Despite the many miracles that people had seen in the seventy years since the repose of Saint Seraphim, the discovery of his relics and his canonization were a challenge. It is said that the Emperor insisted on his canonization but that almost the entire Synod was against it. It was backed only by Metropolitan Anthony (Vadkovsky) and Archbishop Kirill (Smirnov).
At that time, Blessed Praskovya Ivanovna fasted for fourteen or fifteen days and ate nothing. She could not even walk, but crawled on all fours.
One evening Archimandrite Seraphim (Chichagov) came and said:
– Mommy, they won’t let us open the relics.
Praskovya Ivanovna said:
– Take my hand and let’s go outside.
She was propped up by Nun Seraphima on the one side and by Archimandrite Seraphim on the other.
– Take the spade. Dig to the right: that’s where the relics are…
The examination of the remains of St. Seraphim was carried out on the night of January 11, 1903.
At that time, in the village of Lomasovo, twelve miles from Sarov, people saw a glow above the monastery and ran there, crossing themselves and asked:
– Where is this fire? We have seen the blaze.
But there was no fire anywhere. Then one hieromonk quietly said:
– A delegation came tonight to open up Father Seraphim’s remains.
Only the bones of Father Seraphim remained intact, and the Synod was of two minds: they didn’t know whether or not to go somewhere in the woods, if there were no incorruptible relics, only bones. Then, one of the surviving female elders, who had known the saint, said, “We do not kneel before bones; we venerate miracles.”
The sisters said that St. Seraphim appeared to the Emperor himself, after which the latter insisted on opening the relics.
When they agreed to canonize St. Seraphim and open his relics, the Grand Princes came to Sarov and Diveevo to the Blessed Praskovya Ivanovna.
At that time there were four daughters in the royal family, but there was no male heir. They went to the relics of St. Seraphim to pray for the birth of an heir. Praskovya Ivanovna had a custom to show everything with puppets, so she made a boy puppet. She made him a soft and high bed and laid him down. “Shush, shush, he’s asleep…”
Everything she said was transmitted over the phone to the Emperor, who arrived later.
Eudoxia Ivanovna told that Mother Seraphima, the senior cell attendant of the Blessed Praskovya Ivanovna, was going to Sarov for the opening, but suddenly broke her leg. Praskovya Ivanovna healed her.
It was announced to the Blessed Praskovya that, as soon as they meet the Emperor in the hegumen’s block, they will sing a concert, he will take his retinue to have breakfast, and he will come to her.
Mother Seraphima and Dunya returned from the meeting but Praskovya Ivanovna did not let them clean anything up. There was a frying pan of potatoes and a cold samovar on the table.
While they were arguing with her, they heard in the doorway, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us,” and Emperor Nicholas Alexandrovich and Empress Alexandra Feodorovna entered the room.
They had to have the carpet laid down and the table cleaned; they brought a hot samovar at once. Everybody went out and left them alone, but the royal couple could not understand what the Blessed Praskovya was saying, and soon the Emperor went out and said:
– The eldest one under her, come in.
The conversation took place in her presence. The cell attendant later recounted that the Blessed Praskovya told the Emperor:
– Your Majesty, step down from the throne voluntarily.
When they said goodbye, Praskovya Ivanovna opened her chest of drawers. She took out a new tablecloth, put it on the table and started putting some presents on it. Canvas of linen work (she herself spun threads), a sugarloaf, some dyed eggs, and more sugar pieces. She tied all these things in a bundle very tightly, with several knots, and while tying it she even squatted. She gave the bundle to the Emperor:
– That’s for you, Sire.
Following that, she stretched out her hand:
– Give us some money, we need to build a hut.
The emperor had no money on him. They immediately sent for it and brought in the money, and he gave her a purse full of gold, which was immediately passed on to the Mother Superior.
When Nikolay Alexandrovich left, he said that Praskovya Ivanovna was a true servant of God. Everybody everywhere welcomed him as a king, and she was the only one who welcomed him as a common man.
Praskovya Ivanovna died on September 22 / October 5, 1915. Before her death, she was bowing down before the Emperor’s portrait all the time. She was not strong enough, and she was lifted up and put down.
– What are you, mother, pray to the Emperor so much?
– You’re silly. He will be greater than all other kings.
She prophesied about the Emperor: “I don’t know if he’s going to be a reverend or a martyr.”
Shortly before her death, Blessed Praskovya took a portrait of the Emperor and kissed his feet saying, “The good one is almost done.”
Blessed Praskovya was dying slowly and painfully. She was paralyzed before she died. She suffered a lot. Some people were surprised that such a great servant of God was dying so painfully. It was revealed to some of the sisters that she was redeeming the souls of her spiritual children from hell with her pre-mortem travail.
When she was dying, a nun in St. Petersburg went outside and saw her blessed soul rise to the heaven.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds