The Russian Orthodox Saints are a unique group of individuals who have served in the faith. This article discusses a few of these saints, including Father John, Ksenia of Petersburg, and Serafim of Sarov. Each one is a remarkable person who has had an important impact on the Orthodox faith.
Xenia of Petersburg
The Russian Orthodox Saint Blessed Xenia of Petersburg is one of the most beloved saints of Russia. After her husband died, she gave all her possessions to the poor. She spent forty-five years after her husband’s death devoted to helping the poor and the needy.
Before her marriage, Xenia was a young woman. It is thought she spent time in a monastery. When her husband died suddenly at age 26, she was widowed.
When Xenia married, she was dressed in her late husband’s clothes. Her husband was a major in the Russian army. He was a handsome man. However, the young officer had a drinking problem. Upon his death, Xenia went into hiding.
After her husband’s death, Xenia decided to seek God’s protection. At first, she did not answer her own name.
There are many pre-Schism Western saints who have become venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church. One such saint is Father John of the Russian Orthodox Saints.
He grew up in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. His upbringing was grounded in Orthodox piety and spiritual values. As an undergraduate, he studied Russian history. Later, he graduated with a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University. In 1988, the Orthodox Church in Russia officially glorified him as a saint.
Although he was raised as a Baptist, Father John later became an Orthodox Christian. After his marriage to a matushka, he was forbidden to engage in sexual relations.
For several years, he taught the Law of God in a gymnasium. His varied work soon led to honourific awards. The Orthodox church hierarchy awarded him with priestly distinctions.
St. Serafim of Sarov
Serafim of Sarov, a Russian Orthodox saint, was born in 1759 in Kursk, Russia. He died in 1833 in the Sarov Monastery. In 1903, he was canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church. Today, Saint Seraphim’s relics are kept at the Diveyevo Convent in Sarov.
Serafim’s spirituality was deeply rooted in both ancient Greek and biblical traditions. His ecumenical sacramental life, based on the Jesus Prayer, was the result of his profound prayer. Throughout his life, he was harshly to himself, yet he was also exceptionally kind to others.
When he was 19, Serafim joined the Monastery of Sarov as a novice. He served as a deacon and later a priest. After ordination, he became the spiritual leader of the Diveyevo Convent.
Several years after his ordination, Serafim retreated into a “farther hermitage” near the monastery. There, he spent the next 31 years in solitary isolation.
Ksenia of Petersburg
Xenia of Saint Petersburg, also known as Ksenia Peterburgskaia, is an Eastern Orthodox saint. She is venerated as a saint for her unconditional help to people during her life.
Xenia was born in 1731. When her husband died, she gave away all of her possessions. Xenia spent the rest of her life wandering the streets of St. Petersburg, Russia. During her lifetime, she was known as a Fool-for-Christ.
Xenia’s life is told in a major historical novel. She is considered a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church. The relics of her are in many churches all over the world. There are even 40 churches in her name. In 1988, the Moscow Patriarchate canonized her.
At age 26, Xenia married a soldier, Major Andrei Feodorovich Petrov. Xenia’s husband died suddenly. After his death, Xenia dressed in the uniform of her late husband.
Matrona fears death
Despite a tumultuous history, Saint Matrona of the Russian Orthodox Saints (or Matrona, as it was known then) has survived the ages and is still a popular name among Russians and émigrés. Aside from her famous miracle, her legacy lives on in the many Russian folktales that abound in her name.
During her time on earth, she was married to the man of the cloth, Domitian, and bore the family’s only daughter, a child worthy of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Throughout her short tenure on earth, she was subjected to a barrage of demons. She and her fellow monks had to rely on divine intervention to stave off the sexisms and sex abuses. The resulting progeny, namely the four Grand Duchesses, was the stuff of fairy tales.