Yandex Metrika
The Synaxis of the Saints of Diveyevo

The Assembly of Diveyevo Saints

the Assembly of Diveyevo Saints

On 27 (14 N. S.) of June, the Holy Church remembers and honours the saints of Diveevo.

The sacred history of the Holy Trinity Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery, nestled in the Nizhny Novgorod region of Russia, is intimately linked with Saint Seraphim of Sarov, the Russian apostle of Paschal joy and love. 

Among the saints of Diveyevo is the author of the "Chronicles of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery," the Holy Martyr Seraphim (Chichagov). Alongside them stand the Venerable Alexandra, Martha, and Elena, the Blessed Pelagia, Paraskeva, and Maria, and the Holy Martyrs and New Martyrs of Diveyevo. Each one of them traversed their earthly trials and temptations, always making the righteous choice, never attempting to escape their crosses. They saved themselves and others. Even today, they remain fervent intercessors and helpers in our arduous earthly journey.

The Feast of the Assembly of Diveyevo Saints was established in April 2008 by the blessing of Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia. It is celebrated on 27 June — immediately following the commemoration day of the founder of the Diveyevo Convent, Venerable Alexandra (Melgunova). Let us recall her life and the destinies of other Diveyevo saints.

Venerable Alexandra (Melgunova)

The life of Venerable Alexandra (Melgunova) 1729-1789, commemoration on 26 (13 Old Style) June

This servant of God, Alexandra, was granted a vision of the Most Holy Theotokos, Who blessed her to commence the construction of a convent. The Diveyevo schema monk Alexandra (Melgunova) became the foundress of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery. Yet, before this, she led a life marked by hardship as a widow and secret nun.

Agafya Semyonovna Melgunova was born in Ryazan in 1729. From her youth, her path was fraught with difficulties. She buried her husband when their firstborn daughter was only three years old. The grieving mother and her child embarked on a pilgrimage to Kiev, where she felt divine grace and took monastic vows. The elders of the monastery blessed the young woman for a pilgrimage across the holy sites of Russia, instructing her to keep her monasticism a secret.

Somewhere along Russia's roads, Nun Agafya was graced with a vision of the Theotokos, Who commanded her to take the first steps in establishing Her fourth domain.

Around 1760, while travelling to Sarov Hermitage, she sought shelter in the village of Diveyevo. It was revealed to her that this was to be the site of a future monastery.

Thus ended Agafya's wandering. She settled in the village of Osinovka and lived there for three years until her ten-year-old daughter passed away. Agafya sold her estate to fund the construction of the monastery and for almsgiving, understanding it was time to return to Diveyevo.

In Diveyevo, she lived in her cell near the house of Priest Vasily Dertev. Agafya remembered the blessing of the Theotokos and in 1767 the construction of a church in honour of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God began through her efforts. This stone church was consecrated in 1772, and Mother Agafya gathered a community around it.

Six years later, in 1788, this community was granted 1300 square sazhens of land, and three new cells appeared next to the church. Initially, four novices lived with Mother Agafya. Gradually, the community grew. They were spiritually nourished by elders from Sarov Hermitage, from whom they also received food and all necessities for life. For over twenty years, Mother Agafya led this community with steadfast devotion.

Before Venerable Alexandra ascended to the celestial realms, she was visited by the elders from Sarov. Among them was a young hierodeacon who would one day be known as Saint Seraphim of Sarov. It was to him that Mother Alexandra entrusted the care of her sisters. Shortly before her passing, she took the monastic vows of the Great Schema, adopting the name Alexandra. On 13 June 1789, Schema-nun Alexandra departed this life to be with the Lord.

Venerable Martha (Milyukova)

The life of Venerable Martha (Milyukova) 1810–1829, commemoration on 3 September (21 August Old Style)

Maria Semyonovna Milyukova was born on 10 February 1810, in the village of Pogiblovo, within the Ardatovsky district of Nizhny Novgorod province. Today, this forsaken hamlet is known as Malinovka. Her righteous and God-loving parents often visited Saint Seraphim of Sarov.

On November 21, 1823, at the Feast of the Entry of the Most Holy Theotokos into the Temple, thirteen-year-old Maria first came to Father Seraphim with her sister, Paraskeva. While her sister returned home, Maria remained at the monastery with the elder's blessing, becoming one of Seraphim’s chosen “orphans”.

Young Maria's spiritual and ascetic life often surpassed that of her elder sisters in the community. Elder Seraphim confided his spiritual revelations to her, especially valuing her inclination towards silence. He spoke to her about the future glory of the monastery and instructed her to keep these revelations secret until the appointed time.

For four years, the young novice laboured alongside adults in constructing the Mill Monastery, aiding both Saint Seraphim and the sisters.

The Sisters’ labour at the mill

The Sisters’ labour at the mill

The work was far from ladylike; it was gruelling physical labour: felling trees, planing logs, and sanding boards. This new community was formed under the blessing of the Most Pure Mother of God Herself, with a divinely inspired rule given for its spiritual establishment through the elder. For the walls of the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos under construction, Maria carried stones and later worked at the mill, grinding flour and performing other tasks without interrupting her prayers.

Her life was brief — at nineteen years old, six of which were spent in the monastery, the young ascetic left this earthly realm. Saint Seraphim secretly tonsured Maria into the Great Schema with the name Martha, revealing this to the sisters only after her passing.

"Her soul is in the Kingdom of Heaven and near the Holy Trinity at God's Throne, and your entire lineage will be saved through her!" proclaimed the elder. The young nun departed to be with the Lord on 21 August 1829.

Venerable Helena (Manturova)

The life of Venerable Helena (Manturova) 1805–1832, Commemoration on 10 June (28 May Old Style)

Venerable Helena of Diveyevo came from an ancient noble family. She lived in her ancestral village of Nucha in Nizhny Novgorod province with her brother, Mikhail Vasilyevich Manturov.

Until she was seventeen, Elena Vasilyevna was enamoured with worldly life. But suddenly, everything changed. She had a vision of a serpent poised to devour her. "Queen of Heaven, save me! I vow never to marry and to enter a convent!" cried Elena, and immediately, the ominous serpent vanished. From that moment on, her life transformed entirely; the young noblewoman began to pray fervently and immerse herself in spiritual literature. She awaited the moment when she could fulfil her vow.

In due course, Elena Vasilyevna journeyed to Sarov, seeking Father Seraphim's blessing to enter a convent. Yet, it was three long years before she was admitted to the Diveyevo Kazan community, as per the holy elder Seraphim’s benediction.

Despite her noble upbringing, Elena Vasilyevna shunned no task within the monastery. She secretly aided her sisters, endowed with a rare natural kindness. Following Father Seraphim's counsel, she embraced silence and ceaseless prayer. The venerable Seraphim tonsured her into the rassophore and appointed her as churchwarden and sacristan of the Churches of the Nativity of Christ and the Nativity of the Theotokos annexed to the Kazan Church.

Elena's brother, Mikhail, was also a devout disciple of the venerable elder. Once, stricken with a grave illness that seemed certain to claim his life, he lay at death's door. However, the elder needed him at the monastery. Father Seraphim gave a startling blessing: "You shall die in his stead... This is your obedience: die for Mikhail Vasilyevich!"

With utmost obedience, Nun Elena accepted the blessing. It is known that they conversed at length afterwards, and she confessed her fear of death to the elder. "What have we to fear from death, my joy? For us, there will be only eternal bliss," he reassured her. No sooner had the distressed nun left Father Seraphim than she collapsed unconscious... but the elder revived her. Returning to her cell, Mother Elena took to her bed and told all who visited her, "I shall rise no more!"

Venerable Elena's life was brief — only twenty-seven years. She lay for several days before departing for the Lord on 28 May 1832, on the eve of Holy Trinity Day. Many came to bid farewell to the ascetic; Father Seraphim sent people to Diveyevo while the nun’s coffin lay in the church. "Hasten, hasten to the monastery; our great lady has gone to the Lord!" he proclaimed, recounting the wondrous tale of a sister’s love for her brother and her profound obedience to God.

Blessed Pelagia (Serebrennikova)

The life of Blessed Pelagia (Serebrennikova) 1809–1884, commemoration on 12 February (30 January Old Style)

Pelagia Ivanovna was born in 1809 in Arzamas. Her father passed away early, leaving her to be raised under the stern watch of a stepfather. Even her mother deemed her foolish — Pelagia seemed strange to many. Her mother hurriedly sought to marry her off. Obediently, Pelagia complied, but their union brought no joy: two sons and a daughter died in infancy. The young couple visited Venerable Seraphim in Sarov. The elder spoke at length with Pelagia and gave her a prayer rope with these words: "Go forth, my dear, without delay to my monastery; care for my orphans, and you shall be a light unto the world."

Following this encounter, it was as if Pelagia had lost her senses: by day she ran through Arzamas screaming, and by night she prayed on the church porch before its closed doors. Her husband could not fathom her actions; seeing no spiritual meaning in such behaviour, he beat Pelagia and mocked her, even chaining her up. For many years she suffered until finally, relatives allowed the blessed one to go to Diveyevo. Initially, Pelagia continued her mad antics but eventually calmed down.

Her heart bloomed with a love for flowers, and Pelagia tended to them with boundless joy and fervour. Abbess Maria, convinced of Pelagia’s clairvoyance, sought her counsel in all matters. To many of the inhabitants, Pelagia Ivanovna became a spiritual mother, affectionately calling the sisters of the monastery her daughters.

For forty-five years, this blessed elder lived within the sacred walls of the convent. On January 30, 1884, this remarkable saintly woman departed for the Lord.

Blessed Paraskeva

The life of Blessed Paraskeva (Pasha of Sarov) 1795–1915, commemoration on 5 October (22 September Old Style)

Pasha of Sarov — known in the world as Irina — was born in 1795 in the village of Nikolskoye, Spassky District, Tambov Province, to a family of serfs under the Bulugins' estate.

At seventeen, Irina was married off by her masters. She preferred solitude over village socialising and refrained from festive amusements, yet she was a diligent homemaker and a devoted wife. After fifteen years of marriage to Fyodor, she was widowed without ever becoming a mother.

And thus began her trials. Unjustly accused of theft by her masters, Irina endured torment and sorrow but somehow managed to flee to Kiev, where elders offered her refuge. However, her master pursued her relentlessly, filing police reports that led to her being discovered, arrested, imprisoned, and returned to the estate twice. Eventually, the masters expelled Irina themselves when she returned profoundly changed. Fleeing once more, Irina secretly took monastic vows under the name Paraskeva. The elders then blessed her for holy foolishness for Christ’s sake.

For years, Irina wandered through villages until she settled in the caves of Sarov Forest, living there for thirty years. She prayed among the firs and birches and occasionally visited Sarov and Diveyevo. Parishioners and pilgrims knew and loved her, seeking her prayers for their needs and loved ones.

Paraskeva arrived at Diveyevo Monastery in the chilly autumn of 1884 and remained there.

She was known not only to common folk but also to members of high society. Even members of the imperial family visited her cell, where the blessed one prayed like a child surrounded by her dolls.

In 1903, Emperor Nicholas II and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna visited her. Pasha foretold that they would finally have a long-awaited son and heir. However, the second part of their conversation was tragic: the blessed one prophesied the downfall of Russia, the destruction of the royal dynasty, the annihilation of the Church, and a sea of blood.

Blessed Paraskeva — Pasha of Sarov — departed for the Lord on September 22, 1915, at the age of one hundred and twenty.

the Suvorov Martyrs Evdokia, Daria, Daria, Maria

The fates of the Suvorov Martyrs Evdokia, Daria, Daria, Maria, commemoration on 18 (5 Old Style) August

Evdokia Sheikova was born on February 11, 1856, in Strakhova Puza village in Ardatovsky District, Nizhny Novgorod Province — today known as Suvorovo in Diveyevo District. Orphaned early on, this peasant girl was raised by her uncle, who served as a churchwarden of their village church.

Her relatives noticed that young Dunya possessed the gift of clairvoyance and nurtured her religious upbringing. As a young girl, she embarked on several pilgrimages, visiting the Sarov Assumption Hermitage for men and both the Seraphim-Diveyevo and Seraphim-Ponetaevsky convents for women. Frail from childhood, she moved with a cane and blessed everything with it. At twenty years old, Evdokia fell gravely ill and was left paralysed by her ailment.

In the heart of her familial abode, they laid out a cot for her, and two neighbouring maidens arrived to tend to her needs. From Sarov, the venerable spiritual guide, the elderly hieromonk Anatoly — known in the schema as Vasily — often made the journey to visit Dunya.

Dunya led a life of rigorous asceticism, her prayers ceaseless and fervent. Her young caretakers endeavoured to emulate her devoutness, though they found it an arduous task. Gradually, more young women who yearned to walk in the sight of God and secure their salvation began to gather around her. Among these steadfast companions were Daria Ulybina, Daria Timagina, and Maria, who remained by Dunya’s side until her final breath.

Thus, a small community formed around the frail yet spiritually potent Dunya. Evdokia and her companions lived a life of strict monastic discipline, their days filled with hymns, prayers, and the welcoming of wayfarers and pilgrims.

Icon of the Martyr Daria Ulybina

Icon of the Martyr Daria Ulybina

Daria Ulybina, one of Dunya’s devoted companions, was born in the village of Siukha in the Nizhny Novgorod district towards the end of the 1870s. Siukha was home to a small skete of the Diveyevo Monastery. From a tender age, Daria embraced a life of asceticism inspired by the skete's example. She consciously and unceasingly recited the Jesus Prayer and would stand daily to read the entire Psalter.

In 1913, Daria arrived in Strakhova Puza and began caring for Evdokia. Together, they prayed and sought salvation.

Icon of the Martyr Daria Timagina

Icon of the Martyr Daria Timagina

Daria Timagina was also born in the late 1870s. At fifteen, she frequently visited Evdokia Sheikova, the ascetic of Puza. One of the elders from Sarov's hermitage blessed Daria to become Evdokia’s companion, but her parents had other plans — they intended to marry her off, not sharing their daughter's convictions. Defying their wishes, Daria fled to Strakhova Puza to join the ascetics. Her parents retrieved her, subjected her to beatings, and once again tried to arrange her marriage. Yet she returned to Dunya’s small community and lived there for two decades.

Maria was a Mordvinian who kept her surname and true name a secret. She stayed close to the blessed one, aiding her with prayer and love in all things.

The sisters who gathered around the Puza ascetic endured all the historical upheavals of the early 20th century together. On 16 August 1919, a punitive detachment arrived in Strakhova Puza. Someone had reported that a deserter was hiding in Evdokia’s cell and that anti-Red Army agitation had been heard. Soldiers stormed into the house, beating Evdokia and desecrating icons underfoot. The villagers were herded into the square where the detachment’s commander called for a vote, urging them to decide on a punishment for the frail ascetic. It was decreed that Evdokia would be executed by firing squad while her companions were to be released. However, they chose to share their blessed mentor’s fate.

On 18 August, Father Vasily Radugin came to the Puza prayerful women, offering confession and communion to each one. Evdokia was transported on a cart to the village cemetery where she was to be executed. Her companions shielded her from the blows of the Red Army soldiers with their own bodies.

On that fateful day of 18 August 1919, martyrs Evdokia, Daria, Daria, and Maria were executed by firing squad. All four prayerful sisters were laid to rest in a shared grave.

Blessed Maria Fedina

The life of Blessed Maria Fedina (circa 1870–1931), commemoration on 8 September (26 August Old Style)

In the twilight of the 19th century, amidst the rustic charm of the village of Goletkovo in Yelatoma County, Tambov Province, a future saint was born. The exact names of her parents have been lost to time, but in her spiritual journey, Maria adopted the patronymic Ivanovna, explaining, "We, the blessed ones, are all Ivanovnas after John the Baptist."

At the tender age of thirteen, young Maria was orphaned. One fateful day, she joined a group of women on a pilgrimage to Sarov. The journey on foot was arduous yet spiritually enriching. While her companions eventually returned home, Maria chose to stay behind. She became a wandering ascetic, traversing between Sarov, Diveyevo, and Ardatov. Embracing the life of a holy fool, she denounced the sins of others, often facing beatings and being set upon by dogs for her efforts. She wore tattered rags and walked barefoot in all weathers.

Despite her frail health and suffering from rheumatism, Maria bore her pains with stoic endurance. Eventually, her condition worsened to the point where she could no longer walk.

The 1920s were marked by rampant atheism and persecution. People from all over Russia flocked to Maria, seeking her prayers, spiritual guidance, and advice. This growing assembly of Orthodox believers alarmed the authorities, who perceived these gatherings as religious "propaganda." They threatened the abbess with arrest if even one more person visited the blessed one.

Maria Ivanovna was relocated to an almshouse. Up until the monastery's closure, she lived under lock and key, communicating secretly through notes.

After the monastery was confiscated from the faithful — its final closure occurring in September 1927, — Maria Ivanovna was moved from village to village. In 1931, she was arrested but released shortly thereafter.

Blessed Maria departed this life on 8 September 1931 and was laid to rest in the cemetery of Bolshoye Cherevatovo.

Hieromartyr Jacob Gusev

The life of Hieromartyr Jacob Gusev (1887–1937), commemoration on 26 (13 Old Style) December

On 19 October 1887, in the village of Diveyevo, a son was born to the priest Ioann Feofanovich Gusev. The infant was christened Jacob. Later, another son would join the family — future Hieromartyr Mikhail Gusev. The Gusev family's life was deeply intertwined with the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery.

The monastery’s protopriest, Vasily Sadovsky, who had received a blessing from Saint Seraphim to care for the "Diveyevo orphans," was related to the Gusevs. After completing his studies at the Nizhny Novgorod Seminary in 1910, Jacob married Elena Nikolaevna Vinogradova. The couple was blessed with three children.

On 30 January 1911, Jacob Ivanovich was ordained as a priest. His first parish was the church in the village of Khudoshino in Ardatov County. In addition to his clerical duties, he taught Divine Law at the Khudoshino and Kadyshevo zemstvo schools. His next assignment took him to St Nicholas Church in the village of Elizarevo in Ardatov County.

The parishioners held their young priest in high esteem for his devout service and valued his kindness and approachability. His sermons were delivered in a soft voice and simple words that left congregants feeling renewed, not forsaken, and grateful to God.

In February 1918, Soviet power was established in Elizarevo. Like all religious servants, Father Jacob was stripped of his voting rights.

In the year 1927, as the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery faced its grim dissolution, Father Jacob's brother, Father Michael, was taken into custody. Father Jacob himself was hounded relentlessly, accused of inciting agitation against the Soviets, orchestrating the sabotage of a collective farm, and obstructing the installation of radio equipment.

By 1930, the noose tightened further — Father Jacob was arrested and imprisoned in Gorky, his home seized by the state.

The following year saw him once more ensnared by the authorities, branded a 'kulak' and stripped of his possessions.

In 1935, the government sought to shutter the church, but the resilient villagers of Elizarevo rallied, gathering signatures in defiance. This act of defiance led to Father Jacob's arrest yet again, this time on charges of inciting collective farmers to petition against repurposing the church as a grain storage facility. Miraculously, he was released, but the reprieve was short-lived. Two years later, witness testimonies and interrogation protocols were appended to his criminal case.

On 20 November 1937, Father Jacob was apprehended right in the church, and accused of anti-Soviet activities. Despite the brutal and demeaning interrogations that followed in Arzamas Prison, he steadfastly refused to confess to any wrongdoing. On 26 December 1937, this devoted servant of God and His Church met his martyrdom by firing squad in Gorky. His final resting place remains an unmarked grave.

Hieromartyr Michael Gusev

The life of Hieromartyr Michael Gusev (1890–1937), commemoration on 20 (7 Old Style) November

The future priest Michael Gusev, brother to Father Jacob, was born into the family of Protopriest Ioann on 25 October 1890 in Diveyevo village, within Ardatov County.

By twenty-one, he had completed his studies at the Nizhny Novgorod Theological Seminary, married shortly thereafter, and at twenty-three was ordained as a priest. Despite his youth, Father Michael was immediately appointed as the spiritual confessor to the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery.

These were trying times for all believers; each passing year made it increasingly difficult for those devoted to God and His Church. On 21 September 1927, the police forbade the nuns from ringing the bells for Vespers. Father Michael stepped out of the church to investigate the silence and was promptly arrested and whisked away to Arzamas Prison.

A fortnight later, Father Michael was released and found temporary refuge with his brother, Father Jacob. Soon after, he was appointed rector of St Nicholas Church in Kulebakino village — a parish bustling with congregants from a large metallurgical plant. Father Michael endeavoured to aid the nuns from Diveyevo Monastery, many of whom were destitute and wandering; he provided food and supplies to families of those imprisoned.

On 31 August 1937, Father Michael's fate mirrored that of many righteous souls of his era — he was arrested. Not long before this, he had been summoned twice by the NKVD and pressured to renounce his priesthood. He was ultimately charged with organising a counter-revolutionary church-fascist group in the Kulebaki district. Within three months, his fate was sealed. On 20 November 1937, in Gorky, Father Michael was executed by order of a secret police troika.

Hieromartyr Seraphim (Chichagov)

The life of Hieromartyr Seraphim (Chichagov), Metropolitan (1856–1937), commemoration on 11 December (28 November Old Style)

Hieromartyr Seraphim (born Leonid Mikhailovich Chichagov) was destined for a military life from birth. Born in 1856 to a military family, he was groomed for service in the armed forces. After graduating from the Imperial Page Corps, he fought in the Balkans during the Russo-Turkish War of 1876–1878. Upon returning to St Petersburg, he became a spiritual disciple of Saint John of Kronstadt.

In 1879, a year hence, Leonid entered into matrimony. His chosen bride was N. N. Dokhurova.

Leonid Mikhailovich harboured a keen interest in medicine, particularly herbal remedies. He continued his military service while independently studying theology, serving as the patron of a military church. During this period, he developed his renowned practice of medicinal herb application. Upon retiring with the rank of colonel, Leonid Mikhailovich embraced the priesthood in 1893.

The devout cleric ministered in several Moscow churches, tirelessly dedicating himself to their upkeep and beautification. In 1895, he buried his beloved wife. As he prayed for her repose and contemplated monastic life, he undertook the arduous literary endeavour of compiling the "Chronicle of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery."

By 1898, Father Michael took monastic vows, adopting the name Seraphim and becoming a hieromonk at the Trinity-Sergius Lavra. Shortly thereafter, now an archimandrite, Father Seraphim assumed the role of abbot at the Suzdal Spaso-Euthymius Monastery. During these years, he continued his work on the "Seraphim-Diveyevo Chronicle" and strove for the official canonisation of St. Seraphim.

Suzdal Spaso-Euthymius Monastery

Suzdal Spaso-Euthymius Monastery

In 1905, Archimandrite Seraphim departed the monastery, having been consecrated as the Bishop of Sukhumi. This marked only the beginning of his episcopal journey — within a year, he ascended to the rank of Archbishop and took up the Oryol See, followed by the Kishinev See in 1908 and the Tver See in 1912.

In 1917, schismatics ousted him from his episcopal seat. At the very end of that tumultuous year, His Holiness Patriarch Tikhon appointed Archbishop Seraphim to the Warsaw see. However, due to the war, he could not assume control.

In 1921, now Metropolitan Seraphim faced a sorrowful fate: arrest and exile to the Arkhangelsk region. A year later, he returned to Moscow but was arrested once more. The charge was absurd: active participation in the glorification of St. Seraphim of Sarov.

In 1928, Metropolitan Seraphim returned, this time to head the Leningrad See. His sermons primarily elucidated the importance of more frequent communion with the Holy Mysteries of Christ — a crucial message during a time when many Christians partook only once a year amidst the country's and Church's tribulations in the early 20th century.

In 1933, at seventy-seven years old, his physical strength waning, he was retired to a peaceful life. His years of prayerful repose were spent at a dacha near Moscow. Gravely ill, Saint Seraphim devoted his time to prayer, preparing to meet the Lord and, like the Saviour, sought forgiveness for those who "know not what they do."

In November 1937, the eighty-two-year-old elder was arrested once more. He was carried into Taganka Prison on a stretcher. He refused to acknowledge the charges against him. On 11 December 1937, Metropolitan Seraphim was executed by firing squad at Butovo.

Venerable Martyr Martha (Testova)

The life of Venerable Martyr Martha (Testova), 1883–1941, commemoration on 26 (13 Old Style) April

Venerable Martha of Diveyevo was born into a peasant family in 1883 in the village of Arga, Temnikovsky County, Tambov Province.

In the year 1914, at the age of thirty-one, she followed in her sister Pelagia’s footsteps and entered the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery. The times were fraught with turmoil — war loomed large. Yet, the sisters had no inkling of the impending collapse of the country and the revolution that would soon engulf them.

Despite the new regime, the monastery strove to maintain its life of prayer. However, in the summer of 1919, their crucible began. It all started when Red Army soldiers demanded that the nuns work in their private fields as unpaid labourers. The monastery council refused, citing the sisters' exhaustion, starvation, and inability to perform physical labour. Indeed, the weakened nuns were barely surviving. The refusal came from Sister Pelagia — she was a council member and in charge of the monastery's workforce. For defying the authorities, Pelagia and her blood sister, Nun Martha, were arrested, accused of counter-revolutionary activities, and sentenced to three years in prison. But the sisters were eventually freed, and the monastery council was reinstated by a commission sent to determine the gravity of its "counter-revolutionary" activities.

The commission proved the nuns' innocence. Yet, from 1927 onwards, a campaign aimed at liquidating the monastery commenced, along with arrests based on police lists. Sister Martha, along with one of her Diveyevo sisters, relocated to the village of Razvilie in the Nizhny Novgorod region. There, they settled and laboured in the local church.

However, on 18 November 1937, she was arrested once more and imprisoned in Nizhny Novgorod on charges of counter-revolutionary activities among believers. On 13 December 1937, the secret police troika pronounced her sentence: eight years in a corrective labour camp.

From 3 May 1938, Sister Martha found herself in the Karaganda camp, where despite numerous ailments and being in her fifties, she worked in general labour. Soon this became unbearable for her. A medical commission declared Mother Martha an invalid — the harsh camp conditions had sapped her remaining strength. From then on, she was confined to the hospital at the Spassk division of Karlag.

There, she departed this life on 26 April 1941. Sister Martha was buried in the camp cemetery near the village of Spasskoye.

Saint Pelagia (Testova)

The life of Pelagia (Testova), 1887–1944, commemoration on 3 November (21 October Old Style)

The sister of Venerable Martyr Martha Testova, Pelagia Timofeevna was born in 1887. At fourteen years old, in 1901, she entered the monastery and took on the obediences of a haymaker and seamstress.

In 1927, after the campaign to liquidate the monastery began, accompanied by searches and arrests of sisters based on police lists, Sister Pelagia and her elder sister sister Martha started living at various churches. Kind-hearted people welcomed all Diveyevo sisters. Mother Pelagia settled near a church in the village of Vorobyevo in the Arzamas district, where she worked and prayed.

On 20 November 1937, Sister Pelagia was arrested on charges of "counter-revolutionary agitation of a defeatist and slanderous nature." On 14 December 1937, the NKVD troika sentenced her to eight years in the Karaganda corrective labour camp.

The documents in her file reveal that Mother Pelagia was deemed unfit for work. Nevertheless, she still participated in communal labour. In 1941, she petitioned for a review of her case and sought release, but her plea was denied. On the 3rd of November 1944, Nun Pelagia passed away in the camp hospital. She was laid to rest in the camp cemetery near the village of Zhartas.

Confessor Matrona (Vlasova)

The life of Confessor Matrona (Vlasova), 1889–1963, commemoration on 7 November (25 October Old Style)

The future confessor Matrona (Vlasova) was born in 1889 into a peasant family residing in the village of Strakhova Puza, Nizhny Novgorod Province. Orphaned at a tender age, she found refuge at the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery when she was just six years old. From childhood, Matrona displayed a remarkable talent for drawing, and her obedience was painting. In 1927, she faced the same fate as all the sisters of the monastery.

She, along with three other Diveyevo sisters, took up residence in the village of Kuzyatovo in the Ardatov district, where they assisted in the church and engaged in handicrafts to eke out a living, striving to exist quietly and unobtrusively. Despite their efforts to remain inconspicuous, they were accused of anti-Soviet agitation and arrested in April 1933. On the 21st of May 1933, Nun Matrona was sentenced to three years in the Dmitrov camp in the Moscow region.

Upon completing her sentence, she moved to the village of Verigino in the Gorky region. There, she lived by the church, serving as a watchwoman, cleaner, and singer. However, on the 10th of November 1937, Mother Matrona was arrested once again, accused of being linked to a "counter-revolutionary church-fascist organisation." She was sentenced to ten years in Karlag. While serving her sentence, she worked as a cleaner in the hospital.

After her release, Nun Matrona resided in the village of Vyyezdnoye near Arzamas, where she served in the church. Yet on the 19th of October 1949, she was arrested once more. Based on materials from her old case, she was accused of "enemy activities." During interrogations, the investigator tried to coerce her into incriminating the priest of the Verigino village church but failed to achieve his goal.

Mother Matrona was exiled to the village of Kamenka in the Lugovsky district of the Dzhambul region of the Kazakh SSR. In 1954, her brother petitioned for her pardon, which was granted. Nun Matrona spent her final years in her brother's home in their native village.

Villagers recall that Mother Matrona prayed fervently and was humble, quiet, and kind-hearted. Nun Matrona departed this life on the 7th of November 1963.

Icon of the Assembly of Diveyevo Saints

Icon of the Assembly of Diveyevo Saints

The fate of the clergy and sisters of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery is nothing short of astonishing. Their devotion to God and trust in Him amidst the most harrowing circumstances is both instructive and enlightening. Many met a martyr’s end during those godless years of persecution. Those who survived execution endured a gruelling path of trials. Few emerged unscathed. Those who were freed often retreated into seclusion: many churches in towns and villages were closed. Yet, the collective prayer of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery sisters never ceased — neither in visible life nor in the unseen realm. Its origins trace back to a distant past — the 18th century, during the era of Saint Seraphim of Sarov.

Troparion to the Assembly of Diveyevo Saints, Tone 5:

Today, the Church's expanse broadens, welcoming the richness of God's grace. The chosen abode of the Most Holy Theotokos rejoices, commemorating the illustrious assembly of Diveyevo saints, who triumph in the Heavenly Kingdom and intercede for our souls.

Kontakion to the Assembly of Diveyevo Saints, Tone 8:

You have shown yourselves to be vessels of the Holy Spirit through your honourable lives, devoted servants of the Most Holy Theotokos, who shone forth in the land of Diveyevo. Remember us at God's Throne in the Heavenly Kingdom.

Prayer to the Assembly of Diveyevo Saints:

O all-honoured saints of Diveyevo, chosen ones of the Queen of Heaven, her faithful attendants, who have ascended to the Heavenly Kingdom through your labours! Today, on the occasion of your collective celebration, we offer you this hymn of praise. We bless your holy lives, glorify your great miracles, extol your love, and magnify your endeavours. For you, having renounced the vanities of this world and taken up your cross, fervently followed Christ. Crucifying your flesh with its passions and desires, with patience and courage you vanquished the enemy to the end. Having shamed the wisdom of this age, you acquired the mind of Christ. Therefore, we implore you: O holy kin of ours! Do not abandon us, your spiritual children. Help us steadfastly uphold the Orthodox faith so that the saving seed may not wither under the heat of unbelief but bring forth abundant fruit. Thus, in the age to come, we may hear together with you the blessed voice of our Lord and God: "Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world." Amen.

Magnification to the Assembly of Diveyevo Saints:

We magnify you, all saints of the land of Diveyevo, and honour your holy memory. For you pray for us to Christ our God.

June 26, 2024
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