March 8, 2012
|The Church of St. Procopius, Veliki Ustiug.|
“Screaming wildly that he had heard a voice from hell that morning, the man flung himself at the reliquary and began hacking away at the icons and wooden reliquary covering where the relics of Righteous Procopius have been preserved for three hundred years,” related Tatiana Latyntseva, a native of Veliki Ustiug. “There were only three women in the church at the time, cleaning the church and running the candle store. We were in shock; we are still crying about it, and are afraid it will happen again.”
“I came to the scene of the crime,” related the local police investigator, Ilya Chebukhin. “It was a horrible spectacle—fragments of hacked icons lying everywhere, and the faithful crying. A law enforcement team responded immediately to the call, the man threw his axe to the floor in terror and began mumbling something incomprehensible. He is a sick man, who has been in psychiatric care. Amongst the destroyed icons was a rare exhibit from the seventeenth century; they are lost forever, and it is too early to speak of the scale of harm done. A criminal case has been initiated for ‘hooliganism’. The man is currently in the local jail.”
“This is the first time to my memory that something like this has happened,” reports the press secretary of the Vologda diocese, Andrei Salnikov. He said that he recalled one time in 1998 when a sick woman tried to go into the altar of a church while venerating the relics of St. Anthony of Vologda, but there has been nothing to compare with this frightful deed.
St. Procopius of Ustiug (†1303, commemorated July 8/21) was a fool-for-Christ and great saint. He was German born, but converted to Orthodoxy as a merchant in Novgorod.