Saint Seraphim is one of the Orthodox Church's most beloved holy elders. This icon was painted in the 19th century, featuring beautifully embossed gold and colored inlays.
He was born in western Russia in 1754. According to tradition, he was sickly as a child but was healed through the Kursk Root Icon of the Theotokos. At age 19, he became a monk, then a priest, and lived in the wilderness as a hermit for 25 years. There he devoted his entire life to ceaseless prayer and truly acquired the "peace that passes all understanding." At one point, Seraphim was beaten by a band of thieves, which left him with a hunched back. In 1815, in obedience to a vision he received, he began to admit visitors (always greeting them with "Christ is risen!") and offer the loving advice he is reknowned for. At age 74, St. Seraphim died in prayer before an icon of the Theotokos.
The saint was buried, but his relics were uncovered in 1903 when he was glorified as a saint. His relics were lost during the Bolshevik persecution in Russia, but were rediscovered in the basement of a museum in 1991. This rejuvenated the faith of Russians who were just beginning to come out of the Soviet darkness. His feast is celebrated on January 2.
Saint Seraphim's best known saying is: "Acquire a peaceful spirit, and around you thousands will be saved." This reflects the common Orthodox belief that the best form of evangelism is to be a faithful Christian of firm faith, ceaseless prayer, and good works.