Bishop Vladimir, in the world Vadim Abramov, was an educated man from Moscow. Since childhood he had sought the spiritual life, although his mother was an atheist - a fact which greatly upset the young boy. But his grandmother was a very religious person who lit the spark of faith in him. Already when he was serving in the army he wore a cross and read his prayers.
His spiritual searchings began in the patriarchate. He used to go to the "Znamenye" church at Rechnoj Vokzal in Moscow. At that time he was searching everywhere for monks, and he asked one woman to introduce him to one of the older monastics. This woman knew the Catacomb Metropolitan Gennadius (Sekach), although she did not join the Catacomb Church until later. She promised to introduce him to the metropolitan. At that moment the metropolitan arrived in Moscow for the last time - he wanted to visit the Trinity - St. Sergius Lavra. Vladimir met him and, it seems, accompanied him to the Lavra. Then he made his choice and joined the Catacomb Church.
Those who knew him say that by nature he was very reminiscent of a person of the 19th century. He was very open and spoke very openly on the telephone, although at that time it was very dangerous to do that. He was a jeweller by profession, and the Seraphimo-Gennadiite branch of the Catacomb Church still uses some beautiful artefacts that he made.
He was tonsured as a monk by Metropolitan Gennadius, and after the service Vladyka gave him the nickname "Vodik" or "leader". No one knew why. Only later, when Bishop Vladimir's death was closely followed by those of Vladyka Gennadius and Vladyka Gregory, did people see in this a prophecy: "You will go before us, and we after you."
His consecration to the episcopate was foretold him by the blessed Greek clairvoyant Leontius at the spring of the holy Martyr Basiliscus in the Caucasus.
Bishop Vladimir had very acute spiritual intuition. Once he was out of work. After a while he received an offer of work from a priest he knew, a hieromonk of the Danilov monastery in Moscow. However, as he was going up the stairs to the monastery chancellery, he unexpectedly stopped, as if listening to something, and after a while said:
"What a heavy spiritual atmosphere there is here! There's something not right here, I'm leaving!"
He turned sharply, quickly went out and never came back.
Once Vladyka Gennadius was celebrating the Liturgy on the feast of the Protecting Veil of the Mother of God. Bishops Gregory and Vladimir were serving with him. Suddenly Vladyka Gennadius asked for a golden cross to be put on him. Then he called Nun E. and said to her:
"A cross, holy Vladyka."
"So know this: I am dying with great sorrow, because there is no one I can put this golden cross on."
"How can that be?" said the nun in amazement. "After all, look at those serving with you: one is thirty and the other fifty-eight. Both are fit, and they're not old. They can continue your work."
"You don't understand a thing," replied Vladyka. It had been revealed to him by God that these people would soon depart to the Lord. And indeed, Bishops Gennadius, Gregory and Vladimir all died in the same year of 1987.
Not long before his death, Bishop Vladimir left Moscow, having decided to retreat to the mountains of the Caucasus, where he bought a house. But the KGB did not allow him to live there. He had to leave, and since had now lost his Moscow residence permit, he registered in the town of Elista. Here he was constantly summoned by the KGB, who demanded that he immediately leave the town. He refused. At that time the tragedy at Chernobyl had just taken place, and the KGB were sending all "suspicious" people to Chernobyl through the military registration and enlistment office. But Bishop Vladimir again refused to go. As a result, a warrant for his arrest was issued. And it was while fleeing from the KGB, as he was reading the lives of the saints in front of the icons in the town of Georgievsk, that he suffered a heart attack and died instantly at about 12 o'clock on the feast of St. Seraphim, January 2/15, 1987, at the age of 33.
On the night before his death, as he related to Abbess Olympiada, he had seen a vision. He was standing at the spring of the Martyr Basiliscus in the white vestments of a bishop and an omophorion. A little old man was pouring water over him...
On the night of January 2 - 3, it was revealed to his friend Bishop I. in a dream that he had died. "However I did not believe it. The dream was like this. Inside a church, on the balcony for the choir, a little old man in a ryasa was leading me by the right hand. Suddenly I heard steps behind me and, turning round, I recognized Bishop Vladimir. Immediately a voice said:
"'It's his Angel.'
"A few steps away from me, he turned to the right and jumped across the balustrade and began to fall. I ran up to the edge of the balcony and saw that he had not injured himself but had fallen into some kind of swimming pool with water. He jumped happily out of it and disappeared somewhere in the church. At this moment a voice said:
"'You see, Father Vladimir has left us.'
"I went further along the balcony with the old man and as we were leaving the church it seemed to me that he was standing on an outcrop of rock. On leaving the church I saw two sculptures representing people. Further on there was some kind of garden and singing, and the dream came to an end..."
He was buried in the cemetery of the town of Georgievsk with a big green cross the height of a man over his grave. Bishop I. visited the cemetery a little more than a year after his death. "Flowers which usually grow 20-30 centimetres were growing to a height of 1-2 metres. A blue wooden cross crowned the graves of four of the local Christians - two fools-for-Christ, one unknown passportless and in the last row a 120-year-old nun by the name, I think, of Olga... It was wonderful how the Lord had united them together here by His Providence!"
However, his mother later arranged for his relics to be removed to the Mitimo cemetery in Moscow, where other victims of Chernobyl are buried.
Cases have been reported of Bishop Vladimir interceding for Christians after his death.
Thus Bishop I. was once standing in a queue in the hall of an airport waiting to buy tickets to Moscow. He and a few other people were returning home after visiting some fellow believers in the Caucasus. There were no tickets, and yet there were 300 in the queue waiting for them. It was obvious that they might have to stand there for days. And then the bishop remembered the newly reposed Bishop Vladimir. In such situations Bishop Vladimir used to act very calmly; he would go to the end of the queue or to one side, and pray and wait patiently. So Bishop I. decided to follow his example, and prayed:
"If you have received favour in the sight of God, Father Vladimir, help me!"
Then a voice was heard inviting a list of names to come and get their tickets. No one responded. The woman repeated her declaration. Again no one responded. Then she said rather irritably:
"So no one wants to go to Moscow?!"
At this point some people from the back of the queue, including Bishop I, went up and bought tickets. Then the woman again addressed the queue with the same invitation. And only then did the queue hear her and liven up. It was obvious that, through the prayers of Bishop Vladimir, hundreds of people had not heard her first and second calls.
(Sources: Bishop I., Priest Basil Redechkin, Nun E.)
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