The Suffering of the Holy Virgin-Martyr Seraphima

July 29/August 11

In the days of the terrible persecutions carried out by the wicked Roman emperors, many believers suffered for Christ through various tortures. At that time, in the village of Vindena, in the house of a certain Sabina, who came from a noble family, there lived the maiden Seraphima, a citizen of Antioch. By her exhortations she led Sabina to faith in Christ.

The governor Virilus sent his servants to Sabina’s home with an order to take the holy maiden Seraphima and present her to him for trial. Blessed Sabina opposed this and tried with all her might to stop those sent from taking the maiden, but St. Seraphima said to her:

”My mistress and mother! Release me with them—you only fervently pray for me to God. I hope on my Lord Jesus Christ and I believe that He will come to me and give me strength to faithfully serve Him, although by my sins I am unworthy of this.”

However, Blessed Sabina did not dare to release the holy virgin with the governor’s wicked servants, so she went with her herself to the governor. As she belonged by birth to a notable senatorial family, the governor, seeing her before him, was bewildered, and hastened to send her home together with St. Seraphima.

Three days passed. The governor ordered to organize a tribunal on that spot where trials usually took place, and ordered the city officials to bring Seraphima. The impious authorities seized the holy maiden and led her to the trial. Blessed Sabina again followed after her. Seeing that there was no possibility of freeing Seraphima from the hands of her enemies, she cried out to the governor:

“You savage Asian dog! Dare not to do evil against God’s holy maiden. You will die, for Christ our God is with us, and He will punish you and your wicked emperors with eternal agonies for the multitude of sufferings which you have devised for the servants of the living God.”

Having thus spoke, Sabina returned home weeping.

Then the governor turned to Seraphima with these words: “Bring a sacrifice to the immortal gods, whom our emperors worship.”

Seraphima answered, “I venerate and serve the Almighty God Who has created the heavens and the earth and all that is in them. Those whom you command me to worship are not gods, but demons; it is not fitting for me to honor them, for I am a Christian.”

The governor told her, “Then come and offer to your Christ the sacrifice which was prepared for our gods.”

Seraphima answered, “I bring Him a sacrifice every day, worship Him, and pray to Him both day and night.”

Then the governor asked, “Where is the temple of your Christ? What sacrifice do you bring Him?”

Seraphima answered, “The sacrifice, pleasing to Christ, is to blamelessly preserve my virginity in purity, and to lead others to this feat with His almighty help.”

The governor asked, “That is your offering to the temple?”

Seraphima replied, “There is nothing higher than the knowledge of the true God and service to Him alone by a pious life.”

The governor said, “Are you not yourself a temple for your God, as they say?”

Seraphima answered, “As I keep myself chaste, by the almighty help of my God, then I am truly His temple. In our Holy Scriptures it says, Ye are the temple of the living God (2 Cor. 6:16).

The governor asked, “But if you are raped and they defile your virginity, do you remain a temple for your God?”

Seraphima answered him with the words of Holy Scripture: If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy (1 Cor. 3:17).

But the governor did not understand these works, and ordered Seraphima to be given into the hands of two shameless youths, Egyptian by birth, that they might be with her all night. These impious young men took her and led her to a dark temple. The holy virgin prayed to the Lord with compunction:

“O Lord Jesus Christ, the true keeper and guardian of my virginity, I call upon Thee for help! I call upon Thee, O light and eternal joy! Thou Who didst visit and strengthen Thy imprisoned apostle Paul, look down upon me and have mercy upon Thy humble slave. Deliver me from the impious lust of these youths. I pray Thee, may their eyes be darkened and may they not touch Thy handmaiden who trusts in Thee! May they not defile my body, sealed by Thy holiness. Confound their shamelessness, and permit not my defilement, but rather take me that I might present myself before Thee. And look down upon Thy handmaiden Sabina, O my good Christ, and strengthen her by Thy might, that the cruel enemy the devil may not triumph, for she has suffered much for my sake. Hear me, O Lord Jesus Christ, Who art blessed and most glorious and exalted with the Father and the Holy Spirit, unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

And lo, in the first hour of the night, when the wicked youths desired to commit their shameless deed, there suddenly arose such a great noise and a terrible earthquake began, which all those living around heard. The youths fell to the earth as if lifeless and all their members went limp. Seeing such speedy help from God, the pure maiden, raising her hands to Heaven, tearfully thanked the Lord and spent the entire night in prayer. Men were sent from the governor early in the morning to inquire whether the young men had fulfilled their desire. Entering the temple, they saw that the holy virgin was praying, and the youths were lying as if dead, having strength neither to stand nor to speak; only their open eyes bore witness that they were still alive. Many people gathered to look upon this wonder.

Having heard what occurred, the governor again ordered the handmaiden of God Seraphima to stand before him on trial, and asked her, “Have you, Seraphima, quenched your fleshly desire, or do you still burn with lust?”

St. Seraphima replied, “You, as I see, have a depraved heart and the devil dwells within it; that is why you blaspheme so. But I did not know these youths, of whom you speak, and didn’t even feel if they were with me.”

The governor said, “You thus claim that they did not spend the whole night with you?”

Seraphima answered, “He Whom I serve as a slave and Who acquired me with His blood was with me.”

The governor asked, “Who is it?” to which Seraphima replied, “My protector and keeper, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The governor said, “Why do you say so many indecent things? Better it is to tell me what sorcery you used to lead those youths into debilitation.”

The holy Seraphima replied, “It is not becoming of us Christians to study magic, but those whom you kill with your evil magic, our Lord and the Lord of all Jesus Christ does enliven, when they invoke His help.”

The governor said, “If your Christ can conquer all magical spells, then call on Him to return these youths their former bodily strength. Then we can find out from them themselves what they did with you last night. I almost believe that you used some kind of evil wizardry to deprive them of their reason, so they could not declare your impurity.”

Seraphima replied, “God, Whom I serve, is Almighty, and nothing is impossible for Him.”

The governor said, “So make it so that these young men came to, that their health would be restored, and that they could speak.”

Seraphima answered, “You still think I’m a sorceress, but I absolutely do not know any magic spells. I offer God my prayers, by which He grants that which is requested, not to me alone, but to all who call upon Him with their whole hearts.”

The governor said, “Do as you wish—only let the youths receive the ability to speak, and we will see whether you preserved your virginity.”

Seraphim responded, “I have already told you that I know no magic. I am able only to pray to God, for Him to show forth His mercy.”

The governor said, “Go to where the youths are, and pray to your God for them.”

Seraphima answered, “It is improper for me to go there, for then others will be deprived of the opportunity to see this wonder, and by their disbelief will think like you that I am a sorceress. It’s better to order that the necrotic youths be brought here.”

The governor gave the command to bring the youths to the place of the trial. When they had brought them, everyone marveled, seeing them. They were in such debilitation that it seemed they had neither tongue, nor arms, nor legs.

The governor said, “Seraphima! Now pray to your God for the young men to recover.”

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Then St. Seraphima, having raised her hands to Heaven, began to pray warmly: “Almighty Lord God! Thou didst create the heavens and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them. Thou, through Thy disciples and apostles, resurrected the dead, healed the leprous, gave speech to the dumb, and hearing to the deaf. Hear me now, Thy servant who hopes in Thee. Despise not my prayer and turn not away from me because of the unbelief of this pitiful ruler, but grant healing to these youths before the face of all those awaiting this miracle. May the fool be confounded, who in an agitated fury has raised up persecutions against those who believe in Thee. Make haste, O Lord, to reveal Thy power, that they may know that Thou art the only God Who workest wonders, and there is none other but Thee.”

Having prayed thus, the holy Seraphima approached the youths, and, touching them, proclaimed, “I command you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stand on your feet!”

The young men immediately arose and began to speak. Seeing this, everyone was terrified and amazed. But the governor said, “Did you not notice that she could not perform her magic spell until she touched the youths with her hands?” Then he turned to the young men and asked, “How was this woman able to deprive you of your minds and your bodily strength?”

The young men replied, “Lord governor! When we went in unto her by your command, then there immediately appeared some young man, beautiful and shining like the sun. He stood in between us and the maiden. From his extraordinary brilliance, fear, trepidation, and darkness, and complete debilitation fell upon us. We were in such a state from that hour until just now. Now judge for yourself whether she is a sorceress, or whether her God is truly great.”

The governor turned to Seraphima and said, “Tell me, Seraphima, by what trickery you did this, and I will immediately release you.”

Seraphima answered, “I hate all evil teachings, and every Christian can drive away any magic and sorcery, experiencing no harm from it, if only they call upon the name of their Lord.”

The governor said to her, “I see how much you are able to do with your sorcery; however, I will say to you: If you do not bring offerings to my gods, then I will order your beheading.”

Seraphima answered, “Do as you wish, but I will not bring sacrifice to your demons, and will not fulfill the will of Satan, your father, for I am a Christian.”

Then the governor ordered her body to be seared with two candles, but the candles suddenly went out, and those who burned her fell to the ground. St. Seraphima, lifting her eyes to Heaven, said, “O Lord Jesus Christ, let all my enemies be ashamed and confounded.”

The governor said to her, “Bring an offering to the gods, that you might not die in agony,” to which Seraphima responded, “I will not sacrifice to your demons, so as not to die an eternal death.”

The governor said, “A raging madwoman! Obey the royal commands, worship the immortal gods, and free yourself from sufferings and death.”

Seraphima answered, “It is you who is demon-possessed and mad, because you deny the living and true God and worship demons, with whom you will die. I offer myself in sacrifice to the immortal God, if only He will receive me in His good will, although I am a sinful, but true Christian.”

Then the governor ordered that she be beaten with sticks. When it was done, there suddenly began a great earthquake. A splinter from one of the sticks used to beat the saint broke off and hit the governor’s right eye, and within three days he was blind.

Then the governor flew into a great rage and issued the order: “Seraphima, who not only despised the royal commands, but is guilty of great evil, we command to be killed by sword.”

And the holy virgin Seraphim was beheaded.

The noble Sabina, having taken her holy body with great reverence, buried it with such honor as is befitting such a virgin and martyr of Christ, and placed her as a great treasure and precious pearl in a new grave, ascribing praise to Christ, the true God, glorified with the Father and the Holy Spirit unto the ages. Amen.

Janet Innes Bartosiewicz7/29/2018 6:36 pm
Are the remains of virgin martyr Seraphima incorrupt?
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