A Vision of the Heavens

St. Andrew, the Fool for Christ of Constantinople ca. 9th cent.

Once during a terrible winter when St. Andrew lay in a city street frozen and near death, he suddenly felt a warmth within him and beheld a splendid youth with a face shining like the sun, who conducted him to paradise and the third heaven.

“By God’s will I remained for two weeks in a sweet vision…I saw myself in a splendid and marvelous paradise…In mind and heart I was astonished at the unutterable beauty of the paradise of God, and I took sweet delight walking in it.There were a multitude of gardens there, filled with tall trees which, swaying in their tips, rejoiced my eyes, and from their branches there came forth a great fragrance…One cannot compare these trees in their beauty to any earthly tree…In these gardens there were innumerable birds with wings golden, snow-white, and of various colors. They sat on the branches of the trees of paradise and sang so wondrously that from the sweetness of their singing I was beside myself…After this a kind of fear fell upon me, and it seemed to me that I was standing at the peak of the firmament of heaven. Before me a youth was walking with a face as bright as the sun, clothed in purple…When I followed in his steps I saw a great and splendid Cross, in form like a rainbow, and around it stoood fiery singers like flames and sang sweet hymns, glorifying the Lord Who had once been crucified on the Cross. The youth who was going before me, coming up to the Cross, kissed it and gave me a sign that I should also kiss the Cross…In kissing it I was filled with unutterable sweetness, and smelled a fragrance more powerful than that of paradise. Going past the Cross, I looked down and saw under me as it were the abyss of the sea…My guide, turning to me, said, ‘Fear not, for we must ascend yet higher.’

“And he gave me his hand. When I seized it we were already above the second firmament. There I saw wondrous men, their repose, and the joy of their feasting which cannot be communicated by the human tongue…And behold, after this we ascended above the third heaven, where I saw and heard a multitude of  heavenly powers hymning and glorifying God. We went up to a curtain which shone like lightning, before which great and frighful youths were standing, in appearance like fiery flames…And the youth who was leading me said to me: ‘When the curtain opens, you shall see the Master Christ. Bow down to the throne of His glory.’ Hearing this, I rejoiced and trembled, for I was overcome by terror and unutterable joy…And behold, a flaming hand opened the curtain, and like the Prophet Isaiah I beheld my Lord, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and above it stood the Seraphim (Isa. 6:1). He was clothed in a purple garment; His face was most bright, and His eyes looked on me with much love. Seeing this, I fell down before Him, bowing down to the most bright and fearful throne of His glory. The joy that overcame me on beholding His face cannot be expressed in words. Even now, remembering this vision, I am filled with unutterable joy. In trembling I lay there before the my Master…After this all the heavenly host sang a most wondrous and unutterable hymn, and then — I myself do not understand how — again I found myself in paradise.”

When St. Andrew reflected that he had not seen the Mother of God in heaven, an angel told him: “Did you wish to see here the Queen who is brighter than the heavenly powers? She is not here; she has gone away to the world which lies in great misfortune, to help people and to comfort the sorrowing. I would have shown you her holy place, but now there is no time, for you must again return.” (The Soul After Death by Fr. Seraphim Rose pp. 137-139)