How vendace led to the emergence of environmentalists in Russia
The nights are quiet in the rural Kenozero. The only sound one can hear is of the gentle splash of waves of Lake Lekshmozero.
Yevdokia is sitting at the window in her dark hut and listens, her heart skipping a beat. She is waiting for whisperer Pelageya as her husband, Pavel, sleeps quietly in the room next to hers, unaware of his wife and whisperer's plan…
Yevdokia has been married for five years and still doesn't have kids. The pitying glances from the neighbors, some teasing her, add to Yevdokia losing peace of mind. She has been to churches and chapels. She has prayed to the Virgin and put candles in the Aglimozero Monastery, but in vain. Her prayers remain unanswered.
"Go see old whisperer Pelageya. She knows healing herbs and spells and special prayers," was the advice from local women.
Pelageya is a woman with a kind, wrinkled face. After hearing Yevdokia out, she patted her on the head and said:
"Don't worry, my dear Dunya. Make sure you husband doesn't see me when I come this night. I'll take you to the Stone, a gift endowed on us by Saint Nicholas himself. On top of it, there's a never-drying spring. We'll pray and wash your face with its water for Saint Nicholas to give your prayer to God." ...And so they did. At midnight, Yevdokia heard a knock under her window and followed her visitor to the edge of the village and into the forest. It is dark and scary in the forest.
"Do not be afraid. We are on the way to a holy place, we'll be all right," Pelageya tries to comfort Yevdokia.
Finally, they reach Saint Nicholas Stone – a giant boulder as tall as a man and as long as two human bodies. The women kneel at it and start to pray.
Upon a closer look, Yevdokia spots coins tucked into recesses in the Stone. The donations, she figures out. Apparently, she is not the only one who's childless and unhappy. She remembers Saint Nicholas Stone being referred to by the villagers as healer and patron of cattle.
"Do you have anything to give to the Stone?" Pelageya asks quietly.
"Now climb to the top to the spring, cross yourself, take some water with your hand and wash your face," Pelageya tells Yevdokia.
Yevdokia followed her instructions. In her prayer, she asked God to give her a son.
As they went back through the dark forest, Pelageya was telling Yevdokia about the miraculous influence Saint Nicholas Stone had on Kenozero area. It wasn't the only holy stone, however. The village of Bor had a stone marked by Holy Virgin, and the Island of Mamonov the stone believed to have the healing power. One more stone, Kazemir, lay on the waterway between Vershinino to Pershlakhta.
"Is Kazemir mentioned anywhere in the church calendar?" asks Yevdokia.
"He was a hero from the overseas, a mighty one," answers Pelageya.
Yevdokia slipped into the hut unnoticed by her husband. He sleept peacefully as she laid down beside him, dreaming of their son and how he would grow up healthy and smart and go to live in a big city and become a doctor.
"Name him after Nicholas the Saint. We'll have him baptized at the Stone," continued the whisperer. "We'll wash him with its water and you'll put the coin into the Stone…"
It was a long time ago, but the stones with holy traces are still there in Kenozero, receiving new visitors. The most famous of them is Saint Nicholas Stone. Here, the prayers are heard. There is no doubt about it.