At the deathbed of Archpriest Sergei Bulgakov

From early morning on Saturday, I sat by his bed and was struck by how his face constantly kept changing expression, as if some mysterious conversation was being carried on. The expression of his face reflected an intense inner life.

Muna, Father Sergius’ daughter, came that morning, and I drew her attention to how the expression of his face kept changing. After twelve o’clock, all four of us stood around Father Sergius. His daughter left, and no one else came.

Not only did his face keep changing, but it was becoming more luminous and joyous. The expressions of agonizing concentration that would previously occur from time to time were now completely replaced by a childlike expression. I did not at once notice a new phenomenon on his face: an amazing illuminatedness. But when I turned to one of the others standing around him in order to share some impression of mine, one of the others suddenly said: “Look, look!”

We were witnesses to an amazing spectacle: Father Sergius’ face had become completely illuminated. It was a single mass of real light.

One would not have been able to say what the features of his face were like at this time: his face was a mass of light. But, at the same time, this light did not obliterate the features of his face.

This phenomenon was so extraordinary and joyous that we nearly cried from inner happiness. This lasted for about two hours, as Mother Theodosia, who looked at her watch later noted. That surprised us, for if someone had told us that the experience had lasted but a single instant, we would have agreed with that too.

The light on Father Sergius’ face apparently remained. For us, compared with what had been, this was not so noticeable. But there were sensitive people and close to him who, when they came to see him, said: “Father Sergius is giving forth light.”

Sister Joanna Reitlinger

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