St. John of Kronstadt is one of Orthodoxy’s most popular, most illustrious saints. Many people, however, are unaware that he was a married priest. Among the numerous photographs taken of him, we know of only one–a group shot–which shows St. John with his wife, Elizabeth Constantinovna, and even here she is scarcely distinguishable from the others who surround him. The following account, written by her niece, shows that she herself elected to remain in the background, concealed from the world by her meek and humble spirit.
At the outset of their married life, St. John said to his bride, “Liza, there are enough happy families in the world without us. Let us together devote our lives to serving God.” To strengthen their dedication, St. John requested they forgo marital relations and live as brother and sister. Elizabeth agreed. Such an arrangement–a rare form of asceticism–could not have been easy, but for the next 53 years Elizabeth was a faithful help-mate. Her Christian charity and wholehearted, selfless devotion to her husband and her neighbor can serve as an exemplary model not only for wives of clergy presbyteras, matushkas, “popadijas” but for all Orthodox women today.
Or Also here.