The Monastery of Venerable Seraphim
Venerable Seraphim had received a special command from the Mother of God to care for the Diveyevo monastery. His care and concern for the Diveyevo nuns had been inseparable from his unceasing prayerful attention to the Mother of God.
Venerable Alexandra (Melgunova), the founder of the Diveyevo monastic community, sought help from the Sarov monastery's Hyerodeacon Seraphim, well known for his pious spiritual life, and asked him to take her small community of nuns she had founded under his spiritual care. He was quite reluctant to accept this duty at first, taking it on only after many years of ascetic spiritual labors. A great God-pleasing man, he carried the burdens of a hermit - fasting, reclusion, silence, and stylitism – leaving it only after receiving a command from the Queen of Heaven. Thereupon, he took on the duties of an elder, or a starets, and the doors of his hermitage opened to welcome all and any God-seeking visitors. That is when his half-a-century-long monastic life began to bear fruit. The power of his prayerful intercession and his great love were readily shared with all those yearning to receive spiritual comforts.

"How could I neglect those for whom Mother Agatha Semenovna beseeched me? She was a great maiden, a holy one; her service was inscrutable, her tears flowed endlessly, while her prayer to the One Most High was of purest form and her love for all unfeigned. So, why should I disregard her plea? I am the only one left among the elders she besought to keep her community in their care."

Chronicle of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery

Venerable Seraphim had founded yet another community and named it Melnichnaya (tr.-Russian for "At the Mill"). In so doing, he was not guided by his own will or merely following the examples of other monastic communities. He did so as directed personally by the Holy Mother of God Herself. On November 25, 1825, while he was in the woods near Sarov, the Heavenly Queen appeared to the venerable Seraphim, commanding him to separate eight nuns and calling each one by their name. She gave a blessing to build two churches dedicated to the Nativity (of Christ and the Theotokos. –tr.) along with a mill and to line the new community with a dug-out ditch. The Most Holy Theotokos vowed to be its Abbess and gave it a new statute that had never existed before.

A few days later, two Diveyevo sisters, Paraskevi Stepanovna and Maria Semenovna, visited him. Their communal prayer by the crucifix about the future of a new community lasted about an hour. Soon afterwards, father set upon purchasing timber for the mill. The mill's foundation was laid in 1826 on the feast day of the Conception of the Most Holy Theotokos. A year later, on the eve of the feast of the Kazan icon of the Mother of God, it began to mill. Later on, father added a granary, ordered the construction of the cells and invited more sisters into the new community.

On the eve of the feast of the Holy Trinity, he personally initiated the digging of the Holy Kanavka (ditch), mysteriously translating alive from Sarov Hermitage to Diveyevo.
Venerable Seraphim offered his spiritual guidance to nuns from other communities as well. Sisters from the Ardatov Protection of the Theotokos community and the Spaso-Zelenogorsky and Kutuzov monasteries flocked to him to seek his advice. Nevertheless, no other community received such reverent care from father as the one in Diveyevo. Everything done there received his blessing. He became a true guardian angel of his spiritual kin in Diveyevo. Lovingly and tenderly, he took pity on them and called them orphans. Having visited just once during his youth, he knew practically everything about Diveyevo, down to a location of each and every pebble stone.

The Diveyevo monastery was founded under rather humble conditions, but even so, Venerable Seraphim prophesied it would become a great Lavra. He had even drawn a map of the future Diveyevo Lavra, which is still stored in the monastery with the rest of the father's personal belongings as a testament to clairvoyance of the Sarov elder.
"The Mother of God Herself selected this location! Whatever the Heavenly Queen desires to have, She receives! That is how She ordered that I, a lowly Seraphim, set up a double blade mill for the young maidens to provide for them all the time. Soon thereafter, the Mother of God gave Her blessing to build a church for them and dedicate it to Her, matushka! What, my joy, a bliss we have there: the mill, the church, the land, and we will have everything, simply everything will be there!"
Venerable Father Seraphim
"I haven't chosen you," Venerable Seraphim used to say, "but the Heavenly Queen did it Herself and delivered you under my guidance."

The elder demonstrated the utmost reverence to the command of the Most Holy Mother of God by obediently following Her word: "Never did I, a lowly Seraphim, ever lay a stone there out of my own will."

Desiring to prove once and for all that the Lord and the Heavenly Queen favored his involvement with the life of the Diveyevo monastery, Venerable Seraphim picked one ancient tree and prayed for it to be toppled as a sign of God's design. In the morning, under perfectly still weather conditions, the massive tree was found uprooted.
"Why do I serve them?" father mused. "I have received them in my care in obedience to the elders, master builder Pachomy and provisor Isaiah, my sponsors."

He considered Venerable Alexandra to be the founder of both communities, Kazan and Of the Mill, spoke highly of her and suggested the sisters treat her accordingly. He used to say: "Matushka Agatha Semenovna was a fine and charitable woman, so filled with the grace of God that, I must tell you, she was bestowed with the gifts of the spirit… A great and holy woman she was, matushka Agatha Semenovna, truly great and holy! I always feel humbled by her!"

He regarded himself a spiritual founder of the new community. "I should tell you, my joy," he used to tell sister Eudoxia Efremovna, "I fathered you all in spirit and will not leave you alone with your daily needs." He commanded them to pray without ceasing; to thank God for everything and to stay vigilant; to always rejoice and never feel discouraged; and to endure problems with their sisters without revolt or murmur, since, according to father, "a monastic becomes a monk only when beaten and frayed by each and everyone."
Father Seraphim presents the icons for the Nativity churches to sisters. Wall painting at the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos
Father Seraphim presents the icons for the Nativity churches to sisters. Wall painting at the Church of the Nativity of the Most Holy Theotokos
Venerable Seraphim set up the following general rules for the Diveyevo monastery: to keep a candle burning perpetually in front of an icon of the Lord the Savior in the church of Christ's Nativity and before the main icon of the Mother of God in the church of Nativity of Theotokos. He also commanded unceasing psalter readings be held night and day, saying: "It will nourish the monastery forever!" Father instructed for the Paraklesis Service to the Mother of God to be sung every Sunday before the Liturgy, rotating both canons weekly, just as it had been done in Sarov. "As long as they do it, no troubles will ever befall the monastery."

Venerable Seraphim thought the Sarov prayer rule, strictly followed by the community of Mother Alexandra, was too harsh and almost too overwhelming for the young women. That is why he established a daily prayer rule set up for them by the Theotokos Herself. It incorporated prayers to Her and to the Savior to be read in a certain order with prostrations. The rule must be read three times a day. Morning prayers were added early in the day and evening prayers at the end of the day. The rule included 12 psalms selected by the desert fathers, a remembrance book, daily Gospel readings and 100 bows to the waist while saying "Oh Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners!" and "Most Holy Theotokos, save us, sinners," to be said throughout the day. A silent Jesus prayer was to be recited before lunch, whereas "Most Holy Theotokos, save us!" after lunch and all the way up to the night.
Venerable Father Seraphim. Icon.
Beginning of 20th century. Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery workshop
So great was the sisters' faith in the power of father Seraphim's prayers that it mystified quite a few of his contemporaries. Once, the sisters were on their way to the mill in Sarov when their horse stumbled and fell, dislocating its leg joint and unable to move forward. The sisters were terrified not knowing what to do about their cartload and broke into tears shouting: "Father Seraphim, help us!" Hearing their wailing and cries, a few monks walked up to help. One of them hit the horse so hard that it sprang back up and cracked its leg joint back into place on its own. Seeing what had just happened, another monk said: "Well, brothers, we do not have faith as good as these sisters. Just as they shouted "Father Seraphim, help!", he performed a miracle, helping them according to their faith. The sisters rejoiced, thanking father for his intercession.
Venerable Seraphim of Sarov. Icon. 1880s.
Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery workshop
Guileless and innocent stories of Seraphim's "orphans" described in the best way possible the saintly life of the Diveyevo monastery's sisters who, through the prayers of the great ascetic, received the Kingdom of Heaven in their hearts with utmost childish simplicity.

"But I come to him, to father Seraphim," shared elder Agatha Grigoryevna, "and I think to myself, feeling confused in my spirit, that there will be no award to anyone after death. Father met me at his cell's stoop, rested his head on my shoulder and said: "Do not lose heart, matushka, we will rejoice so much once we are in the Kingdom of Heaven!" And he flung his arms up and his face lit up like lightning and he repeated these same words thrice: "Do not lose heart, don't, we will rejoice in the Kingdom of Heaven!" And he added: "Matushka, do always keep the prayer of the heart with you." I, a sinner, was truly languishing in faintheartedness. "Do not harken, matushka, where your thoughts are taking you," he said, "but pray this way, matushka: remember me, O Lord, when Thou cometh into Thy Kingdom, and again from beginning to end. O, Most Holy Mother of God… then: remember o Lord, our father hyeromonk Seraphim, remembering yourself as well, matushka, and we will be saved, as the Lord will forgive our sins, both yours and mine!"
Another sister recollected: "One time, I bemoaned my own temper and hotheadedness, whereas father said the following in response: "Oh my, what is it that you are saying, matushka, but you have such a wonderful and peaceful disposition, matushka, really, the meekest and most peaceful character!" He said it so candidly and humbly that his words "peaceful" and "the meekest" were much worse than any lashing. I was truly ashamed of myself wishing I better had vanished. That's when I finally began to gradually work to restrain my hotheadedness."

Unable to carry on the challenges of the communal life, one of the Diveyevo sisters made up her mind to quit, but chose not to disclose her intentions to Venerable Seraphim. All of a sudden, the elder asked her to stop by. The sister went to see him in great confusion. Father shared the stories of his own monastic life and kept repeating over and over: "I, matushka, have spent a long life as a monastic and never have I ever walked out of the monastery, not even in my thoughts."

"What's better of the three," he asked, "comforting, prayer or conversation?" The sister responded: "I do not know, father." And then she uttered: "Can there be anything better than prayer?" "Your answer is wise," said the elder. Then he asked her to stay and, by all means, never leave the monastery. "We, matushka, were granted the land you live on by the Queen of Heaven Herself. The Mother of God pleaded to the Lord and I, lowly Seraphim, mediated for it from the Queen of Heaven. No one will ever take it away from you. We will, matushka, have our own cathedral. How can we, matushka, turn to despair? We will have everything of our own. The sisters will plow and sow wheat so that you, as a bona-fide owner, can take a loaf of bread, cut yourself a large slice, salt it and eat it as you please. We will see widows flocking to us, and they will take young lasses, too."
Venerable Seraphim spoke lovingly about his Diveyevo "orphans". He used to compare them with the bees swarming around their queen bee so that it cannot leave them. "It is truly so," he said, "that my Diveyevo maidens are exactly like the bees, as they are with the Mother of God forever!"
Venerable Seraphim of Sarov. Icon. Last quarter of the 20th century. Seraphim-Diveyevo monastery workshop
In anticipation of his imminent death and realizing that they would be really orphaned and left without a spiritual father after his passing, father took care of their future. He lamented: "Who will provide for you when I am gone?" And he would comfort them:
"I am handing you over to the Matushka Queen of Heaven Herself! She will not
abandon you!"
Aside from his concerns about the earthly cares of his spiritual kin, Venerable Seraphim also wished for each and everyone in the Diveyevo community to obtain salvation.
When the Queen of Heaven visited him in 1830 on Her feast of Dormition, father sought her intercession for his "orphans," and so the Mother of God pledged to provide the lowly Seraphim with this unspeakable joy. During his last vision of Her on the feast of the Annunciation in 1831, when the Most Holy Theotokos, surrounded by 12 virgins came to visit him, the elder again pleaded with Her for his spiritual kin in Diveyevo: "Do not abandon my Diveyevo maidens! I gathered them up, but I cannot manage their lives all by myself!" To this, the Queen of Heaven responded: "I will, my beloved, assist you in everything! Let them be in obedience to you and, if they oblige, they will be with you and near Me. But if they give up wisdom, they will be deprived of the lot of these virgins next to Me. Neither their standing nor a heavenly crown will ever be reserved for them. Whoever offends them will be punished by Me; whoever serves them for the Lord's sake will be forgiven before God."
Appearance of the Mother of God to Venerable Seraphim on the feast of Annunciation in 1831. Wall painting at the church of Venerable Father Seraphim of Sarov in Sarov Hermitage (located on an outer wall of the replica of his cell).
Father promised the sisters: "I, the lowly one, have besought help from the Mother of God for you, and not just for you but for everyone who loved me, who served me and followed my counsels, who toiled for me and loved my cenoby that I will not forsake and abandon you. I, your spiritual father, will take care of you in my lifetime and thereafter. Whoever resides in my hermitage will not be forsaken together with your kin. What a heavenly joy has the Lord vouchsafed for us, so how can we ever feel disheartened!"

Chronicle of the Seraphim-Diveyevo Monastery
The mystical spiritual dialogue of the orphaned sisters of Diveyevo with their venerable father did not cease even after his death. To comfort his spiritual children, he used to tell them: "Come to me, to my grave, the more often the better. Speak to me as if I am still alive, share everything your soul is burdened with, whatever has happened to you – visit my grave and tell me. I will hear you and your sadness will disappear. Speak to me as if I am alive, and I will always be alive for you."
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