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Mother Maria (1891 1945)

str. 1 of 8

L.A. Mozhaeva

MOTHER MARIA (1891 - 1945)

Mother Maria. Paris. the 1930th

Mother Maria is nee Elizabeth Yurevna Pilenko (in first marriage - Kuzmina-Karavayev, in the second - Skobtsov) was born in Riga on December 8, 1891. Lisa's father - Yury Dmitrievich Pilenko - served in a position of companion prosecutor of the Riga district court. Here she lived not for long. When Lisa was 3.5 years old, the family moved to Anapa near which there was a manor of the father and grandfather.

Lisa's grandfather - Dmitry Vasilyevich Pilenko - came from the Zaporizhia Cossacks and was a professional military. He participated in conquest of the Caucasus, was the chief of staff of the Kuban Cossack army, in 1867 headed the Black Sea district and was made in the major general's rank, and later - the lieutenant general. It also began promotion of benefits of a geographical location of Anapa as resort. It promoted big inflow to these lands of Cossacks and peasants from various places of the Russian province. Having received the earth, they founded the village Tver, and the chief of the Black Sea district was awarded in 1868 the medal "For Works on Release of Landowner Peasants". On personal projects of D.V. Pilenko the new southern cities of Russia - Novorossiysk and Anapa were built up. He was awarded with the Order of St. Anna of the 1st article granting the right for the hereditary nobility. D.V. Pilenko's works created and equipped two manors near Anapa - the Khan Chuokrak and Dzhemete; they were set with high-native French grades of grapes, bred the cattle of breeding English breeds (Now both manors are destroyed; there were only wine vaults. Also D.V. Pilenko's house in Anapa is destroyed).

After his death in 1895 with family the son Yury, the lawyer by training (graduated from the St. Petersburg university), but on calling - the agronomist-wine-grower ran over him here. It and three of his sisters were good wine makers. Having become adult, also Elizabeth Yurevna will be fond of it, carrying on family tradition. After the February revolution she will present to local peasants the estate the Khan Chuokrak with a request to arrange there school for children; the school was created and existed until the end of the 40th

Lisa's grandfather on mother - B.P. Delon - grew up in family of the physician of Napoleonic army P.K. Delon who remained in Russia in 1812 and S.A. Dmitriyeva-Mamonova, the daughter of the general coming from a family of great antiquity of descendants Rurik and Monomakh. B.P. Delon knew many languages, graduated from medical faculty of the Moscow university, worked as the doctor in the Tver province, was involved in the Russo-Turkish war of 1877 - 1878 (including - in fights near Plevna), it was awarded the order St Ann by the 3rd Article c swords. After war served as the doctor in grenadierial regiments where it was awarded with many awards, including - an award of St. Vladimir the 3rd St. Was as well on civil service, having ranks from titular to the councilor of state. At them was two children. The son Nikolay Borisovich Delon (Lisa's uncle) is the famous mathematician and the mechanic, one of founders of gliding in Russia, and the daughter Sofya Borisovna (Lisa's mother). Since 1923 she lived in Paris, but always remained the Russian soul, feeling sharp nostalgia for Russia. She died on the 100th year of life. Already in very old age she put archive of the daughter in order, deciphered and rewrote it

the manuscripts written by illegible handwriting. Itself wrote memoirs. Died in Nuazi-le-Gran, in the holiday house created by the daughter. Buried at the Russian cemetery in Sent-Généviève-de-Bua near Paris. On its sepulchral cross - an inscription in French: "Sofia Pilenko. 17.8.1862 - 21.6.1962. Mat the nun Maria who died in Ravensbryuk on March 31, 1945".

In 1905 Lisa's father was appointed the director of the Nikitsky botanical garden and the family moved to Yalta. In a year the father suddenly died. In 1906 his widow S.B. Pilenko with the daughter moved to St. Petersburg. There lived her aunt (E.A. Yafimovich), the maid of honor of the imperial yard, the friend and the neighbor of the chief prosecutor of the Synod K.P. Pobedonostsev. The brought-up in belief and love for God, young Lisa nevertheless was fond of the socialist ideas what tolerantly treated during lifetime of her father. After the death of the father, having had a hard blow, the girl feels the first serious doubts which she realizes much later. In 1936 she will come to a conclusion that death - it injustice, so is not present justice and fair God, and if so, then there is no God at all.

In St. Petersburg Lisa ended a private gymnasium of L.S. Tagantseva and arrived on philosophical office of Bestuzhevsky courses. Once the cousin invited her to evening of poetry. From all acting it literally A. Blok struck. In the winter of 1908 their first meeting took place. The conversation, obviously, was hard. Later she remembered that, leaving Blok's apartment, she left a part of the soul there; it was no "childlike love. Heart more likely maternal vstrevozhennost and care". Maternal alarm of the young girl to the 30-year-old poet... It is character: guardianship, love, protection to those who need who is weaker. Even it concerned mother extremely carefully as if to younger sister.

In 1910 Elizabeth married D.V. Kuzmin-Karavayev (son Vladimir Dmitrievich Kuzmin-Karavayev, the prominent representative of the Russian liberalism, one of organizers and party leaders of democratic reforms), the social democrat, in the past of the Bolshevik, lawyer by training close to perebrurgsky circles of writers.

Keen on poetry, she made friends from A. Akhmatova, attended meetings of "tower" of Vyach. Ivanova, was on a visit at M., Voloshin in Koktebel, long time corresponded with A. Blok. The poet devoted her the poem "When You Get in My Way, Such Live, Such Beautiful.

She became the first woman who was in absentia studying divinity in the St. Petersburg spiritual academy and finished it. In 1912 there was the first book of its verses "Scythian Crocks", and in 1916 - the collection of verses "Ruf".

Elizabeth Yurevna rethought in life much, communicating with representatives of literature of the Silver age. The question of revolution was one of the sharpest which concerned then the intellectuals. Without finding in the environment revolutionaries whom it represented as fighters against the evil, people sacrificial, selflessly devoted to the idea, she begins to estimate all talk about revolution in "tower" of Vyach. Ivanova as vain, not supported with real affairs. Later she admitted that, speaking about revolution, the power of the people, social democracy and party of Social Revolutionaries, she hardly understood it. And its relation to revolution was strongly influenced by K.P. Pobedonostsev with whom it was well familiar.

Seeking to be closer to the earth, she breaks off with the husband (soon after the divorce he adopted Catholicism, and in 1920 emigrated, entered an award of Jesuits and accepted priesthood), leaves St. Petersburg and together with mother and darling goes to Anapa, to the manor. Here on October 18, 1913 she gave birth to the daughter Gayana (that is meant by "terrestrial").

The earth the Empress, the bride from brides,

Mat mothers, - everything is silent and everything is simple...

Life in Anapa began to flow more measuredly. Here she continued to write verses, to comprehend everything endured in St. Petersburg which strongly influenced not only development of its esthetic principles and poetic skill, but also formation of her personality. Already in its first verses by E. Kuzmina-Karavayeva the religious symbolics is visible, but it performed, first of all, art function here. Only later (in the second collection) her religious attitude will brightly be shown.

World war put an end it to the silent, brought closer "to the earth" life in Anapa. Left on the front and her darling was missing in a military scorching heat. Revolution approached.

Interest in literature and religion closely intertwined at it with interest in policy. She entered a party of Social Revolutionaries. As the member of this party in February, 1918 it is elected the companion of the mayor of Anapa. And soon, after leaving of the mayor in resignation, she holds his post. In the city the Soviet power became stronger. In April, 1918 she went to Moscow where she participated in actions of Social Revolutionaries against the Bolshevist power. In October, 1918, having returned to Anapa, she met the power of Volunteer army. She was arrested. In these unusual and tragic circumstances of Civil war she got acquainted with Daniil Ermolayevich Skobtsov: being the member of the government of Kuban, he was involved in the investigation of its business. Later they got married.

E.Yu. Kuzmina-Karavayev.

Fig. of V. Gorelikov.

Anapa. 1991

In 1919 with the second husband D.E. Skobtsov and all family Elizabeth Yurevna emigrated from Russia. The way of "outcome" was desolate, though is traditional for many refugees: landing in to the full the filled steamship in Novorossiysk, then moving to Georgia where in Tiflis it gave birth to the son Yury. Then on the West - to Constantinople which became only a temporary haven. Then - to Belgrade. In Yugoslavia, on the eve of moving to Paris, it gave birth to the daughter Anastasia.

Since 1923 the family lived in Paris. Here Elizabeth Yurevna continued literary and philosophical and religious activity.

In the 20th it worked as the secretary in Religious and philosophical academy of N.A. Berdyaev. Entered the auditor the provincial Theological institute where approached S. Bulgakov whom considered the confessor.

In 1924 under a pseudonym "Yu. Danilov" was published its autobiographical novel "East European Plain. (Chronicle of our days)" (Modern notes. 1924. No. 19 - 20) in which revolution and Civil war were described. In 1927 the UMSL-RgeBB publishing house released two of its collections a zhitiya of Saints "A spirit harvest", and in 1929 - a series about the Russian religious thinkers: "Dostoyevsky and present", "Hamsters", "V.L. Solovyov's World view". It cooperated in the magazines "Sovremennye Zapiski", "Volya Rossii", "Russkiye zapiski", "Novy grad", "Put", in the Posledniye Novosti and Dni newspapers.

Private life developed difficult. The disastrous financial position dictated wearisome work on implementation of sewing orders and production of dolls. It aggravated short-sightedness even more. After the husband, having passed examination, became the driver of the taxi, appear, it will become easier. But Nastya got sick with heavy meningitis and soon died.

In 1927 Elizabeth Yurevna got divorced. Creativity, public work - perhaps,

the basic that occupied all her thoughts now.

Besides literary, it was engaged social, research, educational and charity. In 1931 it was elected the secretary of "Russian of the student's Christian movement" on work in the province. Went much on the cities and settlements where there lived emigrants from Russia. Having visited Grenoble, Montpellier, Nice, Marseille, Lyon, Toulouse and industrial settlements of the Area of Alsace-Lotharingian in 1930 - 1931, it held dozens of meetings, excursions for youth there, helped to organize a little Sunday chetvergovykh schools for children.

Since 1931 it and her colleagues began to hold congresses of the Russians living in the province. In the majority it were people, it is a lot of years the emigrations occupied with physical work, torn off from the cultural centers. Congresses were held under the motto "Russia and We". Russia emigrant, Russia Soviet, Russia of the last centuries and future, desirable Russia, crisis of modern culture and church - here the main of the discussed problems. Impressions of meetings and found jobs with compatriots reflection in its article "Russian Geography of France" ("Latest news". 1932. On June 25).

In 1932 she got divorced from the second husband in a church order and accepted tonsured in the nun from the head of the Russian Orthodox Church abroad metropolitan Eulogius.

In emigration there was no monastic system. The monkhood of mother Maria should be carried out in the world. It was unusual and nonconventional for the Russian Orthodoxy where the lock was considered as the highest manifestation of self-sacrifice of the monk. According to the legend, the Mother of God brought out of a lock for service to the world of the celibate priest Seraphim of Sarov. Open for people the cells and Optinsy aged men held. But it were exceptions to the rules. Mother Maria knew about it, but the movement of monkhood towards public ministry predetermined also its frontage to the world. She did not recognize naked asceticism and asserted the right of the monk to be in the thick of life: "Now for the monk one monastery - the whole world". She wrote in the play "Anna":

>. If in the world it is hard lived, -

Let it will be heavy in the monastery.

We wordly bear a cross on our backs.

Monastic cassocks are splashed

Terrestrial dirt, - we live in the world.

Having taken monkhood, she did not leave occupation poetry, trying to comprehend a problem of life and death from religious positions. In 1927 in Berlin there was its collection of religious poetry "Verses" which two parts were and are entitled: "About life" and "About death". Contemporaries noted that force of these verses is caused by her knowledge of original weight of life of emigrants, "the suffering bottom".

Many emigrants would sign by her words:

Here a funnel to the underworld

A slope abrupt to sad hell...

At gate of this hell she feels uniform with all suffering. In one of poems she addresses God:

>. You and here narrowed my roads:

"Go, live among beggars and tramps",

Itself and them, me and the world interfaced In not cut uniform knot.

And she sees the purpose in full commitment:

The voice answered me: "Slums,

- Human madness the press, - Great love try heavenly to lift To glory".

>. Yang I will give to the enemy Not only the person, even a stone!

For them I can do everything For them and death is fine...

Under legs to them I will throw soul, - Others suffering burns down.

Let I will give my soul to everyone,

The one who is hungry will eat let,

It is nude - dressed, and eager will get drunk let...

In 1936 mother Maria endured one more loss: the daughter Gayana left with the husband, the Soviet citizen, to Moscow and there died of a typhus (Gayana is buried in Moscow on Preobrazhensky the cemetery).

Mother Maria as K.V. Mochulsky remembers, felt, according to her, "limit spiritual loneliness": "Everything was dark around and only somewhere in the distance a small light dot. Now I know what is death".

I anew do not know and I do not trust,

I am blinded again.

I will only measure by a painful doubt your bitter way, love.

And I contained much: three times - mother - Gave rise in life, and twice in death gave rise. She: / / В:\Работа_НЕБ\шуе81шк\Проба\16.к1т1

And to bury children how to die.

She saw the meaning of the monastic life in service to neighbors, in the help to the disadvantaged. Protecting own position of active Christianity, organized doss houses for beggars and the insane of the Russian emigrants. It did not go to the monastery and remained to work in the world, supporting those who appeared at the bottom of emigrant life. And never ceased to write.

Mother Maria became one of leaders of the left wing of "Russian of the student's Christian movement" in France. In it, according to the metropolitan Eulogius, "old party yeast" fermented. In RSHD she opposed nationalist ideology and tried "to fill up a ditch" between emigration and the USSR. She conducted circles among youth on studying Russia, together with the colleagues on RSHD organized chetvergovy and sunday schools for children of the Russian emigrants.

From 20th she considered social work as one of the major. Originally supporters at it was a little. From them heads new, independent of RSHD, the association created on its personal initiative and called "Orthodox business" also moved forward. This organization provided substantial assistance poor, hungry, to patients and the become an inveterate drunkard Russian emigrants. In 1932 with assistance of the metropolitan Eulogius members "Put the Orthodox Christian" organized the female hostel at first on 25 people, and in two years - on 100 people on Rue de Lourmel, 77.

The name of this firm woman, her will power, extraordinary, just risk courage, eccentricity of its acts not only struck many, but quite often caused misunderstanding and rejection. A part of emigration concerned to it just spitefully. She clearly imagined it:

>. I know honor, I know both spittles, And slander a pernicious sting, And whisper, and hostile nods...

First mother Maria did not assume a gap with RSHD. In 1932 she spoke only about continuation of the work "on a bit different beginnings in relation to the movement, than still, - more independently and independently".

Then she found possible creation of "missionary society in which both the Diocese, and the movement will take part". In June, 1935 at a congress of council of RSHD it still characterized the undertaking as "raspochkovany movements in an organism" which arose "from desire of independence in work". However because of conceptual divergences in the movement in September, 1935. "Orthodox business" went to a final gap with RSHD and mother Maria was elected it the chairman.

"Orthodox business" became the center of social assistance and also the meeting place of many writers and scientists. Mother Maria and her colleagues created several hostels and cheap dining rooms, sanatorium for tubercular patients, equipped two orthodox house churches. The nun Maria herself participated in their painting and embroidered icons. In 1939 it and her colleagues organized the sewing workshop executing orders for the French army.

Mat Elizabeth Yurevna - S.B. Pilenko - actively helped the daughter with her affairs, supported in heavy adversities. When the daughter organized boarding house on Rue de Lourmel, it was connected to business at once. On memoirs of friends, Sofya Borisovna participated in housekeeping, drawing up and release of business products, guides, handouts, etc. Quite often she played a role of the churchwarden in the temple at the hostel: it usually stood behind a candle box.

In the years of World War II, especially after occupation of Paris by Germans, mother Maria covered runaway prisoners of war and guerrillas. She came into contacts with the organizations of the French Resistance and saved from death of Jews: issued them documents on belonging to the Orthodox Christian

to arrival on Rue de Lourmel, and then sent to the province. During mass Jewish disorder in 1942 she made the way on a velodrome D'Iver where tired out thousands of Jews, and saved several children. In one of its hostels in the years of war the poet K. Balmont died. In other boarding house it managed to save I. Bunin's archive from death.

"Orthodox business" of mother Maria constantly had blows from the occupational authorities. The Gestapo introduced the agent in boarding house on Rue de Lourmel. In February, 1943 mother Maria was arrested by Gestapo (Usually specify date of arrest on February 9. However S. Gakkel writes that on February 10 she came back to the house on the Rue de Lourmel (See: Gakkel S. Mat Maria. Page 138 - 140).

Stages went: a fort Romenvil and the Kompyen camp in France, from there - to Germany, in a concentration camp Ravensbryuk.

Her son Yury Skobtsov was arrested by Gestapo on February 8. He was sent to a concentration camp Buchenwald, and then to Douro where the underground rocket plants were under construction. Here in February, 1944 he also died (On camp expression, it, sick, sent "in the unknown direction").

Along with mother Maria her colleagues in "Orthodox business" were arrested: father Dmitry (Klepinin), Fedor Timofeyevich Pyanov and others. The organization was crushed.

Mother Maria spent two years as prisoner No. 19263 in a concentration camp Ravensbryuk. On March 31, 1945, on the eve of Easter holiday, it was destroyed in the gas chamber (According to some information, - having replaced with itself one of prisoners). It happened in two days before under the auspices of the Red cross began to release the prisoners who are taken out from France.

At the cemetery of Sent-Généviève-du-Bua near S.B. Pilenko's grave in one grave the younger daughter of mother Maria Anastasius and her second husband are buried. On the general cross of an inscription in Russian: "Nastyush Skobtsov. 4. X11.1922 - 7.Sh.1926. Daughter of the nun Maria. 21.XII.1891 - 30.III.1945 and the sister of an ipodyakon of Georgy. 27.XII.1921 - 10.II.1944, martyrly died in the German camps" and "Daniil Ermolayevich Skobtsov. 15.XII.1885 - 19.11969. The Kuban public figure - the writer" (In these inscriptions there are mistakes: mother Maria was born on December 20 on new style, and died on March 31. Her Georgy (Yury) was born in 1920 Dates of life of D.E. Skobtsov: 1884 - 1968 (See: Ascension. Tver, 1994. Page 34.)

The Soviet government posthumously awarded mother Maria (E.Yu. Pilenko) with an award of Patriotic war.

Mother Maria was a fruitful publicist and the convinced propagandist of the business. Dozens of its articles were issued in different years and in different editions. Many are still stored in archives, generally - in foreign. In 1992 in Paris there was a two-volume book of its religious and philosophical articles, many of them are published for the first time. In works by mother Maria we hear the ideas of Slavophilism and neopopulism, an appeal to self-sacrifice and conciliarity. However, in the years of war she has other subjects: 1941 she wrote big article "Reflections about the Fate of Europe and Asia" in which openly and ruthlessly criticized Nazism.

Mother Maria was also a painter and the schedule. She got art education in the St. Petersburg gymnasium where she was engaged in the drawing at V.P. Schneider, the famous aquarellist, the close friend N.K. Roerich.

In 1980 the selection of its drawings and watercolors of the period of 1917 which remained in family of children of the St. Petersburg psychiatrist A.P. Omelchenko became known. Among them - a watercolor "Tsar David", "Last Supper", "Prophets". Experts note that almost all drawings are executed in a peculiar equipment of a watercolor or gouache, from above are covered with a thin layer of wax and "freskovost" is inherent in them, and etudes executed by oil on paper on a manner demonstrate that impressionistic painting not only was known to mother Maria, but also most of all corresponded to her creative researches. The most part of drawings is stored in the State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg now, a part is available in personal collections in Russia. About the folder of drawings which was in "Society of friends of mother Maria" in Paris after war of data is not present. Art critics consider that Elizabeth Yurevna was allocated with talent of the muralist, as was shown later in the churches painted with her.

The first house of E.Yu. Skobtsova in Paris - Willa-de-Saks - was located in the VII district of Paris. She turned one of rooms of the second floor into house church and painted it, using, according to S. Gakkel, modern style of the patterns reminding works as Goncharova. A number of icons were embroidered - "Mother of God Umileniya", "Last Supper". The last was embroidered in heavy 1940 - 1944 and hung over a royal gate in house church on Rue de Lourmel where there was a hostel for the poor. Nowadays the churches painted with mother Maria are destroyed.

Mother Maria masterly owned technology of Old Russian sewing. It was not stopped even by improbable conditions of a concentration camp. Here she embroidered an icon "The Mother of God with the crucified Jesus" and the "Disembarkation of Allied Troops in Normandy" kerchief. Solagernitsa remembered that it was the usual camp kerchief of one of women. Paints were got by the Polish prisoner working at coloring of shirts of SS-men. Threads got from a winding of electrical wires. The needle was stolen in a camp sartorial workshop. Such deadly risk paid one of the latest works of mother Maria whom she embroidered, standing during long musters (The kerchief remained at the former prisoner of the Ravensbryuk Rozany Laskru camp).


long did not know the Name of mother Maria in the homeland. The huge contribution to business of its return to us, since 1965, was brought, first of all, by the writer E.M. Bogat and also - D.E. Maximov. Memoirs are written to the USSR and abroad about it: I.A. Krivoshein, A. Tveritinova, T. Manukhina, N. Berdyaev, F. Stepun, K. Mochulsky, Yu. Terapiano, B.V. Plyukhanov and others.

Popular scientific works about it S.N. Kaydash are interesting, to A.S. Sytova, V.N. Grekhno. The Tver researcher and the local historian D.V. Kupriyanov collected and generalized materials about Elizabeth Yurevna's stay in the Bezhetsk County of the Tver province, about her relatives and friends on this earth.

A keeper of foreign archive is the archpriest S. Gakkel (Great Britain), the author of several researches about mother Maria.

In September, 1988 in the village of Yurovka near Anapa where Elizabeth Yurevna's ancestors are buried, the efforts of the local local historian V.N. Grekhno open the only museum of the nun Maria in our country. Here symbolical burial of ashes of mother Maria in the home ground is carried out (the earth from a concentration camp Ravensbryuk is delivered here).


E.Yu. Kuzmina-Karavayev. Favourites. M, 1991.

Kuzmina-Karavayev: Memoirs, articles. Paris. 1992. T. 1.2.


Gakkel S. Mat Maria. M, 1993.

Ascension: About life and E.Yu. Kuzmina-Karavayeva's creativity. Tver. 1994.

Christina Henderson
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