Saturday, September 11, 2021

Saint Ioanniki of Svyatogorsk and the Malicious Demoniac with a Distorted Face and Inhuman Voice

The following incident took place according to the testimony of Andrei Fedorovich Kovalevsky (1840-1901), who was a pious Kharkov landowner who pursued asceticism in the field of spiritual literature, and was acquainted with Saint Ioanniki of Svyatogorsk (+ 1882), about whom he wrote the following:
Once a man of enormous height was brought to [St. Ioanniki], a line Cossack from beyond the Kuban, with a brutally distorted face; he was hardly able to be dragged there by two stalwart Cossacks, his relatives. The demoniac roared in an inhuman voice, and the roar of a bear, and the howl of a wolf, and the grunt of a pig were alternately heard in the sounds of his voice, while his eyes sparkled with inexpressible malice. 
In the Svyatogorsk Hermitage, in front of the cathedral, which stands on a dais, there is a spacious stone staircase leading to the platform where the cathedral stands. Having brought the possessed man to this staircase, the companions could no longer lead him further by any means, about which one of them went to the cathedral to inform Father Ioanniki. He himself left the cathedral in the priestly stole with the relevant prayer book in his hand and, fearlessly approaching the possessed man who was spread on the ground, prepared to start reciting the exorcism prayers over him. The possessed man suddenly jumped up and, rushing to Father Ioanniki, grabbed him in by the arm and, throwing him over his shoulder, ran with him up the stairs around the cathedral. The people who were at the same time were frightened and did not know what to do: they rushed after the demoniac and saw that just opposite the western doors of the cathedral he again fell to the ground, while Father Ioanniki sat on him safe and sound and held him by the hair. The relatives rushed to tie the hands and feet of the demoniac with a rope, but Father Ioanniki forbade them, saying: “Don't touch him, leave him alone, he will no longer run; we fought with him and now you see who is on top”, - and pointed to the head of the possessed man, which he held tightly by the hair. 
Then he got up, covered the possessed man with his priestly stole and began to read exorcism prayers over him. The possessed man lay still, only breathing heavily, as if about to vomit something out of himself; finally, with great effort, he spewed out a stinking bloody foam, so stinking that those around him, unable to bear the stench, recoiled from him. After that, the possessed man got up, began to bow in the direction of the cathedral, entered the cathedral itself and prayed earnestly there, and the next day, he confessed to Father. 
In confession he explained that he was possessed by madness at the time when he dared to inflict beatings on his mother, and from then on it had been cruelly tormenting him. With full hope of recovery, he set off from the Kuban to this Holy Mountain, having received instruction from Father Ioanniki how to behave so as not to again be exposed to the actions of an evil spirit. Subsequently, Father Ioanniki said, recalling this incident, that when the demoniac threw him on his shoulders and carried him up the stairs to the platform around the cathedral, he felt in himself some extraordinary power, with which he easily overcame the demoniac, noetically invoking the sweetest name of the Lord Jesus.
A.F. Kovalevsky

Stairs of the Dormition Cathedral