Syrian Hermit Saints

Fresco Painting of Saints in the Ayios Neophytos Hermitage
“Of all the places in early Christianity one is drawn to the to Syrian desert, mostly the Scetes, where the Christians fathers and mothers fled from human contact and the trials and tribulations of the time. We know that many fled because of the inner need to live the life of silence and meditation, in endless conversation with the Master; but just as many if not more fled from the persecutions of Christians in their times. The times were brutal, ravaged by plagues, butchery, and a sick disregard for the poor and the needy. This of course occurred in many parts of the world, and not particularly Egypt or Syria. But it is the kind of practices that the desert hermits undertook on thier mental and physical existence that inspires the modern being, fills us with awe, and gives us greater thoughts to meditate upon. The role that early Syrian Christianity took could be traced back to the Gospel of St. Mathew. Of all the gospels, it seems that it was St. Mathew’s that inspired the Christian hermits. We must understand that many of these hermits were from high and noble classes, they were not simple-minded folks with little education, but many of them had classical educations, and therefore their convictions are all the more sincere.”
syrian monastery saint moses
Monastery of Saint Moses the Ethiopian in Syria – see
+ Akepsimas
Akepsimas the Hermit of Cyrrhus in Syria is known as a desert ascetic of the early Church. Akepsimas, in the venerable tradition of the Desert Fathers, dedicated his life to God through solitude, silence, mortifications and prayer. The Patriarch of his day called Akepsimas out of solitude to serve the faithful as Bishop. He is recorded to have died at a very advanced age. Saint Akepsimas the Hermit is commemorated 3 November in the Eastern Christian Churches.

+ Auxentius of Bithynia
Auxentius of Bithynia was a hermit born circa AD 400 in Syria, and died February 14, 473, on Mount Scopas.

“Auxentius was in the Equestrian Guard of Roman Emperor Theodosius II, but left to become a solitary monk on Mount Oxia near Constantinople. He was accused of heresy but was exonerated at the Council of Chalcedon. Afterward he returned to his hermitage atop Mount Scopas, in Bithynia, not far from Chalcedon. This mountain is today called Kayışdağ in the Kadiköy subprovince of Istanbul, the seat of Yeditepe University. The hill ‘s thickly wooded and no remains from the late Roman period have been identified. Saint Auxentius, by origin a Syrian, served at the court of the emperor Theodosius the Younger (418-450). He was known as a virtuous, learned and wise man, and he was, moreover, a friend of many of the pious men of his era. Distressed by worldly vanity, St Auxentius was ordained to the holy priesthood, and then received monastic tonsure. After this he went to Bithynia and found a solitary place on Mount Oxia, not far from Chalcedon, and there he began the life of a hermit (This mountain was afterwards called Mt. Auxentius). The place of the saint’s efforts was discovered by shepherds seeking their lost sheep. They told others about him, and people began to come to him for healing. St Auxentius healed many of the sick and the infirm in the name of the Lord. In the year 451 St Auxentius was invited to the Fourth Ecumenical Council at Chalcedon, where he denounced the Eutychian and Nestorian heresies. Familiar with Holy Scripture and learned in theology, St Auxentius easily bested those opponents who disputed with him. After the end of the Council, St Auxentius returned to his solitary cell on the mountain. With his spiritual sight he saw the repose of St Simeon the Stylite (459) from a great distance. St Auxentius died about the year 470, leaving behind him disciples and many monasteries in the region of Bithynia. He was buried in the Monastery of St Hypatius at Rufiananas, Syria.”

+ Eusebius the Hermit
Saint Eusebius the Hermit was a fourth-century monk solitary of Syria. Eusebius undertook a rigorously ascetic life living without shelter near a mountain village named Asicha. According to Eastern Christian sources: “Though he was elderly and infirm, he ate only fifteen figs during the Great Forty day Fast. When many people began to flock to St. Eusebius, he went to a nearby monastery, built a small enclosure at the monastery walls and lived in it until his death.” Saint Eusebius the Hermit of Syria is commemorated 15 February by the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches.

+ Jacob of Nisibis
jacob of nisibis
Jacob of Nisibis (Syriac: ܝܥܩܘܒ ܢܨܝܒܢܝܐ, Yaʿqôḇ Nṣîḇnāyâ; died c. AD 338), is a Assyrian saint. He was the second bishop of Nisibis, spiritual father of the renowned Assyrian Ephrem the Syrian, and celebrated ascetic. Jacob was appointed bishop, in 308, of the Christian community of Nisibis in Mesopotamia (modern Nusaybin, located near the Turkey/Syria border). Jacob of Nisibis, also known as James of Nisibis and as Jacob of Nusaybin, is recorded as a signatory at the First Council of Nicaea in 325. He was the first Christian to search for the Ark of Noah, which he claimed to find a piece of on a mountain, Mount Judi (Turkish Cudi Dağı), 70 miles (110 km) from Nisibis. He founded the basilica and theological School of Nisibis after the model of the school of Diodorus of Tarsus in Antioch. It was not until the 10th century that the “Persian Sage” who had been incorrectly identified with Jacob of Nisibis was finally identified with Aphrahat. Jacob was the teacher and spiritual director of Saint Ephrem the Syrian, a great ascetic, teacher and hymn writer who combatted Arianism.
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+ Macedonius of Syria
Macedonius the Hermit, sometimes known as Macedonius Kritophagus lived at the turn of the fourth to fifth century in Syria. He is venerated as a saint in the Eastern Orthodox Church, with a feast day of January 24. Macedonius began his ascetic life as a pilgrim wandering from city to city in Syria, Phoenicia, and Cilicia living entirely on barley moistened with water (hence Kritophagus, ‘barley-eater’). Eventually he settled in the wilderness, far from human contact, taking shelter in a pit. He considered food a form of medicine that could be taken to stave off death because it is not lawful to “shorten one’s life to shun labors and conflicts.” Macedonius became well known to people far and wide for his holiness and gifts of healing and exorcism. Gradually multitudes of people came to seek his direction and intercession. Only at a very advanced age did he agree to live in a cell provided for him. He died circa 420 at seventy years of age.
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+ Maron
Maron (also Maroun or Maro; Syriac: ܡܪܝ ܡܪܘܢ, Mor(y) Morōn; Arabic: مار مارون‎) was a 5th-century Syriac Christian monk whose followers, after his death, founded a religious Christian movement that became known as the Maronites. The religious community which grew from this movement is the Maronite Church. Saint Maroun was known for his missionary work, miraculous healing and teachings of Christian monotheism. He was a priest who later became a hermit. After his death in 410 AD, his life of sanctity and miracles attracted many followers and drew attention throughout the Mediterranean empire.
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+Palladius of Antioch

Palladius of Antioch, Saint Palladius the Desert Dweller (died 309) is an Orthodox and Catholic saint. Palladius was a hermit in the desert near Antioch, Syria (today Turkey). He was a friend of Saint Simeon. Palladius died in 390 of natural causes and was canonized in pre-Congregation times. Saint Palladius the Desert Dweller led an ascetic life in a mountain cave near Syrian Antioch. Because of his struggles, he is said to have received the gift wonder-working from the Lord. Once, a merchant was found murdered by robbers near his cave. People accused St Palladius of the murder, but through the prayer of the saint, the dead man rose up and named his murderers. The saint died at the end of the fourth century, leaving behind several works. Saint Palladius is commemorated in the Orthodox Church and Eastern Catholic Churches on January 28.

+ Peter the Hermit of Galatia

Saint Peter the Hermit of Galatia near Antioch, in Syria, lived in the early fifth century AD. Peter’s life is recorded by Theodoret of Cyrrhus whose own family was touched by the saint’s gifts of healing. Saint Peter the Hermit left his home at a very early age and lived as a wandering monk for many years travelling extensively throughout the Middle-East. Eventually he settled near Antioch where he lived a very strict asceticism and became known for his holiness. Peter the Hermit of Galatia near Antioch is commemorated 1 February by the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches.

+ Saint Rubin

Saint Rubin is a saint of the Syrian Orthodox church. He was a stylite of Kartamin. He is commemorated with feast days of August 1 and August 4.

+ Simeon Stylites
Saint Simeon Stylites or Symeon the Stylite (سمعان العمودي) (c. Saint Simeon Stylites or Symeon the Stylite (Classical Syriac: ܫܡܥܘܢ ܕܐܣܛܘܢܐ šamʻun dasṯonáyá, Ancient Greek: Συμεὼν ὁ στυλίτης Symeon Stylites Arabic: سمعان العمودي‎ semaan al aamoudi ) (c. 388 – 2 September 459) was a Christian ascetic saint who achieved fame for living 37 years on a small platform on top of a pillar near Aleppo in Syria. Several other stylites later followed his model (the Greek word style means pillar). He is known formally as Saint Simeon Stylites the Elder to distinguish him from Simeon Stylites the Younger and Simeon Stylites III.

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+ Simeon the Holy Fool
simeon the fool
Simeon the Holy Fool was a Christian monk, hermit and saint of the sixth century AD. He is considered to be a patron saint of all holy fools and also puppeteers.

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On Fools for Christ, see:

+ Thalassius of Syria
Saint Thalassius of Syria undertook the call of God to life as a hermit in the fifth century. Thalassius is recorded to have entered into solitude at a young age near a village named Targala in Syria. He is said to have dwelt there living the ascetic life with no shelter for nearly forty years. Thalassius’ was a soul filled with humbleness, simplicity, and a gentle nature. God manifested in the saint the gifts of powerful intercession and healing for which he gained considerable renown. In time many came to join Thalassius in the eremitic life and he welcomed them as he would welcome Christ, building them cells with his own hands. Saint Thalassius, Hermit of Syria is said to have died peacefully and is commemorated 22 February by the Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic Churches.
syrian hermit now
Contemporary Syrian Hermit:

The Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch (ܥܕܬܐ ܣܘܪܝܝܬܐ ܬܪܝܨܬ ܫܘܒܚܐ‎) is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in the Eastern Mediterranean, with members spread throughout the world. It employs the oldest surviving liturgy in Christianity, the Liturgy of St. James the Apostle, and uses Syriac as its official and liturgical language. The church is led by the Syriac Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch. The Syriac Orthodox Church traces its history to one of the first Christian communities, described in the Acts of the Apostles (New Testament, Acts 11:26) and established by the Apostle St. Peter. The Church belongs to the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, which has been a distinct church body since the Council of Chalcedon in AD 451.

The term Syrian is also sometimes used to refer to the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, also known as the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East and the Antioch an Orthodox Church (Greek: Πατριαρχεῖον Ἀντιοχείας, Patriarcheîon Antiocheías; Arabic: بطريركية أنطاكية وسائر المشرق للروم الأرثوذكس‎, Baṭriyarkiyya Anṭākiya wa-Sāʾir al-Mashriq li’l-Rūm al-Urthūdhuks, “Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch and All the East”), is an autocephalous Greek Orthodox Church within the wider communion of Orthodox Christianity. Headed by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch, it considers itself the successor to the Christian community founded in Antioch by the Apostles Peter and Paul.
maronite hermits
The body of Hermit Saba laid in the Monastery’s court in 1900. Deir Mar Asha’ya (The Monastery of Mar Asha’ya). See

Sometimes it is also used when referring to the Maronites (Arabic: موارنة‎ mawārinah , mwārne ; Syriac: ܡܖ̈ܘܢܝܐ māronāyé , morunoyé ) are an ethnoreligious group in the Levant. They derive their name from the Syriac saint Maron whose followers moved to Mount Lebanon from northern Syria establishing the nucleus of the Maronite Church. Maronites were able to maintain an independent status in Mount Lebanon and its coastline after the Arab Islamic conquest, maintaining their religion and language there until the 13th century. Remnants of their language exist in Cyprus and formerly in some secluded mountain villages, which have since adopted Arabic due to government standardization. The Maronite Church is in communion with the Church of Rome.

It is also sometimes used when referring to the Melkite Greek Catholic Church: The Melkite Greek Catholic Church (Arabic: كنيسة الروم الملكيين الكاثوليك‎, Kanīsat ar-Rūm al-Malakiyyīn al-Kāṯūlīk) is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. The Melkites, Byzantine Rite Catholics of mixed Eastern Mediterranean and Greek origin, trace their history to the early Christians of Antioch, Turkey, of the 1st century AD, where Christianity was introduced by St. Peter.
ignatius zakka
Ignatius Zakka I Iwas (Syriac: ܐܝܓܢܐܛܝܘܣ ܙܟܝ ܩܕܡܝܐ ܥܝܘܐܨ, Arabic: إغناطيوس زكا الأول عيواص‎, Zakkà ‘Īwāṣ,

Antioch has the curious ecclesiastical and canonical distinction of having, at one time, more Patriarchs of rival jurisdictions than any other place. Today five churches use the title of Patriarch of Antioch: the Syriac Orthodox Church and Syriac Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and the Maronite Church; and, historically, there has also been a Latin Patriarch of Antioch (this Patriarchate was officially abolished in 1964)


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