St Seraphim of Sarov (1754 – 1833)

Tamara Penwell's icon of Saint Seraphim of Sarov

Everybody’s favourite saint. The most renowned Orthodox monk and mystic, and spiritual elder. St Seraphim was a true giant of contemplative prayer, having spent 25 years living as a hermit in the forest of Sarov. For three of those years Seraphim prayed every night, all night kneeling on a rock, with his arms raised.

St Seraphim received thousands of visitors and was known for his gift of healing. In dealing with other people he was remarkably loving and gentle, addressing others as “my joy”.

According to St Seraphim the goal of Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit. One of his sayings, much quoted is: Acquire peace within you and thousands around you will be saved.

An excerpt from the book “St Seraphim of Sarov” by Valentine Zander:

“Father Seraphim [said]: As iron committing itself to the smith I give myself over to God completely and make no move without His will. I do not say anything save what God urges me to say…

So Seraphim had attained real self-negation, to the transparency of his whole being before the divine will; he let himself be governed not by his own reason but by that other wisdom which, so often, is ‘folly’ in the eyes of men but wisdom in God’s sight (1 Cor. 1;25). […]

Healer, comforter, searcher of the secrets of the heart, partner in each man’s troubles and worries, worker of cures, seer of the future, adviser, teacher – all these charismata came from one and the same source, the presence of the Spirit of Pentecost who continues his action in the world through men [and women] of God.”