The Twenty-Fifth Day of the Month of September
The Life of Our Holy Monastic Father
Sergius, Abbot of Radonezh
and New Wonder-worker
From The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints
Volume 1: September
compiled by St. Demetrius of Rostov
Our holy and God-bearing monastic father Sergius was born in the city of Rostov, the son of Orthodox parents named Cyril and Maria. God chose him to be His servant while he was still in his mother’s womb. One day, when his mother was yet carrying him in her womb, she went to church to attend the holy Liturgy as she was accustomed to do. When the reading of the Holy Gospel was begun, the child cried out so that all those who stood near his mother heard him. During the Cherubic Hymn he called out again, and when the priest proclaimed, "Holy things are for the holy," the child was heard a third time from his mother’s womb. From this, all perceived that he was to become a great light unto the world and a servant of the Holy Trinity. Even as Saint John the Forerunner leaped for joy in the womb before the Mother of the Lord, so did this child leap before the Lord in His holy church. His mother was seized with fear and astonishment on account of this miracle, and all who heard of it marvelled greatly. Soon thereafter, the time came for his mother to give birth, and she bore a son, who was given the name Bartholomew. From the day of his birth, he would not drink milk on Wednesdays, Fridays, or on other days of fasting. Such was the beginning of his great abstinence and fasting as a grown man.
When he was seven years old, Bartholomew began to learn to read, but he did not learn quickly, for his memory was poor. His teacher instructed him with great diligence but achieved little success. This was according to God’s providence, that the child might receive the gift of learning not from men but from God. One day, as he was walking through a forest of oak trees (from his youth he loved silence and often wandered through secluded places), he encountered a monk, or rather, an angel sent by God who had appeared in the form of a monk, standing in the forest praying. Bartholomew drew near him, stopping not far from him, and when the monk finished praying, the boy bowed down before him.
The monk asked him, "What do you seek, child?"
Answered the boy, "That I might be able to read books, Father, and understand what my teacher tells me concerning them. I am greatly vexed because I cannot read and do not know what to do concerning this. I entreat your holiness to pray to God for me that He enlighten me by your holy prayers."
The monk then prayed and blessed him, saying, "May God grant you your desire, that you may benefit others." From the time that the blessed child received the holy monk’s blessing, or rather, that of the angel, he was able to grasp every sort of book learning without difficulty, even as the earth, when it has been watered abundantly with rain, brings forth fruit, for God opened his understanding of the Scriptures.
The child grew alike in years and understanding and in the virtues. He loved fasting and abstinence and fled from the usual childish amusements, preferring rather to read sacred books and to learn the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom. Thus he advanced from strength to strength and attained maturity and perfection.
At that time Bartholomew’s parents moved from the city of Rostov to a place called Radonezh, not because that town was illustrious or renowned but because it was pleasing to God that His servant be glorified at that place. A short time after they had settled there, the blessed one’s parents were translated from this life to a place of life and refreshment, leaving all their possessions to their heir Bartholomew. Reflecting upon his parent’s repose, he said to himself, "I am also a mortal and will surely die even as have my parents." Reasoning thus concerning this brief life, the wise youth gave away the possessions that remained to him from his parents, leaving nothing for his own sustenance but rather setting his hope in God, Who gives food to the hungry. Then he departed into the wilderness and built himself a hut in which he made his dwelling, laboring for God there and praying to Him without ceasing.
After a time a certain priest-monk named Metrophanes came to the blessed Bartholomew and tonsured him into the monastic order, giving him the name Sergius. Sergius was twenty-three years old when he was tonsured. The hieromonk remained with Sergius for a few days, and then he said to him, "Child, I shall continue along my way. I commit you into God’s hands!" He also uttered this prophecy: "God shall raise up a great and most glorious monastery in this place." After he had prayed, he departed, leaving Saint Sergius there to labor in the mortification of his flesh through vigils, fasting, and various struggles.
That winter, the ground froze so hard that it split open, but Sergius bore the cold, clad in but a single garment as though he had no body. The demons, unable to bear the sight of his struggles, began their efforts to drive him from that place. Now they would transform themselves into beasts, now into serpents, attempting to frighten the saint by assailing him violently. But employing prayer as his defense, Sergius drove them off, boldly repelling their assaults as though he were rending a spider’s web. One night, an enormous company of devils fell upon him, screaming angrily, "Flee, flee, lest you die an evil death!" As they said this, huge flames came forth from their lips. Arming himself with prayer, he quickly drove off the hordes of demons. After this Sergius remained untroubled, chanting unto God and glorifying Him undisturbed.
As these things took place, Sergius’ fame spread throughout the land, and many people began to come to him from the cities and regions which lay roundabout. Some came to receive spiritual benefit while others wished to live with him and be guided by him along the path to salvation. He received with love all who came to him. First, he built a small church, which, in accordance with the wish of Theognostus, who was then Metropolitan, was consecrated in the name of the Most Holy Trinity. Then the sacred monastery was erected which exists to this day by the grace of Christ. At the request of the brethren, he was ordained to the priesthood by the Bishop Athanasius, and he shepherded well the rational flock which had been entrusted to him in the pastures of the Spirit, driving off the noetic wolves by his prayers.
After a short while, the devil, who could not bear to be driven away by the saint, again rose up against him. He transformed himself into a serpent, entered Sergius’ cell, and filled it with snakes. The saint immediately resorted to prayer, and straightway the demons vanished like smoke with all their devices. From that time God granted him authority over unclean spirits so that none of them dared draw near him.
Word of Sergius’ virtue spread everywhere, and many people continued to come to him from the surrounding districts. A certain archimandnte named Simon came from Smolensk, bringing great riches which he gave the saint to build a large church, and he placed himself in submission to the godly one. With God’s help the venerable Sergius was soon able to erect a magnificent church, and he enlarged the monastery with the gold Simon had given him.
The saint lived together with the brethren like an angel in heaven, glorifying God day and night. It happened that once there was a lack of food in his monastery, and the brethren were cast into deep sorrow because they remained without anything to eat for three days. It was the saint’s rule that the monks were not to leave the monastery to ask bread of the laity but were to put their trust in God, Who nourishes every living thing, beseeching Him for all their needs. At that time the coenobitic life had not yet been established in the monastery of the godly one. Driven by hunger, the brethren began to complain of the saint, and they said to him, "How long will you forbid us to go into the world and beg for the things we need to sustain our lives? We shall remain here tonight, but tomorrow we shall leave this place so that we will not perish from hunger."
The saint attempted to console the brethren, relating to them accounts from the lives of the Holy Fathers, which showed what manner of sorrows, hunger, thirst, and nakedness they bore for the Lord’s sake. He repeated to them the words of Christ, saying, "Behold the fowls of the air; for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. If He feeds the birds, is He not able to nourish us? Lo, now is the time for perseverance, but we are impatient and do not wish to bear even for a short while the temptations that beset us. if we were to accept them thankfully, they would profit us greatly. Gold cannot be made pure without being tried." He also prophesied to them, saying, "Our hunger shall last but a little while longer. Tomorrow there will be an abundance of all things."
The saint’s prophecy was fulfilled, for the next morning a great number of freshly baked loaves, numerous fish, and many other fresh foods were sent to the monastery by a man whom they did not know. Those who brought the provisions said, "These things are sent to Abba Sergius and the brethren who live with him by a certain man who loves Christ."
The brethren besought those who had brought the food to eat with them, but they would not. These latter said that they had been instructed to return quickly, and they hastened to depart from the monastery. When the brethren saw the great quantity of food that had been brought, they understood that God had come to their assistance, and as they ate, they gave thanks to the Lord. The provisions sufficed for the brethren for many days, and the venerable one said to them, "Behold, brethren, and marvel how God rewards patience. He will not forget his paupers until the end, neither will He ever abandon this holy place nor His servants who dwell here, serving Him day and night."
It should be mentioned that when our venerable father Sergius first departed into the wilderness, he settled in a waterless place. He did this to add to his labors, that by bringing water from afar, his body might endure much travail. Because of this, when God was pleased that the brethren should be multiplied and a monastery established, there was a great lack of water, for it could be brought from afar only with great labor. Because of this certain of the brethren murmured against the saint, saying, "Why were you so thoughtless as to settle in this place? Why did you found the monastery here, far from any water?"
The saint replied, "Brethren, I came here alone, hoping to dwell in silence in this place. As God was pleased to raise up a monastery here, He is also able to grant us water in abundance. Only do not faint, but have faith and pray. If He caused water to gush forth from a rock for the disobedient people in the wilderness, He will certainly not disdain you who labor for Him."
Taking one of the brethren, Sergius secretly made his way down into a ravine. Aged men who lived in those parts testified that water had never coursed through that gully. But when the saint, finding a bit of rain water standing in a pool, bent the knee and prayed fervently to God, a great spring suddenly appeared, which can be seen to this day. Water is drawn from this spring to supply the monastery’s every need. Moreover, many who drink of this water with faith receive healing of their infirmities.
Since our venerable father Sergius received from God the power to work wonders, he performed numerous miracles, even raising the dead. There was a certain devout man who lived near the monastery, who had an only son. The child fell ill and, weakened by sickness, died, and his father lamented for him inconsolably. The godly Sergius, seeing the man’s grief, had compassion on him. He prayed and resurrected the child, returning him to his father alive, and so the man returned to his home rejoicing, his son completely healed.
Those possessed by unclean spirits were frequently brought to Sergius, and even before they arrived where the saint was, the foul spirits were expelled from them. Lepers were cleansed and the blind given their sight: in brief, all who were held fast by infirmities and came to the saint with faith received healing of both soul and body. Having thus undergone a twofold healing, they returned to their homes. Because of this, the venerable Sergius was revered and glorified by all, and many came from various cities and lands, desiring to behold his honorable countenance and to delight in his sweet words. Many monks left their monasteries and came to him, wishing to live with the saint and be guided by him. Princes, boyars, and commoners alike hastened to our blessed father. All held him in the highest honor, even as one of the ancient fathers or as one of the prophets.
There was a certain peasant who lived far away, who, having heard much of Saint Sergius, wished to see him. He came to the monastery of the venerable one and asked where the saint was to be found. The godly one, who was at that time digging in the garden, was told of the man’s arrival.
The peasant went to the garden and saw the saint digging the earth, clad in humble apparel, tattered and patched throughout. He thought that those who had told him that this was Sergius were mocking him, for he expected to see the saint clothed in splendid apparel. When he returned to the monastery, he asked once more, "Where is Saint Sergius? Show him to me, for I have come a great distance to see him."
The monks replied, "He whom you saw is Sergius."
Then the saint came from the garden. When the peasant saw him, he turned his face away from him, not wishing even to look upon the blessed one. He thought to himself, "What great labor have I taken upon myself in vain! I came to see the mighty prophet of whom I have heard, thinking to find him in great glory and honor, but I see nothing but a poor and contemptible old man!"
The saint perceived his thoughts and thanked him greatly, for he who is humble rejoices when he is despised and belittled, even as the proud man is glad when he is praised and exalted. He took the peasant with him to the trapeza and lovingly offered him hospitality. Then he said to him, "Do not sorrow, 0 man, for soon you will see him whom you desire to behold."
As the saint was yet speaking, a herald came, announcing the arrival of a mighty prince at the monastery. The saint arose and went to meet the Prince, who had come with a great retinue. When the Prince saw the saint, he hastened to him and prostrated himself to the ground, asking the godly one’s blessing. Saint Sergius blessed him and led him into the monastery with fitting honor. The elder and the Prince sat down together while all the others stood round about. As for the peasant, he was driven far off by the Prince’s attendants. Thus he who did not wish even to look upon the saint now desired to see him from afar but was not able to do so. He quietly asked one of those standing nearby, "Sir, who is the elder sitting with the Prince?"
The man answered that it was Saint Sergius. Then the peasant began to reproach and upbraid himself, saying, "Why was I blind, refusing to believe them who showed me the holy father? Why did I not render him due honor? Rightly am I called a simpleton and a boor! How shall I now appear before the face of the saint, filled as I am with shame?"
After the Prince left the monastery, the peasant approached the godly one. Ashamed to look upon his face, he fell at Sergius’ feet, asking forgiveness and saying that he had sinned out of ignorance. The saint comforted him affectionately, saying, "Do not grieve, child; you alone have judged me correctly, regarding me as a person of no significance. The others are all deceived, for they regard me as someone great." Such was the humility of our venerable father Sergius that he loved the peasant who despised him not less than the Prince who held him in honor.
Once, late in the evening, while the blessed one was standing performing his rule of prayer, as was his custom, he prayed to God fervently for his disciples. Suddenly he heard a voice saying, "Sergius!" The saint was startled when he heard his name called out unexpectedly in the night. He said a prayer and then opened the window of his cell, hoping to discover who was calling him. What he saw was a great light shining from heaven, causing the night to become brighter than day.
Then the voice came to him again, saying, "Sergius, know that your prayer for your disciples has been heard. Look and see the great number of monks who have gathered together in your fold in the name of the Holy Trinity!"
The saint looked and beheld a great flock of beautiful birds light not only upon the monastery but all about it, singing an angelic hymn of unspeakable sweetness. And again he heard a voice, saying, "Your disciples shall be multiplied so that they number not less than these birds. After your time they will not decrease in number, and if they strive to follow in your footsteps, they shall be adorned like the winged creatures of heaven with every virtue."
The saint was astonished by this marvellous vision. Desirous that another see it and be a witness to it, he cried out for the aforementioned Simon, who lived nearby. Simon was startled by the elder’s unexpected call and hastened to him. But he was not deemed worthy to behold that vision and saw only a portion of the light from heaven. The saint related to him all he had seen and heard, and they both rejoiced and glorified God.
Some time after this Greeks came from Constantinople, sent to the saint by the most holy Patriarch Philotheus. They conveyed to Sergius the Patriarch’s blessing and gave him three gifts: a cross and a monastic paraman and schema. They also brought Sergius a letter, the text of which was as follows:
"From Kyr Philotheus, by God’s mercy Archbishop of Constantinople and Ecumenical Patriarch, to our son in the Holy Spirit and the co-servitor of our lowliness, Sergius: grace, peace, and our blessing be upon you. We have heard that the life of your divinely assembled community is exceedingly virtuous, for which we praise and glorify God. Notwithstanding, in one thing of the greatest importance you are lacking: you have not adopted the coenobitic life. As you know, 0 godly one, the ancestor of God, the prophet David, whose understanding embraced all things, counted nothing so worthy of praise as the common life, of which he could but say, Behold now, what is so good or so joyous as for brethren to dwell together in unity? Therefore, we offer you this good counsel: adopt the coenobitic life, and may God’s mercy and our blessing be with you."
After receiving the Patriarch’s letter, the venerable one went to His Grace, the blessed Alexius, Metropolitan of All Russia. He showed him the letter and asked him, "And what would you have us do, Master?"
The Metropolitan answered the elder, saying, "0 venerable one! God, Who glorifies those who glorify Him, has deemed you worthy of numerous gifts. Report of your name and way of life has reached distant lands, and even the great Ecumenical Patriarch sends counsel for your benefit. We also confirm and approve his admonition." After this the godly Sergius established the common life in his monastery, ordering that the coenobitic rule be strictly followed in his community. No one was allowed either to acquire anything for himself or to call anything his own; instead, all things were held in common, according to the ordinances of the Holy Fathers. After establishing the coenobitic life in the monastery, Sergius resolved to flee human glory, to settle in an unknown place, and to labor for God alone in silence. When he found a convenient time, he secretly left the monastery, and unknown to all, fled into the wilderness. Having walked about twenty-three miles, he found a place near the River Kerzhach that pleased him, and he settled there. When the brethren found that they had been forsaken by their father, they were cast into great sorrow and turmoil, like sheep without a shepherd, and they searched diligently for him everywhere. After a time they learned where Sergius was and went to him, tearfully entreating the saint to return to the monastery. But he did not wish to return, for he loved silence and seclusion. Therefore, many of his disciples forsook the Lavra and settled with him in the wilderness. In time a monastery and a church were erected there. Both were dedicated to the most holy Theotokos.
The brethren of the great Lavra, unable to bear to live without their father, were yet unable to prevail upon him to return to them. Therefore, they went to His Grace Metropolitan Alexius and asked him to command the venerable one to return to his former abode. The blessed Alexius dispatched two archimandrites to beseech the saint to hearken unto the entreaties of the brethren and to comfort them by returning to them, for they were grieved by his absence and had begun to disperse, leaving deslolate the holy place where they dwelt. The godly Sergius did not wish to disobey the hierarch, and so he returned to his former habitation in the Lavra, thereby consoling the brethren greatly.
Once Stephen, the Bishop of Perm, who loved the venerable one greatly, was travelling from his diocese to the city of Moscow. The road he took passed within five miles of Sergius’ monastery. Since he was in haste to reach to the city, he decided that he would not stop at the monastery of the saint but would visit the venerable one when he returned home. When he passed the monastery, he arose in his carriage, said the prayer, "It is truly meet," bowed toward the godly Sergius, and said, "Peace be to you, my spiritual brother!"
At that time the blessed Sergius was eating at trapeza. Perceiving in spirit that the Bishop had bowed, he immediately arose from the table and remained standing for a short time. Then he prayed, bowed to the Bishop, who was also standing at that moment, and said, "Rejoice also, 0 shepherd of Christ’s flock. May the peace of God be with you!" The brethren were perplexed by this strange affair, but some of them understood that the venerable one had seen a vision. After trapeza had finished, they questioned him concerning what had happened. He confessed to them, saying, "At that moment Bishop Stephen, who was on the road to the city of Moscow, stopped before our monastery, bowed down before the Holy Trinity, and blessed us sinners." Later, certain of his disciples learned that this was truly so, and they marvelled at the gift of clairvoyance God had given their father.
The monastery of the venerable one blossomed with numerous righteous men, many of whom were appointed to the abbacies of other monasteries because of their great virtue, while others were elevated to various episcopal thrones. All of them excelled in godliness, having been instructed and guided by their perfect teacher, the venerable Sergius, who was a tried doer of the Lord’s commandments and an example to his flock.
Inasmuch as Saint Sergius lived a life equal to that of the angels, he was deemed worthy to converse with the bodiless powers while yet dwelling in the flesh. When he served the Divine Liturgy, an angel of the Lord concelebrated with him, according to the testimony of his disciples Isaacius the Silent and Macarius, who were trustworthy men and perfect in the virtues. They clearly beheld an angel of God serve with the godly Sergius in the altar. Seeing the ineffable beauty of the angel, who shone like the sun, they were struck with awe.
Some time after this, Metropolitan Alexius, who had reached deep old age, perceived that his end was near. He summoned the venerable Sergius, took his episcopal cross, adorned with gold and precious stones, and gave it to the godly one. But Sergius humbly bowed down and said, "Forgive me, Master; since my youth I have worn nothing made of gold. Now in my old age I especially wish to live in poverty."
The hierarch replied, "Beloved, I know that what you say is true, but you must be obedient and accept the blessing which we bestow upon you."
And so he put the cross upon the saint with his own hands, as though he were betrothing him to the episcopacy. Then he said, "I wish you to know, 0 blessed one, why I have summoned you and what I wish to propose to you. I have tended the metropolia of Russia entrusted to me by God for as long as it pleased the Lord that I do so. But now I see that my end draws near, and I am uncertain only of the day on which I shall die. Therefore, while I am yet alive, I wish to find a man who is capable of tending Christ’s flock after me, but I have found no one but you. All the clergy to a man and all the princes and the people love you and will testify that no one is as worthy as you to be the Metropolitan. Give your consent now to be consecrated to the episcopacy, and after my repose, accept my throne."
When the venerable one heard these words, he was greatly sorrowed, for he regarded himself as unworthy of such a rank. He answered the hierarch, "Forgive me, Master, but you desire to lay upon me a yoke that is too heavy for me. It is impossible for me to accept it. Who am I, a sinner and the most wretched of all men, to dare to accept such a rank?"
The blessed Alexius cited to the saint many passages from the divine Scriptures, hoping to incline him to do his will, but he could not persuade the lover of humility to do as he wished. Finally Sergius said, "Holy Master, unless it is your desire to drive my wretchedness from these parts so that you may hear no more of me, desist from speaking of this to me, and permit no man to vex me with this matter, for no one will convince me to consent to this."
Seeing that the saint was unyielding, the hierarch ceased from speaking to him of this, fearing that if he should trouble the venerable one again with this matter, he might indeed depart for some distant wilderness and that Moscow would be deprived of a great luminary. Thus, having been consoled by spiritual conversation with the saint, he allowed him to return in peace to his monastery.
After a short time, our father among the saints Metropolitan Alexius departed from this life. The princes and all the people besought the blessed Sergius to accept the metropolitan throne of Russia, but the saint remained as unyielding as adamant. And so a certain archimandrite named Michael, who dared before his consecration to vest himself in hierarchal robes and to wear the white klobuk, was elected to the throne. He rose up against Sergius and his monastery, fearing that Sergius desired the Metropolitan’s throne for himself and would put an end to his insolence. When the blessed one heard of Michael’s boasting, he said to his disciples, "Michael boasts against this monastery and our wretchedness, but he shall not receive his desire, for his pride shall be overthrown. He shall never see the imperial city." The saint’s prophecy was fulfilled, for as Michael was sailing to Constantinople to be consecrated, he fell ill and died, and Cyprian was elevated to the throne.
In those days, by God’s providence and on account of our sins, Mamai, the Khan of the Tatars, attacked the land of Russia. Because of this the Great Prince Demetrius was cast into sorrow. But Saint Sergius aided him by his prayer and prophesied that he would emerge victorious from battle with Mamai, saying, "Go forth against the barbarians, and cast aside all doubt. God will help you, and you shall overcome your enemies, returning unharmed to your homeland."
The Great Prince, trusting in God’s aid and the prayers of the saint, left to fight the Tatars, whom he conquered. Mamai himself scarcely escaped with a small bodyguard. When the battle between the Christians and the Tatars took place, the saint was standing at prayer with the brethren in his monastery, and the godly one, being clairvoyant, beheld what was happening far away as though it were near. He declared that the Great Prince Demetrius had just defeated the Tatars and also told the brethren which of the brave Christian soldiers had been killed. He related their names and made supplication on their behalf unto God, for all things were revealed unto him by the Lord. The Prince returned in triumph from battle and thanked the saint greatly, for Sergius had mightily assisted him by his fervent prayers unto God.
One night, as our blessed father stood before the icon of the most pure Mother of God saying his usual rule of prayer, looking fervently upon the icon, he said, "Most pure Mother of my Christ, intercessor and mighty helper of the human race, be thou a mediatress for me, who am unworthy; and pray thou always to thy Son and our God, that He look down upon this holy place, which hath been dedicated to the praise and honour of His holy name unto the ages. Unto thee, 0 Mother of my sweetest Christ, who art our advocate before Him, do I make bold to entrust thy servants, for thou art a haven of hope and salvation for all."
After Sergius had prayed thus and chanted the Akathist Canon of Thanksgiving to the Most Pure One, he sat for a while and rested. Then he said to his disciple Micah, "Child, be vigilant and watch, for we are about to witness a wondrous and fearful vision."
As soon as he said this, a voice was heard, saying, "Lo, the Most Pure One comes!"
Hearing this, the saint quickly left his cell and went into the corridor, and a great light, brighter than the sun, shone upon him. Suddenly he beheld the Most Pure One with the two apostles Peter and John, shining with an indescribable radiance. When he saw this, the saint fell down, unable to endure the brilliance of that unbearable light. Then the Most Pure One touched the saint with her hand and said, "Do not fear, my chosen one. I have come to visit you because I have heard your prayer on behalf of your disciples. Do not be troubled for the monastery, for henceforth it shall suffer no want not only during your lifetime but even after you have departed unto the Lord. I shall unfailingly remain with your community, preserving it and protecting it and bestowing upon it in abundance everything needful."
After she had said this, the Mother of God became invisible, but the saint was gripped by great fear and trembling as though he had taken leave of his senses. After a little while he came to himself and found his disciple Micah lying as it were dead from fright. Sergius raised him up, but Micah flung himself at the elder’s feet and said, "Tell me, Father, for the Lord’s sake: what manner of wondrous vision was this? For my soul was nearly parted from my flesh because of this luminous vision."
The saint rejoiced in spirit and his face shone with ineffable joy, but he could only say, "Be patient, child, for my spirit is still trembling from the dread vision."
Sergius remained standing in silence and awe, and then, after a short time, he said to his disciple, "Child, call Isaac and Simon."
When Isaac and Simon arrived, Sergius recounted to them all that had come to pass, relating to them how he had seen the most pure Theotokos and the apostles and telling them what she had said to him. Hearing this, they were filled with happiness and joy, and together the four monks chanted the Service of Thanksgiving to the Mother of God. The saint remained awake throughout the night, reflecting upon the gracious visitation of our most pure Lady.
Once, as the godly one was serving the Divine Liturgy, his disciple Simon, a man of perfect life, who was at that time ecclesiarch, beheld fire enveloping both the holy table and Sergius and filling the altar. The saint was encompassed by the fire from head to foot. When the time came for Communion, the divine flame rose up, was wound like a sheet, and entered the holy chalice from which communed Saint Sergius, that worthy servitor of the altar.
Saint Sergius lived until deep old age, fasting and laboring and working numerous miracles till the very end of his life at the age of seventy-eight. The venerable one foresaw his repose six months beforehand. Having assembled the brethren, he entrusted the oversight of the monastery to his disciple Nicon, who although young was adorned with the grey hairs of wisdom and emulated his teacher and instructor, the godly Sergius, in all things. After Sergius had appointed Nicon abbot, he retired into seclusion. During the month of September the saint fell ill, and perceiving that his final departure unto God was drawing near, he called for the brethren and instructed them at length. He blessed them and forgave them, receiving the most pure Mysteries at the very hour of his repose, after which he committed his holy soul into God’s hands. His countenance was bright, not like that of a dead man but like that of a man asleep, thus clearly indicating the radiance of his soul and showing that he had received his reward from God. His precious body remained in the monastery where he had struggled manfully. After thirty years, his holy relics were found to be whole and incorrupt: not even his garments had begun to decay. They emitted an ineffable fragrance, and through them numerous healings were bestowed upon the infirm. To the present day healings gush forth from his holy reliquary as if from a spring upon all who hasten to him with faith. Thus, as Saint Sergius worked countless great miracles during his life, so he remains a great wonder-worker after his death, unto the glory of Christ our God, to Whom be honor and thanksgiving unto the ages. Amen.
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.