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The miracles of St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker Church in Sofia breathe new life into people’s faith

Photo: BGNES
In central Sofia not far from Battenberg Square stands one of the most beautiful churches in the capital city, the Russian Church St. Nicholas the Wonder Worker. It was built at the turn of the 20 c. on a plot owned by the Russian Embassy, and was aimed to serve the needs of the Russian community in this country. Starting in 1914 and during the 1920s its churchwarden was Archbishop Seraphim Sobolev.

© Photo: pravoslavieto.com

Bishop Seraphim was admired by both Bulgarians and Russians for his brilliant sermons. He would treat people with sincere affection and used to pray for the problems and pains of others. And his prayers worked. There is a story about how once during a liturgy a little girl exclaimed, “Bishop you smell sweet just like paradise!” His care spread over the Bulgarian Orthodox Church that back at that time was in isolation from the Orthodox world. Seraphim himself lived in deprivation but did his best in supporting the needy. He was the founder of the Shroud of the Holy Virgin Monastery in the Sofia suburb of Knyazhevo.

When Archbishop Seraphim passed away on 26 February 1950 the Russian Church turned out too small for all those willing to pay their last respects to him. Before he died he had told all believers to write letters to him after his demise. So, to this very day, everybody who has faith in the protection offered by Bishop Seraphim address their prayers to him in written form. You can see them in the crypt of the Russian Church seated by the tables and writing their messages. Indeed there is deep veneration for him, says Ass. Prof. Vihra Baeva from the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Studies at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences who has researched the religious practices in the Russian Church.
He has not been officially canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church, however his personality and his grave attract many believers, both Bulgarians and Russians. It could be that what attracts them most is the faith and hope in his extraordinary wonder-working abilities. Very often, in times of crisis, people who are unable to find rational solutions of their problems turn to the wonders and the supra-natural as a way of dealing with reality.

Ass. Prof. Vihra Baeva goes on to say that over time veneration for priest Seraphim grew and a range of ritual actions emerged that would be held in the crypt, the place where he had been buried. There are a few traditional practices such as lighting candles, prayer and paying homage to the relics. Given that he has not been canonized, there is no icon of his available but there is a painted portrait. His effigy can be seen on the frescoes in the crypt’s anteroom. There is a special urn by his sarcophagus for the prayer letters that believers address to him. In them people spell out their intimate desires, pains and sorrows and rely on his support. Most people ask for his help for cure and healing.

© Photo: wikipedia.org

Indeed there is plenty of evidence from people who have benefited from Seraphim’s help”, Prof. Baeva says further. “A few books with such evidence have been published. Evidence is available on the internet and is shared word-of-mouth. Priest Seraphim is known for helping pupils and students in challenging exams. This is linked to an episode in his own biography when he was to enroll in the Academy of Theology. Well, he had not enough time to get prepared in the best way, because he had found out about admission exams too late. So, he prayed to God to assist him in getting exactly the material he had gone through. This did happen and acted to boost strongly his desire and will for study and knowledge. No wonder many students from the Academy of Theology and from Sofia University come over to write letters to him before difficult exams.

Here is a recent case of healing:
It happened to a family from the town of Buhovo near Sofia. The mother said that her child had been very talkative and recited poems at age two. However at a certain point the boy suffered massive stress and started stammering to the extent of failed communication. The child got isolated from his friends and could not even visit nursery school. The mother went for advice to various fortune-tellers, clairvoyants and healers but nothing helped. By chance she came across a book about Priest Seraphim and took the child to the Russian Church. When they entered the church the boy looked very calm. The mother prayed passionately for his healing. When the two left the church the boy started chattering, just like before. She was absolutely happy but a week later the stammering problem returned. The mother took him to the church again. The stammer was back once again but after the third visit to the Russian Church the problem was resolved for good. The woman has her explanation for the need to visit the holy place three times. This had come to point out to her that it had been needless to visit fortune-tellers and clairvoyants. From that moment onwards she knew where genuine support could come from: it was all about Priest Seraphim, concludes Ass. Prof. Vihra Baeva.

Translated by Daniela Konstantinova
По публикацията работи: Darina Grigorova
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