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December 12, 2019

Nikolai Gogol and the Miracle of Saint Spyridon

The Venerable Elder Ambrose of Optina, in one of his letters to his spiritual children, mentions a miracle witnessed by the great Russian author Nikolai Vasilievich Gogol (1809-1852). N.V. Gogol himself visited Optina Monastery to submit for publication his book on George the Recluse of Zadonsk to Fr. Porphyrius Grigorov, and he told him about a miracle he saw with his own eyes that took place while on a pilgrimage to the island of Kerkyra, where he went to venerate the incorrupt relic of Saint Spyridon.

On the day when Gogol went to venerate the Saint, it was his feast day on December 12th, when the sacred relic is processed throughout the city with great solemnity. Among those present was a certain English traveler who was a Protestant, and thus skeptical that Saint Spyridon's body remained incorrupt in a miraculous manner. Instead, he believed there must have been hidden cuts on his back by which they embalmed the body. The English traveler later had the opportunity to approach the relic closer, hoping to examine the matter, when suddenly something happened that astonished and horrified him and those present. In front of everyone, Saint Spyridon slowly rose from his coffin and turned his back on the doubter, as if inviting him to examine his back for an incision.

This miracle was witnessed by many people, including Nikolai Gogol who related the event and stated how it sent shockwaves to his very soul. As for the Englishman, unfortunately his fate is not known to us.