Mt of Olives Convent Remembers Abbess Paraskeva
January 13/26, 2005, marked the 10th anniversary of the repose of
the Abbess of the Ascension of the Savior Convent on the Mount of
Olives, Mother Paraskeva of blessed memory. On this even, a pannikhida
was served at the Convent Cathedral.
Abbess Paraskeva (Zilberkrein) was born on July 13, 1905 in Warsaw
(Novo-Alexandria). Her father was a general; her childhood was spent
in Warsaw, Voronezh and St Petersburg. Her father died during World
War I and after the revolution, she and her mother found themselves
in the Crimea, not far from Holy Trinity-St Paraskeva Toplovo Convent,
to which she became very attached until her very departure from
the Crimea. Finishing school, she became a surveyor.
After the revolution, Toplovo Convent underwent a difficult period.
"In January 1929, three men came from the Simferopol GPU,"
recalled Mother Paraskeva. "They began to inventory all the
property, and the residents of the convent were offered the opportunity
to leave voluntarily. Everyone refused to leave the monastery"
(Abbess Paraskeva, "Holy Trinity-St Paraskeva Convent of Toplovo,"
Tserkovnaya zhizn', No. 3-4, 1989). The churches were sealed, searches
commenced, books were burnedÉ Despite the age and condition of their
health, the residents of the convent were thrown out into the street.
According to Matushka's recollections, help was offered to some
of them by M.P. Chekhova (the sister of the author), who used various
excuses gave them succor at the Chekhov Museum in Yalta.
During World War II, in 1943, a group of nuns of the former Toplovo
Convent, including Mother Paraskeva, her mother and Mother Evdokia,
fled to Rumania, taking with them a reliquary containing the relics
of St Paraskeva, Great Martyr Panteleimon and a part of the Life-Giving
Cross of the Lord, and also a gift from Count Geiden, his family
relic—a cross containing relics of the saints of the Kievan Monastery
of the Caves. These relics were taken out at night and kept in various
places. Later, the holy relics were brought as a gift to Ascension
of the Lord Convent at the Mt of Olives.
Upon arriving in Rumania, the refugees were set up at Chernika Monastery,
where Matushka Paraskeva's mother died. Care for the nuns was assumed
by Hegumen Feofylact, two neiced of whom later became nuns at the
Mt of Olives Convent.
In 1968, Novices Paraskeva and Evdokia made their way to Intercession
Convent in Bussy with the help of Protopriest Sergei Chertkov. Matushka
remembered with gratitude the material aid they were given by Archimandrite
Vladimir (Sukhobok, +1988) of Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville.
Mother Paraskeva was tonsured to the minor schema at Intercession
In 1971, Mother Paraskeva and Mother Evdokia arrived in the Holy
Land and were accepted into Holy Ascension Convent by Abbess Tamara.
Here, Matushka Paraskeva bore various obediences: in the kitchen,
the hostel, making prosphoras, she sang on the kliros, and later,
under Abbess Feodosia, became her prioress. All administrative matters
were in her hands. She tended to the care for the buildings and
much else. When in 1984, Mother Feodosia was transferred to Gethsemane
Convent, Matushka Paraskeva became her successor on the Mt of Olives.
Mother Paraskeva had very good relations with all pilgrims, corresponded
with many donors who supported the Convent. When she reached a certain
age and her ehalth began to falter, in 1989, she was replaced as
abbess by Matushka Varvara (Epova, +2003) and since then, Matushka
Paraskeva lived in retirement at the Convent until her repose.
May the Lord grant her eternal memory!