation. Hear our unworthy prayer, blessed Valentina, and deliver them to the Throne of the Most High, and with joy we will praise the Most Holy Trinity: the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages and ages. Amen".
Take a look at these icons of St Valentina, created by our convent's icon-painting workshop: