Dear Readers: A long time supporter of the Mystagogy Resource Center has informed me that they would like to donate $3000 to help me continue the work of this ministry, but they will only do it as a matching donation, which means that this generous donation will only be made after you help me raise a total of $3000. If you can help make this happen, it will be greatly appreciated and it would be greatly helpful to me, as I have not done a fundraiser this year. If you enjoy the work done here and want to see more of it, please make whatever contribution you can through the DONATE link below. Thank you!
(Total So Far - Day 6: $2350)

February 8, 2020

Saint Lyubov of Ryazan, the Fool for Christ (+ 1921)

St. Lyubov of Ryazan (Feast Day - February 8)

Saint Lyubov Semenovna was a fool for Christ and is considered a special intercessor for the citizens of Ryazan. She was born in Ryazan on August 28, 1852 and lived during the early years of the communist persecution of the Orthodox Church. Lyubov was baptized in the Ryazan Church of Saint Nicholas "Dolgosheya" by the priest Peter Dmitrievich Pavlov, father of the famous academician and physiologist Ivan Petrovich Pavlov.

She was one of four children. Her two brothers Basil and Gregory died in 1855, leaving just Lyubov and her younger sister Olga who was born in 1856. Her father Semen died early on, leaving his wife Maria and the two girls alone. They moved into a small house on the property of Anisya Aleksandrovna Lebedeva, which was located on the corner of Vladimirskaya and Voskresenskaya streets. Archival documents say that this family was the poorest in Ryazan. Subsequently, the family moved to a house on Zatinnaya Street, where the blessed woman lived until her death in 1921.

Lyubov was an invalid for fifteen years. She was unable to stand or walk. Her favorite saint was Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. One day when she was fifteen years old the Saint appeared to her, called her by name, and commanded her to arise and walk and become a fool for Christ. Her mother returned home from work shocked and happy to see her daughter standing. Upon hearing Lyubov’s story her mother consulted the family’s priest, who advised that Lyubov do as the Saint requested.

Lyubov began praying in all the churches of Ryazan and even went to live for awhile at the Kazan Monastery for women. Feeling the desire to become an ascetic she returned to her home and became a recluse in a niche between the stove and a wall. There she remained for three years. After this period of intense prayer she re-entered the world to take upon herself the task of becoming a fool for Christ.

She was known all over the city for her great kindness and generosity to the poor. Lyubov would enter merchant’s stores and take whatever she desired. She never paid nor asked permission. She never kept anything for herself but distributed everything to the needy, knowing in advance what each person needed. Merchants felt that her presence was a blessing upon them and their businesses. She always dressed simply but in bright colors. Pink was her favorite color. Often she wore a pink head scarf. Before she died, she directed a young woman to line her coffin with pink material. Not being able to find pink cloth, she found pink gauze which she used instead.

In addition to her concern for the poor, Lyubov was noted for her prophetic gift of knowing the future. She was fond of using scissors and paper to cut out things that represented a person’s future. She would give these items directly to each person or to a relative. Her predictions were so accurate that people were often fearful when they saw her coming. If they hid their scissors, she would still fashion the items from paper by hand and give them to the person. For example, if someone was to marry, she would fashion a crown, but if someone was to die she would fashion a coffin.

One girl was very afraid of Lyubov's prophetic insight. The girl was not bad however, and her fear was unaccountable. Once she got up early and began to put a samovar. Lyubov then entered the gate. In fear, the girl ran to lock the door so that the blessed woman would not enter. Lyubov was already on the doorstep and said: "I was in a hurry, afraid that you would lock the door." She took out a chocolate candy from her pocket and handed it to her with the words: “Here is a candy for you, you will definitely eat it. Just eat it yourself, don’t let anyone else.” The girl did as Lyubov said, and from that time fear disappeared from her, and she joyfully met the blessed woman every time.

The novice Frosya lived in the Kazan Monastery with the schema nun Artemia. Sometimes Frosya was visited by her sister, who really wanted to enter the monastery, but she was young, and therefore she was not accepted. One day she came to the monastery and again spoke of her desire to be in it. At the same time, Lyubov came. She took scissors from a dresser, a large sheet of paper and nimbly began to cut something. Then she laid out the cut circle on the table. And what did it depict? The monastery fence, the church and a choir. Pointing to Sister Frosya at the choir, she said: "This is where you will sing, and you will read." The time came, and the girl entered the monastery. An obedience was assigned to her - to sing on the choir. She turned out to be the owner of the rarest voice, a female bass. In addition to singing in the choir, her obedience was the reading of the Apostle. There were only two nuns with such a voice in the monastery, and they alternated between themselves: either sing in the choir, or read the Apostle. And when the monastery was closed, she sang in another church until she was old.

“To our family,” said one woman who knew Lyubov, “she came as if we were her own and loved us all. At that time, my father died in Moscow. His mother decided to transport him to Ryazan and bury him here. Although it was difficult to do this at such a difficult time, he was nevertheless transported and buried in Ryazan. Lyubov was there too. They began to bury him in the grave of the cemetery, and she moved a little to one side and began to dig another grave. Our grandmother saw this and reproachfully told her: 'Lyubov, what are you doing? You’re digging a second grave and we haven’t managed to bury this one yet.' She answered: 'And we will bury a little sparrow here.' Soon after, a boy who was two months old died in our family. Then we realized for which sparrow she was digging a grave."

Lyubov Semenovna was also invited to weddings with the intention that her presence would bring happiness to the young. But it was not always like that. One rich Ryazan merchant married off his daughter. Many guests from the bride and groom were invited. The wedding was magnificent: a richly set table, music, flowers, etc. The groom carefully concealed his strong addiction to alcohol, and no one suspected him of being a drunkard. To the amazement of the guests and relatives of the bride, when Lyubov, who did not know the groom before, loudly announced at the table: “The bridegroom is a bitter drunkard, and the young one will not be happy.” The fun suddenly darkened, and they even regretted inviting the blessed one. And then, when they were convinced of the truthfulness of her words, they loved and respected her as before.

Three girlfriend girls were preparing for school exams. They heard about Lyubov and decided to go to her and ask how the exams would unfold. They came, but they were afraid to ask. They didn’t cross the threshold of her house, and she was already welcoming them: “And these came to me - Katya, Shura and Lida,” correctly naming them all, although she did not know them before. She herself began to speak for them: “We will have exams soon, but we are afraid. Fear nothing, everything will come off well.” And the girls went away reassured. They passed the exams successfully.

During the Nativity fast at four o'clock in the evening the family of the Saint always drank tea. By this time, the grandmother went to the table and poured tea for everyone herself. Lyubov often came as well. One day she came holding something in her hand, and her grandmother asked: “What is in your hands, Lyubov?” She replied: “Well, I’m walking past the funeral shop, and there they are upholstering a coffin. I took a piece of velvet. Here, take it." “Why do I need it?” the grandmother asked. Before she could get an answer from Lyubov, they came with the news that Daria Afinogenovna Mareeva, the grandmother’s godmother, had died. And the coffin of the deceased was upholstered in the same velvet, a piece of which Lyubov brought with her. The Saint hastened to prepare her grandmother for the sad news.

Lyubov predicted the future fate of two little girls. She was a frequent visitor to their home. The pure souls of the children were not afraid of anything and gullibly clung to her: "Aunt Lyubov, tell us what you know." Smiling, Lyubov pulled out a small bundle from her pocket, unfolded it, and in her hands were two paper icons: she presented one icon with the image of Saint Alexander Nevsky to the eldest girl, and to the youngest the image of the holy noble princess Anna Kashinsky. Subsequently, the elder sister married a man named Alexander, named after the Great Prince Alexander Nevsky, and they lived at the Alexander Nevsky Station. The fate of the youngest turned out to be similar to the life of the holy Princess Anna Kashinsky: having lost her husband early, she remained a widow with two children.

At the beginning of 1917, Lyubov rushed along the streets of the city and repeated: “The walls of Jericho will fall, the walls of Jericho will fall!” After the revolution, everyone understood what the blessed one warned.

After the 1917 revolution, Lyubov tried to help the people of Ryazan by telling them of future tragedies in advance and what would be the outcome for each individual involved. Perhaps her best remembered prediction was of the forced closing of the Kazan Monastery for women. She foresaw this event long before anyone could imagine this possibility. She took the nuns aside and told each what they would be doing in the future. Many years later several of these nuns met and related their life stories. All of the Saint’s predictions had been accurate.

Elizabeth M., who personally knew the Lyubov in her youth, spoke about her death. “About three weeks before her death, Lyubov came to our house. Our family was big, and Lyubov loved all of us very much. I was the youngest in the family, and she especially loved me. At that time, she affectionately told me: “Little dear, I’m going to die soon, but you should go and pray to God for me. Go to my grave and take the sand from the grave, and wrap my coffin in pink.” And I asked her: “Why do I need sand?” She thought for a moment: “Still, take the sand,” she said, “sprinkle it in a jar of flowers, and there will be grace in the house.”

Thus she predicted her own death, and also that soldiers would occupy her house after her death. At the beginning of 1920 Lyubov caught a cold, fell ill with pneumonia, and she died on February 8, 1921. She was buried at the Sorrowful Cemetery in the city of Ryazan. Indeed, her house was later demolished and a military warehouse was built in its place, where soldier's equipment was stored.

“When Lyubov died," Elizabeth M. went on to recount, "I was at work. Having returned home, I immediately went to her. She was neatly cleaned and lay in a coffin, and the coffin was cleanly planed, but not inhabited. Then I remembered Lyubov’s request to cover the coffin with pink and brighten it up: how would I fulfill her request? The stores were empty. Material was sold on coupons, but our family had already received everything. I think I’ll go to the store and ask for gauze at least. I went and began to speak with the manager: 'I need to buy gauze from you, a familiar old woman needs to be upholstered, she asked me about this in advance.' He told a boy there: 'Misha, we have pink gauze on the shelf, go and bring it.' I thought in my heart he was joking with me. Was the gauze pink? But I looked, and the boy is carrying a heap of gauze of a beautiful thick pink color Such a gauze was never on sale. So they upholstered her coffin in pink. Yes, all around frills and bows were done - it turned out beautifully. So Lyubov's dying wish came true."

On January 12, 1987 she was locally recognized as a Saint of the Church. Since June 1998, her holy relics have rested in the Church of Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker in the Yamskaya settlement of Ryazan. A particle of her relics is in the Annunciation Church. A pink chapel was erected at the site of her initial burial.

Miracles continue to occur not only at her grave site, but also for those to whom she has appeared in dreams. Although Saint Lyubov is the intercessor for Ryazan, she has not limited her help to just its citizens. She is venerated in many places distant from Ryazan.