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Re: [orthodox-synod] Hieromartyr Seraphim of Dmitrov - part 1

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  • VladMoss@aol.com
    HIEROMARTYR SERAPHIM, BISHOP OF DMITROV and those with him Bishop Seraphim, in the world Nicholas Ioannovich Zvezdinsky, was born on April 7, 1883, into a
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 23, 2003
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      and those with him

      Bishop Seraphim, in the world Nicholas Ioannovich Zvezdinsky, was born
      on April 7, 1883, into a family of yedinovertsy, converts from the Old
      Believers. His father had secretly left his father, a prominent member of the
      priestless sect of the Old Believers, and then been ordained at a young age
      in St. Petersburg. John Zvezdinsky set about converting his erring brothers
      to the Church of Christ. Soon his zealous words had won him many followers.
      His brothers became yedinovertsy, and in Moscow the schismatics joined the
      Orthodox yedinovertsy Church in their thousands.

      Seraphim was called Nicholas in Holy Baptism in honour of the hierarch
      St. Nicholas. In the second year of his life he lost his meek and prayerful
      mother. Thereafter he lived under the supervision of his father, his kind
      nurse and his sister. Early in the morning he would be brought into the
      church for Mattins, where he would go to sleep. His father was very insistent
      that he should not remain at home, saying:

      "Let him sleep, but in the church."

      The strict customs of yedinovertsy worship instilled in the young
      Nicholas the habit of attending services without laziness; he learned
      chanting and reading on the kliros. He would stand on a little stool by the
      analoy, look into the Psalter and clearly and loudly read the words of the
      Prophet David. Once he went through the royal doors into the altar, to the
      astonishment of his father, who was standing by the altar. The people praying
      were not offended, but saw in this a sign from God that the young boy would
      himself become a church-server standing before the altar of God.

      After leaving primary school near the yedinovertsy church, Nicholas was
      transferred to the Zaikonospasskoye school in Nikolskaya street in Moscow. On
      the way to the school there were many chapels, and the young pupil and his
      companions did not pass them by but went into all of them, praying for
      success in their studies. With the kopeks given to him for his breakfast,
      Nicholas would buy candles and place them before the wonderworking icons: to
      the All-good Quick Hearer, to the Great Martyr Panteleimon in his chapel, to
      the Vladimir icon of the Mother of God at the Vladimir gates, to St. Sergius
      at the Elijah gates, or to St. Nicholas in Nikolskaya street.

      Kolya was good at his studies, but suffered a lot from his boisterous
      school-fellows, who, seeing his quiet and meek bearing, would take away his
      breakfast or the little money which his father had given him for his
      schooling and food.

      After leaving the school, Kolya went to the seminary. Two of his peers
      there were the future bishops Gabriel Krasnovsky and Nicanor Guduchi. The
      young Kolya was very attracted to another quiet orphan brought up without a
      mother by a nanny - Tanya, the daughter of some neighbouring factory-owners
      who considered themselves higher than clergy children. Kolya did not draw
      close to Tanya, but only admired her from a distance.

      At this point the Lord visited Kolya with a wonderful visitation. Kolya
      fell ill with inflammation of the lymph glands. This illness had carried a
      class-mate of his to the grave, and the young Nicholas was bound to go the
      same way. He suffered unbearable pain. For two months he could not sleep. His
      temperature was high. The doctors explained to the sorrowing father that the
      infection of the blood was irreversible and they had no way of saving him.

      Having lost his wife, and standing now at the death-bed of his beloved
      son, the father sobbed inconsolably, begging the Lord to save the life of his
      son. The Lord heard his prayer.

      The abbot of Sarov used to visit Fr. John in connection with the
      conversion of the schismatics, of whom there were many near Sarov. This time
      the igumen brought with him an icon of the God-pleasing Sarov elder Seraphim
      who was beginning to be glorified throughout Russia by his miracles.

      "Father Protopriest!" said the igumen. "Do not despair of the life of
      your son. The elder Seraphim works glorious miracles and is able to intercede
      before the Lord for the healing of your Kolya. Ask him - he will console

      Touched, the father went up to the bed of his suffering son Kolya and
      said to him:

      "Here's your doctor, Kolya, ask him, and he will heal you!"

      And the dying youth quietly and firmly took hold of the icon of the
      elder Seraphim in his hand and tearfully began to pray for help and healing.
      His prayer was heard. He had not slept for two months already, but now in his
      tears he softly fell into a peaceful sleep. And, O wonder! On waking, he did
      not feel the slightest pain, but everything around him was wet from the pus
      which had flowed out.

      "What's this?" the thought flashed through his head. "Am I healed?"

      And he felt a heavenly sweetness in his heart and clearly knew that he
      was delivered from the terrible disease.

      The news of the miraculous healing through the prayers of the elder
      Seraphim were immediately sent to Sarov: "To his Reverence, the Abbot of the
      Sarov monastery, Igumen Hierotheus. Your Reverence, deeply respected Igumen
      Hierotheus! It is good to keep the secret of the king, but it is commendable
      to preach the wonderful works of God, says the Scripture.

      "I have the honour to inform your Reverence of the following event in my
      family: my son Nicholas, 18 years of age and a pupil in the third class of
      the Moscow theological seminary, fell ill this last January 12, 1902 with a
      swelling under the right armpit (lymphatic inflammation). At that time I
      informed you of my son's illness and suffering. His illness got worse from
      hour to hour, and the patient became exhausted and began to have fainting
      spells. This lasted until January 28. On that unforgettable day, at six
      o'clock in the evening, I received from your Reverence the book The Life of
      the Elder Seraphim and his icon on white tin-plate. I brought this icon to my
      suffering son; I asked him to cross himself and with faith to kiss the image
      of the saint. With difficulty he crossed himself, kissed the icon and placed
      it on the painful place... O wonderful miracle! The illness disappeared, the
      sufferings ceased, the patient became calm. During the night, as he was
      sitting in his bed, he was praying and several times kissed the icon. At 5
      o'clock in the morning he lost consciousness and fell asleep; an hour later
      he woke up and asked for his sister, saying:

      "'I'm all wet, I must have been sweating profusely'.

      "But she saw that the abscess had burst, and that the bed and the
      bedsheets were all covered with pus. At the present time my son is completely

      "Such is the mercy of God which has been shown to my son Nicholas
      through the prayers of the holy Elder Seraphim. I and my children witness to
      this with our signatures and the seal of our names. Your Reverence's
      fervently grateful fellow-struggler in prayer and obedient servant,
      Protopriest John Zvezdinsky, dean of the yedinovertsy churches and of the
      Moscow yedinovertsy church of the Holy Trinity.

      "July 30, 1902, No. 144, Moscow. Nicholas Zvezdinsky, Michael
      Zvezdinsky, Anna Zvezdinsky."

      This healing was the more miraculous in that, as became clear at the
      inquiry, two doctors, an allopath and a homeopath, were called to the side of
      the sick youth. Both witnessed to the seriousness of the patient's condition.
      But their remedies did not help him, and the doctors themselves did not
      ascribe the healing to them. The witnesses of the event and the sick youth
      himself firmly believed that the healing was the work of God through the
      prayerful intercession of the God-pleaser Seraphim.

      The doctors gave their witness concerning the miraculous recovery under

      On receiving the news, the Holy Synod petitioned the emperor concerning
      the opening and glorification of the holy relics of the Elder Seraphim, who
      was unceasingly pouring forth streams of miraculous help to all those who
      called on him with faith. When the emperor acceded to their request, the
      Synod ordered Protopriest John Zvezdinsky to compose the service to the
      God-pleasing wonderworker Seraphim of Sarov, which Fr. John did with zeal,
      displaying a wonderful gift and warmth of faith and love for the Elder

      The troparion and kontakion were composed by Fr. John in gratitude for
      the saving of the life of his son.

      The youth Nicholas, who had been healed in body, was also healed in
      soul. His heart no longer yearned for Tanya, it burned with love for God and
      his merciful healer, it burned with desire to give his miraculously prolonged
      life to the glory of God.

      Soon he became a reader in the seminary and began to preach to the glory
      of the Holy Trinity.

      His fiery words set the hearts of people on fire, his listeners burned
      with love for God and the Church of Christ. Hierarchs, teachers and students
      marvelled at the depth of his words. He was particularly eloquent when
      speaking about Holy Communion.

      Nicholas Zvezdinsky graduated as one of the best students, and in 1905
      entered the Moscow Theological Academy.

      In his third year Kolya lost his father, who died on January 6, 1908.
      His father's house was occupied by his successor, another rector of the
      Trinity-Vvedensky church. His sister was living with her husband, and his
      nanny went to live in the country.

      At this point the Lord sent Nicholas a spiritual father who took the
      place of his father. Near the Holy Trinity Lavra in the quiet Zosima
      hermitage there lived a hermit, Hieroschemamonk Fr. Alexis. The fiery student
      was led to him.

      Fr. Alexis embraced his young spiritual son with all his heart, took him
      completely under his direction and became his elder. Kolya felt that through
      the power of the prayers of the holy hermit everything earthly had left him
      and his spiritual heart was set on fire. He conceived a desire for a pure
      monastic life. At the shrine of St. Sergius, Kolya, together with two student
      friends of his from the Academy, vowed to devote the whole of his life to God
      in monasticism.

      The first student received the tonsure and became the future Archbishop
      Philip of Astrakhan. The second was attracted by a girl and broke his vow.
      But just before his marriage he unexpectedly fell down dead.

      "God exists, and is a jealous God," said the rector of the Academy in
      his funeral speech.

      The youth who had vowed to betroth himself to God was not allowed by God to
      betray Him, and the jealous God took him to Himself before he could betray
      Him. The sorrowful bride decided to devote herself to God for her betrothed;
      she took the tonsure and by her strict fulfilment of her monastic vows strove
      to redeem her guilt before God of having drawn the youth onto another path
      than that which he had sworn to follow.

      The young Nicholas Ivanovich fulfilled the oath that he had made at the
      shrine of St. Sergius.

      On September 26, 1908, he received the monastic tonsure and was ordained
      to the diaconate. The enemy fought strongly against the ascetic, not wanting
      him to become a monk. By night he was assailed by fears with regard to
      everything spiritual. When this did not work, the devil used the girl whom
      Nicholas Zvezdinsky had loved so long and so tenderly. Unexpectedly she began
      to look for him. But although the young student felt drawn towards her and
      earthly happiness, still, calling on God, he rejected this temptation and
      hastened his steps to the elder Alexis, who in his hermit's cell blessed him
      not to delay in taking the tonsure.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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