Saints Lives bear witness in a sphere prior to discourse. Their living witness can be of relevance to us today in many and profound ways, helping us to see and to think from new perspectives.
The Living Testimony project started in Summer 2001. In partnership with the University of Nizhni Novgorod and in association with the Department of Theology, Sarov Institute of Physics and Technology, researchers have been gathering testimony from the oldest surviving witnesses in the region whose lives have been influenced by the saint.
Through this work we hope to draw out the story of human potential for transfiguration. Speaking with people who have experienced the inward, physical and bodily effects of being filled with the Holy Spirit of God, we wish to hear these people tell us their stories in their own words. We also recognize the unique contribution that these testimonies can make to historians, theologians, anthropologists, broadcasters and researchers in a wide range of disciplines in Russia and the West.
The turning points in a life can be the turning points of history, leading to understanding of ourselves, of God, and of the way we are to live together on Earth. They contribute to the dynamic unfolding of Life's Story, the legends that sustain it and the stories of which we are all a part.
So far we have developed and staged two week long training programmes, gathered over 400 testimonies in manuscript, audio and video forms. We have worked in 37 different settlements. We have produced a working version of a promotional video describing this work and, drawing on its resources, and have staged an exhibition of our work in Diveyevo in celebration of the Centenary of the Canonisation of St Seraphim.
We have been analysing and cataloguing the materials, and are developing a thesaurus by which it will be indexed. This will permit the correlation and comparison of evidence, and access across a broad range of disciplines.