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In the forties, emigrants from Russia faced a choice: to support the Nazis (“if only against the USSR!”) Or to decide for themselves that there is no reason to become even temporary allies of Hitler. Nun Maria Skobtsova was in the second camp. But she not only did not refuse to cooperate with the Nazis - she helped those who suffer from them. For saving other people's lives, Mother Mary paid her own.
House on Lurmel StreetFebruary forty-third city, Paris, France. The country is under German occupation. The Gestapo arrests a young subdeacon by the name of Yuri Skobtsov: during a search in the charitable organization "Pravoslavnoye Delo", they found a note from a Jewish woman asking him to correct the baptismal certificate. The note is addressed to priest Dmitry Klepinin.
Klepinin is arrested the next day. And on the same day his faithful companion-in-arms, nun Maria Skobtsova, came to the Gestapo - she was told that her son would be released if she surrendered herself. He was not released. "Why do you need this?" - the Gestapo member asks mother Maria, having read that she is accused of helping Jews. He sincerely doesn't understand.
Later, Sofia Pilenko, nee Delone, comes to visit Skobtsova. She introduces herself (and this is true) the mother of the nun. “The daughter was raised badly, well… the ladies are helping,” the Gestapo man tells her. So, she brought up well, Madame Pilenko answers. Does she know that her daughter and grandson are about to be sent to concentration camps, where they will die? Would she cry, plead and complain to the Nazi if she knew? Looking at the mother and son of the Skobtsovs, it is clear that this is unlikely. These were not the customs in the family.
Yuri will be killed in the same camp as Father Dmitry. Maria is in another, in the Ravensbrück women's camp. There is a legend that they were not going to kill her - or not this time. She entered the gas chamber to console a girl who was very scared before her death. It would be very much in the spirit of Mother Mary. She did good as naturally as she breathed.
In the same house on Lurmel Street, before the occupation, they did not help Jews or prisoners of war, but Russian immigrants. There, mother Maria, with the help of like-minded people, arranged a women's hostel for her compatriots, who would otherwise be threatened by a panel in an attempt to make money on the corner; immediately opened a charitable society, women's theological courses, and soon expanded its area of action, renting a room for a holiday home for those recovering from tuberculosis. In this sanatorium, her mother will find peace in 1962 …
Poetess and this is foreverThe granddaughter of the Cossack general Pilenko, the daughter of the successful Petersburg investigator Pilenko and his French wife, the girl Liza - that was the name of the future mother Maria before the tonsure - was born in Riga. She seemed to embody the Soviet dreams of freedom from ethnic borders and prejudices, the daughter of a mixed marriage, who absorbed the winds that did not blow over her ancestors. Nevertheless, she was far from the USSR - both in time and, as it turned out later, in her convictions.
At the age of six, the girl moved to Anapa. The general grandfather died and left his son luxurious vineyards. Lizin's dad did not want to sell them and decided to take care of them himself - so Liza changed the north sea to the south one. Her childhood was cloudless. Toys, books, Christmas trees … It ended at the age of fourteen. That was the year when Lisa's father suddenly died.And the year when she lost her faith in God. So she told herself.
The widowed Mrs. Pilenko sold what she might have collected two children - Liza and the youngest, Dima - and left for St. Petersburg to give the children as good a start as possible. And she did it. Liza, having finished a good gymnasium, entered the Bestuzhev courses, the philosophy department. True, she left them a year later - because she got married. But for a reliable person with a legal profession - Dmitry Kuzmin-Karavaev. The same one who led the “Workshop of Poets”.
It cannot be said that it was her husband who introduced Lisa to the circle of poets. She met Blok while still a schoolgirl and corresponded with him. But with Dmitry, she began to constantly attend poetry gatherings, to talk with all those people whose names we now see in the volumes of the poets of the Silver Age. And - actively write myself. Her first collection of poems "Scythian Shards" was received very warmly. So she became a poet. And she remained a poetess forever. Until the very last days, she wrote. It was also natural for her, how to breathe.
Poetess in politicsThe poet greeted the February Revolution of 1917 with enthusiasm. She recently divorced her husband, moved to Anapa, and, as usual, felt that all the doors to the future were thrown open for her. Even after the February revolution, women were declared equal to men in rights in public life, and Elizaveta Yuryevna immediately joined the party (Social Revolutionaries) and won the elections to the place of the mayor (analogue of the mayor).
She did not have a chance to merit for long. The city came under the rule of the Bolsheviks, the poetess was dismissed from her post, but she achieved a new one - a commissioner for health and public education. This position helped to deal with topical issues of protecting, first of all, children, to resolve these issues here and now. Anapa again went over to the "whites" and now the former head and former commissar was arrested. For complicity with the Bolsheviks, she faces the death penalty. It seems that this was the first time that the future mother Maria chose to do what she should, and was ready to accept what would happen for it.
The poet was saved thanks to an extensive public campaign - writers stood up for her, but not only them. In her commissioner position, she did so much good that half of the city stood behind Elizaveta Yurievna. The court ruled that the purpose of the commissioner was not cooperation with the Soviet government, and released the arrested woman.
Soon the poetess married the Cossack activist Skobtsov and left her native land. The Skobtsov family managed to live in Georgia, Turkey, Serbia before they could settle in Paris. By that time, Elizaveta Yuryevna had two more children, Yuri and Anastasia, to her daughter from her first marriage, Gayane. In Paris, Elizaveta Skobtsova tried to earn money with literature, but her life soon turned abruptly from everything that was in the past. The youngest daughter, still a little girl, died, and Elizabeth … turned to God. Yes, how one death turned her away from religion, another brought her back. It's not about logic. It's about feelings.
The rest is known. Monasticism (which means divorce). Active work is Christian in every sense; from lectures to hand washing linen of tuberculosis patients. Hostel on Lurmel Street. War. And the day when mother Maria passed by the winter velodrome, where Jews were driven to Auschwitz. On this day, for the first time, she hid four children - she could no longer be noticed - in garbage containers and thereby saved their lives. On that day, several thousand Jewish Parisians were taken to the death camps. And they didn't take four kids away.
The house on Lurmel turned into a staging post for the export of Jewish children and escaped prisoners of war. Mother Mary went to the Resistance, and three people from the house on Lurmel Street were saved in six months … God knows how long. They were not in the habit of counting and reckoning. The question "Why do you need this?" was not a question for them.
In 2004, the Patriarchate of Constantinople recognized mother Mary as a saint, together with her son Yuri and her companion, father Dmitry Klepinin. Catholics in Paris also venerate Mary, Yuri and Dmitri as righteous and martyrs; Skobtsov was ranked among the righteous of the world by the Israelites. Maria Street appeared near Lurmel Street - this particular Maria and no other.
In fact, there are not so few nuns who have become famous in the world: 7 nuns in world history who became famous not only in the field of religion.
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