St. Sergius of Radonezh
Commemorated on September 25 /October 8th
St. Sergius was born in 1314 in Rostov of pious and devout parents. Even before his birth, God worked a miracle upon the future saint: while still in his mother’s womb he cried aloud three times during the Divine Liturgy. His biographer says that from this moment his mother “carried the child in her womb as if it were a precious treasure..; She guarded herself from every stain of sin, observing a fast.”
Baptized with the name Bartholomew, the growing boy was a poor student, unable to learn how to read. He often prayed to God in secret: “O Lord, give me understanding of . learning !” One day he met in the fields a holy elder of angel-like appearance who asked, “What are you seeking, my child?” The boy replied that he wished most of all to read and write. Assuring him that for his faith the Lord would give him learning, the elder at the boy’s entreaty accompanied him to his parents’ house. They all went into the house chapel and the elder told the boy to read aloud from the Psalter. “Father, I do not know how,” Bartholomew said. But after the eder commanded him to “Speak the word of God without doubt,” the boy began to read easily. Then the elder foretold to the parents that their son would be a dwelling of the Holy Trinity, that he would be great before God and man, and that he would-direct others thanks to his virtuous life.
The most exceptional feature of the life of St. Sergius is his humility. To relieve his brethren, he undertook the most lowly tasks in his monastery. He wore threadbare, patched garments so that people who met him failed to recognize him as the renowned abbot of Radonezh.
Saint Nikolai Velimirovič
A saint does not shine outwardly. All of his riches are within, in his soul. A peasant came from afar to the monastery to see St. Sergius. When he asked the monks for the abbot, they told him he was working in the garden. The peasant went to the garden, and there saw a man in poor, ragged clothes, digging like any other peasant on a farm. The peasant returned to the monastery dissatisfied, thinking that the monks had made fun of him. So, to make things clear, he asked again for the glorious holy father, Sergius. Just then, Sergius returned to the monastery, and welcomed the peasant, serving him at the table. The saint saw into the heart of his guest, and knew the low opinion he had of his appearance. He consoled him by promising that he would see Sergius in a little while. A prince and his boyars then arrived at the monastery, and they all bowed low to St. Sergius, and asked his blessing. The monks then removed the peasant from the room in order to make room for the new guests. In amazement the peasant looked on from a distance, to see that the one he had sought had been nearby all the time. The peasant rebuked himself for his ignorance, and was greatly ashamed. When the prince departed, the peasant quickly approached the saint, fell at his feet and began to beg his forgiveness. The great saint embraced him and said to him: “Do not grieve, my son, for you are the only one who knew the truth about me, considering me to be nothing-while others were deluded, taking me for something great.”
The Prologue from Ohrid: Lives of Saints by Saint Nikolai Velimirovič for Old Calendar date September 25, and New Calendar date October 8.
“He surrendered his pure, holy soul to the Lord, in the year 1392, on September 25, being 78 years of age, after his death the Saint’s body gave off an ineffable, sweet fragrance …. His face shone white as snow …. Angels preceded him after his repose and opened for him the doors of Paradise and –what he had always desired–the illumination of the Most Holy Trinity.”
Troparion St. Sergius of Radonezh— Tone 4
A zealot of good deeds and a true warrior of Christ warrior of Christ our God, you struggled greatly against the passions in this passing life; in songs and vigils and fasting you were an image and example to your disciples, thus the most Holy Spirit lived within you, and you were made beautiful by His working. Since you have great boldness before the Holy Trinity, remember the flock which you have wisely gathered, and do not forget to visit your children as you promised, venerable Sergius our father!