He was born on April 9th, 1877 – on the day of the bright feast of Pascha to a modest family of a Church cantor Nikifor and his wife Maria. His parents named him Theodosy, in honor of the holy Martyr Theodosius.
He had such a beautiful face – you could only call it a Saint’s face.”
In 1904 his dream came true, he became a monk with the name Nicholas. On May 1905 he was ordained Hierodeacon and on October 1905 Hiermonk. He was appointed Bishop of Kashir in 1923 and later arrested on the 18th of May in 1925. He later spent two years in prison and then after his release he was appointed Bishop of Orel. He served in Orel until his next arrest.
On 27 July 1932 I was arrested and sent to Voronezh, where a criminal investigation took place. It is not fitting to speak of the conditions in which I lived then, because the whole country was suffering at the time.
In 1941 he was made Archbishop. And then after the news of the German invasion a new trial began for Archbishop Nicholas. On 27 June 1941, Vladyka was arrested and imprisoned in Saratov. He went into “voluntary exile” on a prison train. The train pulled into Chelkar at night, the guards pushed Vladyka out onto the platform in his underwear and a torn jacket. All he had was the jacket and a certificate that he had to produce twice a month to the NKVD (secret police). He was 65 at the time and tried to get work but no one would take him due to his old age. He was forced to ask for alms to avoid starvation.
If the Lord sends you a cross, He gives you the strength to carry it, He lightens it for you. In such cases your own will musn’t show itself, you must give yourself up to the will of God. To go against God’s will is unworthy of a Christian and after someone has patiently suffered the trials sent to him, the Lord sends spiritual joy”Vladyka told his spiritual children after they asked him why he did not tell the elderly woman who he asked for clothes that he was an Archbishop.
On 10 October 1944, Vladyka sent a letter to the People’s Commisar for Internal Affairs requesting that his “voluntary exile” be lifted. On May 19th 1945 he was released early.
On July 5th 1945 by the decision of the Holy Synod – the Diocese of Alma Ata (currently Almaty) and Kazakhstan were formed and Archbishop Nicholas was appointed as Diocesan. Vladyka arrived in Almat Ata on the 26th of October 1945, during the feast of the Iviron Icon of the Mother of God.
In the 1970’s Metropolitan Joseph Chernov of Alma Ata and Kazakhstan said these words in one of his sermons –
We in Alma Ata live at the foot of the Tian-Shan mountains. On the one hand, we have the joy of seeing the beautiful sight of these mountains, but on the other hand the mountains conceal the danger of earthquakes and flooding. But Alma Ata will not be washed away by floods and will never be destroyed by an earthquake, because we have such remarkable men of prayer as Metropolitan Nicholas and Schema-Archimandrite Sebastian
At Christmas people came to glorify Christ. He started to give us presents, we were happy that Vladyka was so benevolent, radiant like a sun to us. Light seemed to come out of every wrinkle of his face. He lived very modestly – according to Alexandra Zubtsova “He had a table, a hard bed (he slept on planks) and benches. There was a room set aside for prayer, there was some icons, a bookshelf and a desk.
“Vladyka” his spiritual children would say to him “You know it is difficult for you to go stand and bless people for such a long time after the service. You should give a general blessing then go home” Vladyka replied to them saying “Oh, oh you don’t realize how much our Orthodox people love and value a Bishop’s blessing… yes sometimes I am tired and think I’ll give a general blessing, but after that I think ‘Suppose the Lord suddenly calls me to Him today and asks how I left my flock?’ That thought gives me extra strength and I bless people.
In July 1947 he had to fly to a meeting of the Holy Synod in Moscow. While boarding the plane he stood with his companions at the entrance and blessed them. And when the passengers saw that he was a clergyman they began to make fun of him and make comments such as “Well, we won’t be afraid of flying now that we have a Saint with us.”
But I didn’t listen to them… I felt sorry for them. You know people don’t even suspect that the blasphemy they speak doesn’t come from their own minds and understanding, but they’re carrying out the evil will of the enemy of mankind. I blessed them all calmlyVladyka said when he returned
A while after the plane took off the pilots started to get really worried. Finally, the senior pilot made an announcement. An engine had shut down and they were in danger of crashing. Everyone started panicking but Vladyka advised them to pray “Let’s pray! Not a single soul will perish!’ Then he added: ‘Only we’ll get a bit dirty in the mud’. The passengers were panicking, but eventually, they started to quiet down and listen to him pray. To the amazement of the pilots the plane while descending did not crash, but glided and landed gently. The senior pilot also went up to him: “This is a miracle, father”, he said, “forgive us for making fun of you!” “God will forgive you”, replied Vladyka. “Thank God and His Most Pure Mother and put your hope in St Nicholas”
He died October 25th 1955. In the year 2000 at the Council of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church, wonderworker and intercessor for the Russian land and Kazakhstan, Metropolitan Nicholas of Alma Ata and Kazakhstan was glorified as a Saint.