Agafia’s story: Old hermit lives alone deep in Siberian forest, seeks help
In the mid-17th century, the leader of Russia’s Orthodox church, Patriarch Nikon, introduced radical reforms in Russia. Many couldn’t accept the changes and became known as 'Old Believers.'
To avoid religious persecution first from the Orthodox Church and then from the Soviets, many families fled to some of the most remote corners of the country.
In 1978, one such family was discovered by a group of geologists in the remote Russian Republic of Khakassia, Siberia. The Lykovs, a family with four children, hadn’t seen other human beings for decades.
Agafia – who is now almost 70 years old – was born in the wilderness, and the geologists were the first outsiders she had ever met. This came as no surprise to the geologists, as the family in the forest looked as though they belonged to the previous century, dressed in homespun clothes and using primitive instruments in their everyday lives.
They were completely self-sufficient and still highly religious. Only three years after they were discovered, three of the children fell ill and died. Agafia, whose father also passed away, is now the only remaining surviver of the now famous family of hermits.
Working hard and praying all day, Agafia now lives on her own in the taiga, with bears trying to reach her humble abode regularly. The only person living nearby is a former drilling geologist, Yerofey Sedov, who was among those who discovered the Lykovs and told the world about them. Now relations between the only neighbors within some 200 miles are somewhat complicated.
Local authorities have tried to help Agafia, but reaching her remote home is quite a challenge. She is in desperate need of a helper, but no one seems willing to be cut off from the rest of the world.
— RT (@RT_com) September 18, 2014
"Our Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on us. Amen. This is the letter of Agafia Lykova to brothers and sisters. I wish that God grants you all good health but, first and foremost, salvation of your souls and all kinds of well-being. Another thing I must tell you, my fathers and brothers and sisters in God, is that I live alone, I’m an orphan, my health is waning. My age is advanced. I need a person to help me. Please, don’t leave me, for Christ’s sake, I’m a humble orphan in need. There are still kind Christian people and old believers out there. June 21st, 7522 since Adam," Agafia's letter reads.
An RTD film crew – including director Pavel Baydikov, a winner of the New York Festivals World's Best TV and Films – traveled deep into the taiga, through floods, fallen trees, and a treacherous river, to meet the famous Old Believer.
Watch the documentary 'Agafia' on RT and RTD, premiering September 22