The saints bring people closer to God. They pray for us in the distant heavenly abode. It is perfectly natural for people to preserve the remaining vestiges of their lives and reverently honor what has once belonged to them.
Nowadays, multitudes of pilgrims flocking to the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery have the opportunity to see Venerable Seraphim of Sarov's personal belongings. After his death, the Diveyevo sisters collected the items and reverently preserved them at the cemetery church of the Transfiguration, where the altar was made out of logs from the elder's faraway hermitage. The church's glass cases displayed the following: his cloak, stole, cuffs, soft broadcloth cap; his roughly cut prayer beads strung on a leather string, handmade by the elder himself and used for taming the possessed by putting them on; a lock of the venerable father's hair tied in a knot; his leather half-mantle her used to protect himself from heat or rain; leather booties, bast shoes, leather mittens, and black sheepskin coat Father Seraphim wore over his cassock during his twilight years. Additionally, the case displayed his shirt, stockings, knife, axe blade, candleholder, and fragments from the stone the venerable father prayed upon.
Зимняя шапка, кожаные рукавицы, холщовый мешочек, ботинки, часть камня, на котором молился преподобный Серафим в лесу, его волосы в серебряной коробочке
The Diveyevo sisters have preserved almost all the personal possessions of their beloved Father Seraphim. While showing them, they would say affectionately: "Here are his bast shoes, he worked hard making them himself; and here are his clothes, all patched up, for he, our batyushka, used to patch it up all by himself. Here are his mittens and his axe, he used to spend all his time working, toiling away."
The pilgrims used to reminisce how devoutly the sisters preserved Venerable Father Seraphim's possessions: "The love surrounding these relics defies description, so solemn was the sisters' attention to the holy items, as they literally would not allow a speck of dust to settle on them. A sister who demonstrated the sacred objects to me, seeing my reverential respect, tearfully covered me with the father's stole and allowed me to venerate his cross. I felt as if Father Seraphim himself, through the hand of his obedient nun, gave me his blessing at that moment."
Дивеевская Преображенская кладбищенская церковь, где до революции хранились вещи преподобного Серафима
When the Sarov and Diveyevo monasteries closed, the Saint Seraphim's holy items did not vanish. Most of them were safely preserved by Hegumenia Alexandra (Trakovskaya), who lived in Murom and passed away in 1942, and nun Maria (Barinova). In 1980, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Pimen, nun Maria passed them to Protopresbyter Victor Shapovalnikov. Over the next nineteen years, with the blessing of His Holiness Patriarch Pimen, Father Victor became a guardian of the icon of the Mother of God "Tenderness" and personal possessions of Venerable Father Seraphim. Giving his blessing to this honorable deed, His Holiness said: "God willing, you will live long enough to deliver them to their destination." That moment came in 1991, when Father Victor handed over the Venerable Seraphim's icon of the Mother of God "Tenderness" and its frame to His Holiness Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexey II. A Patriarchal honorary letter of recognition stated: "Very Reverend Father Victor! By giving thanks to Our Lord and His Most Holy Mother for the miraculous deliverance of the holy relic of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery - its miracle-working icon of the Mother of God, as well as other holy and sacred objects, I express my heartfelt words of gratitude to you and matushka Maria Borisovna for your efforts to safely protect the great treasure of our Holy Church."
Протоиерей Виктор Шиповальников. Уголок с дивеевскими святынями в его доме. Храм в Удельном, где служил о. Виктор
On December 19, 1999, the Diveyevo monastery received the following items: the Deisis icon from the Venerable Seraphim's cell that used to hang at the Transfiguration cemetery church; the icon of the Mother of God "Of the Passion"(handed over to Diveyevo sisters by Father Seraphim during his lifetime with instruction to keep an inextinguishable oil lamp before it); his bast shoes, two of his half-mantles (a leather and a woolen one), his peasant overcoat, stole, a cuff, monk hat, winter cap, undershirt, mittens, his burnt footstool, an axe, part of the monastic paraman cloth and prayer ropes, his lifetime portrait, and some icons of Diveyevo style. It was as if Father Seraphim gave his blessing to the Diveyevo monastery one more time.
Father's personal possessions are currently displayed in a glass case at the Trinity Cathedral. The case is located next to the shrine with the holy relics of Venerable Seraphim. The Transfiguration Cathedral of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery has a large, life-size icon of Venerable Seraphim of Sarov who is depicted standing in front of the Sarov monastery. Father's woolen half-mantle is encased inside. The Church of the Nativity of the Mother of God offers for veneration the icons of Our Lord the Savior, Mother of God and St John the Forerunner, formerly from the Venerable Seraphim's cell.
A few of Venerable Seraphim's sacred objects are safely preserved by the Museum of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery in the house of blessed Paraskevi of Diveyevo. The items on display there include the elder's lifetime portrait, a small fragment of the stone that the venerable father prayed upon, a burnt book of martyrs that father was reading right before his death, and a piece of paper with some unusual writing, presumably written by the venerable father himself. The Diveyevo sisters preserved part of father's undershirt and a candle end from his cell. Handing over the candle end to the sisters of the Community by the Mill, the holy Sarov elder urged them to keep it safe and prophesied that he would be greeted in Diveyevo with this candle. The sisters fulfilled father's bequest and safely kept the candle for almost 160 years. His newly uncovered relics were greeted in 1991 in Diveyevo with that candle. His prophecy was thus wonderfully fulfilled.
Армяк, рубашка и носки, мантия, епитрахиль и поручи преподобного Серафима
Now, as before, the pilgrims reverently review the personal possessions of Venerable Seraphim in an attempt to visualize what the holy elder was like in real life. With due reverence and faith in God's grace sent forth through the prayers of elder Seraphim, they flock to these deposits of miracles.