New Martyr Maria
Healer of Depression
Troparion To New Martyr Maria, Tone 4
O our blessed Mother Maria, who didst bear the cross of illness so meekly and humbly, with such sobriety and prayer that God granted thee the gift of the consolation. Pray for us sinners who know not how to repent, that God may grant us His great mercy.
Commemorated on January 26
The revolution of 1917 found Matushka Maria on her sickbed. After suffering encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), she entered the condition of the so-called Parkinson’s Disease: her whole body became, as it were, chained and immovable, her face anemic and like a mask. She could speak, but she began to talk with a half-closed mouth, through her teeth, pronouncing slowly and in a monotone voice. She was in constant need of help and careful looking after. Usually this disease proceeds with sharp psychological changes (irritability, a tiresome stubbornness in repeating stereotyped questions, an exaggerated egoism, manifestations of senility, and the like), as a result of which such patients often would end up in psychiatric hospitals. But Mother Maria, being bedridden, not only did not degenerate physically, but revealed completely extraordinary features of personality and character, not characteristic of such patients; she became extremely meek, humble, submissive, undemanding, concentrated in herself; she became engrossed in constant prayer, bearing her difficult condition without the least murmuring.
As if as a reward for this humility and patience, the Lord sent her a gift: consolation of the sorrowing. Completely strange and unknown people, finding themselves in sorrows, grief, depression, and despondency, began to visit her and converse with her. And everyone who came to her left consoled, feeling an illumination of their grief, a pacifying sorrow, a calming of fears, a taking away of depression and despondency. The news of this extraordinary nun gradually spread far beyond the boundaries of the city of Gatchina.
"Depression is a spiritual cross," she stated. "It is sent to help the penitent who does not know how to repent, that is, who after repentance falls again into the earlier sins….And therefore, only two medicines can treat this sometimes extremely difficult suffering of the soul. One must either learn to repent and offer the fruits of repentance; or else bear this spiritual cross, one’s depression, with humility, meekness, patience, and great multitude to the Lord, remembering that the bearing of this cross is accounted by the Lord as the fruit of repentance….And after all, what a great consolation it is to realize that your discouragement is the unacknowledged fruit of repentance, an unconscious self-chastisement for the absence of the fruits that are demanded….From this thought one should come to contrition, and then the depression gradually melts and the true fruits of repentance will be conceived…"
About 1930 Maria was arrested. She was accused of counter-revolutionary propaganda and of participating in a counter-revolutionary organization, according to paragraphs 10 and 11 of Article 58 (of the Soviet criminal code). The "politico-religious crime" of Maria was deepened by her refusal to recognize Metropolitan Sergius after his famous Declaration of 1927, which led to a schism in the Russian Church. She was dragged by her arms, which were twisted behind her back, along the floor and ground from her bed to the truck by two Chekists…Swinging her much-suffering, paralyzed body, the Chekists threw it into the truck and took her away. She died in the hospital and her body was not given over. God give rest to her meek soul! Holy New Martyr Maria, pray to God for us!
"New Martyr Maria especially struck me when I first read about her because not many people know about her; yet, everyday we get down about things and start looking to the negative side of life. But in the big scheme of things, we shouldn’t worry about the little things in life and focus on God. Martyr Maria had amazing strength and we should look and pray to her when we are feeling down in any situation!!"