[St. Pachomius Library]

CHERNOBYL: Glimpses of the Miraculous

Cupola, St. Michael's Church, Krasno. Photo © 2016 Arkadiusz Podniesiński.

Angels lead a church service in the Exclusion Zone.

The old church in the village of Krasno has long been abandoned. However, we have had multiple witness accounts of church services being held there by the angels and the heavenly host. Staff members of the Chernobyl police force have come to me on multiple occasions between 2005 and 2009, asking me: "Batyushka, what does it mean? What's this all about?"

On one occasion, they recounted the following events. A police unit that patrols the Exclusion Zone was driving along a narrow back-road surrounded on both sides by a thick growth of trees and brush. Approaching the village church, they distinctly heard the sound of voices. At first they thought it was an illusion, since villagers had left long ago. There is a checkpoint at the entrance to the contaminated region, but no-one had passed through it for a long time. To get in through the forest is practically impossible, because the land has reverted to a dangerous wilderness.

The patrol vehicle moved forward towards the church. The officers could hear beautiful singing coming from the temple, and saw a mild glow of lights inside the building. The men came out of the car and froze, overcome with sacred awe. The Chernobyl Militia Battalion is a well-trained professional police force, prepared to respond to a variety of emergency situations, but these hardened men felt so overwhelmed with fear that they left the scene immediately. They later went back to the same location again, but this time the church looked quiet. They did not dare enter the church, but sent a report to their manager.

The police officers later came to my church and asked me to explain the nature of the event they had witnessed. I told them that ecclesiastical history contains many accounts of such events. Angels do not leave the holy altar until the end of time. When people have to abandon a church for any reason, angels come to worship there instead. The church in Krasno has special significance to them, since it is dedicated to the Archangel Michael, the head of the heavenly host. The place, although burned by lethal doses of radiation, still remains a sacred site, where God's grace abides. It was the Lord's will to bring responsible witnesses to recount this miracle to the wider world. (All subsequent witness accounts of the liturgy in the empty church were identical to this first description.)

In St. Michael's Church, Krasno. Photo © 2016 Arkadiusz Podniesiński.

I have been going to the church in Krasno to lead services on feast days ever since. During one of my visits I found an icon of the Archangel Michael. I had gone into the loft between the church's cupolas. It is a difficult spot to reach and quite dangerous to walk through, because of the rotting old floor-boards. I prayed and walked as far as I could go, when I suddenly felt as though someone were looking at me closely.

I raised my head and saw an icon of the Archangel Michael with a fiery sword in his hand, placed on a decrepit old shelf. The church had been previously plundered by looters, but this icon remained mysteriously concealed from their sight. The icon was placed there to protect the church, but who had hidden the image? Perhaps the angels themselves.

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