February 13, 2020

Saint Seraphima of Sezenovo (+ 1877)

St. Seraphima of Sezenovo (Feast Day - February 13)

Saint Seraphima, in Baptism named Euphemia Morgacheva, was born on September 14, 1806 in the village of Nisne-Lomov in the diocese of Ryazan to a large peasant family. She refused to marry, and her parents did not interfere, seeing her natural tendency to solitude.

When she was eighteen she went on a pilgrimage to Kiev, and on the way received the blessing from the clairvoyant recluse John of Sezenovo. He advised her to not stay in Kiev, saying that the hens and the chickens will soon need her to watch over them. By this he predicted her future as abbess of the Sezenovsky Monastery.

Upon her return home, she learned to read and write and began to read the Holy Scriptures in her free time. Her parish priest Peter and the recluse John guided her spiritual life.

One day a dog bit her on the leg, and she was not able to walk, leaving the ascetic no hope of a recovery. As her family worked in the field, Euphemia was alone in the house, and a certain man appeared to her and told her that she will recover. He immediately disappeared, and when her family returned they found Euphemia healed.

In 1825 all her relatives decided to move to the Samara province. John the Recluse advised her to stay where she was, so she stayed. Sad to be separated from her family, Euphemia began to pray with tears, and an unknown voice said to her: "Do not be afraid!"

With a sorrowful heart she obeyed her shepherd, whom she visited in Sezenovo, to stay in her native village. There, strangers had already taken possession of her home. The peasants built her a small cell, but for some reason they couldn’t put a stove before the spring, and she spent the winter without a stove. Finally, in the spring her cell was arranged.

Euphemia only left her cell to worship and to visit John the Recluse. She spent her time praying and reading in her cell. For food she knitted and spun for the villagers, and took what they could give as payment. Sometimes Father Peter and other good people brought her food. So she lived until 1833, until she built herself another, larger cell, where she took one old woman to live with, with whom she lived until 1840.

In 1838, the recluse John built a church in Sezenovo in honor of the Kazan Icon of the Mother of God. He entrusted the construction of it to the old woman Daria, who lived in Sezenovo, and Euphemia was instructed to collect donations for this temple. A year later, the blessed recluse passed away. Euphemia in the autumn of 1840 moved to a small cell in Sezenovo. She was then 34 years old.

Euphemia was loved by all for her simplicity, directness, and the same kindly attitude to all. At this time, the future abbess had already begun to show signs of the gift of insight. In Kozlov she often visited the house of the widow Pridorogina. She had a daughter, Anna, who was twenty years old. Euphemia called her "Treasury" and, giving the money collected in the bag, she said to her: "Oh, my dear Treasury, take the money and hide it!" Thirteen years later, in 1855, Anna Pridorogina entered the Sezenovsky Monastery and as long as Euphemia was abbess she was a treasurer for her, and then became the abbess of the Troekurov Monastery. Her monastic name was Anfisa.

When Euphemia said goodbye to her parents, she did not even know where they would settle and whether they would ever see each other again. After seventeen years, while collecting money at a temple in the Samara region, she accidentally ended up in the village where they lived and met them. Joy, tears, stories - all merged into one, and the consequence of this was that her beloved brother Ignatius, who was unmarried, went as a wanderer to the holy places, attended the opening of the monastery in Sezenovo, and then became a hieromonk of the Dimitriev Monastery in the Ryazan diocese.

Thanks to the efforts of Euphemia, the Sezenovsky Monastery was opened in 1849, and in 1853 it was renamed the Ivano-Kazan Monastery. The Lord visibly helped Euphemia in her labors. So, when Daria instructed her to order the best artists for the iconostasis, Euphemia only had 30 rubles. However, in a short time she was sent seventy large icons. Then they needed church utensils, but again there was no money. Euphemia selected the necessary utensils in the store and asked to hold them until she collected the necessary amount. The next day, she accidentally passed by this store, and the owner suggested that she take these things, because some gentleman came after her and gave money for them.

When the old woman Daria refused to be the abbess of the monastery, Euphemia was elected. She was tonsured in a schema with the name of Seraphima, was later confirmed as abbess and granted a pectoral cross. She founded the Holy Trinity Church in the monastery over a well constructed by the old woman Daria with the blessing of the recluse John. In the lower floor, the recluse John and the old woman Daria were buried; Mother Seraphima was buried here later.

The temple was surrounded by sisters' cells, a refectory and an orphanage with an elementary school, where children also studied crafts. Outside the fence were two large hostels.

Abbess Seraphima was entrusted with a great and difficult duty: she never lived in a monastery before, but had to not only build the monastery and temples, but also establish monastery rules for the sisters. With her meekness, she managed to accustom everyone to proper obedience, so that each sister carried her duties not only without a murmur, but also with joy. Seraphima expressed her love to every person: she mourned every grief, trying to console and help the poor. She hid her fasting, and when it exhausted her and became noticeable, she said: "An ailment happened to me." She did not part with the prayer rope, and noetic prayer hardly left her lips.

From six o’clock in the evening they read the lives of the saints, then Vespers. At 12 a.m. the rule was read to her. Then she was left alone and prayed the whole night. Often she went to pray at the tombs of the recluse John and the old woman Daria.

The last time Seraphima was in the temple was on November 23, 1876, then she no longer left her cell. During the winter, she often communed of the Holy Mysteries. On Saturday and Sunday, she partook of the Holy Mysteries, then with great reverence listened to the Canon for the Departure of the Soul. After that, she asked the priest to stay, saying: “Why are you leaving? Who will stay here? For now I’m leaving! Who will serve the funeral? Who will pray with my sisters and children during my departure from this world?”

She was tonsured in the Great Schema with the name of Euthymia fifteen minutes before her death. She answered all the questions clearly, only the answer to the last question was not intelligible. But she thanked the priest and asked for something to taste. Having barely tasted the orange that was served to her, she began to lose consciousness. The crowd of sisters and people around her did not want to part with her, despite all the requests not to disturb the dying woman. Everyone wanted to look at her again. She reclined on a sofa with her eyes closed, tilted her head twice, and her soul flew peacefully to the sky. The blessed death of the Saint came at 12 noon on September 14, 1877.

In 1930 the Soviets closed the Sezenovsky Ivano-Kazan Monastery and it fell to ruin. In 2005 the burial sites of Daria and Seraphima were found and the monastery began to be rebuilt again.