Nicholas (Mogilevsky) of Alma-ata and Kazakhstan

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Our father among the saints, Nicholas (Mogilevsky) of Alma-ata and Kazakhstan was the first Metropolitan of the Eparchy of Alma-Ata and Kazakhstan of the Church of Russia, today the Eparchy of Astana and Almaty. His feast day is October 25. He is commemorated also with the New Martyrs and Confessors of Russia on the first Sunday after January 25.


Theodosius Mogilevsky was born to Nikifor Mogilevsky, a church cantor, and his wife Maria on April 9, 1877. He grew up in a loving and disciplined home. His father was an expert on Church hymns and congregational singing which he carefully and lovingly instilled into his children. From his mother and grandmother Theodosius heard endless stories about the holy pleasers of God.

In 1904, Nikifor received his tonsure as a monk and was given the name Nicholas. In May 1905, Mnk. Nicholas was ordained a deacon, and on October 9, 1905, he was ordained a hieromonk. In 1907, at the insistent of the brethren of the monastery he entered the Moscow Theological Academy at the Lavra of St. Sergius of Radonezh, from which he graduated four years later. He was later raised to the dignity of archimandrite.

In October 1919 and under the government of Bolsheviks, Archim. Nicholas was consecrated Bishop of Staridub, a vicar of the Diocese of Chernigov. In 1923, Bishop Nicholas was appointed Bishop of Kashir, a vicar of the Diocese of Tula, where he had to contend with the Renovated Church that had assumed control of most of the parishes. As a result of his struggle against them, Bp. Nicholas was arrested on May 8, 1925 and spent two years in prison.

After his release from prison, Bp. Nicholas was appointed Bishop of Orel where he served until he was arrested again on July 27,1932. Sent to Voronezh, where during his interrogation, the investigator disclosed that his sentence was for his popularity and the message of his sermons that were important to the people, such that he needed to be isolated from the people. It was a message he did not expect and brought joy to him and led to his exclamation, "Now no sentence could frighten me".

Bp. Nicholas was raised to the dignity of archbishop in 1941, before the German invasion of the Russian land and his arrest on June 27 1941. After his trial, he Initially spent six months imprisoned in Saratov before being sent to the town of Aktiubinsk, now Aktobe, in Kazakhstan for three months. Then, he was sent by train to voluntary exile to the town of Chelkar in Aktiubinsk province.

Arriving on a winter night, Abp. Nicholas was pushed out onto the station platform by the guards, dressed only in his underwear and a torn quilted jacket. With only his identification certificate, he had nowhere to go. Sympathetic women gave him odds and ends of clothing and one let him sleep in a barn with the animals. Not finding any work, he was forced to ask for alms so as not to starve as he dragged out his existence as a beggar until the end of Fall of 1942 when his last strength left him and he lost consciousness.

When he revived, Abp. Nicholas found himself in a clean bed, in a clean room in a hospital. As he slowly recovered those who helped him came to love the "old man" in the hospital. But, as the day approached that he would again be homeless he prayed to the Lord, giving himself up to His will. As he was preparing to leave the hospital the Tatar, who had brought him to the hospital and sent him packages during his convalescence, arrived to take the "old man" under his wing. Explaining that God had directed him to save the "old man", the Tatar took over his care. Thus, began a quiet phase in Abp. Nicholas' life as the Tatar, with his contacts, carefully nursed Abp. Nicholas back to health and united him with spiritual daughter, Vera Afanasievna Fomushkina.

After a request by Abp. Nicholas of October 10, 1944 to the People's Commissar for Internal Affairs of the USSR, he was released from his status of 'voluntary exile' on May 19, 1945. On July 5, 1945, the Holy Synod of the Church of Russia established the Diocese of Alma-Ata and Kazakhstan and appointed Abp. Nicholas its first ruling hierarch. He arrived in Alma-Ata, now Astana, on October 26, 1945, the feast of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God.

Upon his arrival in Alma-Ata, Abp. Nicholas began serving in the small Kazan Church in the center of town that had re-opened just a few months earlier. He celebrated the Divine services reverently with unusual zeal and never rushed, with a closeness to monastic services as could be had in a parish. In his seventieth year at that time, he not only demanded strict fulfillment of the rule, but always explained the meaning of the services, why they needed to sing or read one way and not another. He prayed with tears, especially when he served the Divine Liturgy, and when ”We praise Thee, we bless Thee…” was sung he always wept. During the days of Pascha and the Nativity of Christ, the doors of his house were never closed. All would greet each other with the Paschal kiss and all would glorify the Lord.

In July 1947, Abp. Nicholas was called to Moscow for a session of the Holy Synod. As the passengers boarded the airplane, he stood by the gangway and blessed all the passengers as they boarded. Even though he was often mocked for it he always flew in his ryassa. Noting this religious personage was blessing them, the passengers began to laugh and make biting remarks. The remarks he put aside, as he noted, ”I pitied them. After all, people don't even suspect that they are not speaking blasphemies from their own minds and understanding, but are only fulfilling the evil will of the enemy of the human race. I calmly blessed them all.” At a time after takeoff the pilots became concerned as one engine failed. The passengers began to panic. But, Abp. Nicholas said, ”Let's pray! Not a single soul will perish!” and added, ”We will only get a little dirty in the mud.” He stood up and began to pray. The passengers' anxiety continued. While at first no one paid attention to him, in a few minutes they all began to calm down, rose from their seats, and listen to his prayer. He was praying to the Lord to save everyone who was flying in that plane. Then, as the airplane began to descend, to the amazement of the pilots, its descent was unusual, as if gliding as it gently descended and came to rest in a small, swampy, and shallow lake. As the passengers recovered from their fear, they approached Abp. Nicholas to thank him. Even the senior pilot came to him and remarked, ”A miracle happened, father. Forgive us for our mockery!” ”God forgives you,” he replied. ”Thank God and His Most Pure Mother, and place your hope in St. Nicholas.”

Many other miraculous events have been related concerning Abp. Nicholas, such as the time during a summer in the early 1950's when a heat wave and drought descended upon the Uralsk region as from the time the winter snow had melted, not a drop of rain had fallen. When the people came to complain their beloved archbishop, he said, ”Let's pray to the Heavenly King; perhaps he will hear our prayer.” They began to serve the moleben for rain. As they prayed a miracle occurred - the sky, that had not had a single cloud, darkened, became covered in thick rain clouds. It then not only rained, it poured. As the walls of the old Uralsk cathedral trembled from the thunderclaps, Abp. Nicholas paused in his prayer and stated, ”Orthodox people! Isn't this a miracle?!”

His health began to fail him during his last years. While often sick, he tried to be in church even then, fending off calls that he should stay home with the remark that, ‘I will be healed in the church. But at home, I will get even sicker.'. Advise by doctors to seek a change of climate, he refused, saying, ‘Everyone loves me so here, and I want to die in the arms of my [spiritual] children.' On October 23, Abp. Nicholas saw that his final days had come and asked that '…we … begin the burial rite of a bishop.' Late on October 25, as the bells of St. Nicholas cathedral were ringing for evening service on the feast of the Iveron Icon of the Mother of God, he departed from this world to the Lord on that same feast day as he arrival to his Alma-Ata cathedra, on the feast of the Icon of Iveron Mother of God.

Succession box:
Nicholas (Mogilevsky) of Alma-ata and Kazakhstan
Preceded by:
Bishop of Staridub, Vicar
of Diocese of Chernigov

Succeeded by:

{{succession| before=?| title=Bishop of Kashir,
vicar of Diocese of Tula| years=1923-1925| after=?}

Preceded by:
Archbishop of Orel
Succeeded by:

{{succession| before=— title=Archbishop of Alma-Ata and Kazakhstan| years=1945-1955| after=?}

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