Abbot Iscu the Martyr
The following is an edited excerpt from the book, Tortured for Christ, by Richard Wurmbrand, a Lutheran pastor, about his experience in a Romanian prison:
When I was in jail I fell very, very ill… I was near to death.
At my right hand was a priest by the name of Iscu. He was abbot of a monastery. This man, perhaps in his forties, had been so tortured he was near to death. But his face was serene… He radiated joy.
On my left side was the Communist torturer who had tortured this priest almost to death. He had been arrested by his own comrades… And he was dying near me. His soul was in agony…
Then I saw a miracle. I saw the agonized priest calling two other prisoners. And leaning on their shoulders, slowly, slowly he walked past my bed, sat on the bedside of this murderer, and caressed his head—I will never forget this gesture. I watched a murdered man caressing his murderer! That is love—he found a caress for him.
The priest said to the man, “You are young; you did not know what you were doing. I love you with all my heart.” But he did not just say the words. You can say “love,” and it’s just a word of four letters. But he really loved. “I love you with all my heart.”
Then he went on, “If I who am a sinner can love you so much, imagine Christ, who is Love Incarnate, how much He loves you! And all the Christians whom you have tortured, know that they forgive you, they love you, and Christ loves you. He wishes you to be saved much more than you wish to be saved. You wonder if your sins can be forgiven. He wishes to forgive your sins more than you wish your sins to be forgiven. He desires for you to be with Him in heaven much more than you wish to be in heaven with Him. He is Love. You only need to turn to Him and repent.”
In this prison cell in which there was no possibility of privacy, I overheard the confession of the murderer to the murdered…
They prayed together, embraced each other, and the priest went back to his bed. Both men died that same night. It was Christmas Eve… Jesus was born in the heart of a Communist murderer.
These are things which I have seen with my own eyes.
Source: April– May 2014 Lychnos Edition