There was once a God-fearing and virtuous lady, who was married and had children. She was never absent from Church, gave generously to the poor, fasted and possessed many other virtues as well. Even so, this unfortunate woman had committed one sin that she never confessed. Oftentimes she would go to her spiritual father intending to reveal it; however, after confessing all her other transgressions, she would feel embarrassed and fail to reveal this one as well.
This lady would frequently stand and cry inconsolably before the icon of the Mother of God, beseeching Her compassion to forgive the crime. Finally, she died without confessing her sin to anyone. When she reposed, her family members were waiting for one of her daughters from a distant region to arrive for the funeral, and for this reason they did not bury her until the third day.
As they were chanting the funeral service in the Church – great are Thy wonders O Lord! – this decreased woman came back to life. She sat up in the coffin and proclaimed the following: “Great is they power Ever-Virgin Mary!”. Then she requested that someone call her spiritual father. When he arrived, she confessed her hidden sin to him, and then said the following for all to hear:
“I the wretch, on account of shame did not confess one sin I had committed. I wept every day for this mistake with much contrition, begging the Ever-Virgin Theotokos to show Her mercy on me, and not permit me to be condemned for this particular sin.
As soon as my wretched soul came out of my body, however, many demons grabbed it like wild wolves, jeering at me for my hidden sin. They were rejoicing for this sin, and assumed that they would retain me on account of it. After they dragged me down to Hell, where there was a deep darkness and inconsolable suffering, unexpectedly, the intercessor of sinners and Queen of the Angels appeared. She was shining brighter than the sun and emitted the limitless light of God into that entire gloomy area. Censuring the demons for taking me without the Lord having given them authority to do so, She rescued me from their hands and said to them, “Let us take her to the righteous Judge, and may whatever His compassion decides be done”. Then she turned to me and said, “Fear not my daughter, I will help you”.
When She took me to Christ the Lord, I saw Him sitting on a magnificent throne. I could tell that He was upset and displeased with me, ready to sentence me to eternal death. But our Lady Theotokos stood before Him with humility and said, “I pray and beg Thy goodness, My most-compassionate Son and loving God. Please forgive this poor soul through Thy great mercy and through Thine immaculate and precious Blood, which Thou didst spill for sinners. Thou knowest the great reverence which she had for me and how many tears she shed before my icon, weeping for her sin.”
The Lord, however, responded, “You know, my dear Mother, that no one can be saved without the mystery of life-saving confession, which this soul foolishly disregarded. She did not confess her sin, and now it is not possible for Me to forgive her; for in Hades there is no repentance.”
The Theotokos replied, “Truly my sweetest Son. No one can be saved without confession; however, You are the Ruler of life and death, and You are capable of all things. Please, I ask You to remember this unfortunate soul’s numerous good deeds, and above all her fervent adoration and her tremendous love and faith towards Me, and show to her Your infinite compassion, which exceeds all the sins of the world”
Then Christ responded, “So that I do not sadden you, dear Mother, I command this soul to return to her body. May she confess her sin according to the law, and then may she be forgiven”.
“When the Master Christ has finished saying this, my guardian angel returned my soul to my body and brought me back to life, as you have witnessed. And now I am about to die again momentarily. For this reason, I beg all of you, my family and friends, and my beloved daughter: cease from your tears because you do not help me by crying. Instead, commemorate me during the Divine Liturgies, and give as many alms as you can on my behalf. Live carefully, for the love of God, so that you do not sadden Him with anything, and confession all your sins sincerely, without concealing any of them.” And having said these things, she fell asleep once more in the Lord.