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New Russian Film About 20th Century Crimean Saint (Luke)

One of Russia's newest saints, he was canonized in 2000.  He was a brilliant scientist and surgeon, as well as a priest, who publicly professed his faith despite the dangers of Bolshevik repression.  He was wildly popular, and the authorities were afraid to touch him.

This article from our archives was first published on RI in May 2015

This article originally appeared at

On April 30, 2015, the film, Curing Fear, will be released, based on the history of life of the outstanding surgeon, scientist, and Holy Hierarch Luke, Archbishop of Simferopol and the Crimea, reports the Rossiyskaya Gazeta Russian newspaper.

He was born Valentin Felixovich Voyno-Yasenetsky (1877-1961, his feast-day is June 11). He was a brilliant surgeon-practitioner and scientist, and his notable written work, Purulent Surgery Essays, has been a manual and reference book for several generations of medics. A profoundly pious person all his life, the future saint was widowed in 1919 and became a monk in 1923 when the anti-religious and anti-Church campaign was rising in Russia. In monasticism he received the name Luke in honor of the Holy Apostle and Evangelist Luke. In the same year he was secretly consecrated a bishop.

Later he was destined to undergo arrests, prison, exiles, and many years of ministry for the Lord and to people. In 1937, following another arrest and 13 whole days of interrogations without sleep he went on a hunger strike for 18 days and did not sign any testimony against other people who were under investigation. He performed surgeries during his exile in Yeniseysk, and received patients in Arkhangelsk. He kept searching for new methods of medical treatment and collecting materials for their support. Everywhere he remained a true physician, monk, and priest.

According to the website, the pre-premiere screening and discussion of the film, Curing Fear, has taken place at the Oktyabr cinema. The film’s general producer Oleg Sytnik, actress Yekaterina Guseva (who played the female lead), actor Vitaly Bezrukov (who played the role of Holy Archbishop Luke in his mature age) as well as Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), Abbot of the Moscow Sretensky Monastery, took part in it.

His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia has sent a message of greetings to the film makers:

“With great interest I have watched the film, Curing Fear, devoted to the life and ministry of St. Luke (Voyno-Yasenetsky), Archbishop of Simferopol and the Crimea. From the bottom of my heart I express gratitude to the director, producer, and the film’s creative team for this remarkable work of art”.

“It is extremely hard to portray sainthood by means of film-making. Not only does it require extraordinary professionalism and exclusive creative valor from the director and actors, but also the ability to touch intellectually and wholeheartedly this marvelous spiritual phenomenon. Reflecting upon sanctity, it is very important not to confuse it with the phenomenon of a superman.”

“A saint, a holy man is neither a superman nor a hero in the usual sense of these words. A saint is identified not in loud words and grandiose deeds, but rather in everyday deeds – in execution of one’s professional duty, in one’s utmost personal honesty and decency, in the ability to endure all trials courageously and firmly, the ability to remain calm and with presence of mind in the face of terrible dangers, setting all hopes upon the good will and the all-wise providence of God. It is gratifying to state that the director together with the creative team have succeeded in developing the theme of genuine Christian holiness, without running to extremes, avoiding excessive sublimity and sentimentality.”

The movie was shot for five years in Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine. Producer Oleg Sytnik has expressed his hope that the picture would be watched by millions of people in Russia and the CIS states.

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