December 12, 2021

Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov - Skouriotissa

The land of Cyprus is rich in churches, both the oldest with their history, and new ones, as this area is rapidly expanding. One of such sacred places, which attracts the attention of pilgrims from all over the world, is the temple of Seraphim of Sarov, a deeply revered Russian saint, rebuilt according to Byzantine traditions.



Reverend Seraphim


Seraphim of Sarov was born in 1759 in Kursk. He dedicated his entire life to serving the Lord. While still a child, his mother took him with her to the construction of the church, where he fell from the bell tower. The Queen of Heaven showed her Grace to Seraphim and he remained unharmed.


When Seraphim was seventeen years old, he consciously decided to leave everything worldly and go to a monastery. His mother blessed him and he set off on a journey with a copper cross, with which he did not part for a minute until his death. After two years of labor and unquestioning obedience in the monastery, Seraphim fell seriously ill and did not want to be treated by earthly healers. Three years later, the Mother of God came to him, giving him healing again.


Having received the rank of hieromonk in 1793, the saint began his journey as a desert dweller and prayed in complete solitude in the forest. He prayed on the stone for exactly 1000 days and nights. While praying, robbers attacked him and mortally wounded him. But the Mother of God again helped him, giving him healing.


After his recovery, Seraphim performed a three-year feat of silence. For love for the Almighty, complete humility and exploits, Seraphim received spiritual gifts in the form of insight and miracles. People came to the saint with pleas for help, getting advice, healing, blessings. The elder was very merciful and God's Grace pierced him so much that he was never discouraged. Everyone who knew the Monk Seraphim says that he always shone from within and exuded peace, thus filling the hearts of everyone who met him. He addressed everyone with a kind word: "My joy, Christ is Risen" regardless of the season.


The elder called himself "poor Seraphim." He believed that the true goal of a person is to acquire the Holy Spirit, everything else should serve only as a means of existence. The essence of the Christian path is that the Spirit enters the human soul, making a temple out of it. The soul must be fed by the Word of God. From this the mind becomes enlightened. The elder himself reread lines from the New Testament every week.


Seraphim revered the Russian saints and was very fond of talking about them. Confessing the Word of God, he always noted the steadfastness of faith and the purity of Orthodoxy. "Be perfect, like the Lord himself," he urged. It is worth saying that he achieved his goal: he became a divine likeness. His love for the Almighty was both in his heart and in his mind. He loved his neighbor just as much.


His teachings were reinforced by prophecies and miracles that happened to people who turned to him. The Mother of God prematurely informed the elder of his death. He left for another world on January 2, 1833, at the moment of prayer in front of the icon of the Mother of God.


Miracles and healings from Seraphim did not end after his death. Those who came to his grave still received God's help.


The canonization of the Saint was very difficult. This was due to the rationalism of the 19th century, when miracles were subject to skepticism and doubt. In those days, it was not customary to honor faith, rationalism dominated everything.


And only thanks to L.M. Chichagov, an officer who took holy orders, published a book, “Chronicle of the Seraphim-Diveevsky Monastery”, which was a high-quality collection of all materials about the Reverend Elder Seraphim. The canonization of Seraphim took place after the book was read by Nicholas II. It was he who literally pushed through this idea in the Synod.


The relics of Seraphim of Sarov were seized in 1922 and transported to the Moscow Museum of Religious Art. In 1991, the relics of the saint were transferred to the Diveevo Monastery.


What St. Seraphim teaches



Often we do not realize what value we see in what was missed by our ancestors. Elder Seraphim made a great contribution to this realization. From the word that he brought to people, it is literally breathtaking, because the greatest meaning is hidden in their simplicity. The revelation of the essence of Orthodoxy, the experience of communion with the Almighty, the elder collected in laconic and simple sentences "On the acquisition of the Grace of the Holy Spirit." Thinking about these words, you are truly surprised at how much strength and confidence they contain. It was they who for many people from various parts of the world became the reason for turning to the Lord.


The elder teaches sinners to take the righteous path that Christ has shown us. He says that we must fight our vices and preach the Word of God. In order for God's Grace to be revealed to us, it is necessary to perform feats and acquisitions.


Seraphim said that a Christian is like a burning candle, from which other candles light up and at the same time its own fire does not go out and does not become smaller. This is how a person should be: burning with love for the Almighty, filled with a passionate desire to serve Him.


Saint Seraphim is a truly great spiritual figure in Orthodoxy. During his lifetime, he not only healed and helped people, but also set them up for moral correction. He gave a lot for the organization of the monastic community in Diveevo and always said that he followed the instructions of the Mother of God.


The spiritual disciples of Seraphim knew that he was following the Lord and they themselves followed Him, despite the frequent slander and false accusations from those around them. Even after the death of the elder, his spiritual disciples remained devoted to him. Great love for Seraphim spread throughout the world. The words of the elder's teachings can be found in the most remote areas of the planet.


  Churches and monasteries are built in the name of the saint , which is a confirmation of deep reverence and love for him. And this love has a unique world significance. In Cyprus, icons and images of an old man can be found everywhere. Many publications in Greek have been published about him.


Construction of the Church of St. Seraphim of Sarov



The construction of a new temple under the leadership of Archimandrite Ambrose began near the ancient village of Skouriotis. After Ambrose visited Cyprus in 2002 to paint the monastery church, he began to receive many other proposals for painting and stayed on the island.



Soon he received another invitation, only for the construction of the temple and its subsequent painting. By the way, the archimandrite had long dreamed of consecrating a temple in honor of Seraphim of Sarov, so when he was approached with such a proposal, he decided that the Almighty himself had ordered him to do this.


The prototype of the temple is the Church of the Holy Trinity, located near the village of Kutsavendi. The architect from Greece, Janis Kopsakhiris, worked on the project.


Today, almost all buildings on the island of Cyprus are built according to the latest technological solutions. However, the temple in honor of the Monk Seraphim is being built according to old technologies, from mountain stone, which is strengthened with a special mortar.



It's amazing that this technology still works today, and the most important thing is that there are talented people who can bring this idea to life. “In the newly rebuilt temple, everything should be as it was before,” said Ambrose.


The roof of the temple is covered with tiles, which were specially ordered for the project. Cypriot villages have preserved many dilapidated buildings with tiles. Modern people, making repairs to their homes, often throw away tiles. It is this material, which is saturated with the spirit of the times, collected from different parts of the island and was used to build the church.


In addition, a small winery was built at the temple, which also has its own characteristics. For better aging of wine, a special insulated room was built here, which does not allow the building to warm up. Straw briquettes have become building materials and insulation.


Church wine is prepared here, which is traditionally used for communion. Also not far from the temple there is a pond where fish are grown.


The church is only part of the whole planned project. In the future, they also want to build a skete here. This is the place where the monks live, located far from the big cities and towns. “The area for the skete has already been selected. We coped with this task with a bang, ”says Ambrose. It is located on the green part of the island, away from highways and major cities.


The activity of the icon painter


The father is engaged in the painting of the temple on his own. His creations can be seen on the website of the Church of St. Seraphim. Observing all the canons of icon painting, my father paints in the style of the 12th century. It was in this technique that many religious monuments of Cyprus were created.



Inspired by the works of the masters of those times, Ambrose perfectly reproduces ancient art, competently combining it with modern techniques. He firmly believes that the quality that we need so much is simplicity, a sense of proportion and holiness. For painting icons, the master chooses a predominantly pastel palette of shades. In addition, everyone who wants to learn icon painting can come to Ambrose for training.


When was the first stone laid for the construction of the temple?



The first stone on the site where the new church in honor of St. Seraphim stands was laid on January 2, back in 2010. At the ceremony, the Metropolitan emphasized that the participation of an archimandrite from Russia in the construction of a church in Cyprus personifies Russian and Cypriot church unity.


“We are all brothers and sisters, no matter where we come from. Our states have suffered greatly from nationalism, and today the time has come for the unification of all the saints. God has no nationalities, he sees our consciousness and faith and helps us. Only in this way will it be possible to overcome the national borders of temples and enter one Single Temple,” the Metropolitan noted.


More than ten years have passed, but the church has not been rebuilt to the end. However, the temple is already gathering around itself people who come to the Lord. Many believers help in the construction of the project. Someone helps with their work, someone gives donations, someone prays. All this provides unimaginable support, which will eventually lead to the desired goal.


Dear brothers and sisters! Today we have an amazing opportunity to contribute to the construction of the Church of St. Seraphim! Unfortunately, the states do not allocate funds for the construction of churches. Funding comes from donations from believing parishioners and benefactors. The patriarchs are not able to restore all the several tens of thousands of churches that are in such great need. Therefore, we completely rely on the Will of God.


Our charitable foundation organizes the revival, maintenance and construction of churches. It should be noted that the money transferred through our organization is spent exclusively on the reconstruction of churches. We have already helped many churches and continue to fulfill our mission. We believe and know for sure that everything is possible if the brothers and sisters come together as a whole. We will be glad for any help. Remember the words of St. Seraphim that you need to do good deeds in the Name of the Lord. Do not wait for "manna from heaven", do good deeds and you will be rewarded a hundredfold for good deeds before God!


God bless you! 

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