Seraphim of Vyritsa

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Icon of St. Seraphim of Vyritsa.

Our venerable and God-bearing Father Seraphim of Vyritsa (1866-1949) is a monastic known especially for his gifts of prophecy and miracle-working. He is also known for a letter that he sent to his spiritual child, a bishop who was in a Soviet prison at that time; this homily "This was from me" is written as a consolation and counsel to the bishop to let him know that God the Creator addresses to the soul of man. He is one of about 1200 persons whom the Hierarchical Synod of the Orthodox Church of Russia proclaimed saints in 2000 AD. St. Seraphim is commemorated by the Church on March 21.


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. Seraphim 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 between 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 Iviron 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, 1921, 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.

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