The Elders of Optina Monastery have had a tremendous impact on Russian society, calling forth a nationwide blossoming of sanctity. During the course of a century, their prophecy and God-illumined counsel attracted spiritual seekers from far and wide.
One of the last Optina Elders was Elder Anatole (Potapov) (1855–1922), a disciple of the great Elder Ambrose and a contemporary of Elder Nektary. After his period of discipleship in the Optina Skete, he spent his years of eldership at the Church of the Vladimir Icon in Optina Monastery. There he confessed and gave counsel mostly to the crowds of lay pilgrims who flocked to Optina in order to unburden their souls and find resolutions to their problems. He was known as “the Consoler.” In the words of Archpriest Sergius Chetverikov, “His brisk, joyfully loving, and humble way of addressing the people reminded one of St. Seraphim of Sarov. One could clearly sense in him the spirit and power of the first great Optina Elders.”
Elder Anatole lived to see the advance of godlessness that overtook Russia during the revolutionary period; and, through his clairvoyant insight, he was able to help believers survive spiritually during those calamitous times.
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