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Soviet Union (1917-1990)
The Blessings of Nicholas Mogilevsky : Passengers sharing Bishop Nicholas’s Moscow-bound flight found his blessings faintly silly, but that was when the engines were running.
The Blessings of Nicholas Mogilevsky

Based on an account at ‘The Life of St Nicholas (Mogilevsky), Metropolitan of Alma Ata and Kazakhstan (1877-1955)’, at ‘Orthodox Holiness’.

St Nicholas Mogilevsky (1877-1955) was Bishop of Alma-Ata (Almaty) in Kazakhstan during the Soviet era. He endured repeated imprisonment and ill-use at the hands of the Nazis, the Communists and state-sponsored Church ‘modernisers’ with remarkable forbearance. This is just one of several tales from his own lifetime.

NICHOLAS Mogilevsky liked to pronounce blessings. He blessed every member of his congregation after holy communion, over a thousand of them. He blessed every passenger who stepped onto his train. And he blessed every passenger sharing his plane to Moscow in 1947, bound for a church synod.

‘No need to be afraid’ someone sniggered, ‘there’s a saint on board!’ For which everyone received a blessing.

Some miles had passed, when one of the engines sputtered and fell silent. Panic set in as the plane banked alarmingly. ‘Pray!’ urged Nicholas. ‘Not a soul will perish!’ Then as an afterthought, ‘Only we’ll get a bit muddy’.

Steeper dived the plane; yet the babel within subsided. Soon Nicholas’s soft voice could be heard in prayer. Then, as if resting on a cushion, the aircraft levelled out, glided serenely onto a shallow lake, skipped, and stopped.

The passengers, shaken, tumbled out to safety. Not a soul had perished!

But they did get a bit muddy.

Based on an account at ‘The Life of St Nicholas (Mogilevsky), Metropolitan of Alma Ata and Kazakhstan (1877-1955)’, at ‘Orthodox Holiness’.

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Picture: By Staecker, via Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
The Cathedral of the Ascension in Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan. The architect, Andrei Pavlovich Zenkov, constructed it without nails, which makes the fact that it survived an earthquake in 1911 either more or less extraordinary depending on your point of view. The Communists turned it into a museum, but since 1997 it has been an Orthodox Church again.

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