Reverend Hilarion Troitsky

It happened late in autumn of 1924 in a special-purpose camp on Solovetsk islands. A sudden violent storm hurled out into the open sea a boat containing several prison inmates and the camp’s most malevolent guard. The guard’s name was Suhov. The prisoners and soldiers gathered on shore were convinced there was no hope for the boat’s survival.

Peering through a pair of binoculars they could see how there, in the distance, a small black spec kept reemerging and then disappearing again… The people were fighting the elements, but the odds were against them. And the elemental forces of nature were gaining the upper hand.

“In that icy broil you couldn’t be expected to get away from the shore, let alone escape from that vortex!” said one of the security officers, wiping the binocular glass with a handkerchief. “That’s it. Our Suhov is done for!”

“Well, that is really up to our Lord,” a quiet but resonant and powerful voice suddenly spoke forth. Everyone turned round to face a stocky fisherman with a graying beard. “Who will join me, in the name of God, in rescuing those human souls?” he continued just as quietly and forcefully, his gaze traveling ‘round the entire group. Father Spiridon, you, Father Tihon, and these two… That’s good. Drag the launch to the sea.”

“No,” the special service officer with the binoculars suddenly broke out. “I can’t allow it! I can’t let you go out into open sea without guards and permission from superiors!”

“The boss, he’s out there, perishing in the sea,” replied the fisherman, referring to the guard Suhov. “While we aren’t rejecting a guarded escort – why don’t you climb into the boat with us, Comrade Konev?”

The officer at once drew his shoulders in and silently moved further away from the shoreline.

“Well, the Lord be with us!” said the fisherman and got into the launch. He stood at the steering wheel — and very slowly, plowing through the icy barrage, the boat began to move away from the shore.

Twilight fell. On its heels came a cold, windy night. However, nobody left the quay: people would go off to warm themselves, only to come back later. There was something bigger than them all that united them at that moment that removed all the barriers between them. Even the special task officer with the binoculars. People spoke in muted whispers and whispered their prayers to God. They believed, and at the same time were torn by doubts. However they all realized that without God’s will the sea wouldn’t ease its hold on its victims.

In the morning the sun chased away the mists shrouding the beach. And at that point everyone saw the boat returning… It contained not four but nine people. And then everyone gathered on the quay, — monks, prisoners, guards, — all crossed themselves and went down on their knees.

“A Miracle, indeed! The Lord has saved them!” came cries from the crowd.

“Yes, it was the Lord!” said the brave fisherman, dragging out of the boat the exhausted Suhov – dreaded by all the inmates.”

This courageous fisherman was Archbishop Hilarion Troitsky, one of the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia, canonized a Saint in the year 2000.

Abriged, from "Reverend Hilarion Troitsky," by Natalia Shumova.

Voice of Russia

9 мая 2011 г.

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