Father Paul (secular name Peter Vasilievich Troitsky; 1894-1991) was a hieromonk, a secret spiritual elder who lived in soviet Russia hiding from the authorities. He possessed an abundant gift of prophecy and often clearly expressed the will of God and described the future events in his letters. Because of his humility, he wanted to remain unknown so only an approximate place of his residence and a date of repose are known.
Peter was born on January 11, 1894, in a family of a priest Vasily Iosifovich Troitsky in the village of Tysyatskoje of the Tver province. The name of mother was Anna Ivanovna. They had four children, 3 boys and 1 girl, and educated them in deep faith and devotion to the Church. The eldest son Michael became a priest and another son Alexander became a bishop.
Peter graduated from Theological Seminary in Tver and studied for 1 year in Theological Academy in St. Petersburg until he was conscripted into military service in 1916. He did not take part in the hostilities and was demobilized in 1923.
Priesthood and arrest
In 1923 Peter took monastic vows and was given the name Paul at the Danilov Monastery in Moscow. Soon he was made a hieromonk.
In 1929 Fr. Paul was arrested. His spiritual daughter, 28-year old Agrippina Nikolaevna Kutomkina, was sent by Archimandrite Symeon (Kholmogorov) to help Fr. Paul during the deportation to Kazakhstan. They lived there for 4 years and then returned to Russia and lived in different cities and villages in a semi-legal status. At this time, the gift of prophecy of Fr. Paul became evident as he predicted the raids of authorities and instructed Agrippina exactly where to settle next.
In 1939 Fr. Paul was arrested again. Though he predicted it, he said that otherwise they will arrest Agrippina instead of him so he decided not to hide this time. Fr. Paul was sent to a labor camp where he stayed until 1944. The official biography that was found in the KGB archives ends at this point. It is suggested that later he was released either due to a severe illness or his sister Elena paid money to the prisoners.
Fr. Paul was a great ascetic, he was always fasting and praying, conducting a very strict life, possessing nothing. He wanted his place of residence to remain unknown to everyone. Only Agrippina and few other people knew it. Fr. Paul forbade even talking about himself: obviously he lived illegally or, most likely under a different name. He dedicated all his power to prayer and letter-writing.
Agrippina attended St. Nicholas church in Moscow and told Fr. Paul about the rector of the church, Fr. Vsevolod Shpiller, and about his reverence during the services. During the 1960s and 1970s Fr. Paul began communication with Fr. Vsevolod and then with several other young priests and their families through his letters although he never met them in person. The letters (approximately 300-400) containing instructions about the will of God and spiritual guidance were perceived as letters "from heaven" and became a sanctity and a guide to life for his students. These letters testify that Fr. Paul had such spiritual gifts that are always connected with great holiness. He was a clairvoyant, knew where and what happened, what everyone thought and did, he predicted the future in detail, answered not yet received and even unwritten letters.
Once Fr. Vladimir Vorobyev asked Fr. Paul in a letter, if it was possible to see him at least once. Fr. Paul replied, somewhat paradoxically, "Why we should see each other? Because I already see what I want". In his letters he was constantly and simply saying what he saw and heard being far away from the actual event.
Correspondence with Fr. Paul was made through messengers, and it often happened that a messenger took a letter to Fr. Paul who already presented his answer, which had been written before the initial letter was, - and in the response, Fr. Paul replied on everything that was asked in the letter.
The main principle of ascetic life for Fr. Paul was following God's will, and he often wrote in his letters: "This is the will of God". Those who corresponded with him knew that if they asked, they should follow exactly what Fr. Paul wrote or they could not avoid big troubles.
In one letter Fr. Paul wrote very strong words: "You know ... I see that the spirit of the time has captured many people... If someone has done something, he can reveal his good deeds. It's disgusting, and it would be better that they never had done anything good for anybody. I write this with full responsibility - that it is so".
Fr. Dimitry Smirnov once got a private offer from KGB to inform them about the situation in the Church. But then he received a letter from Fr. Paul written a day before that event. Fr. Paul wrote that it was the Devil trying to seduce Fr. Dimitry, he should not agree and had to inform other priests about that.
Fr. Dimitry tells about another interesting event when he was searching for a good offer to buy a country house near Moscow. He accidentally took the wrong train and had to get off at some intermediate station. He was waiting for the right train and saw an advert about the sale of a house at a very good location and at a very good price. He became very happy, visited the house and even made an advance payment. He was thinking only about this happy coincidence. But the day before the final conclusion of the deal, Fr. Vladimir Vorobyev called him. He received a letter from Fr. Paul and pointed at one phrase: "To Fr. Dimitry - he should not buy the house (underlined twice)". Fr. Dimitry was shocked and had to cancel the deal. But a month later he suddenly inherited a house under the will about which he did not know. The house was located even in a better place than the first one.
Bishop Panteleimon (Shatov) provides an example of how the will of God was revealed through Fr. Paul: if the person did not ask and did not want to follow it, the elder did not reveal it. When Abbess Juliana (Kaleda) had a secular name Masha and worked as a nurse in a hospital, she decided to get married. She had a blessing from her parents, from the priest, but she did not explicitly ask Fr. Paul about the Lord’s will. She only informed Fr. Paul about her plans and so Fr. Paul did not write about the Lord’s will himself because she did not seek it. But she had some disquieting thoughts and in the next letter did ask about it. So Fr. Paul replied that he understood that his response would greatly upset everyone but there was not the Lord’s will for her to marry. So she rejected her fiancé's proposal. Then she started to ask whether she should meet another man, but it was gradually revealed that the Lord’s will for her was not to get married at all but to become a nun. Later she became the abbess of the Conception Convent in Moscow.
Fr. Paul wrote in a letter in 1989: "I beg you do not tell anyone about me. I'm not afraid of anyone, but I want to die quietly, without any honors, as millions of people died in the camps without any guilt. I have no grudge against all this terrible life and these people since 1917. Now, as if everyone began to understand past life – everything was destroyed, crushed, shot, killed, and now they are reaping their crop seedlings for 72 years ..."
His last farewell letter was sent on February 16, 1991, later he sent red Easter eggs with a brief Paschal greeting.
Fr. Paul reposed in the beginning of November of 1991. Just as his patron saint, St. Paul of Thebes, he did not allow anyone to know the exact day of his repose and the burial place. His spiritual children commemorate October 24/November 6 (the day of the icon of the Mother of God "The Joy of All Who Sorrow") as the day of the repose. Agrippina Kutomkina died a year later. It is believed that Fr. Paul lived in a small town of Kuvshinov near Tver according to a stamp on one letter that was sent via regular mail. Some details of his early life were revealed later from the disclosed archives of KGB.