Serge Chévitch

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Serge (Chévitch) was a Russian Orthodox staretz. He was born August 3, 1903, in the Hague, where his mother’s father served as the Russian ambassador, and given the baptismal name of Cyril. With the blessing of St. Silouan the Athonite, he was tonsured a stavrophore monk on November 18, 1941, taking the name of Serge (of Valaam). He lived with his spiritual father, Archimandrite Stéphane (Svetosarov), rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Vanves (Hauts-de-Seine), who introduced him to the monastic life according to the spiritual traditions of Valaam Monastery where he had lived.

Fr Serge was ordained deacon on September 11, 1945, and priest the next day at the St Alexander Nevsky Cathedral on rue Daru, Paris. He was then appointed rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in Vanves. Shortly after, he was also appointed abbot of the Skete of the Holy Spirit in Mesnil-Saint-Denis near Trappes (Yvelines). During this time, Father Serge began a correspondence with the staretz Chariton, abbot of the monastery of Valaam, who gave him many useful tips for his spiritual life.

Fr Serge made two visits and pilgrimages to Russia in 1947 and in 1977, but otherwise did not travel during his life as a monk, anxious to ensure his parish perfect continuity of liturgical services and to be constantly present and available to all who needed him. He had the qualities of a true elder, which earned him recognition as such, far beyond France's borders, by the greatest spiritual figures of our time, whether the Father Sophrony (Sakharov) with which he was always linked to friendship, Father (now Saint) Justin Popovich or the Athonite elders Ephrem of Katounakia, Charalampos (Dionysiates), and (now Saint) Paisios (Eznepidis).

He was chosen as spiritual guide and father by figures such as Nikolai Berdyaev, Vladimir Lossky, and Jean-Claude Larchet. Bishops, abbots, priests, monks and faithful throughout the world, many famous and even representatives of the Russian intelligentsia, sought his advice and made their confessions to him. Yet he had only very few disciples. This was primarily due to his great humility. He willingly repeated that the spiritual life is essentially what we are, not in what is said. Father Serge never preached, choosing instead to occasionally read a patristic text.

At the beginning of Lent 1985, Father Serge fell seriously ill. In early October 1986, the disease struck again, more seriously than the last time. Fr Serge was able to return to Vanves, but June 3, 1987 he was struck by paralysis and had to be hospitalized again. An x-ray revealed that the cancer had spread to several organs of the body. On July 25, Fr Serge received communion and, very gently and in great peace, surrendered his soul to God.


Jean-Claude Larchet, Le starets Serge. (Cerf, 2004)