[St. Pachomius Library]

CHERNOBYL: Glimpses of the Miraculous

The leader of the Chernobyl Power Plant Communist Party section has a vision on his deathbed.

Another famous icon of St. Elijah's temple is the Chernobyl Spas [Saviour], which has a special history. This icon may be said to have sprung directly from the people, survivors of one of the greatest tragedies of modern history. After the initial panic subsided, people were in need of support and sympathy. Many of them were gravely ill.

Yuriy Borisovich Andreev, now deceased, was the leader of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant Communist Party section at this time. A Communist with a strong attachment to his party's ideas, he became very ill after receiving huge doses of radiation. He was suffering greatly; he was thought to be on his death-bed. The doctors did not expect him to live much longer.

He kept seeing a recurring dream: the Party section leader clearly saw the image of an icon. He also told his dream to me, and I passed his message to His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir.

Being seriously ill, the Communist leader kept asking for the icon to be painted. He described it to an artist, and gave instructions on how it had to be painted. He saw the image with his inner spiritual vision and felt a strong need for it to be created.

His Beatitude gave his blessing. The icon was painted at the Trinity-Sergiev Lavra in 2003 and sanctified at Kiev-Pechersk Lavra on the feast day of the Dormition of the Theotokos. When His Beatitude Metropolitan Vladimir consecrated the image of the Chernobyl Spas, three signs appeared in the sky: a dove flew above the icon before hundreds of witnesses, then a rainbow appeared in the sky, and finally the sign of the cross became visible, with the sun shining at its centre. Yuriy Andreev, the terminally ill Communist party section-leader, greatly improved after this event: the Lord had healed him.

It is curious that a staunch Communist, later the president of the Chernobyl-Ukraine Union, was chosen for this mission. Thanks to him the Chernobyl Spas icon came into the world, and the Lord has continued to heal sick and afflicted people who come to venerate this image.

Vladislav Goretsky, a master iconographer, was chosen to create this icon. The image is truly sublime, expressive and spiritual. It is also exceptional in that it depicts ordinary people alongside the image of God for the first time in the history of iconography. The souls of the survivors of the Chernobyl tragedy are portrayed on the right, while the souls of the deceased victims are on the left. His Beatitude Vladimir requested the permission of Patriarch Alexiy II to include the images of the people in the icon; this permission was granted.

The subject of the icon is deeply symbolic. It is a visual rendition of a theme from the Book of Revelation. At the center of the image is a "star of wormwood" [ Rev. 8:11] falling from the sky against the backdrop of the ominous glow of the explosion.

Another focal point is a crucifix-shaped pine tree. This extraordinary sign of the upcoming tragedy grew on Polissya's soil decades before the accident. The large, old tree was fully mature before the Second World War. Chernobyl's nuclear power plant was built just two kilometers away from this huge living cross growing at the forest's edge.

After the tragedy, when the so-called "Red Forest" poisoned by radiation was cut down, an opening revealed a stunning spiritual vision: two symbols of the universal disaster --- the exploded fourth nuclear reactor and the giant tree-cross --- became connected in one plane.

The vision brings to mind the cruciform tree watered by Lot in Old Testament times ... a tree which was to become Christ's Cross two-thousand years later ... a tree believed to have grown from the three staffs, made from three kinds of wood (cedar, cypress, and pine), given to Abraham when the Holy Trinity revealed Himself to the forefather in the likeness of three angels [ Gen. 18:2]. Four thousand years later the Chernobyl Cross arose as a symbol of the nuclear crucifixion that would come in 1986. To the left and right of the cross are the living and the deceased liquidators [i.e. clean-up workers] of the nuclear catastrophe. Above them is the Lord Jesus Christ with a scroll of the Apocalypse, opened to the passage that holds the prophecy [of the star Wormwood], as well as the Holy Virgin and the Archangel Michael. This is the exact vision that came in a dream to the Communist leader of the Chernobyl nuclear plant.

The Chernobyl Spas icon mystically communicates that the One holding the scroll holds the keys to the grand design and to every detail of the lives of those born into the world, as well as to the events and defining moments of history ... including the tragedy of Chernobyl.

Russian text © Valentina Serikova, 2016. English translation by Alesya Volchyk, edited for the St. Pachomius Library.