Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco occupies a special place in my life. Despite the fact that I am not called his name, he is my heavenly patron and intercessor. And he prayed for me long before I knew about him. The saints themselves come to us and reveal themselves; thus, we find saints close to us, whom we always ask for help.
I call St. John the way he was called during his life – Vladyka. Often I ask him for blessings for the coming day, I just talk to him and always feel his guardianship. As he bequeathed to all of us in a dream of his spiritual daughter Maria Shakhmatova immediately after his death: “Tell everyone that although I have died, I am still alive”, he is really alive and very quick to help absolutely everyone. I have many occasions in my life when St. John helped me, he is always here, but talking about “classical” wonders, when you ask for help and immediately receive it, I would like to tell about three happenings.
The first happening occurred in the winter about two years ago. I had a seasonal cold, nothing serious, but I had to take antibiotics. Usually they give me a stomachache. And in the evening after taking the last pill from the course, I felt very bad. There was a feeling that there was a stone in my stomach, and general dizziness, weakness and nausea were such strong that I could not move. I just froze half-sitting on the sofa and could only moan. The day before, on the same day, my husband and I agreed to read the akathist to St. John of Shanghai for someone who had problems. I don’t remember who we prayed for, but I remember that the people’s situation was serious. Since it was already late, my husband offered to read the akathist right now, despite the fact that I could not even get up. He stood in front of our icons, and I lay aside. I asked him to give me the icon of St. John and put it on my stomach with a mental moan: “Vladyka, help me!” While my husband read Heavenly King, and I read the first kontakion, my stomach let out a rumbling and just became still. Suddenly. I was reading the first ikos expecting this to be a temporary relief, and soon my stomach would break with renewed pain, but no. I was simply numb to the end of the akathist and did not move, waiting for my husband to finish reading to tell him that St. John healed me just in an instant – after the first kontakion. As if nothing ever happened: no pain, no weakness, no sign of antibiotics harm. I burst into tears and was very happy that Vladyka helped me.
I have repeatedly visited Vladyka in San Francisco, and this is a wonder in itself, because there were absolutely no opportunities and plans to ever be there. I always feel immense joy when I come to him and go to his relics: the feeling that you are going to your dear father, whom you love very much and have not seen for a long time. And this feeling is mutual, you know that Vladyka is waiting for you and is very glad to see you.
The next such visit in December 2017, I was supposed to fly towards my homeland from San Francisco, when St. John showed me the power of prayer against rational thinking. It was an early flight and I had to arrive at the airport by 6 in the morning. The father, whose place I stayed in, offered to take me to the airport an hour and a half before departure, because usually registration and inspection are quick and there is no need to sit at the airport for hours. But I prefered to sit and wait than to be late for the flight. The father agreed and brought me to the San Francisco airport a little more than 2 hours before departure, blessed me and went to the cathedral, where he serves and tells the pilgrims about St. John of Shanghai. I checked my luggage and went to the search line. My heart sank when I saw this line, which was extremely huge. But I reassured myself that everything is under control, we will be in time, because all these people must get on their flights. However, after an hour and a half, when the landing on my flight was already ending, I got very nervous. An hour and a half passed, and I passes only half of the line! The same time was needed to overpass another half, but I did not have time. I scrolled through my mind all possible and impossible plans for how to catch a flight, and in the end I texted to the priest who brought me here, asking what should I do in such situation. In response, the text message came to me: “Read the akathist to St. John.” That was all… I felt so ashamed that for an hour and a half I only got nervous and thought out the ways out, but never even thought to pray! It should be noted that Vladyka John, during his lifetime, being bishop and archbishop, traveled a lot, including by plane, therefore in America he is considered the main patron of travelers. I immediately opened the akathist on my phone and began to read. I already know it by heart, and it takes about a minute to read each kontakion and ikos. As soon as I began to read an akathist, the line began to move continuously! I could not help but smile. On the eighth ikos, I had to put the phone in my bag, it was my turn. I almost danced. Wow, an hour and a half without a prayer I stayed almost at the same place and in 8 minutes with a prayer I “flew” the line! I was still late for the flight, but safely moved to the next 2 hours later. My suitcase got on the first flight, as a warning to me that I need to pray, and not to fuss.
I read a lot of books about Vladyka John, absorbing knowledge of him and his life like a sponge. I love stories written by his spiritual children, who knew him and loved him very much. Memoirs of Zinaida Yulem are especially close to me; she knew him as a bishop of Western Europe, when Vladyka served in France. Her life is continuous wonders by Vladyka’s prayers. One of her stories helped me to realize an event from my life as a miracle of Vladyka, and not to pass by it. Let me quote:
“When our dear blessed John was leaving us to begin the administration of the diocese in San Francisco, it seemed to me that although Father Mitrofan was with us, I would lose everything and remain an orphan. To this day I can’t remember this moment without tears. When after the Liturgy on the day of his departure, Blessed John came out of the altar with a staff in his hand to say a few words of comfort, I thought: “Lord, what will I do when I can’t see my Elder, hear his voice and feel his presence? Where is he going … this is so far away! ” And when he began his sermon, I began to cry with bitter tears that flowed from my eyes, like two rivers. Blessed John looked in my direction and said: “People who have one goal and who strive for “one thing needful” have unity of souls and never feel the distance dividing them. And it does not matter how great this distance is: it can never be an obstacle to the spiritual closeness that unites these people in the unity of souls. ” After these words, my tears instantly dried out, and I thought: “How amazing! As if someone had closed my tap!” And immediately my heart felt so warm, so pleasant, so joyful (as on Easter) that I even forgot that our Blessed is leaving us. And when we went to see him off to the airport, instead of sadness, I felt joy. I did not feel at all that he was leaving us forever. What did make my sadness suddenly turn into joy? His prayers. “
My story happened in one of the visits to Vladyka in San Francisco. Whenever I am there, I plan to visit the New Cathedral, where the relics of St. John are, several times: just to come in the afternoon and be alone with the saint, to go to the Divine Liturgy and partake of Communion (fortunately, they serve it here every day) and come again before my leaving to say goodbye to Vladyka. On my very first visit, I saw a silver pendant with the icon of Vladyka on a chain in the bookstore of the cathedral and I definitely wanted to buy it somehow. But all the time I put it off until the next time. It was quite expensive, and I always thaught that the next time I would save up money and buy it for sure. This time, I again did not dare to buy a pendant. The day before departure, the Romanian mother, with whom I became friends, brought me to the cathedral to say goodbye to Vladyka. I came up to Vladyka, hugged his reliquary and felt that my heart was breaking from coming separation. It was so hard for me to fly away and say goodbye, I didn’t know whether I ever come back here or this was my last time. So I stood alone at the reliquary and cried, mentally speaking with the saint. And then I decided that I would buy a pendant with the icon of St. John now, I had money and did not want to put it off anymore. I wiped away my tears, said “Goodbye” to Vladyka, and went up to the bookstore. There was no one in the store, only a priest in a cassock stood behind the counter. “Hello, sister Anastasia,” he greeted me. Wow, this is the first time I see this priest, and he addresses me by name! How does he know me? It turned out that it was Hieromonk Yuvenaliy, with whom we texted, but could not meet due to changed circumstances. Anyway, of course, it’s interesting that he recognized me, never meeting me … We talked very well, and I finally told why I had come. I asked him to pack me a pendant with a chain and began to count the money. He muttered something inaudibly and began to pack my long-awaited purchase. Then he put the parcel on the counter and pushed the money aside, saying: “Take this, this is a gift.” “Oh no, I want to buy it for myself ” “Take the money,” he repeated. “You probably did not understand, I buy this pendant for my money, let it be a donation for the cathedral.” “Agh, you are so stubborn, I tell you, take the money.” I just wanted to object again, as he said: “Take the money, it will be your obedience! Better take a pendant, go to the cathedral and touch the reliquary with it, so that Vladyka blesses you. We all do it with all pendant, but as for you, go and so it yourself again. ” I did not resist anymore, took the money, said goodbye, and being extremely happy went to fulfill my obedience! I flew into the cathedral and go immediately to Vladyka, pulled out a pendant with a chain, put them on the reliquary, hugged it and began to thank him. Just 10 minutes passed between two goodbyes, but my mood was just different: my heart was light and exulted, I was very joyful and knew that Vladyka would bring me to San Francisco again. I said goodbye again and left the cathedral being the most joyful person.
Later I also bought 4 pendants in different trips for friends and relatives, but no one else gave them to me for free. Only then I realized that Vladyka comforted me in this way by giving me a present — his pendant — so that I could understand that he was everywhere with me, never leaving me. You don’t have to be in San Francisco for him to be close and help you — he is everywhere.
I have a small ministry: I take a lot of oil bottles from the reliquary of St. John of Shanghai in San Francisco and small icons of the saint and give them to people who need them. I want to thank St. John for his help in my life in such a way and console people who know him, as well as introduce him to those who hear his holy name for the first time. Saint John, pray to God for us!