Saturday, March 25, 2017

Last apparition of the Mother of God
to Saint Seraphim.

   One year and nine months before his departure from this world, St. Seraphim was favoured by a wonderful visitation of the heavenly Queen. This was Our Lady's twelfth visit to him. It took place early in the morning, on the feast of the Annunciation, March 25th, 1831. It was a kind of premonition of his blessed end and of the incorruptible glo­ry which awaited him. "Mother Eupraxia", an elderly nun of the "Diveyev Convent" who died on the 28th of March, 1865, wrote of this wonderful event as follows:
   Father told me two days in advance to come to him on that day. When I came, Father announced: "We shall have a vision of the Mother of God," and making me bend to the ground, he covered me with his mantle and read over me out of a book. Then, lifting me up, he said:
   "Now hold on to me and don't be afraid of anything."
   At that moment, there was a noise like the noise of a forest in a strong gale. When it subsided, we heard singing which sounded like church singing. Then the door of the cell opened of itself, it became light, brighter than day, and the cell was filled with a fragrance like that of rose-scented incense, only better.
   Father was kneeling with his hands raised to heaven. I was terrified. Father stood up and said: "Don't be afraid, child. It is not a misfortune, it is a mercy sent to us by God. Here is our most glorious, most pure Lady, the most holy Mother of God coming to us!".
   Two angels were walking in front, holding-one in his right hand and the other in his left-branches, which were just bursting into blossom. Their hair looked like golden flax and lay on their shoulders. They stood in front. They were followed by St. John the Baptist and St. John the Divine. Their garments were white, shining with purity. After them came the Mother of God who was followed by twelve virgins.
   The Queen of Heaven was wearing a mantle similar to the one painted on the icon of Our Lady of Sorrows. It was glistening, though I cannot say what colour it was; it was of inexpressible beauty, fastened under her neck by a large round buckle or clasp studded with crosses vari­ously adorned, but with what-I don't know. I only remember that it shone with an extraordinary brightness. Her dress which was covered by her mantle was green, girded high up by a belt. Over the mantle there was a kind of epitrachelion, and on her wrists were cuffs; all these were covered with crosses. She seemed taller than all the vir­gins. On her head was a high crown richly adorned with crosses; it was beautiful, wonderful, and shone with such a light that my eyes could not look at it; nor could I look at the buckle or clasp, or at the face of the heavenly Queen herself. Her hair lay loose on her shoulder and was longer and fairer than that of the angels.
   The virgins came after her in pairs. They wore crowns and garments of various colours. They were of different statures, and their faces were also different as well as their hair which lay on their shoulders. All were of great beauty, but some were more beautiful than others. They stood round us all. The Queen of Heaven was in the middle.
   The cell became spacious and its top was filled with flames which seemed like burning candles. It was lighter than at midday, but it was a special light unlike the light of day; it was brighter and whiter than sunlight.
   I was terrified and fell down. The Queen of Heaven came up to me and, touching me with her right hand, said: "Stand up, girl, and don't be afraid of us. Just such maidens as you are, have come here with me."
   I did not feel how I got up. The Queen of Heaven graciously repeated: "Don't be afraid. We have come to visit you."
   St. Seraphim was no longer on his knees, but was standing on his feet before the most Holy Mother of God, and she was speaking to him as graciously as if he were one of her own family.
   Filled with great joy, I asked Fr. Seraphim where we were. I thought I was no longer alive. Then, when I asked him: "Who are these?", the most holy Mother of God told me to go up to the virgins and ask them myself.
   They were standing in order on both sides as they had come: first, the Great Martyrs Barbara and Katharine; second, the Protomartyr St. Thekla and the Great Martyr Marina; third, the Great Martyr and Queen St. Irene and St. Eupraxia; fourth, the Great Martyrs Sts. Pelagia and Dorothea; fifth, St. Macrina and the Martyr Justina; sixth, the Great Martyr St. Juliana and the Martyr Anicia.
   I went up to each of them, and each told me her name and the labours of her martyrdom and life for Christ's sake similarly to what is written of them in the Lives of the Saints. They all said: "God did not grant us this glory for nothing, but for our suffering and revilement. You will suffer too."
   Much of what the most Holy Mother of God said to Fr. Seraphim the sharer of his vision could not hear, but this she heard: "Do not leave my virgins," (the Diveyev sisters).
   Fr. Seraphim replied: "O Lady! I am gathering them, but I cannot man­age them by myself."
   To this the Queen of Heaven answered: "I will help you, my beloved, in everything. Impose upon them obedience. If they do it, they will be with you and near me; but if they lose their wisdom. they will be de­prived of the lot of these near virgins of mine. There will be no place or crown of this kind for them. Whoever offends them will be struck by me; whoever serves them for the Lord's sake will be remembered be­fore God."
   Then turning to me, she said: "Look at these virgins of mine and at their crowns. Some of them left an earthly kingdom and riches, de­siring the eternal and heavenly Kingdom. They loved voluntary pov­erty, they loved the Lord alone, and you see what glory and honour they have been granted. As it was before, so it is now. Only the former martyrs suffered openly, and the present ones do so secretly, through heartfelt sorrows, but their reward will be the same."
   The vision ended with the most Holy Mother of God saying to Fr. Seraphim: "Soon, my beloved, you will be with us," and she blessed him. All the saints bid him farewell. St. John the Baptist and St. John the Divine blessed him, while the virgins and he kissed one another's hands.
   I was told: "This vision was granted you by the prayers of Fr. Seraphim, Mark, Nazarius and Pachomius." And then in an instant everything vanished. This vision lasted more than an hour.
   After that, Father turned to me and said: "You see, mother, what grace has been granted us sinners by the Lord. This is already the twelfth time that I have had such a vision from God. And now the Lord has granted it to you!. We have had something which justifies our faith and hope in the Lord. Conquer the enemy-the devil-and be wise in all your dealings with him. The Lord will help you in everything. Call to your help the Lord and the Mother of God, and the saints, and re­member poor me. Remember and say in your prayer: O Lord, how am I to die?... How shall I appear before the awful judgment, O Lord?... What answer shall I give for my deeds, O Lord?... Queen of Heaven, help me!".

Archimandrite Lazarus (Moore) (2009), An Extraordinary Peace: St. Seraphim fame of Sarov, Anaphora Press, Port Townsend, WA, United States.