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February 17, 2020

Saint Barnabas of Gethsemane (+ 1906)

St. Barnabas of Gethsemene (Feast Day - February 17)

Saint Barnabas was born on January 24, 1831 in the village of Prudishchi of the Venevsky district of the Tula province. His name in the world was Vasily Ilyich Merkulov, the last of seven children born to pious peasant parents Ilya and Daria Merkulov.

On December 23, 1857 he became a novice of the Gethsemane Monastery of the Trinity-Sergius Lavra, and only after almost ten years, on November 20, 1866, he took monastic tonsure under the name of Barnabas.

In 1871 Barnabas was ordained a hierodeacon, on January 10, 1872 a hieromonk, and some time later the abbot of the Lavra approved him as the Spiritual Confessor of the Caves of Gethsemane. From this moment the fame of Barnabas increased among believers. In 1890 he became the confessor of the whole monastery.

Pilgrims from all over Russia came to the clairvoyant Elder Barnabas. He helped people to repent, gave soul-saving advice, and through his prayers the suffering were healed.

Pilgrims noted a special spiritual sobriety, gentleness and caution in his pastoral practice. Through the prayers of the ascetic, family troubles were resolved, and many healings took place. He advised to heal minor illnesses by strict fasting (“bread and water will not do harm”), and in severe illnesses he sometimes recommended certain doctors.

He would receive from five hundred to a thousand people every day. According to legend, in January 1905 Emperor Nicholas II went to confession to Barnabas, and in return the Elder prophesied to him his impending martyrdom.

Elder Barnabas further prophesied about the future of Russia: "The persecution against the faith will constantly increase. Hitherto unheard of grief and darkness will seize everyone and everything, and the temples will be closed. But when it becomes intolerable, liberation will come ... The temples will be erected again. There will be a flourishing before the end."

In January 1906, the elder showed an acute catarrh of the respiratory tract, and his vision was weakened. He died on February 17 of that year. In 1995 he was officially canonized by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.