Archive for the ‘St. John the Dwarf’ Tag

Feast of St. Pambo of Nitria, His Proteges and Their Associates, St. Melania the Elder, and Her Family (November 8)   2 comments

Above:  The Eastern Roman Empire

Scanned by Kenneth Randolph Taylor from Hammond’s World Atlas–Classics Edition (1957)

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SAINT PAMBO OF NITRIA (DIED CIRCA 375)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Pambo of the Nitrian Desert

His feast transferred from July 18

mentor of

SAINT AMMONIUS OF SKETE (DIED CIRCA 403)

Desert Father

His feast = November 8

teacher of

EVAGRIUS OF PONTUS (345-399)

Monk, Theologian, and Deacon

Also known as Evagrius Ponticus and Evagrius the Solitary

teacher of

PALLADIUS OF GALATIA (363/364-420/430)

Monk, and Bishop of Helenopolis

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SAINT DIDYMUS THE BLIND (CIRCA 313-398)

Biblical Scholar

His feast transferred from October 18

teacher of 

SAINT RUFINUS OF AQUILEIA (344/345-411)

Monk and Priest

His feast transferred from October 1

ordained by

SAINT JOHN II (CIRCA 356-JANUARY 10, 417)

Bishop of Jerusalem

His feast transferred from January 10

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SAINT MACARIUS OF EGYPT (CIRCA 300-391)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Macarius the Great and Saint Macarius the Elder

His feast transferred from January 15, January 19, and April 4

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SAINT MACARIUS OF ALEXANDRIA (CIRCA 300-395)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Macarius the Younger

His feast transferred from January 19 and May 1

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SAINT PISHOY (320-JULY 15, 417)

Desert Father

Also known as Saint Bishoy

His feast transferred from June 19

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SAINT MELANIA THE ELDER (325-410/417)

Desert Mother

Her feast transferred from June 8

grandmother of

SAINT MELANIA THE YOUNGER (CIRCA 383-DECEMBER 31, 439)

Desert Mother

Her feast transferred from December 31

wife of

SAINT PINIAN (DIED IN 420)

Monk

His feast transferred from December 31

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The genesis of this post was the listing of St. Ammonius (of Skete) [feast day = November 8] in Lesser Feasts and Fasts 2018.  One connection led to another until I had thirteen saints, not including some I had added to my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days already.

St. Pambo of Nitria

Above:  St. Pambo of Nitria

Image in the Public Domain

St. Pambo of Nitria (died circa 375) was an influential spiritual figure.  He, a disciple of St. Antony of Egypt (d. 356), founded a monastery in the Nitrian Desert of Egypt.  St. Pambo advised, among others, St. Rufinus of Aquileia, St. Athanasius of Alexandria (c. 295-373), St. Melania the Elder, St. Pishoy, St. John the Dwarf (c. 339-c. 405), and St. Ammonius of Skete and his brothers.  St. Pambo died in the company of St. Melania the Elder.

St. Ammonius of Skete (died circa 403), one of a host of saints named “Ammonius,” was one of four brothers who became hermits under St. Pambo in the Nitrian Desert.  Prior to becoming a hermit, St. Ammonius had memorized much of the Old and New Testaments and mastered much of the work of early Christian theologians.  Our saint, a popular spiritual director, taught Evagrius of Pontus, befriended St. John Chrysostom, and knew St. Melania the Elder.  Two of the brothers of St. Ammonius became priests.  A third brother, Dioscorus, became the Bishop of Hermopolis.  St. Ammonius, nearly drafted into the episcopate, protested so vehemently that he remained a monk.  He died circa 403, while visiting Chrysostom.

Evagrius of Pontus, born in Ibora, Asia Minor, in 345, struggled with vanity and lust.  He grew up in a Christian family and studied in Neocaesarea.  His teachers over time included Origen, St. Macarius of Alexandria, St. Macarius of Egypt, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory of Nazianzus the Younger, St. Melania the Elder, and St. Ammonius of Skete.  St. Basil the Great ordained Evagrius a lector.  In Constantinople, in 380, St. Gregory of Nazainzus the Younger ordained our saint to the diaconate.  The following year, Evagrious participated in the First Council of Constantinople, which revised the Nicene Creed.  Evagrius, struggling with vanity and lust, visited St. Rufinus of Aquileia and St. Melania the Elder in Jerusalem; she advised him to become a monk.  He did, in Jerusalem in 383.  Two years later, Evagrius moved to the Nitrian Desert. Eventually he relocated to Kellia.  Our saint, who taught St. John Cassian and Palladius of Galatia, created a list of eight evils–the antecedent of the Seven Deadly Sins.  He died in Kellia, Egypt, in 399.

Palladius of Galatia (363/364-420/430) wrote of the Desert Fathers.  His Lausaic History (419-420), the archive of the Desert Fathers, has preserved their wisdom for posterity.  Palladius, a disciple of St. John Chrysostom, sided with his teacher in imperial disputes.  Our saint, a monk from 386, was a monk with Evagrius of Pontus and St. Macarius of Alexandria for nine years.  Later, for health-related reasons, Palladius moved to Palestine.  In 400 he became the Bishop of Helenopolis.  Political exile filled 406-412, but our saint returned to his see in 412/413.

St. Didymus the Blind (circa 313-398) was of the school of Origen in Alexandria, Egypt.  St. Didymus, orthodox (at least according tot he standards of his time; human theological orthodoxy shifts sometimes) wrote commentaries on the Bible and on the theology of his teacher, Origen.  The blind ascetic taught St. Rufinus of Aquileia and St. Jerome, who later had harsh words for Origen and Origenists.  St. Didymus also developed a system to help blind people read.

St. Rufinus of Aquileia, born near Aquileia in 344/345, became a monk.  He, raised in Christian family, was a monk in Aquileia in 370, wheen he met St. Jerome.  St. Rufinus studied under St. Didymus the Blind in Alexandria from 373 to 380.  St. Rufinus followed St. Melania the Elder to Jerusalem in 380.  She financed the founding of his new monastery, located on the Mount of Olives.  St. Rufinus studied Greek theology in that monastery.  He resumed his friendship with St. Jerome in 386.  Four years later, St. John II (circa 356-January 10, 417), the Bishop of Jerusalem, ordained St. Rufinus to the priesthood.

The renewed friendship with St. Jerome ended due to the Origenist dispute.  Origen was orthodox, according to the theological standards of his time, but theologians subsequently redefined orthodoxy.  This process made him a heretic ex post factoSt. Jerome, an argumentative individual, lambasted Origen, Origenists, and Origenism.  Two of his targets were St. Rufinus of Alexandria and St. John II of Jerusalem, starting in 394.

St. Rufinus, marginalized in ecclesiastical circles because of his defense of Origen, resided in Italy from 397 to 408.  He, St. Melania the Younger, and St. Pinian fled to Sicily, due to the invasion of Alaric, as the Western Roman Empire crumbled.  St. Rufinus died in Sicily in 411.

St. Macarius of Egypt

Above:  St. Macarius of Egypt

Image in the Public Domain

The two St. Macariuses were a team.  St. Macarius of Egypt/the Great/the Elder, born in Shabshear, Lower Egypt, circa 300, eventually found his vocation.  The erstwhile saltpeter smuggler had married because his parents wanted him to do so.  The union was brief; his wife died.  Then our saint’s parents  died.  St. Macarius the Elder gave his money to the poor and became a priest.  Later he visited St. Antony the Great in the desert, and became a monk.  At the age of 40 years, St. Macarius became the abbot at Skete.

St. Macarius the Younger/of Alexandria, born in Alexandria, Egypt, circa 300, found his vocation in mid-life.  He, a merchant until he was 40 years old, accepted baptism and became an ascetic in the desert.  He, ordained to the priesthood became the prior of a monastery between Nitria and Skete.  One influence on St. Macarius the Younger was St. Pachomius the Great (292-346/348), the Founder of Christian Communal Monasticism.

In the fourth century C.E., Roman imperial politics was, for a time, inseparable from the conflict between Arians and orthodox Christians.  The Emperor Valens (reigned 364-378), an Arian, exiled the two St. Macariuses to an island in the Nile River.  They evangelized the inhabitants.  Our saints returned to the Nitrian Desert when the political situation changed.  Two of the people who greeted them were St. John the Dwarf and St. Pishoy.

St. Macarius the Elder died in 391.

St. Macarius the Younger in 395.

St. Pishoy, born in Shansa, Egypt, in 320, was another disciple of St. Pambo of Nitria.  St. Pishoy, raised in a Christian home, became a monk under St. Pambo at the age of 20 years.  St. John the Dwarf ordained St. Pishoy, who became a hermit in 375, after St. Pambo died.  St. Pishoy, known for his wisdom, kindness, and orthodoxy, founded a monastery at Skete.  The Berber invasion forced him to move in 408.  St. Pishoy founded a new monastery on the Mountains of Ansena, in Egypt.  He died there on July 15, 417.

St. Melania the Elder

Above:  St. Melania the Elder

Image in the Public Domain

St. Melania the Elder (born in 325), whose life intersected with many other lives, came from an extremely wealthy family.  They owned estates throughout the Roman Empire.  Her father, Marcellinus, married her off when she was 14 years old.  St. Melania the Elder’s husband was Valerius Maximus Basilius (circa 330-after 364), the Proconsul of Achaea (361-363).  He and two of their three children died when St. Melania the Elder was 22 years old.  She and her remaining son, Valerius Publicola, moved to Rome.  St. Melania the Elder converted to Christianity and raised her son as a Christian.

St. Melania the Elder, aged 32 years, left her son in the care of a guardian and took servants with her to Nitria, where she visited for a few months.  She became a traveling student of theology and patron of monasticism.  In 373, for example, St. Melania the Elder provided financial support for the orthodox monks exiled to Diocaesarea.  She and St. Rufinus of Aquileia settled in Jerusalem in 380.  There St. Melania the Elder financed a convent, where she lived, as well as a monastery, for St. Rufinus.

St. Melania the Elder, a cousin of St. Paulinus of Nola, was also an Origenist.  St. Jerome did not spare her from his poison pen.

St. Melania the Younger

Above:  St. Melania the Younger

Image in the Public Domain

Valerius Publicus (died in 406) grew up and had a family in Rome.  He married Caeionia Albinus, daughter of a consul.  They had a daughter, St. Melania the Younger, born in 383.  At the age of 14 years she married a cousin, Valerius Pinanus, a.k.a. St. Pinian (died in 420).  They were an extremely wealthy couple.  After their two children died young, Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian embarked on lives of celibacy.

St. Melania the Elder, visiting her family in Rome circa 400, influenced her granddaughter to follow her back to Jerusalem.  Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian moved, donated generously to the Church and the poor, and eventually became monastics in Messina, Sicily, starting in 408.  As Sts. Melania the Younger, Pinian, and Rufinus of Aquileia had fled Itlay because of the invasion of Alaric, as the Western Roman Empire crumbled.  Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian were on Sicily until 410.  That year they met and befriended St. Augustine of Hippo, and mutually founded a convent in northern Africa, with St. Melania the Younger serving as the Mother Superior.

After St. Melania the Elder died in 410/417, Sts. Melania the Younger and Pinian relocated to Palestine, where they founded another convent.  St. Pinian died in 420.  Afterward, St. Melania the Younger founded another monastery and church in Jerusalem.

She died in that city on December 31, 439.

Thank you, O reader, for taking his multi-saint journey through holiness with me.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 2, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE PRESENTATION OF JESUS IN THE TEMPLE

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O God, by whose grace your servants

Saint Pambo of Nitria,

Saint Ammonius of Skete,

Evagrius of Pontus,

Palladius of Galatia,

Saint Didymus the Blind,

Saint Rufinus of Aquileia,

Saint John II of Jerusalem,

Saint Macarius the Elder,

Saint Macarius the Younger,

Saint Pishoy,

Saint Melania the Elder,

Saint Melania the Younger,

and Saint Pinian,

became burning and shining lights in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light, through Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 723

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Feast of Sts. Poemen, John the Dwarf, and Arsenius the Great (July 19)   3 comments

Above:  Egypt and Palestine in 395 Common Era

SAINT POEMEN (DIED CIRCA 450)

Roman Catholic Abbot

His feast transferred from August 27

mentor of

SAINT JOHN THE DWARF (BORN CIRCA 399)

Roman Catholic Monk

His feast transferred from October 17

mentor of

SAINT ARSENIUS THE GREAT (CIRCA 355-CIRCA 450)

Roman Catholic Monk

Each of these saints has a separate feast day on the Roman Catholic calendar, but to tell their collective story in one post makes much sense to me.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Our story begins with St. Poemen (died circa 450).  He and other hermits settled at Skete, in the Libyan desert.  In 408 Berber raids forced them to relocate.  So the hermits moved to the ruins of a pagan temple at Terenuthis, Egypt.  St. Poemen and Anubis, his brother, alternated as abbot until the latter died.  The saint loved austerity, insisted on the frequent taking of the Holy Eucharist, had a reputation for holiness, and uttered many pithy and wise sayings, for which he was famous.

St. Poemen mentored St. John the Dwarf (born circa 399).  Born into a poor family at Basta in Lower Egypt, St. John went into the desert while a young man.  There he met St. Poemen.  Initially conceited and short-tempered, St. John grew spiritually, became gentle and humble, and lived most of his life austerely.  Late in life he was so spiritually-minded as to be absent-minded.  St. John died at Mount Quolzum, where he had lived since Berber raids had forced him to leave Skete.

While preparing for this post I read that St. John was also a disciple of one St. Ammoes.  I can find no other information about this saint, certainly a holy hermit in the north African desert.  Undoubtedly his positive influence was evident in St. John’s spiritual maturation.

St. Arsenius the Great (circa 335-circa 450) tutored the Roman Emperors Arcadius (reigned in the East from 395 to 408) and Honorius (reigned in the West from 395 to 423), sons of Theodosius I “the Great” (reigned in the East from 379 to 395 and in the West from 392 to 395), for a decade.  Then he left Constantinople to live in a monastic community at Alexandria, Egypt.  From there he moved to Skete, where St. John the Dwarf taught him how to live a holy hermit.  St. Arsenius chose this life over the alternative, luxury.  Circa 434 Marizi tribal raids forced him to leave Skete.  So St. Arsenius moved to the rock of Troe, Memphis, Egypt, where he lived for a decade.  Later he spent time on the island of Canopus, near Alexandria, before returning to Troe, where he died.  St. Arsenius also wrote a commentary on the Gospel of Luke.

In the lives of these saints we see wisdom, holiness, humility, and erudition.  We also witness the opposite of materialism.  How much does one person need?  I can answer that question only for myself.  It is a question the answer to which I continue to seek.  And I encourage you, O reader, to seek your own answer with God’s help and direction.

Regardless of the personalized answer to that question, I am certain of one universal rule:  Rust, moths, and thieves cannot deprive us of intangible blessings.  St. Poemen, starting a chain reaction  of holiness, passed along such blessings. Maybe you, O reader, can identify someone who has blessed you intangibly.  And maybe you will bless others in the same way.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 18, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS DELPHINUS OF BORDEAUX, AMANDUS OF BORDEAUX, SEVERINUS OF BORDEAUX, VENERIUS OF MILAN, AND CHROMATIUS OF AQUILEIA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOPS

THE FEAST OF ANSON DODGE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST

THE FEAST OF BERNARD MIZEKI, ANGLICAN CATECHIST AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF VERNARD ELLER, CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN THEOLOGIAN

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O God, by whose grace your servants

Saint Poemen,

Saint John the Dwarf, and

Saint Arsenius the Great,

kindled with the flame of your love,

became a burning and a shining light in your Church:

Grant that we also may be aflame with the spirit of love and discipline,

and walk before you as children of light,

through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Acts 2:42-47a

Psalm 133 or 34:1-8 or 119:161-168

2 Corinthians 6:1-10

Matthew 6:24-33

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 723