Seraphim of Sarov
Venerable Seraphim of Sarov (Prokhor Moshnin) was born on July 30, 1754, in Kursk, in the family of a wealthy eminent merchant. Saint Seraphim lost his father at a young age and was brought up by his pious widowed mother.
Since childhood, Prokhor had been reading the Holy Scripture, praying and going to church services daily. One day, little Prokhor fell from a bell tower of a church, which his father Isidor started building before his death. A miracle happened - the Saint remained alive and completely unharmed.
When Prokhor was 10 years old, he became seriously ill. One day, when he was sleeping, he saw the Mother of God. She told him that she was going to heal him. And this is exactly what happened a few days later when St. Seraphim’s mother put him up to the miracle-working icon of the Mother of God, “The Sign”.
As Prokhor got older, he felt the desire to follow the monastic path. His mother Agathia blessed him and gave him a large crucifix made out of copper. He would always wear that crucifix over his clothes until the day he died.
At the age of 20, he joined the Sarov Monastery as a novice. Eight years later, in 1786, he took the monastic vows and was given the name Seraphim. Seraphim was made a hierodeacon and then a hieromonk. He served the Divine Liturgy every day.
One day, Seraphim saw Jesus Christ Himself, who appeared in the church during a service.
Saint Seraphim got a blessing from the Monastery’s Hegumen Nicodemus to become a hermit. He settled in a forest in a remote cabin, away from people. The Saint devoted most of his time to praying, fasting, reading the Gospel and working in his vegetable garden. He spent 1000 successive nights being awake and praying on his knees. He lived in complete isolation for many years, his only visitors were wild animals.
While living in isolation, saint Seraphim was once severely injured by robbers. Even though he was physically strong and healthy, he did not defend himself and completely forgave the robbers for their crime.
Soon after, he had one more vision of the Mother of God, who blessed him to become an elder. This is when Saint Seraphim started to admit thousands of people that would come to him for advice and blessing. People remembered the elder as extremely meek and joyful, he would always greet every single person with the words, “My joy, Christ is risen!”
Shortly before his death, Saint Seraphim got very ill. On January 2, 1833, his cell attendant found the elder, who was no longer breathing, standing on his knees in front of the icon of the Mother of God.
Saint Seraphim of Sarov was canonized by the Orthodox Church on July 19, 1903.
One notable legacy of St. Seraphim is the practice of the incessant prayer at heart. He described it as follows:
"Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practise the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ, mentally saying: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner."
On this feast of Saint Seraphim, if you would like to send a prayer intention, you can do so by clicking on this link. The community of Saint Elisabeth would be delighted to pray for you during our liturgies.
St. John of Shanghai and San Francisco is one of the most venerated and loved Saints in the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as in other Orthodox Churches all around the world.