Thalassius and Limnaeus, Syrian Hermits

February 22 is the commemmoration of Thalassius and Limnaeus. Syrian ascetics. One of their unique forms of asceticism was “silence.” Following the death of St. Thalassius in 440 A.D., Limnaeus joined St. Maron and with him lived a life of mortification on top of a mountain under the open sky.
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“Thalassius (“maritime”) became a hermit in Syria sometime in the fifth century, living either in the open or in a cave near either Cyr(rhus) or Targala for thirty-eight years. One of his special ascetic practices was silence, which he must have practiced when not instructing the inevitable disciples that spontaneously generate in the vicinity of a wonderworking hermit. He built them cells with his own hands, perhaps figuring that was the only way to keep them from building a monastery. He is noted for his humility, simplicity, and gentleness.

One of his many disciples was Limnaeus (“lake dweller”), who after Thalassius’ death in 440 joined St. Maron, who died in either 410 or 423. By my reckoning this means either Limnaeus was the first time-traveling saint, or there is some glitch in our sources. It is my custom to take the sources at face-value; draw your own conclusions. Limnaeus (we are assured) acquired all of Thalassius’ virtues, presumably including silence, although he did build a window in his cell through which he could talk to visitors. The building had no roof, so he could talk to birds as well. With the help of his “admirers” he built a home for the destitute and crippled, which was supplied with food by various pious neighbors, and with spiritual instruction by Limnaeus. He too was known as a healer, and even healed himself of a deadly snakebite.”

The primary source for Thalassius and Limnaeus is the “Religious History” of Theodoret of Cyrrhus (“A History of the Monks of Syria”, trans. R.M. Price [Kalamazoo, MI: Cistercian, 1985], pp. 150-3), who knew all three personally.
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