Three Contemporary Miracles
We have become so accustomed to hearing how the Saints of England worked miracles in the past that we forget that they still work miracles today. There follow the accounts sent in to us by three Orthodox concerning miracles of the English Saints that have happened to them. We would be grateful to readers to hear of other contemporary miracles, more numerous than some might realise, in the pious hope that we may be able to collect them and make this page a regular one in our little journal.
A Miracle Of St Nectan
Some years ago a student went with a friend to stay for a few days in the Devonshire countryside where his parents had a summer cottage. Together they visited the nearby village church of Hartland and the holy well of St Nectan.
Now this Saint is much venerated in this corner of North Devon to this day. He was a sixth century Welsh hermit, the most illustrious of the twenty-four descendants of the legendary Welsh chieftain St Brychan, many of whom are venerated as Saints.
Nectan left home quite young and sailed to North Devon, seeking solitude in the dense forests there. For many years his presence was unknown. He built a small hut near a stream and lived on wild berries. A farmer whom he helped by finding his pigs pitied him for his frugal life and he gave Nectan a cow. Not long after two thieves came to hear of this and planned to steal the cow. They beheaded Nectan who, to their intense horror, picked up his head and carried it back to his hut. Stones in the local stream show red marks to this day as a witness to the crime.
People in the area feel that St Nectan is still very much alive. Every year, on June 7th, the day of his death, a special service is held in Hartland. The children walk in procession around the church carrying purple foxgloves as a symbol of the Saint's blood. Several stories are current amongst the villagers, especially one that says that St Nectan hated blasphemy so much that he prayed that the tongue of a blasphemer should swell in his throat and choke him till he died.
Now let us return to this incident that happened only a few years ago. This student's friend, not being a believer, scoffed openly against all he heard about St Nectan. Especially when he was told about the Saint's hatred of blasphemy. However, the morning after he had been told this story, the family waited for a long time for him to come down to breakfast and began to be concerned. Finally the young man appeared on the stairs, a terrified look on his white face, unable to speak, pointing to his mouth. Everyone tried to help him until finally he was able to express a few words. Apparently he had woken in the night with a severe pain in his tongue which started to swell more and more, so much that he began to choke and thought he would die. His repentant feelings as he remembered St Nectan's curse can be imagined and it was only those feelings of remorse that preserved him from death.
Contributed by an English Orthodox nun
A Miracle Of St Milburgh
Over thirty years ago now, when I had been Orthodox for about twenty years, I visited Stoke St Milborough in Shropshire. I climbed up the little hill to the Saint's holy well. I bathed my eyes with the water. Later I was in hospital with a corneal ulcer and, in both eyes, severe conjunctivitis. I was in more pain than I have ever been in my life. I hadn't known about St Milburgh and eyes but I reckon she must have been looking after me. I recovered completely and my optician can't understand why there is no trace of the corneal ulcer where he would have expected one! When I stand by St Milburgh's well, she and I seem to be very close ...
Contributed by Milbrough Lobanov-Rostovsky
A Miracle Of St Edward The Martyr
I was very happy to be pregnant again but saddened to learn that I had caught the rare disease of toxoplasmosis. The doctors advised me to abort at once: 'Come through to this room', they said, 'it will all be over in a few minutes'. As an Orthodox Christian, I refused to have any truck with this. They promised me, a malleable (so they thought) young woman of 23, a child with no legs and no arms. I put my faith in God. Later, six months pregnant, I returned to the clinic for a scan. This time the doctors came out with a slightly more reassuring story: my child, for they could see him now, would have arms and legs, but he would be born blind.
It was at this very time that I first came to read the little brochure, 'The Recorded Miracles of St Edward the Martyr'. I had already been attracted by St Edward's icon and when I read that his first miracle had been to heal a blind woman, I was overwhelmed with the thought that my son should be called Edward. We decided to baptise him so, despite our Archbishop who refused to recognise the Saint and tried to force my husband into changing the name. And when Edward was born, he was not blind, but a good, happy baby, perfectly normal and so strong and healthy! Imagine our joy! The doctors were very surprised, and perhaps a little ashamed of themselves, but they did show me and my husband the umbilical cord and placenta. It was astonishing, for we could clearly see how the top half of the cord had been discoloured an ugly black by an infection. The discoloration had stopped exactly half-way down the cord. I am so thankful to God and St Edward. The Lord is truly wonderful in His Saints.
Contributed by S.P.
(c) Orthodox England - Published within the English Deanery of the Church Outside Russia: with the blessing of the Very Reverend Mark, Archbishop of Great Britain and Ireland.