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Blessed Confessor of Christ, Father Ilie Lacatusu (1909 – 22 July 1983)

On 19th of July 1952, Father Ilie Lacatusu [Eellee Lakatoosho] was arrested and sent to a concentration camp, where the political prisoners (mainly Orthodox and followers of the Legion of the Archangel Michael) were forced to build a channel between Danube River and the Black Sea. He was part of the large priests’ brigade. After one year, as Father Ilie became sick, he was moved to another prison (Targu Ocna – Mine Fair), all these years being kept imprisoned without any condemnation. During his imprisonment, Father Ilie was also sent to the extermination camp of Periprava, at the Danube Delta, again with another great number of other priests. Father Ilie was freed in 1964, being given a house arrest and forced to work as a bricklayer. Finally, he could serve as a parish father until 1978. Father Ilie Lacatusu became unwell and reposed, moving to the Heavenly realm, on 22nd of July 1983.

Extraordinarily, Father Ilie prophesised many things in regards to his departure. He foresaw the time of his reposing, and then at exhumation (September 1998) his incorrupt body was a proof of his blessed life. Many more other miracles, happening all the time, were witnessed by thousands, giving to all strength in this apostate age.

During his lifetime, in prisons, Father Ilie was always an example to everyone of how the Orthodox must behave. Saint Iustin Parvu, who was the abbot from Petru-Voda monastery, remembers: “I stayed for four years with Father Ilie Lacatusu, at the extermination camp of Periprava, in the Danube Delta. His behaviour was remarkable, generally, through his strong interiorisation and quietness; rarely you could hear him saying something. When he did, it was mainly for urging us to pray when there was a danger. I can say about this man, that he had the gift of meekness. He was always trying not to stand out, but to turn into the insignificant to others.

I remember of a wonderful event, when Father Ilie played a very important role. On 30th of January, in that working colony, we were all sent directly into the channel to cut the reed. Can you imagine what it meant, on a freezing temperature, during the winter? Death! We were all frightened, especially that we noticed the militiamen ready to use their machineguns. Probably they were waiting to execute us, believing that we could refuse the order. There was an area of about 40 hectares of water and the reed was just at the bottom… We all started to murmur and had no thought to get into the water. The militiamen told us to get into the water and collect two sheaves / bundles of reed, each. But how to do this???

We hesitated… but Father Ilie had a very firm word and encouraged all: “We get in, because these ones have a bad thought: they will shoot us. Let us get into water, because the Mother of God and the Holy Three Hierarchs will take us out, unharmed!” Well, and we entered the water up to our chin. We cut and collected the reed, put in bundles. We stayed in the water for about three hours, and then we had to arrange the two bundles, which were cleaned, measured, and fixed according to size. And the temperature was minus 30 degrees Celsius, with a thick ice of 20-30 centimetres, so you could see through the yellow lilies, blossomed under the water. And at all time, there were birds in the sky, as if looking at us… But at the end of this ordeal, we all were unharmed and wet. Water was pouring from us. A great miracle that it was… In the morning, when we started, it was such a fog, very cloudy and very cold. But at once, the sun popped up in the sky, and it was such a light… And suddenly such a heat everywhere, that the militiamen themselves started to run away… but they came back.

After that day of work, we took off our clothes, which turned dry as if they were placed on the hottest oven, with such a steam… We took our shoes, got dressed and back to the colony. And so, the Mother of God and the Holy Hierarchs were with us all, and helped us, on 30th of January. And no one got sick! Due to the prayers of Father Ilie, because otherwise, we all could have been dead”.

 Blessed Father Ilie pray to Christ God for us!

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