The Virgin

The Holy Theotokos Appearing to St Sergius- icon

One day the blessed father was praying, as was his wont, before the image of the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. Having sung the “Magnificat” of the Blessed Virgin he sat down to rest a while, saying to his disciple Micah, “Son, be calm and be bold, for a wonderful and fearful event is about to happen.” Instantly a voice was heard, “The Blessed Virgin is coming.” Hearing this the saint hurried from his cell into the corridor. A dazzling radiance shone upon the saint, brighter than the sun, and he beheld the Blessed Virgin, with two Apostles, Peter and John, in ineffable glory. Unable to bear so resplendent a vision, the saint fell to the ground. The Blessed Virgin, touching the saint with her hand said, “Be not afraid, mine own elect, I have come to visit thee. Thy prayers for thy disciples for whom thou prayest, and for thy monastery, have been heard. Be not troubled; from henceforth it will flourish, not only during thy lifetime, but when thou goest to the Lord, I will be with thy monastery, supplying its needs lavishly, providing for it, protecting it.”

Having thus spoken, she vanished. The saint, in ecstasy, stood trembling in awe and wonder. Returning slowly to his senses, he saw his disciple, terror-struck, lying on the ground, whereupon he raised him up; but the other flung himself down at the feet of the elder, saying, “Tell me, father, for God’s sake what miraculous vision was this, for my spirit almost loosed its bonds with the flesh from so resplendent a vision.”

The saint, so filled with ecstasy that his faced glowed therewith, was unable to answer other than a few words, “Wait a while, son, for I too, am trembling with awe and wonder at this miraculous vision.” They continued in silent adoration until, finally, the saint said to his disciple, “Son, hither call Isaac and Simon.” When the two came he recounted to them all that had happened, how he beheld the Blessed Virgin with the Apostles, and what a wonderful promise she had given to him. Hearing this their hearts were filled with indescribable joy, and they all sang the “Magnificat,” and glorified God. All night long the saint remained in meditation on this ineffable vision.

After a while, a Greek bishop came from Constantinople to Moscow but, although he had heard a great deal about the saint, his doubts about him prevailed, for he reasoned, “How can such a light have appeared in this savage land, more especially in these latter days?” He, therefore, resolved to go to the monastery and see the saint. When he drew near to the monastery, fear entered his soul and, as soon as he entered the monastery and beheld the saint, blindness fell upon him. The venerable Sergius took him by the hand and led him to his cell. The bishop with tears, confessed his doubts to the saint, and prayed for the recovery of his sight. The gentle lover of humility touched his blinded pupils and, as it were, scales fell from his eyes, and instantly he recovered his sight. The bishop proclaimed to all that the saint was indeed a man of God and that in God’s mercy, he himself had been deemed worthy to behold a celestial man and an earthly angel.