Father Seraphim initiated the digging of the Kanavka
The Holy Kanavka begins at the eastern part of the monastery, behind the Transfiguration Cathedral's altar. By the Mother of God's command, Father Seraphim ordered the Community-by-the-Mill to dig a ditch measuring three arshins in depth and width; the excavated soil was to be thrown inward towards the monastery and form a bank three arshins high. The sisters were slow to begin the digging, so the venerable elder appeared there in spirit and began digging the Holy Kanavka himself. It happened on the eve of the feast of the Holy Trinity on June 2, 1828. One of the first maiden nuns from the community reminisced: "On one occasion, a sister on nighttime duty stepped outside and saw that father Seraphim, dressed in his white garments, was digging the Kanavka. Beside herself, startled and rejoiced at the same time, she ran back inside and told everyone about it. All of us, dressed as we were and filled with indescribable joy, ran outside. Seeing the father, we prostrated before him, but, as we got back up, he was gone. All that was left was his shovel and hoe lying next to the soil he had dug up. An arshin of the Kananka had already been dug, marking the beginning of the Holy Kanavka.
Stunned by the miracle, the sisters began digging the Holy Kanavka without further delay. They continued to dig it till father's death. At the end of his life, work continued in the summer or winter, without any breaks. Sparks would fly as axe hit hardened soil, but they kept on digging as father commanded. They finished their hard work before the feast of Christ's Nativity in 1833. However, their Kanavka did not measure the three arshins needed: the sisters dug it to just one arshin or, at some locations, to as little as half an arshin. The Holy Kanavka had a gap of 125 meters between its ends, allowing a wide access to the mill. A cathedral was to be built in that space.
Keep faith, my children in Christ, that the Mother of God works wonders for us if only we overcome our own idleness and diligently address Her more than once with the Archangel's greeting… There is no request, even the lowliest and most temporal one, that the Mother of God will not fulfill for the glory of Her Son; if only we pray to Her for 150 times every day saying: "Rejoice! O Virgin Mother of God!"
Hieromartyr Seraphim (Zvezdinsky)