Uncovering of the relics of the Venerable Seraphim of Sarov

Uncovering of the Relics of Saint Seraphim, Wonderworker of Sarov: The glorification of St Seraphim of Sarov (January 2), took place in 1903, seventy years after his repose. On July 3, 1903 Metropolitan Anthony of St Petersburg, assisted by Bishop Nazarius of Nizhni-Novgorod and Bishop Innocent of Tambov, transferred the saint’s relics from their original burial place to the church of Sts Zosimus and Sabbatius. Tsar Nicholas II and Tsarina Alexandra provided a new cypress coffin to receive the relics. This cypress coffin was then placed inside an oak coffin and remained in the church until the day of the saint’s glorification.

At noon on July 16, the first day of the festivities, Metropolitan Anthony offered a Memorial Service for the ever-memorable Hieromonk Seraphim in the Dormition Cathedral. Services also took place in the monastery’s other churches.

The next day Metropolitan Anthony and Bishop Nazarius served a Memorial Liturgy in the Dormition Cathedral. At 5:00 that afternoon, the bells of Sarov began to ring, announcing the arrival of Tsar Nicholas and his family. Metropolitan Anthony greeted them and then led them to the Dormition Cathedral for a Service of Thanksgiving.

The royal family attended the early Liturgy on July 18th and received the Holy Mysteries. Later that morning, the final Memorial Service for the repose of Hieromonk Seraphim’s soul was offered in the Cathedral. These would be the last prayers offered for him as a departed servant of God. From that time forward, prayers would be addressed to him as a saint. At 6 P.M. the bells rang for Vigil, the first service with hymns honoring St Seraphim, and during which his relics would be exposed for public veneration.

At the time of the Litia during Vespers, the saint’s coffin was carried from the church of Sts Zosimus and Sabbatius and into the Dormition Cathedral. Several people were healed of various illnesses during this procession. During Matins, as “Praise ye the Name of the Lord” was sung, the coffin was opened. After the Gospel, Metropolitan Anthony and the other hierarchs kissed the holy relics. They were followed by the royal family, the officiating clergy, and all the people in the cathedral.

On July 19, the saint’s birthday, the late Liturgy began at 8 o’clock. At the Little Entrance, twelve Archimandrites lifted the coffin from the middle of the church, carried it around the altar, then placed it into a special shrine. The long awaited event was accompanied by numerous miraculous healings of the sick, who had gathered at Sarov in large numbers. More than 200,000 people came to Sarov from all across Russia.

The festivities at Sarov came to an end with the dedication of the first two churches to St Seraphim. The first church to be consecrated was over his monastic cell in Sarov. The second church was consecrated on July 22 at the Diveyevo convent.

In 1991, St Seraphim’s relics were rediscovered after being hidden in a Soviet anti-religious museum for seventy years. Widely esteemed in his lifetime, St Seraphim is one of the most beloved saints of the Orthodox Church.