The Monk Serapion of Pskov
Commemorated on September 7
The Monk Serapion
of Pskov was born at Yur'ev (now Tartu), which then was under the rule of
Germans, who sought to stamp out Orthodoxy. His parents were parishioners of a
Russian church in the name of Saint Nicholas. The Monk Serapion was versed in the
Holy Scripture and more than once he entered into the defense of Orthodoxy.
When they wanted to convert him by force to the foreign faith, he departed to
the Tolvsk wilderness, not far from Pskov, where the Pskov ascetic monk
Evphrosyn (Comm. 15 May) began his prayerful work. Under his nurturing the Monk
Serapion began to acquire the wisdom of wilderness life. But soon he happened
to undergo temptations: on the basis of his own powers he wanted without
blessing to quit his guide and in complete solitude to start independent
ascetic life. But the Lord brought the inexperienced novice to his senses:
having seriously hurt his leg, he repented his self-will and disobedience and
returned to the elder. Having taken on the great schema, for 55 years he dwelt
constantly with the Monk Evphrosyn, strictly keeping the vow of silence.
Brethren began gradually to gather around the Monk Evphrosyn, for which the
elder built a temple in the name of the Three Hierarchs and gave a skete ustav
(rule). The Monk Serapion zealously fulfilled everything commanded of him and
was a role-model for the monks. The monk so strictly fulfilled the monastic vow
of uncovetousness, that a copyist of his life called him "an unburied
corpse". He bore every insult with extraordinary humility, always blaming
only himself alone, and he himself asked forgiveness of his insulter. The monk
deeply sensed the power of in-common church-prayers and he said, that "the
order of the twelve psalms" sung alone in the dell cannot equal one
"Lord, have mercy" sung in church.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.