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.
      The Monk Serapion died on 8 September 1480, on the feastday of the Nativity of the MostHoly Mother of God. Since the day of repose of the Monk Serapion coincides with the twelve great-feasts, his memory is made on 7 September. A tropar and kondak to the monk were compiled.
      The Monk Evphrosyn himself gave over to the earth the body of his disciple, who from his fervent deeds had transformed himself into mere "bones, covered by skin". The Monk Serapion was not separated from his spiritual father even after death: their holy relics were placed alongside each other, and to the Monks Evphrosyn and Serapion there was composed a common service on 15 May, wherein the Monk Serapion is glorified as the first co-ascetic, "companion and friend" of the Monk Evphrosyn.

1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.

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