St. Matrona of Moscow

The Blessed Saint Matrona is one of the most beloved Muscovite saints, who lived and worked miracles in our times, and her story and relics are cherished by all Russians. Now, English speakers can be glad to hear that a Russian TV series on this wonderful saint is available on YouTube with English subtitles. The series is the result of nine years of archival work, putting together some of the most amazing miracles attributed to St. Matrona, and is aptly named “The Wonderworker Woman.”

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Saint Matrona of Moscow

Matrona was the fourth child born to Dmitry and Natalia Nikonov in the village of Sebino in Tula Province, Russia slightly over 300 kilometers south of Moscow, in a very poor peasant family. Although she was born without eyes, she evidenced the gifts of spiritual vision and of healing from early childhood.

St. Matrona
St. Matrona
St. Matrona

Being extremely poor, Natalia decided to give her soon-to-be-born child to an orphanage. However, a prophetic dream changed her mind. In the dream her unborn daughter appeared to Natalia in the form of a white bird of holy beauty, with a human face and closed eyes. Matrona was born with firmly shut eyelids over empty eye sockets. The baby also had a raised birthmark in the form of a cross-shaped protrusion on her chest. Her mother took this as a sign from God.

When Matrona was baptized the local clergyman Vasily Troitsky dipped her into the font, and 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!”

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 there 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, and through her prayers, many people received healing from sickness and consolation in sorrow. They came from surrounding villages, and later even from other districts and regions on foot, by cart, and in wagons. Matrona often prayed for bedridden invalids, who would be raised to their feet, healed. Out of gratitude, they left food and gifts for her parents, so instead of being a burden, Matrona soon became the family’s main provider.

When she was 14, St. John of Kronstadt, upon discerning Matrona among a crowd of pilgrims that had come to see him, asked everyone to step aside and let the girl come through and approach him. As she walked towards him, he exclaimed: “Here is 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, and how she would serve Russia and the Russian people during the persecution of the Church.

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. So, to the end of her days she remained seated.

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.

Matrona’s brothers were communists and therefore atheists. They were tired of people coming to the house for healing and prayers. They also feared for their lives since the revolutionary authorities persecuted Orthodox Christians. Matrona (age 40) was forced to leave their home and with the help of friends went to Moscow where she had acquaintances. She moved from one home to another in an attempt to avoid confrontation with the atheist authorities. Even though people continued to come to Matrona for advice and for help with their troubles, no one ever betrayed her location.

Matrona also cured people of various torments, cast on them by demons. She not only treated the victims of witchcraft, but fought with those practicing sorcery. Above all Matrona prayed for people.

Matrona felt and understood that militant atheism, the growth of estrangement and malice, the rejection of traditional faith by millions of people, and life without repentance led to heavy spiritual consequences. She explained, “The people are under hypnosis, they are not themselves, a terrible power has come into being…This power exists in the air and penetrates everything. In earlier times, swamps and impenetrable forests were the habitations of these forces because people were going to churches, they wore crosses and their homes were defended by icons, lampadas and blessings. Before, demons could only fly near these houses, but now they inhabit both houses and people because of unbelief and apostasy from God.”

Following her death in 1952, her grave-site became a pilgrimage site, and more than thirty years after Matrona’s repose, her gravesite at Danilov Monastery’s cemetery continued to be one of the holy places of Orthodox Moscow, where people from every corner of Russia and abroad come with their sorrows and sicknesses. On March 8, 1998 the appropriation of the holy relics of the Blessed Matrona took place. A year later on May 2, 1999, she was canonized as a Saint of the Church of Russia.

Icon of Saint Matrona
Icon of Saint Matrona
Icon of Saint Matrona

At the request of the 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.

The life of St. Matrona reminds us that all of us are called to a life of holiness and that this is possible for all of us. She was not a nun, never attended a seminary, in fact was an illiterate, peasant woman yet was so filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit that she was able to see people’s needs and sins, predict the future, and perform countless miracles even after her death. The Bible teaches that when a person is cleansed of their sinful passions and is filled with the Holy Spirit the presence of the Spirit produces certain “gifts” or “fruit”. These include the ability to read the hearts of people, perform miracles, and predict future events, as well as having the characteristics of love, joy, peace, patience and kindness. St. Matrona was immersed and “marinated” in the divine services of the Church, spending countless hours in her village church along with several hours daily of her own private prayer. The Blessed Matrona, just like any true Christian zealot, taught people Christianity not so much by words, as by the deeds of her whole life. Physically blind, she taught and continues to teach people true spiritual vision.


With many thanks to Mother Macaria for suggesting a feature on Mother Matrona.

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