Appearance of the Most Holy Theotokos to St. Sergius of Radonezh
Commemorated on August 24
Once, late at night, Saint Sergius (1314-1392) was reading an Akathist to the Mother of God. Having finished his habitual rule, he sat down to rest a bit, but suddenly he said to his disciple, Saint Micah (May 6):”Be alert, my child, for we shall have a wondrous visitation.” Scarcely had he uttered these words than a voice was heard: “The All-Pure One approaches!”
Saint Sergius rushed from the cell to the entrance, and suddenly it was illumined by a bright light, brighter than the sun. He beheld nearby in imperishable glory the Mother of God, accompanied by the Apostles Peter and John. Unable to bear such a vision, Saint Sergius reverently prostrated himself before the Mother of God. She said to him, “Fear not, My chosen one! I have come to visit you. Your prayer for your disciples and your monastery has been heard. Do not be troubled, for your habitation shall prosper, not only in your lifetime, but also after your departure to God. I will be with your monastery, supplying its needs abundantly, and protecting it.” Having said this, the Mother of God became invisible.
For a long time Saint Sergius was in an inexpressible rapture, and having come to himself, he raised up Saint Micah. “Tell me, Father,” he asked, “what is the meaning of this miraculous vision? My soul nearly left my body from terror!” But Saint Sergius was silent, and only his luminous face spoke of the spiritual joy which he had experienced. “Wait a bit,” he said finally to his disciple, “my soul also trembles because of this wondrous vision.”
After a while Saint Sergius summoned two of his disciples, Saints Isaac and Simon, and shared with them the vision and the promise of the Theotokos. They all sang a Molieben to the Mother of God. Saint Sergius spent the remaining part of the night without sleep, calling to mind the divine vision.
The appearance of the Mother of God at the cell of Saint Sergius, at the present place of the Serapionov chamber, was on one of the Fridays of the Nativity Fast in the year 1385. The commemoration of the visit of the Mother of God to the Trinity monastery and of Her promise was reverently kept by the disciples of Saint Sergius.
In memory of the visit of the Mother of God at the Trinity-Sergiev monastery, an Akathist to the Most Holy Theotokos is sung on Fridays, and a special service in honor of the appearance of the Mother of God is celebrated at the monastery on August 24, on the second day of the leave-taking of the Feast of the Dormition of the Most Holy Theotokos.
O Champion General, we your faithful inscribe to you the prize of victory as gratitude for being rescued from calamity, O Theotokos. But since you have invincible power, free us from all kinds of perils so that we may cry out to you: Rejoice, O Bride unwedded.
An Angel of the first rank was sent from heaven to say to the Theotokos: Rejoice! (3) And perceiving You, O Lord, taking bodily form, he stood in awe and with his bodiless voice cried aloud to her as follows:
Rejoice, through whom joy shall shine forth;
Rejoice, through whom the curse shall vanish.
Rejoice, fallen Adam’s restoration;
Rejoice, redemption of Eve’s tears.
Rejoice, height that is too difficult for human thought to ascend;
Rejoice, depth that is too strenuous for Angels’ eyes to perceive
Rejoice, for you are the throne of the King;
Rejoice, for you hold him Who sustains everything.
Rejoice, star that shows forth the Sun;
Rejoice, womb in which God became incarnate.
Rejoice, through whom creation is renewed;
Rejoice, through whom the Creator becomes an infant.
Rejoice, O Bride unwedded.