"According to his prophecy, if there would be repentance in the Russian people, God would yet have mercy on her, but first He would allow for a time the triumph of lawless men: the Tsar would to overthrown and killed, so that the people might know in experience what life was like under the Tsar anointed by God, and under the rule of men who have trampled underfoot the law of God. St. Seraphim, by revelation from God, wrote in his own hand a letter to the Tsar who would come to Sarov and Diveyevo, entrusting it to his friend Motovilov, who gave it to Abbess Maria, who in turn handed it personally to Emperor Nicholas II in Diveyevo on July 20, 1903."
This is from the above article. I am not clear where the former Fr Demetrios, now Archimandrite Nektarios, got the first sentences. One presumes they are the summation of The Famous Letter. But then of course, as elswehere, the author goes on to say that no one knows the contents of that letter.
We may have discussed this here on the Forum ; I seem to recall a lively, informative thread. So forgive me if I am repeating something already said or making a wrong assumption or mistake. But it seems weird that no one would know the contents. Surely Tsar Nicholas II took the letter with him back to Moscow after reading it in the Abbatial headquarters. Wouldn't it have been preserved somewhere ? Even the primitive Bolsheviks kept all the documents of the Imperial regime catalogued carefully in the Government Archives. [ "Gosudar Arhiv" ? A good try.]
Had they found that letter, surely they would have capitalized on this for communist propaganda purposes, saying that even "Monk Seraphim" had been foreseen the ill fate of the Tsar. Hence, they would have proclaimed to doubting Russian citizens, it was destiny that the Reds overthrew the monarchy. Just imagine this gold mine from the Bolshevik angle. They could have even used it to justify to the shocked population their barbaric decision to execute the Tsar. After all, Monk Seraphim [ they would not have acknowledged any Saints ] had predicted this event. So why murmur against the Soviet regime ?
I am not 100 % sure that the letter did exist as such. But assuming that it did, then there are a few facts wrong here.
According to what I consider to be the most authoritative biography of St Seraphim of Sarov, "St Seraphim Wonderworker of Sarov and His Spiritual Inheritance" by top researcher Helen Kontzevich, the story was different.
St Seraphim when alive had written The Famous Letter and sealed it with 'soft bread'. That is not so easy to imagine how the equivalent of Wonderbread - for I visualize the bread as only white - would cement the flap of an envelope, but apparently that was the system used in the early 1830s. The holy man of Sarov gave the letter to Nicholas Alexandrovich Motovilov, saying that his wife would survive until times when the Tsar himself would come to Diveyevo to honor the Saint. At that time, Motovilov's wife, Elena Ivanovna, must give to the letter to the Sovereign. All this was carried out, with the Tsar placing The Famous Letter into his pocket and talking with Elena Ivanovna for 1- 1/2 to 2 hours, so she claimed. Though she could not remember at all of what they spoke. It certainly seems like it would difficult to forget even a word of such an illustrious conversation. That strikes me as strange by itself.
One wonders whether Elena Ivanovna dared to open The Famous Letter herself, for many women would be tempted to do so. And, of course, then to reseal it with the Wonderbread of that age. But Motovilov's wife took all these secrets with her to the grave, for she peacefully reposed 7 years after handing The Letter to Tsar Nicholas II.
At any event, the account of Diveyevo Abbess Maria as having been the one designated to hand it over seems to be in error. Probably both versions have been promulgated in the sources, but the messenger seems much more likely to have been Elena Ivanovna Motovilov. Having heard that she held The Letter for him, the Tsar went directly to see her after visiting the Eldress Pasha [ Parasceva ] of Diveyevo that July 20 of 1903. For a quick account of that unusual encounter, see viewtopic.php?f=32&t=11684&p=67713&hilit=Brother+Nathanael#p67713