|Icon of holy righteous Simeon, painted by the sisters
The land of the Ural Mountains has produced many saints, but the holy righteous Simeon of Verkhoturye, the wonderworker of all Siberia, must be considered the main heavenly intercessor for our region. For his meekness, gentleness and purity of heart, the Lord glorified both him and the place of his labors, the village of Merkushino, where to this day miraculous healings of spiritual and physical ailments take place through his prayers. In the past, thousands of pilgrims flocked here every year; people came for spiritual rest, to pray, and to drink water from the healing spring of Saint Simeon.
|Merkushino before the Revolution of 1917
Since 1997, the Novo-Tikhvin women’s monastery has had a metochion (dependency) in the village of Merkushino, in the Verkhoturye district, where the Saint of the Siberian land spent his God-pleasing life. Nearly everyone who visits can feel the presence of God in this place which has been sanctified by the life of the righteous one, for the prayers of the Saint have brought God’s blessing to this land; they have brought Heaven itself to earth. Here, in these very places, he prayed; not far away, he caught fish and sewed winter coats for the residents of Merkushino and surrounding villages; here he ended his days, and was buried next to the church of the Archangel Michael in 1642.
|The Translation of the Relics of St. Simeon in 1704
Fifty years later his relics were miraculously unearthed, and a healing spring appeared at his grave. And from the newly revealed Saint himself a river of grace-filled healings sprung forth. The fame of the new God-pleaser grew, and in 1704 his relics were transferred to the city of Verkhoturye. From that time he became known as Simeon of Verkhoturye, but before he had been known as Simeon of Merkushino.
|The Saint Simeon church in 1996|
During the Soviet period his relics were desecrated, and the spring in Merkushino was filled in. The relics were transferred to the Lower Tagil Museum of Regional Studies, but people began to go there to venerate the relics and to pray. Therefore the relics were quickly dispatched to Ekaterinburg, where they were at first put on display in the Ipatiev house, and then removed to the storage facility of the Regional Studies museum in Zelenaja Roshcha (Green Grove), which was located in the building of the Saint Alexander Nevsky cathedral. But today, through the mercy of God, people can once again venerate the newly-revealed relics and drink from the healing waters of the Saint Simeon spring and receive healing through the prayers of the righteous one. In recent times, hundreds of testimonies bearing witness to the miraculous intercession of the Saint have been gathered.
|The church’s complex of Merkushino after the restoration
In the years of Soviet rule, the harmonious architectural ensemble of the village of Merkushino, which had consisted of two churches and a gallery that joined them, was destroyed. In 1931 the Archangel Michael cathedral was blown up; in 1945 the gallery was taken apart, brick by brick; the Saint Simeon church was at first used as a gymnasium, and then was abandoned, and began gradually to fall into ruin. The village itself as well, once deprived of its spiritual foundation, began slowly to die. But thanks to the intercession of Saint Simeon, today it is again filled with life. The whole magnificent church’s complex have been restored from the ruins.
Twenty sisters live year-round in Merkushino, where they fulfill a variety of obediences: they sing and read in church, and receive pilgrims. And three times a year, on the days of the First and Second finding of the relics, and of the translation of the relics of Saint Simeon, nearly all the sisters come here from the skete and the church.
|A guest from Jerusalem, Metropolitan Timothy
In recent years this village has become a much-loved place of rest for many Orthodox people; pilgrims who have visited here often return the next year with their families. It is a joy to see that once again, as in the past, pilgrims are coming to this grace-filled, picturesque place sanctified by prayer, where it seems as if nature itself glorifies its Creator.