St. Maria, Schema Nun and Mother of St. Sergius of Radonezh
Commemorated on January 18 (also July 6 and September 28)
St.. Maria and her husband Cyril were the parents of St. Sergius of Radonezh. They belonged to the nobility, but more importantly, they were devout and faithful Christians who were adorned with every virtue.
When the child in her womb cried out three times in church during Liturgy, people were astonished. Although frightened at first, Maria came to see this event as a sign from God that her child would become a chosen vessel of divine grace. She and her husband agreed that if the child was a boy, they would bring him to church and dedicate him to God. This child, the second of their three sons, was born around 1314. He was named Bartholomew at his baptism.
Because of civil strife, the family moved from Rostov to Radonezh when Bartholomew was still a boy. Later, when their son expressed a desire to enter the monastic life, Sts. Cyril and Maria asked him to wait and take care of them until they passed away, because his brothers Stephen and Peter were both married and had their own family responsibilities. The young Bartholomew obeyed his parents, and did everything he could to please them. They later decided to retire to separate monasteries, and departed to the Lord after a few years. It is believed that Sts. Cyril and Maria both reposed in 1337.
Forty days after burying his parents, Bartholomew settled their estate, giving his share to his brother Peter. At twenty-three years of age, he went to the monastery and was tonsured on October 7 with the name Sergius (in honor of the martyr St. Sergius who is commemorated on that day). St. Sergius of Radonezh became one of Russia’s greatest and most revered saints.
St. Maria was glorified by the Orthodox Church of Russia in 1992. She is also commemorated on September 28, and on July 6 (Synaxis of the Saints of Radonezh).
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)