It Happened in Siberia

by Alexandra Dabbart

For twenty years I lived in Lima, Peru. During that time a Russian parish was established there. Our deacon, the late Eugene Nikolaevich Dolmatev, related to me a miracle which occurred through the intercession of St. Nicholas.

It happened in Siberia. The White Army under Kolchak was retreating. Eugene Nikolaevich, in spite of a severe wound suffered in the First World War, served in Kolchak's forces in the rank of first lieutenant. It was a harsh winter.

Entering a village, the partisans seized a peasant suspected of collaborating with the Reds. It was decided to execute him. Eugene Nikolaevich ordered the prisoner to be locked up.

Black priest hat
Russian Priest
St. Nicholas Center Collection

That night, as the lieutenant was sitting alone writing out the accusation, there came a knock at the door. He opened it and in stepped an old man wearing a skoufia, like those worn by monks, and an old cassock. "Mister officer," he said, "you have an arrested peasant here. Don't kill him. He's innocent."

"And who are you?" inquired Eugene Nikolaevich.

"I am the rector of the local church, Fr. Nicholas," answered the old man, and he left.

Eugene Nikolaevich thought it over and decided to release the prisoner. Early in the morning he ordered a sleigh to be harnessed, had the prisoner get in, took some bread, and told the escorts: "I'm going to shoot him." Once in the forest he untied the prisoner, gave him the bread, and said: "Into the woods with you, and don't cross our path again!"

Returning to the village, Eugene Nikolacyich went to the church. It was locked. He asked a peasant walking by: "Where does Fr. Nicholas live? . . . "The Reds shot him long ago," came the reply.

Russian black priest hat
Russian Orthodox Skoufia

Eugene Nikolaevich was taken aback, but he decided to look around the church anyway. Someone unlocked the door for him, and he went inside. Suddenly he saw to the right an icon of St. Nicholas and immediately recognized him as his nocturnal visitor; in the icon the wonderworking hierarch was depicted wearing the very same skoufia.

By Alexandra Dabbart, Novoye Russkoe Slovo, December 20, 1980. Quoted by Orthodox America.

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