Priest Timothy Strelkov (+1918, +1930)
A great miracle occurred in the life of the holy priest Father Timothy. He was executed and beheaded, but by an act of God his head immediately grew back onto his neck… This is how it happened.
Father Timothy Strelkov lived in the village of Mikhaylovka in the Urals, 12 kilometers from the regional center of Duvan. This deeply-religious priest was the younger brother of another priest, Father Theodore Strelkov, who went eastward with the army of Admiral Kolchak and died there, in the city of Harbin.
In the summer of 1918 – according to live witnesses of this greatest miracle – the well-known priest, Father Timothy, was arrested by the Reds on the eve of Trinity Day and was sentenced that same day to execution as a fearless confessor of Christ. During the night he was taken out on foot from the Mikhaylovka village, under mounted guard, in the direction of Duvan. A huge crowd of people accompanied their beloved pastor. Mixed in with the crowd were also representatives of the new regime. Thus some people sorrowed and cried, while others rejoiced and triumphed… Despite the very late hour the crowd did not disperse. They came up to Mitrofanovka village, and at this point everyone was ordered to return. All the people went back, including the mounted guard. Only one guard remained, and only matushka, the priest’s wife, was allowed to go on with them.
Three kilometers before reaching the regional center of Duvan, they left the road and turned into a swamp overgrown with bushes, and went up a little hill. The sun was beginning to rise. Trinity Day was dawning.
The accompanying guardsman rode on his horse, while in front of him walked the priest who had been sentenced to death. His tearful matushka walked beside him. Father Timothy prayed tearfully and ardently, asking God to give him strength for his forthcoming martyrdom. He also humbly thanked the Lord for such a blessed end…
Suddenly the guard seized his saber, raised it high and then brought it down upon the priest’s neck. The martyr’s head was cut off and he fell down as though smitten… Matushka screamed and ran away in terror… Father Timothy himself only remembered the moment when the blade of the saber flashed over his head, and nothing more… The blow was direct and strong – the head did not roll away, but fell down together with the body… Father Timothy could not remember what happened to him afterwards… But he came to his senses, lying on his back… Meanwhile, the guard galloped after matushka, caught up with her, jumped down from his horse and took her wedding ring away from her… Afterwards he galloped back to the murdered Father Timothy, leaned down and struck him once more on the head with his saber (the priest’s arm was lying over his face), cleaving both his cheek and arm…
Meanwhile matushka, coming into Mikhaylovka, described how Father Timothy had been murdered before her eyes… The peasants took a cart and went away to pick up his body. But how great was their amazement and joyous awe at the incredible miracle performed by God over the priest, when they found him alive, all covered with blood, and with a scar around his entire neck, testifying to the fact that the head had been cut off and had been incredibly and miraculously healed… When the blood was washed off, they found a completely healed scar all around the neck in the form of a vivid red thread. There was no inflammation. Father Timothy showed this scar to all those around him.
He was brought back as though dead, covered up with branches, to his father Porfiry, who lived outside the village in a millhouse. Here the martyr hid for a month-and-a-half in his father’s home, and then left the area and remained in hiding for another 12 years, after which he suffered a second death for Christ…
But during this period the Lord God performed yet another miracle in Father Timothy’s life. He remained in hiding, going from place to place. At one point he came to a monastery in the Urals and asked the abbot for temporary lodgings. He said he was a priest and showed his priestly cross. The abbot gave him permission to stay. But this was noticed by outsiders. A local commission arrived and began checking out the residents of the monastery according to the official list.
– How many monks do you have in your monastery? – the chairman asked the abbot.
– Thirty-two! – he replied.
They put up the tables and began counting.
Father Timothy, immersed in prayer, stood with all the other monks near the tables, leaning on the stove. Everyone was checked.
– Thirty-two exactly! How amazing… – said the commission.
But Father Timothy, who was standing next to the table, was not found, as though they couldn’t see him. After the Chekists left, the abbot gathered the brothers and told them about the miracle of God’s mercy, and served a prayer of thanksgiving for a dual miracle – not only in the case of the priest, but also for the deliverance of the monastery from inevitable death.
After this occurrence Father Timothy left those parts and lived secretly at the Sim station near Ufa. Here he daily served the divine Liturgy in a home church until his last arrest and death in 1930.
In the winter of that year he was finally discovered. He was thrown into prison and tortured terribly. In the end he was taken out in a cart together with another priest into the woods, where he was executed a second time. Once again he was beheaded and then cut up into small pieces.