January 2, 2015

The Healing Spring of Saint Seraphim of Sarov in Diveyevo

History of the Spring

One and a quarter miles from the (Sarov) monastery was a spring called the Theologian’s Spring, and over it was an icon of St. John the Theologian. Near the spring was the empty cell of the reposed Fr. Dorotheus. Making his way to the far desert past this area, Fr. Seraphim saw the Mother of God below the spring, and on the knoll were Apostles Peter and John. The Mother of God struck the ground with her staff, so that a spring welled up in a fountain of bright water from the earth. Here the Mother of God gave Fr. Seraphim commandments concerning the building of Diveyevo Convent, about which we will speak further in the course of the narrative.

Fr. Seraphim decided to dig a well over his healing spring, and completed it by his own labors. Having dug out the well, he built a frame around it and filled it in with stones. The well came to be known as Seraphim’s well. The Saint told monk Anastasius to pray to the Mother of God, and ask her to make the water in the well capable of healing diseases. “And the Mother of God,” he added, “promised to give the water a greater blessing than that of the Bethesda waters of Jerusalem.” The healings were not slow to begin. Diveyevo sister Paraskeva Semyonovna was sick and coughing. “Why are you coughing … stop, enough!” Fr. Seraphim said to her. “I can’t, Batiushka!” she answered. Then Fr. Seraphim scooped up some water with his sleeve and doused her with it. The illness immediately left her, and never returned.

From St. Seraphim Wonderworker of Sarov and His Spiritual Heritage by Helen Kontsevich (St. Xenia Skete).

The Case of Empress Alexandra (Feodorovna)

Although Empress Alexandra (Feodorovna) initially had great difficulty in converting to Orthodoxy from her native German Lutheranism, by 1903 her Orthodox faith and her veneration for St. Seraphim was deeply personal. Having given birth to four daughters, Alexandra’s lack of a male heir to the throne was giving rise to what one author called, “a private guilt with public consequences.” During her visit to the monastery for the glorification festivities, the empress went to St. Seraphim’s healing spring deep in Sarov forest and immersed herself in the water, praying for a son. In twelve months Tsarevitch Alexis was born.

‘Drink Some Water From My Spring’

In the year 1950 I had a severe liver disease. Once or twice a year I had extremely acute attacks from passing stones. The year 1953 was the most difficult: I had daily attacks of pain. It was difficult to work 8 hour days in a fairly responsible job.

I could not even think of a disability pension, because I had to look after my sick mother, who lived in the suburbs. Frequent visits to her with heavy bags only increased the pains.

Finally it was summer, and time for my long-awaited vacation. But just before it I had a worrisome time, and right at the start an attack began, which lasted for 5 days. I found myself without any medical assistance or painkillers. The stones went out, and a liver inflammation began. I was so weak, that I could hardly take care of my sick mother.

In the evenings, lying in bed, I loved to read my favorite book, ‘The Life of the Holy Father Seraphim of Sarov.’ Once, upon reading about his numerous healings, I addressed the saint in my thoughts with approximately such words: ' You cured so many people, why don't you cure me, for you see how I suffer, but I have to work for others.'

At that moment I saw St. Seraphim with my inner sight, standing beside me. He pressed his big copper cross against my sick liver, and I heard his voice, again inside of me: 'Now, drink some Holy Water from my spring, and then you will be completely healthy.'

I came to. I had a habit of analyzing my spiritual experiences, so as not to fall into temptation, that was why I thought that it could be only the product of my imagination due to the influence of what I had just read. The final words — 'drink some water from my spring' confused me most of all. From where could I get that water, if I was in Moscow and knew, that it was forbidden to approach the spring?

But the words of the wonderful elder came true the next day: I received a bottle of the Holy Water, brought that day from Sarov. They obtained the water completely 'by chance.’

In a word, I experienced a miracle, I drank that water and since then I do not have any pains and do not stop thanking the dear elder for the miraculous healing.

The Spring During Communism

When the Monastery was closed by the Soviet authorities they threw cement into the spring in the 1950's. However, in the 1960's St. Seraphim began to appear in the military zone between Sarov and Diveyevo. Many soldiers reported seeing an old man with a white cassock and a staff in hand. One night the Saint appeared before soldiers and like the Mother of God once did, he hit a rock with his staff and a spring gushed forth. The soldiers and guards were so shocked that when crowds of faithful began to come (the Saint had appeared to many and informed them), none of them prevented the faithful from coming to the spring.

When a bulldozer was used to cover the spring, it broke down and a worker had to go get another. Meanwhile the other worker sitting in the bulldozer reported seeing an old man with a white cassock coming from the forest, yelling out: "Basil, why are you destroying my spring?" Angered he responded: "Because I have orders to do so." The Saint then told him: "You will not succeed."

A replacement bulldozer could not be found. Yet after three days the bulldozer they had was ready to finish the job. However, as they were about to complete the job, they received orders from Moscow saying that the forest was nationally protected and is not under military surveillance. Basil, who was an unbeliever, told about the incident to his mother, and she took him to the nun Margarita, who was the only nun left alive from the sisterhood of pre-Revolutionary Diveyevo. She showed him an icon of Saint Seraphim and he recognized him as the old man who wore the white cassock.

The Spring Today

Today the spring still exists and is a popular place of pilgrimage. There thousands of faithful go seeking for healings and blessings.

On a wooden platform are built wooden cabins where there is holy water at the height of the platform. There believers dive into the water three times, and even if the temperature is several degrees below 0, the Russians do not hesitate to enter. Many miracles have been reported at the holy spring of Saint Seraphim, even incurable diseases.

In the forest of Sarov, with its firs and pines and stunning beauty, before 1928, when entering the place of the holy spring, one was met at the entrance by a bell tower and three churches dedicated to Saint Seraphim of Sarov, Saints Zosimas and Sabbatius, and Saint John the Forerunner.