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Schema-nun Serafima’s tombstone (Heinävesi, Finland)

    Schema-nun Serafima (Maria Smirnova) (b. Moscow, Russia 1901 – d. 1986, Heinävesi, Finland) was born to a Russian noble family. Maria learnt French and Dutch at a young age and she went on to study at a school for noble maidens in St. Petersburg. Maria was a gifted student and she often played the piano at school parties. The members of the Tsar Family sometimes attended these events and heard her play. Maria’s father passed away during the Russian revolution and her mother sent 18 years old Maria and her 12-year-old brother to Finland. In Finland, Maria worked as doctor’s assistant and went to school in Karelian Isthmus where she found her husband, who later proved to be unfaithful. Maria sought help from her unhappy marriage at Lintula monastery, where she was secretly ordained a nun and granted the permission to divorce from her husband. After divorce, Maria moved to Lintula monastery with her daughter Natasha. When the winter war broke out Maria fled to Kuopio and worked as a mail carrier to support her family. In the 1950s she lived in Uusimaa where she helped to take care of her daughter’s twins. In 1961, Maria moved to Lintula monastery in Heinävesi. In Heinävesi she tended the monastery’s kitchen and participated in the life of the monastery with other nuns. She was also ordained a Schema-nun and given the name Serafima in Lintula monastery. There are other graves of refugee nuns at Lintula monastery’s graveyard.

    A biography and picture are available on

    Address: Valamontie 36, Heinävesi, Finland.