St. Seraphim of Sarov Orthodox Church
872 N. 29th St. Boise, ID
an American parish of the Russian Orthodox Church
He Said It Would Hurt a Lot - How One Man Met a Saint During the War

This is an amazing story from a war veteran from Petrozavodsk. His name is Dmitry Moskalev, he is 97 years old. This is his story, written himself, by hand.

Well, the war is going on, Kiev is liberated, the Korsun–Cherkassy Offensive to liquidate the surrounded German troops continues. All of a sudden, next to 21-year-old rifle regiment platoon commander Dmitry Moskalev…

“…A mine exploded near me in one night’s attack. It covered me with frozen ground and stunned me… I fainted and came round only when the sun started to shine. I couldn’t feel my legs.

I managed to get to a hut of an elderly local couple with their help. They could barely take my boots off. My legs were frostbitten. Medics arrived in the evening and took me to a field medical facility, and the next day they took me by car to Kiev.

I was in Kiev again. They wanted to amputate my legs up to the knees at the Kiev hospital. I did not give my consent for this operation. They loaded me on a sanitary train and sent me to Tambov.

I stayed in a ward for two months. They would just re-bandage my wounds and did not do anything else. My legs weren’t healing. The chief doctor of the hospital told me that there were former doctors in the city who helped the wounded a lot. In particular, there was an experienced former surgeon who had gone to serve in the cathedral. He used to consult and even operate on patients frequently. “If I invite him for a consultation, would you mind?” I, of course, gave my consent. Just spare my legs.

Literally the next day, I was taken to the O.R. A very old, short man with a beard and glasses in a white coat came in, and I noticed black church robe under his coat. He was a clergyman of the Diocese of Tambov, whom I had previously seen through a hospital window on his way to the cathedral for service. People greeted him joyfully, crossed themselves, and stretched out their hands to him.

He started examining me, touching and tingling my legs with something sharp, interrogating me and the doctors in detail. After that he said that there could be gangrene and that it was necessary to clean up the dead tissues. I gave my consent to this surgery.

The next day, he came again. Before the surgery, he explained to me that he would cut through dead tissue without anesthesia. “It’s going to hurt a lot, you’ll have to be patient. You can scream, but don’t swear: I’m a priest and I can’t stand it.” He crossed me and started the operation.

It was very painful, but at first I tolerated it with clenched teeth. Then I started screaming and passed out. I can’t remember anything else. I woke up in the ward on my bed.

After that, my legs began to heal quickly. New skin started growing, and they bandaged me more often. My mood improved. I tried to get up. I gave it a try, but fell immediately back onto the bed.

One day I was wondering, who was the doctor who performed the surgery on me? Why did he serve in the cathedral? They told me that he had been a famous surgeon, known especially for plastic surgeries. He had a dear wife who fell seriously ill and, despite all his efforts, he couldn’t save her. Then he renounced medicine and went to serve God and help people. He helped wounded soldiers during the Great Patriotic War.

I later learned that my savior was Saint Luke, also known as Valentin Felixovich Voino-Yasenetsky, a professor, a spiritual writer, and a political prisoner who had gone through jails, exile, torture; a famous doctor and a talented preacher who was sometimes torn between his two vocations.

They made paraffin baths and had me work out my joints on a “bicycle” and other fitness equipment. I started walking, first with crutches, then with a cane…”

Shortly afterwards Dmitry was declared unfit for military service. He was going to have years of rehabilitation ahead of him, which included skiing and cycling on a daily basis to restore the mobility of his joints. Today, at 97, he is able to move around on his feet.

How often do we see people around us make the mistake of turning their back on such so called “worldly” remedies because they are not overtly supernatural or wondrous?  But it is more often than not that God works in our lives through these seemingly humble and unnoticed means.  Whether it be medical care for an illness or the charity of another person or what might appear to be pure chance or coincidence, all help that we receive in this life is from God and carries with it His grace which heals us and transforms us.  Remember that God works through the hands of the physician, whether it is St Luke the Surgeon or your regular family doctor who may not even be Christian.  Remember that God’s grace is in the compassion of every stranger who helps you out in time of need whether he be saint or sinner.  God acts in your life through every circumstance – there is no “chance” or “fate” or “coincidence”, every event in our lives is given to us by God for our salvation.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit are in every circumstance of your lives and are the means by which our loving God provides for our salvation. Therefore, in the words of the Holy Apostle Paul: “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God” (1 Thess. 5:18)