Bulgarian Church had recently the high honor of the glorification of a new Saint on 26 February 2016 (Photos and texts: Liana Galabova)
This was about the Russian "white emigre" archbishop Seraphim Sobolev, archbishop Bogucharski and Sofia wonderworker (thavmatourgos tis Sofias, 1881-1950); From now he is also glorified in Bulgaria after his actual canonization by Archbishop's council of Moscow Patriarchate on 3 February 2016
Procedure started in 2007, prolonged in 2011 in order to study saint's biography and theological works yet more precisely
This joint Russian-Bulgarian canonization became precedent of glorification of one saint by two topical churches and their synodal commissions and it was expression of close brotherly ties between Bulgarian and Russian patriarchates in context of ecumenical church unity throughout last century up until nowadays.
Topical veneration of saint Seraphim started from the time of his repose (kimisi) revealed to him
He promised to his flock not to live them in his prayers if he will be accepted by God
So he encouraged his children in Christ to write him notes as they did when he had been among them and live those notes at his tomb sure in his help
And form Sunday of Orthodoxy of 1950 (then 13/26 February) people started realizing that they can keep relying on miraculous help of their father in Christ, because his prayers still come to God quickly
This new tradition dates back 65 years already and present glorification was awaited for long and it is yet more joyful event for Bulgarian Orthodox church
This is only fifth canonization after restoration of Bulgarian patriarchate in 1953, and archbishop Serafim is the first Bulgarian saint after Ottoman period
He had considerable contribution in local church history not only in regard of interests of dynamic Russian emigre community
He venerated and devoted excellent church hymnography to Bulgarian patron saint reverend John of Rilla (osios)
Together with other Russian emigre clergy, intellectuals, and artists, saint Seraphim paid considerable role in revival of Bulgarian monastic and parish life
His wise church policy helped both white emigre Russian and local Bulgarian clergy and faithful survive atheist persecutions and limitations in communist times, and his prayers supported people in keeping their faith and continue church traditions
Besides skepticism of some Bulgarian historians who rely on church polemics from XXth century and find political reasons behind positive attitude of their Russian colleagues to archbishop Seraphim, his biography and his theological heritage, from now on new Russian-Bulgarian saint is gloriously venerated by whole ecumenical church
Even his historical belonging to Karlovats synod of Russian Orthodox Church Abroad followed by negotiation with Soviet state and church when they start ruling over Bulgaria, even his profound anti-modernist theological studies, even his wish to re-emigrate and other particularities explainable from the perspective of the in exile and even being patron-saint of Bulgarian Old-calendarist church community having glorified him topically yet in 2002, etc., could not cast shadow on present pronouncement of his sainthood all over the world.
So from the perspective of eternity which he now enters officially visible for our humble human eyes, time will only increase continuous flow of letters and pilgrims to the crypt of tiny Russian church of saint Nikolay Mirlikiiski in Sofia, where relics of saint Seraphim Wonderworker of Sofia remain still non-revealed in a simple marble tomb with huge cross, nice murals and beautiful flowers around
New saint will still remain abounding and never ending source of grace, healing, consolation and prayer help
We shouldn't forget to mention several other particularities: that when he was born the life of his mother was saved by miracle of an icon brought by litania at the same time;
therefore his mother prayed that he would become prieste graduated Ryazan seminary, Sankt Petersburg theological academy (his thesis was about humbleness in Filokalia),
taking of monastic vows with the name of just glorified reverend Seraphim of Sarov,
further on taught and became rector at Voronyezh seminary
His name was Nikolay and in Bulgaria his service was in two churches of saint Nikolas;
he was appointed bishop Lubenski in saint Alexander Nevskii church in Sympherople and glorified in church of saint Alexander Nevskii in Sofia
He was guided spiritually and kept in touch with distinguished Russian clerics, elders and saints, one of whom (elder Aaron) foretold him his move to a small beautiful country!
In his exile, while being ill of tuberculosis, and when burying his brother, saints appeared to him to cure and console him about the salvation of his brother;
later of saint Seraphim himself appeared to a monk to console him, telling him that he is not actually dead, meaning that he is living in heaven.
Faithful in Bulgaria now are awaiting uncovering of his relics;
and as it is promised, an icon of him will go there from Halki