On February 26, 1950, Archbishop Seraphim (Sobolev) of Boguchar (Bulgaria), an amazing clergyman and ascetic, a champion of purity of the Orthodox faith, fell asleep in the Lord. Born and educated in Russia, he found eternal rest in Bulgaria, the country where he served from 1921. As a theologian, he is known for his uncompromising stance against ecumenism, modernism, and the Sophianist heresy of Archpriest Sergius Bulgakov. Notably, the Bulgarians know of “Grandpa Vladyka Seraphim” not as a theologian, but more as an ascetic of piety and saint whom God bestowed with the abundant grace of performing miracles. School children and students come to “Dedushka’s” tomb at the St. Nicholas Cathedral in Sofia asking for good grades at exams; cancer patients ask for healing; and those who are in sorrow or sadness flock to him in hope of receiving consolation.
We publish below testimonials of miraculous help from Vladyka Seraphim collected by the clergy of Sofia’s St. Nicholas Cathedral (Bulgaria).
Healed of breast cancer
Story by Fr. N.N., a priest from Tetovo Village, near the town of Ruse:
In August of 1984, my wife, Matushka Marina A., discovered a swelling in her left breast. Following an initial examination by our village doctor, she was advised to go to Ruse, where all the required tests were performed. The biopsy results determined that it was breast cancer. With heavy hearts, we went to Sofia to see Professor K. and Dr. D., the latter nicknamed the “Golden Knife” by his patients. The doctors reproached us for waiting too long before seeing them but they set up a date for the surgery. When other patients at the hospital’s cancer ward learned about the two of us, they began to murmur: “Well, if a priest brings his wife here, it means God doesn’t exist.”
After our initial consultation we took time to walk along the streets of Sofia, knowing that we can only hope for a miracle. We prayed at the Church of St. Alexander Nevsky and somehow ended up next to the Russian Church of St. Nicholas the Wonderworker. While I was still at the seminary, I heard of many miracles by Archbishop Seraphim and knew how he used to tell his spiritual flock, “Come to me at my grave and I will help you.”
We lit the candles at Vladyka’s burial site and stayed there for a long time praying. I placed a note on his tomb, asking, “Batiushka, pray for Matushka Marina and help her.” Afterward I took oil from the oil lamp above his tomb and anointed Matushka’s forehead and the cancer site.
The surgery was speedily arranged. Three surgeries on young women were planned for that day. Matushka Marina went into surgery first. The tissue sample was sent for the emergency biopsy. And O, the miracle! The analysis did not show any sign of cancerous growth. Then, the second and third patients were wheeled in for surgery. Neither of them showed any cancerous growths either. The doctors were beyond amazement. “How is it possible? It’s nothing short of a miracle!” A joyful cheer was heard throughout the ward: “God exists! God exists!” Truly, God exists! Thanks be to God, we also have our Vladyka Seraphim who heard our prayers and helped us. It is nine years already and my dear matushka is alive and well!
Bus fixed “by itself”
K.P., a well-known art historian from Sofia, took a group of artists to Veliko Tarnovo by minibus; they were to take part at an art commission there. Unfortunately, a major part broke off the minibus while they were passing through an uninhabited part of the road. The driver attempted driving further, towards the next populated area, but he had to stop the bus over and over again to fix the broken part in order to keep driving. But all of his efforts were in vain. Alarmed at the situation, K.P. remembered Vladyka Seraphim who had come to her aid during different crises in her life, and she began to pray silently, asking him to fix the broken part. Sure enough, right after her prayer the bus took off and didn’t stop until they safely reached Veliko Tarnovo. As soon as they drove to the town limits, the bus driver let them off and immediately went to a service station for repairs. Later on, astonished by what had happened, he used to tell everyone how upon close inspection, it turned out that the broken car part fused back together on its own so firmly that it was close to impossible to break it apart!
A story by N.S.A. from Mikhailovgrad:
I have a son, Ts., aged thirty. About five or six years ago, he developed kidney problems. Our local doctors did tests, which showed he was born with one kidney. I insisted on him going for a consultation at Sofia’s Medical Academy. Their doctors determined that my son had two kidneys but one of them was defective, and as a renally impaired patient, he should be very careful.
Last year (in 1992), he got sick again. He was to undergo treatment in Sofia. In the meantime, I read in a newspaper how Vladyka Seraphim’s prayers helped a great number of people. That’s why I asked my son to visit the Russian church and leave a note at Vladyka’s grave with a request to pray for his health. Just before he was admitted to the hospital, he went one more time to pray at Vladyka’s grave. To his great surprise, he felt better almost immediately. When the doctors came to examine him, they determined that he is perfectly healthy. My son told them that one of the previous tests indicated that one of his kidneys was defective. However, once they turned on the equipment, it became clear that both kidneys were working properly.
In his note to Vladyka Seraphim, my son added a few more requests. During the next month, much to his joy, all of them were fulfilled.
Assistance in obtaining Bulgarian citizenship
I, the handmaiden of God, I., would like to share a story of help I received from Vladyka Seraphim. We arrived in Bulgaria in the fall of 1992 from war-torn Tajikistan. My husband is Bulgarian by nationality. In 1943, his parents were deported from Crimea as enemies of the people. I had no family connections in Russia. So, by the will of God, we ended up here with our two children. It was hard to settle down in a new country without any job or a place to live but we managed.
Our difficulties began when Bulgaria introduced a visa regime with Russia. It turned out that our second son, who had just turned thirteen, wasn’t legally residing in Bulgaria according to the new law. The ministry told us he would be expelled from the country, etc. His citizenship application wasn’t accepted as they found an error in one of the documents. At the same time, our oldest son was able to apply for citizenship. It happened in October of 2004. Every time we came to Sofia from Haskovo, we would always visit the Russian church. Vladyka Seraphim has already helped us so many times. This time I just let my tears flow freely at his grave and asked his intercession for our son’s application, the more so since Vladyka experienced the same thing himself—fleeing his beloved country, leaving home and work behind, and ending up in a foreign country. Lo and behold, our eldest son was called to arrive to Sofia a few days after he submitted his citizenship application and it turned out that both of my sons have been citizens since 1994. Owing to that, we resolved all legalization issues within a few days. I am firmly convinced that our family owes the comfort of having a place to live and our jobs during these challenging times to the prayers of Vladyka Seraphim.
Healed from sinusitis
I have suffered from sinusitis since childhood. I was tormented by frequent headaches. I was sick every time the weather turned cold but I never paid too much attention to this, never used any remedies, or sought a doctor’s advice.
I found out from a friend about Vladyka Seraphim and used to come to pray at his tomb a lot. One time, it was in 1992, as I came again to pray to Vladyka, I leaned on the marble stone with my forehead and suddenly felt a wave of warmth rushing through my veins and the taking heaviness away. Since that moment, my headaches never returned and I could breathe easily. I even forgot how ill I was before. I always give thanks to God and Vladyka Seraphim.
Help at exams
As told by A.G. from Sofia:
I used to seek Vladyka Seraphim’s help a lot and often went to pray at his grave. I am a student at the Sofia University of St. Clement of Ochrid. By God’s mercy and with Vladyka’s help, I never failed an exam.
The first two exams I had during the summer session of 1993, “Analysis, Part II” and “Differential Equations,” were very important. They are seen as the most difficult ones in the whole course of study. I studied diligently before the exams, but I was overcome with fear and it grew with every passing day, so I prayed fervently to God every evening.
I used to visit Vladyka’s grave often. Then a miracle happened: despite my extreme concerns, through Vladyka’s prayers, I received miraculous help. Every time the examining professor asked me a question, I would all of a sudden “receive” the correct answer. It was as if someone put words in my mouth. I heard the questions other students had to answer and I realized that I wouldn’t have been able to find the correct response to many of them. I was confounded by this revelation and it took me no time to realize where my correct answers “came from.” Thanks to the miraculous help from Vladyka, I received “5” (“Good”) and “6” (Excellent”) for these two exams. Moreover, I was the only one who received an excellent grade, despite the presence of a great number of diligent and capable students among the examinees who were far more talented than I. I thank God and Vladyka Seraphim for their mercy, and that not only am I continuing my studies as a third-year student, but that I rank among the top students, as well.
A story by Ya. M. A. from Sofia:
I have a cousin in Petersburg who wasn’t baptized as an infant. When he became an adult, he refused to be baptized even though the churches were opened and there was no longer any state atheism. By the way, our family was never known for being atheist and it seemed odd that this young man refused to be baptized. My aunt, his mother, and I tried to persuade and even pressure him to change his mind, but nothing helped. Then, one day, it dawned on me that I should seek Vladyka Seraphim’s prayers: I wrote a note and left it in the crypt of St. Nicholas Church in Sofia. Before long, the answer “arrived”. I can’t tell for sure, but in about a week, my cousin had to go on a business trip to a conference in Israel. He arrived in Tel-Aviv ahead of time, on a Saturday. Then, in his own words, he it looked as if everything that moves died out, and he couldn’t buy a bottle of water or do anything. Just in case, his mother had given him the number of her best friend’s daughter, a young Orthodox woman residing in Israel. My cousin thought the time was ripe to make a call, and this woman arrived promptly to pick him up and take him to Jerusalem. My cousin would later talk about this trip as if he had travelled through an alternative universe. Something unusual had happened to him during his trip. Just a week or so after returning to St. Petersburg he was baptized at the age of thirty, and the next day he received his first Communion.
Testimonial by Jasmina Nikolova1
A lot of time has passed since the moment I witnessed a miracle of healing at the tomb of “Dedushka” Vladyka Seraphim.2 It was two or three years later when I learned that the Church collects testimonials about similar miracles for the canonization of our “Dedushka.” Ungrateful is the only way I can describe myself because only now I have found the time and conscience to write about my experience. I am just like one of those nine healed lepers from the Gospels who never returned to thank Christ for healing.3 For this reason, I wholeheartedly seek forgiveness now.
It began in 2004. By then, I had been trying to live the life of a faithful Christian for two or three years. One day, my daughter, granddaughter, and I went for a walk and stopped for a cup of coffee. Soon I didn’t feel well and went back home. I felt terribly sick, so I went to bed, when all of a sudden, the name of elder Seraphim of Sarov lit up in my mind. I asked him to help me and vowed to abandon the vice of smoking. I felt better and everything was back to normal, but over time, I started smoking again, even though I was tormented by shame. I felt miserable because even though I fasted and prepared myself for Communion, I knew that I should quit smoking for good.
Despite my vow, I kept smoking. But then, at the beginning of spring in 2005, I felt sick again. As I was barely able to make it to work, I had to visit a family doctor. I thought I was having a heart attack. As I was sitting in my doctor’s waiting room, I prayed again and vowed for the second time to quit smoking. Well, I felt better, but I forgot my promise again and resumed smoking.
I knew already that something serious was happening to me and I needed help to overcome this dependency. Then I went to Dedushka’s tomb. As I prayed to both of them, Vladyka Seraphim and Saint Seraphim of Sarov, I leaned on the tomb and kept crying and praying. I do not recall what I was telling them: I kept praying with abandon. I felt relieved and left. In the morning, I had a feeling as if I never smoked before, and cigarettes have not existed in my life ever since. It is truly a miracle, just a miracle, there is no other explanation; and I need no other explanation. I experienced a miracle, and it is still with me.
What a great mercy for my sinful soul, such abundant mercy!
I bow down and send my deep gratitude to both of them.