Every Russian is familiar with Nostradamus and his prophecies. Yet, in reality, this medieval poet and physician was not a fortuneteller, and his so-called "prophecies" are known, rather, due to their exaggerated popularity, and not their real value. The true predictor, capable not only of predicting the future with amazing confidence but of writing entire books of prophecy, lived in Russia. That man was Vasily Vasilyev, who became famous as a monk Abel. His dark and dire predictions foretold the deaths of many Russian emperors.
Predictions for the leaders are a special case. Since ancient times, each leader always had a court visionary. Such visionaries were particularly in demand in the east. Even the founder of medicine Avicenna compiled horoscopes and studied the influence of planets on the fate of people.
Russia, too, had its fare share of prophets, but the most surprising and perhaps the most famous, was monk Abel. According to the testimony of historical records and archival documents, all his predictions about the emperors of Russia have come true with incredible accuracy. However, the figure of monk Abel is surrounded with myths to the extent where it is hard to say what about his life is true and what is false.
The biographical dictionary of Brokgauz and Efron states: "Abel - a visionary monk, born in 1757, of peasant origin. For his prediction of the dates and time of death of Catherine II and Pavel I, the French invasion and the burning of Moscow he repeatedly found himself in prison, and had been imprisoned for nearly 20 years total. By order of Emperor Nicholas I, Abel was imprisoned in the Saviour Efimevsky monastery, where he died in 1841."
The future prophet was born in the village of Akulovo of Tula region. He lived as all peasants of that time without displaying any special talents, to 28 years. Closer to his mid-age, Vasili suddenly left his family for the Valaam monastery, where he became a monk named Adam. He left because his parents forcibly married him, while he had no desire to have a wife and was generally considered unsociable person (which has not stopped him from having three children).
Adam lived in a monastery for a year, and then asked permission from the abbot to live in a cell. And there, escaping in prayer and solitude, Adam received the gift of prophecy. He wrote in his books that he had visions, as if a voice called him to heaven and showed him the book which contained many secrets of the physical world. Adam read information that had to do with the Romanov dynasty and Russia - until the very end, and then the voice told him to convey what he read to the emperor, more precisely, to the Empress Catherine the Great.
To fulfill the will of the unknown forces, Adam set off traveling around Russia, and came to Nicholo-Babevsky monastery, where he wrote his first book. In the book he stated that Catherine will rule for a total of 40 years (she was in the fortieth year of her reign), and the throne will be inherited not by her favorite grandson Alexander, but her son Paul, etc.
When Catherine found out about it, she was furious and ordered to catch the monk, defrock him and put him in Petropavlovskaya fortress. Adam was defrocked and detained. He was under arrest up until the Empress died at the predicted time.
Pavel I, who really believed in all sorts of supernatural phenomena and prophecies, became interested in prophetic monk. After Catherine's death, Prince Kurakin was procurator-general of the Senate; it was him who brought the emperor the book of predictions by the prophet. As a result, a conversation took place between the governor of Tula and the unfrocked monk.
No one knows exactly what they were talking about. Yet, it is believed that Adam just told Pavel the date of his death: "Thy kingdom will be short. On the day of Sophronius (day of memory of the saint) in the bedchamber you will be strangled by villains you are warming on your chest. There is also a legend that the monk allegedly revealed to the Tsar the entire future of his descendants and Russia.
However, most likely it is a beautiful myth. If the monk foretold Pavel's death, it is unlikely that the latter would have published supreme rescript on 14 December of 1796, ordering to frock Adam again.
After the second round of monastic vows Vasily Vasilyev received the name by which he is known as one of the most sinister and accurate predictors in Russia - Abel. Then the monk set off for his journey. He first lived in St. Petersburg, then Moscow, where for some time he was fortune telling for money, and then returned briefly to Valaam, where he wrote his second book.
In this essay, he predicted the death of emperor Pavel. He then showed his creation to the rector. The latter was frightened and sent the book to Petersburg Metropolitan Ambrose. Ambrose gave the book to the interested parties, and those placed it to the hands of Paul. The book stated not only the death of the emperor with a detailed description and the time, but it also stated that this death was the punishment for the unfulfilled promise to build a church and dedicate it to the Archangel Michael.
Pavel protested such ingratitude and ordered to put Abel to the very fortress he released him from. Abel spent as much time in prison as before, ten months and ten days, precisely until his prediction came true. It is believed that Pavel, although angry with the monk, ordered to write down all his prophecies about the Romanovs and lock them in a casket, which could be opened only one hundred years after the date of death of the Tsar.
The prediction came true. Then Alexander ordered that the prophet came to him in St. Petersburg, and even sent him money for travel and a passport. However, Abbot Hilarion who treated the jailed monk badly, fearing the royal displeasure, did not want to let him go. Only after hearing the prediction about his death and death of all other monks of the monastery, he got scared and let Abel go. It did not help, and the prophecy came true - a strange disease killed Hilarion and most of his monks.
Abel came to St. Petersburg and had a conversation with Prince Golitsyn. No one knows what he told him, but Golitsyn hastened to send Abel on pilgrimage to holy places and prevented his meeting with the emperor as he could. Additionally, a decree was issued whereby monk Abel was not allowed to tell his prophecies publicly. Disobedience would cause him to go to jail.
For a long time Abel did not make any predictions, but only traveled to the holy places and corresponded with the noble ladies and gentlemen who did not lose hope to obtain any valuable prophecy from him.
However, over the years of life in the Serpukhov Vysotsky monastery, Abel still wrote another book, "The Life and Suffering of Father and the Monk Abel" hinting at his holiness. The book had many difficult and obscure mystical drawings, description of the creation of the world and detailed story of his life, meetings with tsars, visions and journeys.
Alexander I, of course, was reported on the new predictions of Abel, who spoke about the death of the Emperor, but the Emperor took no punitive measures in towards him. Maybe, because he got a similar prophecy from St. Seraphim of Sarov. Both "forecasts," as you know, came true.
Abel was safe to continue his prophesy, which he did. This time he publicly spoke about the fate of the new emperor Nicholas I. The monk remembered his bitter experience, and after his prediction traveled around Moscow and St. Petersburg, he disappeared from the monastery and fled.
However, Nicholas I did not understand jokes, and was not afraid of forecasters. Abel was quickly caught in his native village, where he returned after many years, and put in jail in Suzdal Evfimievsky Saviour Monastery.
Abel was never released from there. This amazing man is buried behind the altar of the monastery church of St. Nicholas. None of his books are preserved. The references to his predictions stored in the casket inherited by Nicholas II, also disappeared. All the prophecies of the "Russian Nostradamus" are known only from letters and documents, scraps and inaccurate quotations.
What remains are small details about the scariest book written by Abel - a book about the arrival of the Antichrist. Allegedly, the monk pointed out the exact date of doomsday. But where this book is now and who read it remains unknown. Maybe it is for the best - we have enough black and scary prophecies abot our world.