Tuesday, December 6, 2016

When St. Nicholas Appeared to a Soviet Actress in 1941

Popular Soviet film actress Lyubov Sokolova (July 31, 1921 – June 6, 2001), who appeared in over 300 films, having just been married, found herself in Leningrad during the Great Patriotic War. On 31 July 1941, her 20th birthday, when nothing as yet heralded a siege of the city, Lyubov set out together with her mother-in-law by train to the city outskirts, where they worked together in a factory. They got off at the designated station and walked down the street. This is what happened afterwards.

“Suddenly a dignified-looking elderly, bearded man approached me,” Lyubov Sokolova recalled. “He stopped me very subtly and looking into my eyes said: 'My name is Nikolai. You shall eat in very small amounts, yet you will survive.' At the time we could not even imagine the horrors of Leningrad under siege and the starvation we’d have to endure!

Sokolova with Nikita Mihalkov in the film I Step Through Moscow (1964)

He also said: 'Learn the prayers, Our Father who art in Heaven and also, in German, Gottes Mutter, hilf mir (which means “Mother of God, help me”).'  Having said this, the old man went away and disappeared behind the fence.

Then my mother-in-law said: 'That is St. Nicholas the Wonderworker! Run after him!' I rushed around the fence, and ran into a large open waste ground. There was no one there, even though there was nowhere for a person to disappear to so quickly there.

My mother-in-law and I immediately went to church, and there, looking at the icon of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker, we immediately recognized the old man who had approached us.

Later, in the years of the Leningrad siege, all my near and dear ones died of starvation, including my mother-in-law. However, I survived, just as St. Nicholas had predicted, – and that was, indeed, a miracle! And I said the prayers that he’d instructed me to learn, every morning.”