This story happened in a simple Soviet family in the city of Kuibyshev, nowadays Samara, at the end of the 1950s. The mother and her daughter were going to celebrate New Year’s Day. The daughter, Zoya, invited seven of her friends: girls and young men — to the party with dances. It was the time of the Nativity fast, and the believing mother asked Zoya not to have a party, but the daughter insisted. In the evening the mother went to church to pray.
The guests arrived, but Zoya’s fiancé Nicholas had still not arrived. They did not wait for him, they began dancing. The girls and youths formed pairs, and Zoya was left by herself. Vexed, she took an icon of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker and said: ‘I shall take this Nicholas and dance with him,’ — ignoring her friends, who advised her not to perform such blasphemy. ‘If there’s God, He will punish me,’ — she said.
They began the dancing, completed two rounds, when suddenly there was unimaginable noise whirlwind, a dazzling light flashed
Fun turned into horror. Everyone ran out of the room in fear. Only Zoya remained standing with the icon of the saint, pressing it to her breast, — petrified, cold as marble. Nothing that the doctors who came tried could bring her to senses. Needles broke and bent upon injection, as if coming on a stone obstruction. They wanted to take the girl for supervision to a hospital, but could not shift her from the spot: it was as if her feet were riveted to the floor. But her heart was beating — Zoya was alive. From that moment on she could neither drink, nor eat.
When the mother returned and saw what had happened, she lost consciousness and was taken to a hospital, from which she returned a few days later: faith in the mercy of God, ardent prayers for the forgiveness of her daughter restored her strength. She came to her senses and prayed for mercy and help.
At first, the house was surrounded by crowds of people — believers, physicians, ecclesiasts, the simply curious. But soon the house was closed to visitors by order of the authorities. Two militiamen guarded it in 8 hour shifts. Several of the guards, still very young (28-32 years old.), turned gray from horror when at midnight Zoya shouted terribly. At night, her mother prayed beside her.
Before the holiday of the Annunciation (that year it was on the Saturday of the third week of Great Lent) a righteous-looking elder came and asked permission see Zoya. But the militiamen on duty refused him. He came again the next day, but again, different attendants rejected him.
The third time, on the very day of the Annunciation the attendants allowed him to enter. The guards heard him ask Zoya tenderly: ‘Well, are you tired of standing?’
Some time passed, and when the militiamen on duty went to let the elder out, he was not there. Everybody was convinced that it was St. Nicholas.
So Zoya stood for 4 months (128 days), till Pascha, which was on April 23 that year (May 6 by the new calendar). After Pascha, Zoya revived; softness, vitality appeared in her muscles. She was put to bed, but she continued to call out and ask everybody to pray.
All these events struck the citizens of the city of Kuibyshev and its vicinities, so that many people, seeing these miracles, were converted to faith. People hurried to church to confess. The non-orthodox were baptized. Those without a pectoral cross began to wear one. The conversion was so great, that there were not enough crosses in churches for those who asked for them.
On the third day of Pascha, Zoya departed to God, having gone a difficult path — standing for 128 days before the face of God for the redemption of her sin. The Holy Spirit kept the life of the soul, having resurrected it from mortal sins, so that in the coming day of the Resurrection of all the living and the dead, it could rise in the body to eternal life. Even the name, Zoya, means “life.”