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Again Magazine Volume 18, Number 3 – September, 1995 Page 19
“To You, Our Queen”: A Vision of the Virgin Mary
Translated and adapted by Katherine Hyde
The following story took place in Russia in the late 1930s. It is recounted at greater length in the book, Father Arseny, published in Moscow (in Russian) in 1993.
A young girl named Maria was walking to the railway station late one night, on the way to her home in Moscow after spending the evening in the country with friends. Her way lay through a forest, where she was accosted by two youths. They grabbed her, threw a jacket over her head, and threatened her at knifepoint, saying they would kill her if she screamed. The taller of the two sent his friend to stand watch, threw Maria on the ground and began to rip her clothes off.
Maria was a believer and she began to pray. In her confused and terrified condition the only prayer she could remember was a kontakion to the Mother of God: “To you, our Queen, leader in battle and defender, we your people, delivered from all peril, offer hymns of victory and thanksgiving, O Theotokos. Since you possess invincible power, set us free from every calamity, that we may cry to you: Hail, 0 Bride without Bridegroom!” Maria said this prayer under her breath, over and over.
Her assailant asked her, “What are you muttering?” Then he looked up and seemed to see something behind her. He pulled Maria up, dragged her to another spot and threw her down again. She continued to pray. Again he looked up, with an expression of terror. Then he told Maria to get up, gave her her clothes to put on, and escorted her all the way to her home in Moscow, where he left her at the door. Maria went in and gave thanks before her icon of the Mother of God for her inexplicable deliverance.
A year later, Maria had an unexpected visitor. She recognized him immediately as the young man who had attacked her. He came into her room and, seeing the icon of the Mother of God, cried out, “It’s her!” Then he begged Maria to forgive the great wrong he had done her, and left.
Some time afterwards, during World War II when everyone in Moscow was starving, the young man appeared at Maria’s home again, bringing food. He came several times on the same errand, but Maria could not overcome her hatred toward him. Finally, at her mother’s urging, Maria agreed to listen to what the young man, whose name was Andrei, had to say.
Andrei told Maria that when he was about to rape her, after he heard her praying, he looked up and saw a woman standing behind her, warning him off with a commanding gesture. After he had taken Maria to another place, he saw the woman again, this time stretching her arm over Maria. Andrei was terrified and decided to let Maria go. But afterwards his conscience tormented him until he finally got up the courage to go to her and ask her forgiveness. When he went to her home and saw the icon of the Mother of God on her wall, he immediately recognized it as the woman he had seen in the forest. After that, he found out everything he could about the Mother of God and eventually became a believer.
Maria’s mother heard this story and said to her, “This wonderful vision was granted to Andrei, not to you. He would never have been granted such a miracle if he were not really a good person at heart.” Maria had to agree with her mother, and finally was able to grant Andrei the forgiveness he had been begging for so long.