On October 19, 1829, in the far north of Russia, a weak and sickly child, named John (Ioann), was born in the family of Ilia Sergiyev, church reader in the village of Sura in the Archangelsk province. This child was the future luminary of Christ’s Church.
From his earliest years Vanya went with his father to their poor and humble church, served in the altar, loved the service books, became very pious. His favorite book was the Holy Gospel. All of this became a firm religious foundation for the boy in his later long and glorious life in Christ.
Learning came very hard to Vanya in his childhood, which sorrowed him greatly, but also served to spur him on to especially fervent prayers to God for help. And a miracle occurred! Once, during his sojourn in his religious school, after a fervent prayer during the night, the boy experienced a sudden shiver all over his body, and it was as though a curtain fell from his eyes, as though his mental sight opened up, and he experienced lightness and joy in his soul. After that night the boy immediately began reading with great ease, began to comprehend and memorize everything with the greatest facility. He finished his school at the top of his class, graduated from the Archangelsk Seminary in first place, and entered the St. Petersburg Religious Academy.