Seraphim of Vyritsa
The new saint of the Orthodox Russian Church, St. Seraphim of Viritsa (1866-1949) is one of about 1200 saints whom the Hierarchical Synod of the Orthodox Church of Russia proclaimed in 2000 AD. He is a contemporary sanctified figure adorned especially with the gift of prophecy and miracle working. He is renouned for a letter that he sent to his spiritual child, a bishop, who was in a Soviet prison at that time; this homily is written as a consolation and counsel to the bishop to let him know that God the Creator, addresses to the soul of man. St. Seraphim is commemorated by the Church on March 21.
The new St. Seraphim, of Viritsa was born Basil Mouraviov in 1866; he married and had three children. Before agreeing with his wife to separate and enter into the monastic life, he once saw a dream which he later related to his spiritual father, monk Barnabas of the Gethsemane Skete. In this dream, he was on a pilgrimage to visit a monastery of St. Nicholas and on the way there he lost his way and ventured into a forest. In the forest, an old man asked him for directions to that same monastery; the old man had a satchel on his back and an axe in his hand. He realised that this man was St. Serpahim of Sarov. The old man sat under a tree and was very soon joined by Basil's very own spiritual father, Barnabas. In this vision, even though Basil could see that he was sitting inbetween both fathers, he could not hear the discussion they were having.
At the age of 54, in 1920, he and his wife quietly separated and entered the monastic life. His wife entered the female monastery of the all Holy Virgin Mary of Iveron of St. Petersburg and adopted the name "Christina" when tonsured a nun. He entered the Lavra of St. Alexander Nevsky as a novice, in September of 1920, and a month later was tonsured a monk taking on the name of "Barnabas". He was ordained a deacon soon after and on August 29 of 1921, Father Barnabas was ordained a presbyter by Metropolitan Benjamin Kazanski.
He was renamed "Seraphim" in 1927, in honour of St. Seraphim of Sarov, when he entered the Great Habit. He eventually became the spiritual father of the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg, where, as a clairvoyant staretz, he also confessed thousands of laity. He said, “I am the storage room where people’s afflictions gather.” In imitation of his patron saint, he prayed for a thousand nights on a rock before an icon of St. Seraphim of Sarov. He reposed in the Lord in 1949 and the Church of Russia glorified him in August of 2000.
- “excerpts from The New Saint of the Russian Church, Seraphim of Viritsa” translated from the Greek by Fr. Nicholas Palis.