Did St. Seraphim of Sarov (already) rise from the dead?


 ~Part 1: The Prophecy of St. Seraphim of Sarov~

[From the notes of Motovilov (1809-1879), as found in the Eighth Chapter of "On the Bank of God's River" by S. A. Nilus (1862-1929).]

S. A. Nilus

"Many times I heard from the mouth of the great God-pleaser, the Elder, Fr. Seraphim, that he would not lie in Sarov with his flesh. And behold, once I [Motovilov] dared to ask him: 

"Batiushka, you deign to say all the time that with your flesh you will not lie in Sarov. Does that mean that the monks of Sarov will give you away?" To this Batiushka, smiling pleasantly and looking at me, deigned to reply to me thus: "O your Godliness, your Godliness, what are you saying! For, why was Tsar Peter a king of kings and wanted to translate the relics of the holy pious Prince Alexander Nevsky to Petersburg, but the holy relics did not want this?" 

"How did they not want it?" I dared to answer the great Elder. "How did they not want it, when they repose now in Petersburg in the Lavra of St. Alexander Nevsky?" 

"In the St. Alexander Nevsky Lavra, you say? But how can that be? In Vladimir they reposed openly, but in the Lavra they are buried-why is that? Because," said Batiushka, "they are not there." And after speaking much in detail on this subject with his divinely-speaking lips, Batiushka Seraphim informed me of the following: 

"Your Godliness, the Lord God has ordained that I, humble Seraphim, should live considerably longer than a hundred years. But since by that time the bishops will become so impious that in their impiety they will surpass the Greek bishops of the time of Theodosius the Younger, so that they will no longer even believe in the chief dogma of the Christian faith, therefore it has been pleasing to the Lord God to take me, humble Seraphim, from this temporal life until the time, and then resurrect me; and my resurrection will be as the resurrection of the Seven Youths in the cave of Ochlon in the days of Theodosius the Younger." 

St. Seraphim with N.A. Motovilov

Having revealed to me this great and fearful mystery, the great Elder informed me that after his resurrection he would go from Sarov to Diveyevo, and there he would begin preaching worldwide repentance. For this preaching, and above all because of the miracle of resurrection, a great multitude of people will assemble from all the ends of the earth; Diveyevo will become a Lavra, Verryanova will become a city, and Arzamas a province. And preaching repentance in Diveyevo, Batiushka Seraphim will uncover four relics in it; and after uncovering them, he himself will lie down in their midst. And then soon will come the end of everything."

[The text of this prophecy is as found in the "Little Russian Philokalia", Volume 1: St. Seraphim of Sarov, 2008 version]

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~Part 2: The "Official" Story~

After the Canonization of St. Seraphim in 1903 his holy relics continued to rest at Sarov Monastery until 1927 when the God-hating Bolsheviks seized them. What follows is the "official" version of events in summarized form:

In April of 1927 the relics were taken to Moscow and placed in an anti-religious museum. Due to their popular veneration, they were subsequently sent to the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad), which at that time was a  "Museum of Religion and Atheism." There they remained hidden for over sixty years, until it pleased God to reveal them once again.

 In December of 1990, the decision was made to remove the museum of religion and atheism from the Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg. In one of the storage vaults which contained tapestries, a large bast mat was found. When this mat was unfolded, the relics of a  saint were discovered inside. These relics could not be identified according to the inventory lists of the atheist museum. 

The relics wore a copper cross, and gloves were on the hands. On one glove was embroidered "Holy Father Seraphim," and on the other, "Pray to God for Us." A Church commission was formed and, making use of the document that had been compiled at the opening of the saint's relics in 1921, the members came to the indisputable conclusion that these were in fact the relics of St. Seraphim.

Afterwards, the leadership of the Moscow [Soviet] Patriarchate, with the assistance of the communist leadership of the USSR arranged a solemn transfer of the newly discovered relics across the country. The relics visited various cities including Moscow before arriving in Diveyevo. The celebrations were financed mainly from the state budget.

Seemingly, according to this "official" version of events, the words of St. Seraphim (as related by Motovilov): "after his resurrection he would go from Sarov to Diveyevo" have come to pass.

Thus the MP Metropolitan Nicholas (Kutepov) of Nizhny Novgorod boldly stated: "Father Seraphim predicted that his resurrection would be like the resurrection of the seven youths in the Ochlon cave in the days of Theodosius the Younger, and upon his resurrection he would move from Sarov to Diveyevo and there he would open a sermon of world repentance. In this sense, one should understand the uncovering of the relics of St. Seraphim: they are found and raised..." 

Additionally Patriarch Alexy II proclaimed: "The last page of the Diveyevo Chronicle has been turned over. The relics of St. Seraphim of Sarov passed through all of Russia - from the city on the Neva through Moscow, the Moscow Region, Vladimir Land, Nizhny Novgorod — and arrived at the Trinity Diveyevo Monastery. The prophecy of the great old man has come true."

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Is this, however the resurrection, referred to in the prophecy? Or do we await a literal resurrection of St. Seraphim? Were the authentic relics of St. Seraphim really discovered in the early 1990's? Or do they remain hidden yet still?

~Part 3: Five Unofficial Revelations~

Revelation 1: Nun Seraphima (Bulgakova) of Diveyevo (1903 - 1991), who was a direct witness to the seizure of St. Seraphim's relics by the Chekists in 1927, reveals:

Nun Seraphima (Bulgakova)

"Finally, on Monday of the week of the Cross, the communist authorities came and gathered all the holy things into a heap: the miraculous icon of the Life-Giving Spring, the cypress log in which for 70 years St. Seraphim's relics had rested in the earth, the coffin in which this log lay, and other things. They burned these in a bonfire near the northern exit from the Dormition Church, between the church and the Royal Suite. Novice Boris managed to photograph this.

But the relics of St. Seraphim, that is, his bones, just as they were tied in his mantia and clothing - all this the authorities tied together and placed in a blue chest. They sealed the relics and then divided [themselves] into four groups, going off in various directions. They wanted to conceal where they were carrying the relics. 

They brought the chest with the holy relics to Arzamas by way of Unuchino. There they stopped, lodged for the night and fed the horses. No matter how hard they tried to conceal things, when the troika with the holy relics entered the village of Kremenki, they began to peal the alarm.

The relics were brought straight to Moscow, where they were received by a scientific commission. Fr. Vladimir Bogdanov* managed to join himself to this commission. When they opened the box, according to the witness of Fr. Vladimir, there were no relics. That is what his spiritual children said. 

[*Fr. Vladimir Bogdanov, of the Russian Orthodox Catacomb Church, died on November 10, 1931. He was considered to be an Elder, and the Optina Elders sent many people for spiritual advice to him.]

Fr. Vladimir Bogdanov

The reposed Vladyka [Saint] Athanasius Sakharov, who was later in exile together with Fr. Vladimir in Kotlas, said the same thing.

They said that when the blasphemers arrived at their place of rest for the night, they locked the box with the holy relics in a barn, and took the keys themselves. But they were very drunk..."

(Source: "Moscow Church Herald" No. 2-3 (89-90), 1993, pg. 7)

[Thus, according to Nun Seraphima of Diveyevo, the relics never made it to Moscow as the "official" version relates - claiming that from Moscow they were sent to a religious museum in Leningrad.]

Revelation 2: The Catacomb Archbishop Lazarus of Tambov reveals [he was made a Bishop for the Catacomb Church by the ROCOR in the early 1980's]: 

"In 1966 I was in Diveyevo with some Tambov and Diveyevo nuns. We arrived on the day of St. Seraphim, July 19 / August 1. We prayed a cell rule, as laypeople usually do when they are without a deacon or priest. The next day we went to the Kazan spring. Then Matushka Anna (Troyegubova) led me round the canal. Two nuns came up to us and told us about the place in Diveyevo where the relics of the saint are hidden. Not all the Diveyevo nuns knew about this, but only certain chosen ones.

'We are old, we could die, but you are young, and we are handing this knowledge on to you,' they said.

Archbishop Lazarus of Tambov

And they showed me the place. The story of the acquisition of the relics from the godless is as follows: Matushka Anna had lived since the age of ten in the monastery. Her brother, Fr. Gideon, later a martyr, lived in Sarov. In 1927 the monastery was closed, and he lived nearby as a woodcutter. When the godless came to take the relics away to Moscow, he learned about this and sent his sister, Matushka Anna, to Diveyevo, to tell the abbess: 'They're taking away the relics of St. Seraphim'.

Then the abbess prepared her nuns, and they came to Arzamas, where the monastery had a guest-house which the Bolsheviks had taken away, although nuns continued to occupy part of it. 

In the evening the chekists came with the box. The nuns stuffed them with sausage and vodka so that they were lying around senseless. Then they nailed up the box, took the relics of St. Seraphim, loaded them onto a horse and took them to Diveyevo. There they hid them, and only a few trusted people know about the place. That is the story, exactly as they told me. 

When they brought the relics from Moscow in 1991, the inhabitants of Diveyevo did not believe in their authenticity, and one nun, Matushka Euphrosyne, who knows the truth, cried out when they brought the relics: 'Don't believe them.' But they locked her up."

(Source: Orthodox Russia, Jordanville, NY – No. 22, Nov. 15/28, 1991)

[According to this unofficial version the "Red Church" (Moscow Patriarchate) did not find the true relics of Saint Seraphim of Sarov. "The holy relics did not want this" and "are not there" as St. Seraphim revealed in his prophecy (when speaking of the relics of St. Alexander Nevsky, and directly before speaking of his own relics and resurrection)! They are still hidden...]

Revelation 3: We also remember the prophecy of Blessed Pelagia of Ryazan (1890-1966): 

"The relics of St. Seraphim are in Moscow** with a certain pious old woman. An Angel of the Lord, in time, will order her to reveal to the First Hierarch that she has the relics of St. Seraphim! These holy relics will be carried on their shoulders through Kashira, along the Volgograd road, through Mikhaillov to Tambov, and from there to Sarov. In Sarov St. Seraphim will rise from the dead!"

Blessed Pelagia of Ryazan

[**It is possible that the relics were moved from Diveyevo to Moscow in late 1966. Considering this possibility: there may not be a contradiction between the accounts of Vladyka Lazarus and Blessed Pelagia.]

Revelation 4: It is also written that "In all his known appearances since 1991, the Monk Seraphim of Sarov testifies to only one thing - that these are not His relics. 

“My relics are not Mine”, “I have always accepted all of your kisses and prayers directed to me, but I will not confirm the truth of these relics by healing directly from them”, “I have healed you, but where? On the Kanavka, at the springs, at the icons, but not at the relics", "I am not in Diveyevo, I am in Moscow. In Diveyevo, I, having resurrected in Sarov, will come alive with the Tsar. "

Revelation 5: And finally, Archbishop Pavel (Golyshev, 1914-1979), who successively occupied the sees of Astrakhan, Novosibirsk, and Vologda [a bishop of the Moscow Patriarchate], who later lived in retirement in Belgium [he was persecuted by the KGB], in the 1970s openly testified that the relics of St. Seraphim of Sarov were safely hidden and were in the possession of a certain layperson, and that Patriarch Alexy I (Simansky) was well aware of this.

 (Source: From the correspondence of Fran├žoise Loest (Brussels) of June 17, 1997).

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~Part 4: conclusion~ 

The research presented here has not been offered to testify, beyond any and all doubt, that the relics of St. Seraphim of Sarov either were discovered (resurrected) in the early 1990's or that they remain hidden and we therefore await a literal resurrection of the Saint. 

Being certainly not an expert on this subject, and recognizing that certain perceived facts could be put forward to support either version of events - this text simply attempts to present the other "unofficial" view as it is not widely known or considered. 

This research has also, consciously, not addressed the allegation made by some that elements within the Moscow Patriarchate deliberately presented false relics to present the illusion of a truly resurrected Russia. This consideration lies outside of the scope of this presentation.

That being said, we are all free to research and pray concerning these matters in order to form our own viewpoints. Personally, I consider it likely that the Saint's relics remain hidden to this day and we await a literal resurrection of St. Seraphim! People are free to agree or disagree with this tentative assessment! 

May we all obtain unto the Eternal Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ through the prayers of His All-Holy Mother and St. Seraphim the wonder-worker of Sarov!

The holy relics of St. Seraphim of Sarov (1903)

The candle has yet to be completely devoured... Let whomsoever is able understand.