September 25, 2010

The Testimony of St. Sergius of Radonezh at the Council of Florence

St. Sergius of Radonezh (Feast Day  - September 25 and July 5)
By St. Dimitri of Rostov

The Life of our holy monastic father Sergius and accounts of his numerous miracles are to be found in a separate book printed in the royal city of Moscow. In this book the following miracle is recounted.

After the ungodly Council of Florence a multitude of pious hierarchs and priests did not wish to submit to the errors of the Latins and were put to death by the Romans by means of various tortures. Now there was a certain priest from the land of Great Russia who went to the council with Isidore, the Metropolitan of Kiev, who later fell from Orthodoxy. The presbyter’s name was Symeon, and he endured many afflictions and torments for piety’s sake at the hands of the apostate Metropolitan Isidore. When he was released from his bonds, he took counsel with Thomas, the envoy from Tver, and fled from the Latin city of Florence to his own land. Because of the hardships of the journey, he was troubled and cast into great sorrow. Once, when he laid down to rest, he fell into a dream and beheld a venerable elder standing above him. The elder took him by the right hand and said, "Did you receive the blessing of Mark, the Bishop of Ephesus, who follows in the footsteps of the apostles?"

Symeon replied, "Sir, I have indeed seen the wondrous and resolute Mark and received his blessing."

The elder said, "God’s blessing is upon that man, for the vain assembly of the Latins has utterly failed to prevail over him either by offers of wealth or flattery or threats of torture. As you have heard the blessed Mark’s teaching and instruction, proclaim to all the Orthodox wherever you go that, possessing the traditions of the holy apostles and the ordinances of the holy fathers of the Seven Councils and knowing the truth, they should be not deceived by the Latins. Moreover, do not be troubled by the journey’s difficulties, for I will remain with you and shall keep you from harm."

After the venerable elder had said this and much else, the presbyter asked him, "Sir, tell me, who are you, for it seems to me that it was God that sent you to lead us who are in despair out of this strange land."

"I am Sergius, to whom you once prayed and to whose monastery you vowed to come," replied the elder.

After seeing this vision the presbyter took heart and arose, and he told his companion Thomas that which he had seen and heard. Rejoicing, they continued along their way; and soon, by God’s providence and through the prayers of their intercessor, the godly Sergius, they reached the land of Russia unharmed. They told the people of the vision and the help they had received from the saint, proclaiming that which the presbyter had heard, and they related all that had occurred at the Council of Florence.

It is fitting that this account be retold at the present time when sacred piety is mocked and suffers persecution at the hands of the Romans. Seeing our venerable father Sergius standing unshaken like a pillar, even after his repose denouncing the Council of Florence as most iniquitous, the children of the Eastern Church should not be deceived by the vain arguments of the Romans concerning the faith. For our faith, according to the Apostle, is not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; not in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.