September 12, 2010

Saint Simeon of Verkhoturye, Wonderworker of Siberia (+ 1642)

Venerable Simeon of Verkhoturye (Feast Day - September 12 and December 18)

Saint Simeon of Verkhoturye was born to a noble boyar family in the European part of Russia. After the death of his parents during the Time of Troubles, Simeon moved to the Ural Mountains and settled in the town of Verkhoturye. In 1620, he moved to the village Merkushino (about 53 kilometres (33 mi), from Verkhoturye), in and around which he spent most of the rest of his life, hiding his origin and living simply as a beggar. He walked through the villages and for free sewed half-coats and other clothes, primarily for the poor. While doing this he deliberately failed to completely sew something, either a glove, or a scarf, in order to not be paid, and for which he endured abuse from his customers.

The ascetic wandered much, but most often he lived at a churchyard of the village of Merkushinsk not far from the city of Verkhoturye (on the outskirts of Perm). Simeon loved nature in the Urals, and while joyfully contemplated its majestic beauty, he would raise up a thoughtful glance towards the Creator of the world. In his free time, the Saint loved to go fishing in the tranquility of solitude. This reminded him of the disciples of Christ, whose work he continued, guiding the local people in the true faith. His conversations were a seed of grace, from which gradually grew the abundant fruits of the Spirit in the Urals and in Siberia, where the Saint is especially revered.

Saint Simeon of Verkhoturye died in 1642, when he was 35 years of age. He was buried in the Merkushinsk graveyard by the Church of the Archangel Michael.

In 1692, the coffin of Simeon miraculously rose from his grave, so that his relics were seen. Local residents regarded it as an indication for sainthood, but they could not recall his name. After that, new cases of miraculous healing seemingly related to Simeon appeared, mainly the healing of skin diseases with earth from the saint's grave. In 1693, the Siberian eparch sent a clerk named Matthew to study the reports of wonders. After contacting Metropolitan Ignatius (Rimsky-Korsakov), he was instructed to build a small symbolic cover – a "golubets" – above the grave of Simeon.

On 18 December 1694, at the Metropolitan's request, an examination of Simeon's relics and the apparent instances of healing were led by the abbot Isaac of the Dalmatian Monastery and other clerks. Merkushino was visited by the metropolitan a day later, but after listening to Isaac, who said that "an entire body was found at the grove, excluding decaying fingers on one hand and robe, and, according to witnesses, the body smelled pleasant", Ignatius was skeptical.[4] The hagiography tells how, after the Metropolitan's eye suffered an injury, he took it as a judgement on his skepticism and himself examined the relics. In the coffin that had been raised from the grave were found bone remains, tightly covered with flesh, and decaying clothes. Ignatius pronounced them as incorruptible, and, according to the hagiography, received a revelation in a dream about the name of the saint, whom he ordered be called righteous St. Simeon. On 30 December 1694 Ignatius again visited Merkushino where he examined the relics for a second time. He had them moved to a church and the coffin covered with a silk podea, and ordered that information about the saint's life be collected. After that, he wrote the hagiography and akathist of Saint Simeon.

On September 12, 1704, with the blessing of Metropolitan Philotheus of Tobolsk, the holy relics of Saint Simeon were transferred from the Church of the Archangel Michael to the Verkhoturye Monastery in the name of Saint Nicholas.

Saint Simeon worked many miracles after his death. He frequently appeared to the sick in dreams and healed them, and he brought to their senses those fallen into the disease of drunkenness. A peculiarity of the Saint's appearances was that with the healing of bodily infirmities, he also gave instruction and guidance for the soul.

The memory of Saint Simeon of Verkhoturye is celebrated on December 18, on the day of his glorification (1694).

Read also:

The Land of St. Simeon

The Relics of St. Simeon

Interesting Fact: According to the notorious Grigory Rasputin, St. Simeon healed him of his torturous insomnia after visiting the monastery where his relics lie. This event helped inspire him to embark on a pilgrimage and dedicate his life to God. When he visited the Tsar Nicholas II and his family, the Tsar wrote in his diary: "At 6:15 Grigory came. He brought an icon of St. Simeon of Verkhoturye, saw the children, and chatted with us until 7:15."