Orthodox America

  The Prayer of a Righteous Man Availeth Much 

Of the hundreds of miracles testifying to Archbishop John's sanctity, here are two which are recorded in English for the first time.  The first appeared in Russian in Archbishop John: Wonderworker, Ascetic, Man of Prayer (San Francisco, 1991), to be published next year, God willing, in English

Two Healings: of Body and Soul

This happened in San Francisco, on the Friday before Palm Sunday, 1963.  We were returning from the store in our new car when we were hit by a drunk driver.  For a split second I felt a pain in my head, and that is all I remember until I regained consciousness in the hospital.  My head, neck and back were seriously injured.  The doctor's diagnosis stated that I had a concussion, cracked skull, injury to the spine and damage to the motor nerves from my waist down into my legs...

I had to lie on my back, completely immobile, with heavy weights at my head and my pelvis, pulling in opposite directions. The doctors hoped thereby to free the damaged nerves in the spine. If not, I would have to remain as I was or undergo an operation, which could make things worse.  It was a depressing situation. And Pascha was approaching.

Suddenly, two young boys came into the ward followed by a small, elderly, hunch-backed priest. The nurse pointed at me and the three of them moved towards me.  I felt rather awkward in front of the nurse and the others in the ward and I thought, "Why did this batiushka come, who called him, why did he have to come here?"  The priest was already at my bed saying something, but I couldn't make out what it was.  He then leaned closer to me and asked my name.  I answered.  He looked at me and it was as though his gaze seized me from head to foot.  Suddenly he placed his hand firmly on my forehead and said, "What happened, were you in a car accident?" "Yes," I answered, thinking to myself, "How does he know?" "Well, let's pray," he said. "All right."  Resting his hand on my head (his hand was so warm, so warm!) and closing his eyes, he began to pray.  Then he took a bottle of oil from a bag one of the boys was holding and anointed my head, forehead, throat, chest, hands and feet and gave me some wine to drink and a piece of antidoron.  Sprinkling me with holy water, he smiled and gave me a paschal egg (not an edible one, but a decorated one wrapped in gold ribbons). Continuing to smile, he reached into his capacious pocket, searched for something and finally pulled out a lilac-blue marble egg, which he put into my hand.  "Here, hold this; this is no ordinary egg, it's a gold one." Saying this, he blessed me.  I kissed his cross and his hand, and they all left.

After he had gone-he had come during the day-I fell asleep holding the egg and awoke when it was already dark.  That night a real miracle occurred.  I needed a nurse but couldn't call her.  Incredibly, I suddenly felt compelled to get up from the bed myself!   I took off the various straps, ties, weights, and crawled to the end of the bed and slid onto the floor. The other patients in the ward awoke from all the noise and, seeing me standing by my bed and knowing that I was paralyzed from the waist down, began shouting for the nurse.  A nurse came flying in and was stupefied on seeing me. "Help me with this patient!"  Two more nurses came and together they tried to put me back in bed, certain that the doctors would reprimand them for what happened.  I insisted on having my way and managed to walk by myself to the bathroom and back!  My legs wobbled from weakness, but I wept with joy.

The next day, after many x-rays and an examination, my doctor said to me, "I'm completely baffled!  From a medical point of view this is impossible! I'm going to call other doctors for a consultation."  Other doctors came... They kept me for another nine days before releasing me.   No explanation could be found.

...At that time I had no idea who that priest was, I hadn't even heard about Vladika John.  Only later did I learn who it was who visited me in the hospital.  I understood what mercy I had been granted from the touch of his hands, having received such an incredible healing through his prayers!

At the end of 1963 I experienced a whole series of personal problems.  It was an extremely difficult time for me.  My mother, having by this time learned about Vladika, invited him to our home. When he came and sat down on the sofa, I simply fell to me knees in front of him, sobbing.  He gently stroked my head and quietly prayed.  All my troubles disappeared and my whole life took a new direction.

 My family and I continue to receive mercy and healing, even after Vladika's repose.

Tatiana Estrada, Concord, California

The Healing of a Child

When my daughter Maria was six years old, she was diagnosed with discoid miniscus of her left knee (a congenital condition in which the cartilage is thicker than normal and lacks the proper indentations which secure the bones).  She would be walking, running or playing when suddenly the bones would slip and she would collapse from pain.  Her knee would swell up and she would have to stay off it until the swelling went down.  The doctors tried everything: they put her leg in a half cast, they fit her with a brace, they wrapped the knee in ace bandages, she was given crutches.

Nothing helped; Maria's condition steadily worsened.  It was suggested she have surgery-a hole is made in the cartilage, which is formed into a donut shape to hold the bones in place-which is the usual procedure for such a condition, but the pediatric-orthopedic surgeon warned us that the success rate for someone as young as Maria wasn't very good, and furthermore it might well cause her to develop arthritis by the time she reached her 20s.

But after a year of trying various other measures, surgery appeared to be the only alternative. It was 1986.  The operation was scheduled for the week after Pentecost. From our home in Portland we drove down to the "Old Cathedral" of the Holy Virgin, "Joy of All Who Sorrow", in San Francisco.  There, Abbot Anastassy sent us Saturday evening to the Cathedral on Geary Boulevard to venerate Archbishop John's tomb and attend the vigil, which we did. The next morning, on the Feast of Pentecost, we attended Divine Liturgy at the Old Cathedral.  After the service Fr. Anastassy anointed Maria's knee with oil from Archbishop John's tomb and placed a vestment worn by Archbishop John over her as a blessing.  He told her that it was important for her to believe that she could be healed. When asked if she had such faith, she said yes, knowing that several years earlier her younger brother had been healed of a hearing loss through the prayers of Archbishop John.

We drove back to Portland that same day. Even after the long, eleven-hour drive, Maria experienced no pain or swelling in her knee. At her pre-op exam a few days later, the doctor was unable to detect any painful or swollen areas.  In x-rays the joint appeared normal. The doctor was surprised; he could find no medical explanation for it.   The surgery was cancelled.

Today, thanks to Archbishop John, Maria is a healthy fifteen-year-old.  She has had no recurrence of any pain or swelling.  She plays volleyball at school and, as a member of a search-and-rescue first aid explorers' post, she regularly participates in more strenuous activities: white-water rafting, mountain hiking, horse-back riding, snow camping. None of this would be possible if it weren't for Archbishop John's healing prayers of intercession. Each year, on the anniversary of his repose, we make a pilgrimage to his sepulchre to thank him for the gift of healing both our children.  We look forward to his glorification next year with joy and gratitude.

Agape Ketrenos, Portland, Oregon