St. Seraphim of Sarov
St. Seraphim of Sarov (1754-1833) was a Russian ascetic who lived at the Sarov Monastery in the 18th century, and is considered a wonder-worker. At the age of 10, he became seriously ill and after seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary in a dream he was healed. This was the beginning of a life or miraculous events. He entered a monastery when in his late teens, and was known for eating and sleeping very little, and by a life of prayer and compassion. After years of asceticism he was granted to live in seclusion as a hermit. Here in the wilderness he was a friend to wild animals such as bears, rabbits, wolves and foxes. Although Seraphim avoided the world and desired seclusion, he was called to pastor anyone who would visit him. Eventually word spread about this holy man and hundreds daily would make the pilgrimage to his small cabin to seek his prayers and spiritual advice. They were drawn by his ability to answer his guests' questions before they could ask. Seraphim attained such spiritual heights that he was given the gift of clairvoyance. It is also recorded that he was seen hovering in uncreated light. Even in the midst of such experiences, in his deep humility he referred to himself as poor Seraphim. His feast day in the Orthodox Church is celebrated on January 2.