Euthymius the Great, Monk and Hermit

“Saint Euthymius the Great came from the city of Melitene in Armenia, near the River Euphrates. His parents, Paul and Dionysia, were pious Christians of noble birth. After many years of marriage they remained childless, and in their sorrow they entreated God to give them offspring. Finally, they had a vision and heard a voice saying, “Be of good cheer! God will grant you a son, who will bring joy to the churches.” The child was named Euthymius (“good cheer”).
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St Euthymius’ father died soon after this, and his mother, fulfilling her vow to dedicate her son to God, gave him to her brother, the priest Eudoxius, to be educated. He presented the chid to Bishop Eutroius of Melitene, who accepted him with love. Seeing his good conduct, the bishop soon made him a Reader.

St Euthymius later became a monk and was ordained to the holy priesthood. At the same time, he was entrusted with the supervision of all the city monasteries. St Euthymius often visited the monastery of St Polyeuctus, and during Great Lent he withdrew into the wilderness. His responsibility for the monasteries weighed heavily upon the ascetic, and conflicted with his desire for stillness, so he secretly left the city and headed to Jerusalem. After venerating the holy shrines, he visited the Fathers in the desert.

Since there was a solitary cell in the Tharan lavra, he settled into it, earning his living by weaving baskets. Nearby, his neighbor St Theoctistus also lived in asceticism.
theoctistus
They shared the same zeal for God and for spiritual struggles, and each strove to attain what the other desired. They had such love for one another that they seemed to share one soul and one will.

Every year, after the Feast of Theophany, they withdrew into the desert of Coutila (not far from Jericho). One day, they entered a steep and terrifying gorge with a stream running through it. They saw a cave upon a cliff, and settled there. The Lord, however, soon revealed their solitary place for the benefit of many people. Shepherds driving their flocks came upon the cave and saw the monks. They went back to the village and told people about the ascetics living there.
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People seeking spiritual benefit began to visit the hermits and brought them food. Gradually, a monastic community grew up around them. Several monks came from the Tharan monastery, among them Marinus and Luke. St Euthymius entrusted the supervision of the growing monastery to his friend Theoctistus.

St Euthymius exhorted the brethren to guard their thoughts. “Whoever desires to lead the monastic life should not follow his own will. He should be obedient and humble, and be mindful of the hour of death. He should fear the judgment and eternal fire, and seek the heavenly Kingdom.”
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The saint taught young monks to fix their thoughts on God while engaging in physical labor. “If laymen work in order to feed themselves and their families, and to give alms and offer sacrifice to God, then are not we as monks obliged to work to sustain ourselves and to avoid idleness? We should not depend on strangers.”…

Word of the miracles performed by St Euthymius spread quickly. People came from everywhere to be healed of their ailments, and he cured them. Unable to bear human fame and glory, the monk secretly left the monastery, taking only his closest disciple Dometian with him. He withdrew into the Rouba desert and settled on Mt. Marda, near the Dead Sea.
In his quest for solitude, the saint explored the wilderness of Ziph and settled in the cave where David once hid from King Saul. St Euthymius founded a monastery beside David’s cave, and built a church. During this time St Euthymius converted many monks from the Manichean heresy, he also healed the sick and cast out devils.
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Visitors disturbed the tranquillity of the wilderness. Since he loved silence, the saint decided to return to the monastery of St Theoctistus. Along the way they found a quiet level place on a hill, and he remained there. This would become the site of St Euthymius’ lavra, and a little cave served as his cell, and then as his grave.

St Theoctistus went with his brethren to St Euthymius and requested him to return to the monastery, but the monk did not agree to this. However, he did promise to attend Sunday services at the monastery.

St Euthymius did not wish to have anyone nearby, nor to organize a cenobium or a lavra. The Lord commanded him in a vision not to drive away those who came to him for the salvation of their souls. After some time brethren again gathered around him, and he organized a lavra, on the pattern of the Tharan Lavra….

Because of his ascetic life and firm confession of the Orthodox Faith, St Euthymius is called “the Great.” Wearied by contact with the world, the holy abba went for a time into the inner desert. After his return to the lavra some of the brethren saw that when he celebrated the Divine Liturgy, fire descended from Heaven and encircled the saint. St Euthymius himself revealed to several of the monks that often he saw an angel celebrating the Holy Liturgy with him. The saint had the gift of clairvoyance, and he could discern a person’s thoughts and spiritual state from his outward appearance. When the monks received the Holy Mysteries, the saint knew who approached worthily, and who received unworthily.
When St Euthymius was 82 years old, the young Sava (the future St Sava the Sanctified, December 5), came to his lavra. The Elder received him with love and sent him to the monastery of St Theoctistus. He foretold that St Sava would outshine all his other disciples in virtue.

When the saint was ninety years of age, his companion and fellow monk Theoctistus became grievously ill. St Euthymius went to visit his friend and remained at the monastery for several days. He took leave of him and was present at his end. After burying his body in a grave, he returned to the lavra.”
http://oca.org/saints/all-lives/2014/01/20
Euthymius the Great monastery
The remains of the Monastery founded by the hermit Euthymius the Great: see http://www.biblewalks.com/sites/EuthemiusMonastery.html

For Euthymius the Great see also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euthymius_the_Great
http://orthodoxwiki.org/Euthymius_the_Great
http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com/2011/01/saint-euthymius-great.html
four great saints
Leo Papadopulos “Four Great Saints: Four Great Fathers: Saint Paisius the Great,Saint Pachomius the Great, Saint Euthymius the Great, and Saint Theodosius “ [Holy Trinity Publications, 2007]

Full-length lives of four of the greatest of the Desert Fathers of the early church. They lived in the deserts of Egypt or Palestine in the fourth and fifth centuries. Each was a monastic pioneer of sorts, and each made a lasting contribution to the development of the monastic life in the Orthodox Church. Hundreds of men were so inspired by their wisdom and holiness that they followed them to remote desert locations to form monastic communities, some of which are still alive in the 21st century. Translated from the original Greek. Written in the classic hagiographical style, suitable for reading aloud in formal or informal situations.

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