Orthodox America

  St. Seraphim Begins the Journey Home

Before his repose in 1833, St. Seraphim of Sarov prophesied that like the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus his departure from the world would be followed by a period of gross impiety, when the very leaders of the Church would no longer believe in the chief dogmas of the Faith. Then the Saint would return to life, to his convent at Diveyevo, and there begin preaching worldwide repentance. "And then soon will come the end of everything."

    In 1921 the Soviets confiscated the Saint's relics and their whereabouts became a mystery. It was speculated that some believers had managed to recover them and had hidden them until danger of their being defiled had passed. The Saint's prophecy gave confidence that through God's Providence his relics would not suffer harm and eventually be revealed.

      Indeed, this winter Patriarch Alexis II appointed a special commission which was given permission from the state to investigate the crypt of Leningrad's Kazan cathedral, for years now a museum of atheism, where various relics were stored or exposed to deliberate mockery. Among these, carefully labeled, were discovered the relics of St. Seraphim. 

The relics were first transferred to the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra, and then, on February 7, to Moscow by train, accompanied by the Patriarch and several bishops.

      Along snow-covered streets the relics were carried in procession from the train station to the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Epiphany, where they are now located----a distance of several miles. Gold-vested priests, bishops and metropolitans with the Patriarch in their midst, were joined by thousands of believers among them, several Diveyevo nuns---in an outpouring of spiritual elation.

     There is talk--and great hope -- that this summer the relics will be carried to Diveyevo, some 450 miles east of Moscow, stopping briefly in cities and villages along the way to allow the faithful to venerate and pray before the relics. The plan is to reach Diveyevo on August 1, the anniversary of the opening of the Saint's relics in 1903. 

     That such an event actually took place is still another sign of improved Church-State relations and also of the tremendous upsurge of religious interest. But there is here something more. Apart from Saint Seraphim's being such a wonder-worker, a genuine mystic who was seen transfigured by the brilliance of uncreated light, his association with the resurrection of Russia gives this event a unique significance. Together with joy at the Saint's 'return', the Orthodox Christian has a sense here of something apocalyptic. Are we spiritually prepared for "the end of everything?"