Sunday, February 28, 2010

St. Nicholas of Pskov: "You Feed on Men's Flesh and Blood"

St. Nicholas of Pskov, the Fool for Christ (Feast Day - February 28)

                                                            By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

Saint Nicholas lived as a "fool for Christ" in the town of Pskov during the reign of Tsar Ivan the Terrible and died on February 28, 1576 A.D.

"Fools for Christ" were distinguished by rare fearlessness. Blessed Nicholas ran throughout the streets of Pskov pretending insanity, rebuking the people for their hidden sins, and prophesying that which will befall them.

When Ivan the Terrible entered Pskov, the entire town was in fear and terror of the Terrible Tsar. As a welcome to the Tsar, bread and salt was placed in front of every home but the people did not appear. When the mayor of the town presented the Tsar with bread and salt on a tray before the church, the Tsar pushed the tray away and the bread and salt fell to the ground.

At that time, Blessed Nicholas appeared before the Tsar in a long shirt tied with a rope, hopping around on a cane as a child and then cried out: "Ivanuska, Ivanuska, eat bread and salt and not human blood." The soldiers rushed out to catch him but he fled and hid. The Tsar learning about this Blessed Nicholas, who and what he is, visited him in his scant living quarters.

It was the first week of the Honorable Fast [The First Week of Lent]. Upon hearing that the Tsar was coming to visit him, Nicholas found a piece of raw meat and when the Tsar entered his living quarters, he bowed and offered the meat to the Tsar. "Eat Ivanuska, eat!" Angrily, the Terrible Tsar replied: "I am a Christian and I do not eat meat during the Fast Season." Then the man of God quickly responded to him: "But you do even worse: you feed on men's flesh and blood, forgetting not only Lent but also God!" This lesson entered profoundly into the heart of Tsar Ivan and he, ashamed, immediately departed Pskov where he had intended to perpetrate a great massacre.

From the Prologue.

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