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Piotr Andreyevitch Streltzof — , better known as Father Arseny, was a spiritual father in Russia during the period of communist rule under Stalin. Father Arseny is believed to have performed many miracles during harsh times in the cold Siberian prisons, where there was little hope for those who were encamped. As a parish priest, Father Arseny was convicted for anti-communist propaganda and became Prisoner No.
Life in the barracks was brutal. Many of the prisoners were often ordered to work outside in the below-freezing weather, while others had specific duties inside, such as keeping facilities heated.
If any of the tasks were not performed properly, prisoners were beaten severely sometimes to the point of death by those in charge of them. While in prison, Father Arseny encountered a former student by the name of Alexei.
Alexei was an atheistic individual who mocked God and all of those who followed him, but when he met Father Arseny, he began to see life in a different light.
An event that decisively persuaded Alexei to believe in God occurred when both Father Arseny and Alexei were sent outside to be punished for petty offenses. The lieutenant in charge ordered Father Arseny and Alexei to stay in a metal shack for 48 hours without food and drink. While in the shack, Father Arseny and Alexei recited prayers to God and visualized being in a warm place. Father Arseny and Alexei survived the 48 hours.
Before them, nobody had been able to live after being in the metal shack for 48 hours. How they survived the cold weather without food and drink is still a mystery today.
However, his spiritual children believe it was the work of God. Those who met Father Arseny, and lived to tell their stories, praised him as a man of God who touched many lives in the camp through prayer and faith.
Father Arseny : The testimony of a Russian Confessor 22 June The political prisoners were all too well aware that each day that passed brought them closer to the inevitable end of their earthly lives. As if by some spontaneous reaction, they struggled desperately to keep their spirits alive, to combat the melancholy and depression, to avoid going mad… Piotr Andreyevich, later Father Arseny, was born in Moscow in and graduated from a practical high school in and the Moscow Imperial University in It was then that he wrote the first art critical studies on early Russian architecture. From until he lived as a monk in the Optina Desert and was ordained as a priest. From onwards he served as a priest in various churches in Moscow.
Father Arseny: A Cloud of Witnesses