February 3, 2011

The Photo of Elder Cleopa Unharmed By Fire

On the evening of 17 April 2004 during Bright Week, a fire in Susana Monastery, which is located in the Romanian county of Prahova, destroyed two monastic cells and some of the warehouses. In the midst of the fire, a picture of Elder Cleopa remained intact.

Sister G., whose cell burned, tells us: "When it caught fire I was away. The firefighters began extinguishing the fires in the cells near the church first and no one tried to extinguish the fire in my cell. Everything burned: my bed, wardrobe, and the roof had just been repaired."

As Sister G. said this, not a trace of sadness could be seen in her eyes. "There was ash in the cell reaching my knees", she continued. "I had never met Elder Cleopa personally, but I had a reverence for him after reading his books. The Elder would say that as the grasshopper jumps, so also does the monastic rush towards salvation. I believe these words of the Elder encouraged me to embrace the monastic life (in 1999). Before Pascha I posted his photograph (it is a laminated photo) above my bed. While looking at it, I said: 'When you are canonized, I will place you on the eastern wall'. After the fire, when I returned to the monastery, I met Sister I. whose cell had burned. 'That's alright sister, such was God's will', I told her. I then asked her: 'Has anything of mine been preserved?' Sister V. then answered me: 'Nothing. You have been left only with Fr. Cleopa.' I didn't understand what she meant at the moment. Later I learned the photograph had been untouched by the fire! The firefighters noticed this also. I cannot explain how he was not burned. It was only a cardboard hanging above the bed. I didn't even have a picture frame for it. The bed had a mattress and a quilt of wool, which burned with the bed. An icon of the Virgin Mary also was not burned, which also was made of cardboard, though this was framed. I later found this among the ashes."

The Abbess was later asked to say a few words about this: "Sister G. has great reverence for Elder Cleopa which is why I believe it is a sign of divine mercy. It could have burned, but God said: 'Do you See?' The evil is not that we should rebuild from the beginning what burned - this is the monastic life - but if there should be a lack of spiritual progress."


Sister G. holding the saved photo in front of her burned cell.