Venerable Anatole II of Optina

Saint Anatole the Younger (Alexander Potapov in the world) longed to be a monk from his youth. His mother would not give her blessing for this, so he entered Optina monastery only after her death.

Anatole lived in the Skete for many years as cell attendant to St Ambrose (October 10). After his death Fr Anatole functioned as an Elder, even though he was still a deacon.

St Anatole received everyone with love, and there were always crowds of visitors at his cell. He got very little sleep, since the people would not leave his cell until late at night.

The Elder was always very kind and ready to help anyone who came to him with problems or sorrows. One day he was visited by a man whose family had no roof over their head, and little money. No one was able to help him, so he began to drink. Then he decided to leave his wife and children and look for work in Moscow. Somehow he decided to go to Optina first and speak with Fr Anatole.

As he was blessing the man, St Anatole tapped him lightly on the head. Then the man said that he wanted to die. When questioned by the Elder, the man poured out his whole story. Fr Anatole listened patiently, blessed him again and told him that he would move into a new home in three days. This indeed came to pass, and the man’s whole life changed.

In the early 1920s St Anatole was mocked and tormented by soldiers of the Red Army. He endured much suffering, but continued to receive visitors. He was supposed to be arrested on July 22, 1922, but asked for time to prepare himself.

Soldiers came the next morning and asked the Elder’s cell attendant if he was ready. Fr Barnabas invited them to come in, and they found Fr Anatole lying in his coffin. The Lord had taken him during the night to spare him further suffering.

The Moscow Patriarchate authorized local veneration of the Optina Elders on June 13,1996. The work of uncovering the relics of Sts Leonid, Macarius, Hilarion, Ambrose, Anatole I, Barsanuphius and Anatole II began on June 24/July 7, 1998 and was concluded the next day. However, because of the church Feasts (Nativity of St John the Baptist, etc.) associated with the actual dates of the uncovering of the relics, Patriarch Alexey II designated June 27/July 10 as the date for commemorating this event. The relics of the holy Elders now rest in the new church of the Vladimir Icon of the Mother of God.

The Optina Elders were glorified by the Moscow Patriarchate for universal veneration on August 7, 2000.