January 2

St. Seraphim of Sarov

Saint Seraphim of Sarov

When they lived:

St. Seraphim of Sarov, also known as Seraphim Sarovsky, lived from July 30, 1754, to January 14, 1833. His life spanned the latter part of the 18th century and the early 19th century.

Where they lived:

St. Seraphim of Sarov primarily lived in the Sarov Monastery, located in the Tambov region of Russia. This monastery, nestled in a dense forest, became his spiritual haven and the center of his ascetic life.

Notable world events during the time of their life:

  • American Revolution (1775-1783): While St. Seraphim lived far from the American colonies, the American Revolution had a significant impact on global politics and set the stage for the emergence of the United States as a world power.
  • French Revolution (1789-1799): The French Revolution, with its radical political and social upheavals, unfolded during St. Seraphim’s lifetime. This event marked a turning point in European history, influencing not only France but the entire continent.
  • Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815): St. Seraphim lived through the tumultuous era of the Napoleonic Wars. These conflicts reshaped the map of Europe and had a profound impact on Russia, where the Sarov Monastery was situated.
  • Industrial Revolution (late 18th to early 19th century): The Industrial Revolution transformed economies and societies across the Western world, ushering in a new era of technological progress and urbanization. This global shift had far-reaching consequences for humanity.
  • First Steam-Powered Locomotive (1804): During St. Seraphim’s lifetime, Richard Trevithick, a British engineer, built the first full-scale working steam locomotive. This innovation revolutionized transportation and played a pivotal role in the Industrial Revolution.
  • Publication of the Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales (1812): In 1812, the Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, published their famous collection of fairy tales. These stories continue to captivate readers worldwide and have left an enduring cultural legacy.
  • Simón Bolívar’s Liberation Movements (early 19th century): Simón Bolívar, known as “The Liberator,” was leading the struggle for independence in several South American countries during St. Seraphim’s lifetime. His efforts had a profound impact on the map of South America, leading to the creation of new nations.

Their patronage:

  • Spiritual Enlightenment: St. Seraphim is revered for his deep spirituality and the teachings he imparted. He is a patron saint for those seeking spiritual growth and enlightenment.
  • Reconciliation and Unity: St. Seraphim encouraged reconciliation and unity among people. He is often invoked by those seeking to mend relationships and promote harmony.
  • Mental and Emotional Health: Many turn to St. Seraphim for solace and healing of mental and emotional ailments. His life story, marked by a long period of isolation and prayer, offers inspiration to those facing mental struggles.
  • Nature and Conservation: Given his connection to the wilderness of Sarov, St. Seraphim is also considered a patron of nature and environmental conservation. People pray to him for the protection of the natural world.
  • Monastic Life: St. Seraphim’s life as a hermit and his dedication to monasticism make him a patron saint for monks, nuns, and those seeking a life of devotion and simplicity.

A Miracle Child

He was born on July 19, 1759 (some records say 1754), and he got baptized with the name Prokhor Moshnin by Isidore and Agathaia Moshnin in Kursk, Russian Empire. Just an ordinary boy, his father, Isidore, was a merchant.

History has it that when St. Seraphim was seven, he fell from the bell tower of the Kursk cathedral (about 3/4 stories tall), but contrary to expectations, he was unharmed. When he became gravely ill at the age of nine, Seraphim received a cure from the icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He would later experience some visions.

Seraphim was 19 in 1777 when he joined the Sarov monastery as a novice. In 1786, he took his monastic vows and took the religious name Seraphim. A year later, he became a deacon, and by 1793, Seraphim was ordained a priest at 34.

After his ordination as a priest, Seraphim took to the woods.

Life in Solitude and Confinement

Seraphim lived as a hermit (someone living separately from society for religious reasons) in a small hut in the woods for 25 years. He led an extreme ascetic life in the woods. It is stated that he only ate bread from the monastery and vegetables. At one time, he was said to have eaten only grass for three years.

While chopping wood one day, Seraphim was attacked by a gang of thieves hoping to steal money from him. Unfortunately, they found nothing of value with him except the icon of the Virgin Mary. They severely beat him up and left him dead.

Seraphim spent five months recovering in the monastery, after which he returned to the woods. He remained hunched for the rest of his life.

Devotion as a Way of Life

For every day he lived, St. Seraphim only sought a life of intense and personal devotion to God. He’s attributed to wearing peasant clothing, a crucifix around his neck, and having his hands over his chest.

Perhaps one of his most remarkable devotions, deemed a miracle by the Eastern Orthodox Church, was when he spent 1000 consecutive nights and days on a rock, kneeling with his hands upraised in prayer.

It is worth mentioning that, while in solitude, St. Seraphim welcomed everyone who visited him. Be it a man, woman, child, or animal.

In 1815, after a spiritual encounter he attributed to the blessed virgin Mary, seraphim returned to the monastery to help the pilgrims.

Notable Quotes of St. Seraphim

When St. Seraphim returned to the monastery, he taught the people about the life of prayer and meditation. Every pilgrim who met with him always left in joy, filled with the hope of the resurrection of Christ.

St.Seraphim served as a confessor to many of the faithful and pilgrims. Blessed with the gifts of healing and prophecy, a large number of people were drawn to him.

Let’s take a look at some of St. Seraphim’s quotes from his many teachings.

“Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you, thousands will be saved.”

“A sign of spiritual life is the immersion of a person within himself and the hidden workings within his heart.”

“Those who have truly decided to serve the Lord God should practice the remembrance of God and uninterrupted prayer to Jesus Christ, mentally saying, Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

“Bear sorrows for the sake of the heavenly kingdom. Without sorrow, there is no salvation. The kingdom of God awaits those who have patiently endured. And all the glory of the world is nothing in comparison.”

“It is necessary that the Holy Spirit enter our hearts. Everything good that we do and do for Christ is given to us by the Holy Spirit, but prayer most of all, which is always available to us,

On Sin and Forgiveness, St. Seraphim has this to say: “The Lord sometimes allows people who are devoted to him to fall into such dreadful vices, and thus to prevent them from falling into a still greater sin, pride. Your temptations will pass, and you will spend the remaining days of your life in humility. Only do not forget your sin”.

The Journey to Glory

St. Seraphim died on January 14, 1833. He was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 1903. Pope John Paul II, following his reverence in the Catholic Church, called him a saint.


[St. Seraphim of Sarov on OrthodoxWiki] {.ul}

5 Interesting Facts About Saint Seraphim

  • He called everyone who came to him “My Joy” and greeted anyone
    He met with “Christ is Risen”.
  • He lived, taught, and preached forgiveness. How do we know this? When
    The thieves who attacked him were arrested, and St. Seraphim pleaded to
    the judge for mercy on their behalf.
  • Are you aware that St.Seraphim is a mystic? He was reputed to
    discern the thoughts and problems of people who visited him before
    They voiced out words.
  • A Saint with the desire to share with people the inner glory of God.
    He’s on record as being the first priest or monk to have taught lay
    people the traditional monastic method of contemplation, self-
    denial and prayer.
  • Strange as it sounds, St. Seraphim is known as the Patron Saint of
    Russia’s Nuclear weapons

Prayer to Saint Seraphim

O great Saint of God, our venerable and God-bearing Father, Seraphim! Look down from the glory that is above upon us, who are humble and weak, burdened with our many sins, and ask for your help and consolation. Bend down to us in thy loving kindness and help us to carry out God’s commandments without stain, firmly to keep the Catholic Faith, to approach God in heartfelt confession for all our sins, to make progress in Christian devotion, and to be worthy of thy prayers before God. Yea, O Saint of God, hearken unto us, who pray to thee in faith and love, and despise us not who seek thee as our defender:now, and at the hour of our departure, help us and defend us by thy prayers from the wicked assaults of the devil, lest evil powers should have dominion over us; but let us be granted, by thy help, to inherit the bliss of heavenly mansions. For we place our hope in thee, O kind-hearted father:be thou indeed our guide to salvation, and bring us to the unwaning light of eternal life, by thy good intercession before the throne of the Most Holy Trinity, so that we may glorify and hymn with all the Saints, the name worthy of adoration, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, for ages of ages. Amen.