Saint Pelagia Ivanovna of Diveyevo, fool for Christ’s and the disciple of St. Seraphim of Sarov.
In the world Pelagia Ivanovna Serebrennikova.She was born in Arzamas and already from childhood was nicknamed “fool” for her unusual behaviour. As a young married woman she visited St. Seraphim, who conversed privately with her for a long time. On parting, the Elder bowed to her and said, “Go, Matushka, to Diveyevo and defend my orphans. God win glorify you there.” And he handed her a prayer rope. As she walked away, a young monk standing outside the elder’s cell asked him who she was. “Trust God, Fr. John,” replied the Saint, “this woman whom you see will be a great luminary for the whole world….She is Pelagia Ivanovna, from Arzamas.”
On returning home, Pelagia Ivanovna began acting as though she had gone mad, running around Arzamas and shouting inanities. For several years she endured unspeakable torments from her relatives
In Diveyevo Pelagia Ivanovna continued her tormenting struggle.
Some sisters venerated her, others abused her as a mad woman possessed by a clairvoyant demon.
Gradually, Pelagia Ivanovna began to manifest other spiritual gifts, especially the gift of directing souls.
After 20 years of asceticism, Blessed Pelagia, at the command of Seraphim who appeared to her in a dream, shut herself up in a cell, began to avoid people, became silent, sat and slept always on the floor near the entrance door, and spent her nights in prayer. She fed mainly on black bread from which she rolled little balls which served her instead of beads for the Jesus prayer. She never washed her body or cut her nails.
Pelagia Ivanovna once slapped a bishop who insisted that she should take a gift.
The painter, M. P. Petrov, was a living example of that grace-filled action through which she directed people’s hearts to the way of salvation.
“She pulled me from the depths of hell,” he said later.
She saw the whole life of any person and prophesied with clairvoyance. She appeared in dreams and performed healings. She quenched a fire at a distance. The sisters of the community, and Mother Abbess herself, took counsel with the clairvoyant blessed one. The fame of her clairvoyance spread everywhere and the blessed one was visited by many people from all ends of Russia.
Before her repose on January 30, 1884 (O.S.), she was granted to receive the Holy Mysteries from angels, as witnessed by Mother Anna. After her repose she was seen in a vision, kneeling before the Most Holy Mother of God together with St. Seraphim. Blessed Parasceva Semyonovna called her “a second Seraphim,” and she became known as “Seraphim’s Seraphim.”
Before her death she promised that those who remember her she would remember and pray for.