THE FRENZIED MONK ABEL
(The Life and Death of a Russian Clairvoyant)
(Yuri Roszius was born in the city of Oryol, south of Moscow, on January 18, 1924. He is the author of more than 50 publications. The first, All the Same, It Came From Space, appeared in 1969. Most of the author's works are concerned with analyzing paranormal phenomena.)
It is just over 150 years since the death of one of the most amazing of my countrymen: the monk Abel. He died in the year 1841 and is buried at the Yefimyevsky Monastery, dedicated to the Saviour, in Suzdal. It should be explained that the monasteries in old Russia were often not only a home to those who had voluntarily quit the hustle and bustle of secular life, but also a place of refuge to those who had committed various spiritual or political offenses regarded as dangerous by the authorities.
As for the Yefimyevsky Monastery, it was unquestionably an exemplary shelter, as unassailable and comfortable as France's Bastille or Italy's Monastery of St. Roch. Its dismal and damp cells were never sunlit, and its high walls, resembling those of the Kremlin, were guarded day and night by sentries responsible to the Father Superior. It was there that the monk Abel was a prisoner from 1826 on.
The Empress Catherine the Great died on the day and hour predicted by Abel.
Much later in Soviet years, the "glorious tradition" of the monastery was supported and continued by the former theological seminary student Joseph Dzhugashvili (Stalin), who decided that its moss-grown walls were quite worthy of such guests as the German Fieldmarshal-General von Paulus and his staff after his defeat at Stalingrad in World War Two.
It was there, as a prisoner, that the monk Abel died, formerly the peasant son Vasily Vasilyev. What had brought him there?
It appears that he possessed a rare gift: the ability to foresee the future. He was absolutely firm in his conviction that his predictions were correct and accurate, and wanted them to serve his country, Russia. But, as they say, some truths are hard to swallow!
Abel's gloomy and merciless predictions about coming incursions by enemy hordes, the deaths of royals, and other misfortunes, which invariable came true at the stated time, gave him an ominous reputation. His rewards, as might have been expected, were prisons and banishments, the dark cells of monasteries, shackles, hunger and cold, humiliation by his jailors, and bans on private predictions. Later this was followed by harsh censorship of any mention of his name or predictions in print. More than 25 years of his life -- which lasted for 83 years and 10 months -- were spent in prisons and exile!
In the middle of March 1757, a son, who was named Vasily, was born in the family of the peasant Vasilyev, a smith and horse doctor in the village of Akulovo, near Tula. The boy, who displayed no particular diligence in tilling the land, developed an interest in religion and at the age of 19 left his home to roam Russia. Nine years later he reached the Balaam Monastery in Karelia, where he was given a home by the Father superior Nazary. Later he settled in a solitary cottage some distance away from the monastery, and it was in that cottage that he performed the rites prescribed by the statues of the monastery.
It was at the Balaam Monastery, in 1787, that Abel acquired his great gift. How this happened and how Abel's prophetic gift made itself known is a mystery thanks to the efforts of the censors, who diligently deleted all such details from the now known publication of the Lives.... of this monk. All that is known is that two human-like beings, referred to by Abel as "spirits," took him with them (lifted him) to the skies, where they showed him some books, whose contents he later recounted.
In addition to visual information, he also received information from "voices" that arose out of thin air and told him about future events. But, I repeat, information about this is scant and is scattered in small doses in the very few sources available.
It was under the impression of what he had seen and heard that Abel began to write his first prophetic book, an "extremely awesome" book, as it was called by contemporaries. In this book he dared to say how and when the Empress Catherine the Great would soon die! The Father Superior of the Balaam Monastery learned of the existence of this book, and it was then that Abel's troubles began: interrogation followed interrogation at ever higher levels, up to the Senate and the political police -- the Secret Department - where in March 1796 Abel was subjected to prolonged questioning by the head of that body General Makarov. Abel told him about his "lifting to the skies" and about the two books about future events that he had been shown. He also told the General that since March 1787 he had, like the prophet Moses, been pursued by "voices from thin air" which had directed him to do or say this or that. And that, notwithstanding various difficulties, he had dutifully and meticulously carried out such directions.
The decision taken by the Secret Department in March 1796 stressed the dangerous nature of Abel's prophetic book, with its libelous and insulting fabrications about Empress Catherine the Second, for which Abel deserved to be put to death. However, Catherine had mercifully commanded that execution be replaced by confinement to the Schlisselburg Fortress and that the papers written by him be kept at the Secret Department, which was done.
The march of time is merciless. The last months, days, and then hours of the Empress's life were expiring. On November 6, 1796, she suddenly passed away -- "on the very day and hour predicted by Abel," as recorded by the prominent Russian 19th-century statesman General Alexei Yermolov. Her son Pavel the First, who assumed the throne the same day, released Abel and had a meeting with him. They had a long talk, at the end of which the Emperor asked what was in store for him. He appeared to have received an encouraging reply, for he ordered that Abel be accommodated at a privileged monastery and that all his needs be met.
A year later Abel began writing another "extremely awesome" book, and history repeated itself.
Pavel the First was assassinated by conspirators on the very night foretold by Abel.
But before that happened, the monastery authorities dispatched the author with his book to St. Petersburg. The emperor was informed of Abel's prediction, and he commanded that Abel be imprisoned in Peter and Paul's Fortress, St. Petersburg's main prison.
The emperor's days were, meanwhile, running out. Abel's perdition of Pavel's early death (apart from its direct mention in the Lives....) is indirectly confirmed by a high-ranking official of that time, Fyodor Lubyanovsky, who in 1802 became a secretary to the Foreign Minister. He recorded this fact:
"I recall the rumor about the prisoner Abel, who was kept at the fortress because of some prophesies. The emperor then wanted to speak to him, and asked him about many things, including his own future. When the emperor recounted this conversation to Anna Lopukhina, she burst into tears, frightened and upset."
Let me remind the present-day reader that, after the birth of her tenth child, Pavel's wife was absolutely forbidden by her doctors to have intimate relations with her husband. And Pavel was at that time barely forty! Beginning with the summer of 1800, or thereabouts, he became friendly with the black-eyed beauty Anna Lopukhina (later the Princess Gagarina). It is easy to understand that her weeping during Pavel's account of his conversation with Abel was due to an emotional breakdown caused by the prediction that the man she loved would soon die.
Ten years before Napoleon's invasion of Russia Abel predicted the date of the capture of Moscow by the French.
Pavel the First was assassinated by conspirators on the night of March 11, 1801, the exact date predicted by Abel, according to General Alexei Yermolov. Pavel was succeeded by his son Alexander the First, who charitably commanded that Abel immediately be released from his dungeon.
One might have expected Abel now to relax and enjoy the remainder of his life. But no, in a year and two months he wrote his third "extremely awesome" book. In it, it was stated "how Moscow will be captured and in what year this will happen." That was written at the beginning of 1803, nearly 10 years before Napoleon's invasion!
Naturally, the appearance of this book and the prediction in it were reported to Alexander the First, who commanded that the prophet be thrown into prison "and remain there until his prophesy comes true."
This time Abel spent a long period in prison. The invasion by Napoleon's army began in the summer of 1812, and this became known in Abel's prison only when Napoleon was already in Moscow. The emperor's edict on releasing Abel reached the prison only on October 1, 1812. Abel was set free, after much delay, only on July 1, 1813, receiving his papers, some clothing, and money to subsist on.
The subsequent period in Abel's life, judging from the surviving documents, was fairly quiet and untroubled. Several years were spent on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, Constantinople, Mt. Athos, and other Christian shrines. He also visited his birthplace, the village of Akulovo, where he was detected by police agents -- it was considered blameworthy for a monk to stay at a private home. In fact, all this time Abel was under constant surveillance, his correspondence was inspected, and all his movements about the country and conversations were reported.
In the documents that have survived to our day there is no mention of any unlawful actions by the monk, or breaches of civil or church statutes by him during this period. Nevertheless, in August 1826, "he was dispatched to the Yefimyevsky Monastery, dedicated to the Saviour, in the town of Suzdal, on the imperial orders of Nicholas the First," and spent the last 15 years of his life there.
There are grounds for believing that yet another of Abel's predictions had come true and served as grounds for his imprisonment. Among the conspicuous events of that period, the most noteworthy was the December 1825 uprising (an attempt at a coup d'etat in Russia). But no references to any prediction on this score have been found, despite my thorough search for such references. Still, something clearly did happen.
For one hundred years a sealed casket contained Abel's prediction about the tragic death of Emperor Nicholas the Second and his family.
Some specialists believed that there existed predictions by Abel for many decades ahead, specifically concerning the tragedy of Nicholas the Second and certain other events.
It is known that many people close to the emperor and his family -- notably Maria Geringer, Oberkamerfrau to the Empress Alexandra; the Foreign Minister Sergei Sazonov; Pyotr Stolypin; the French Ambassador to Russia in 1914-1917 Maurice Paleologue, and several others -- recalled that the Emperor had, after March 12, 1901, told intimate friends that the approaching year 1918 would be extremely unfavorable.
Maria Geringer revealed that at the Gatchina Palace (near St. Petersburg) there was a small hall in which, surrounded by a thick red silk cord supported by poles, there stood a large sealed casket. It was known that Maria, the widow of Pavel the First, had left instructions in her Will that the casket be opened a century after Pavel's death by the reigning Russian monarch of that time.
This duty thus devolved upon Nicholas the Second. The royal couple set out for Gatchina from their residence in a festive mood. But they returned, according to Geringer, very thoughtful and sad, and spoke to no one of their impressions. It was after that, that "the emperor began to speak of 1918 as a year that could be fatal to him and the dynasty."
As far back as the middle of the 19th century Abel foresaw Hitler Germany's attack on Russia in 1941.
Some testimonies point explicitly to Abel as the author of the documents sealed in the casket. For example, the journal Pravoslavnaya Rus (Orthodox Russia), in its issue no. 13 in 1991 published an article by A. Khmelevsky entitled The Mysterious In the Life of Emperor Nicholas the Second. The article contained this passage:
"A clairvoyant monk told the Emperor Pavel the First about the future of the Russian Empire down to his great-grandson, and this was Nicholas the Second. This prophesy was placed in an envelope, sealed personally by emperor Pavel, with his inscription on it: "To be opened by my descendant on the 100th anniversary of my death." All the rulers knew of this, but none of them ventured to go against the will of their ancestor. On March 11, 1901, one hundred years after Pavel had stated his will, Emperor Nicholas the Second with his Minister of the Court and other courtiers arrived at the Gatchina Palace. After a memorial service for Emperor Pavel, he opened the package, from which he learned of the sad fate in store for him. The present author knew of this as far back as 1905."
It is quite likely that herein lies the reason for the hushing up of all information about Abel and his prophesies.