Our Venerable Father Euthymius the Great

Our Venerable Father Euthymius the GreatJanuary 20

Of noble and distinguished parents, Euthymius was born in the Armenian town of Melitene near the Euphrates River, in about the year 377. He was an only child, born in answer to the prayer of his mother, Dionysia, who had a heavenly vision regarding his birth. From his youth he lived a life of asceticism, at first in the proximity of his town; but then, after he visited Jerusalem at age twenty-nine, in the desert between Jerusalem and Jericho, called Pharan. He filled his days and nights with prayer, divine contemplation, meditation and physical labors. Around him gathered many disciples, some of whom are glorious saints, such as Cyriacus the Hermit, Sava the Sanctified, Theoctistus and others. Through the gift of God, Euthymius was a great miracle-worker: he expelled demons, healed the gravely ill, brought forth water in the desert, multiplied bread, and prophesied. He taught monks the love of labor, saying: “If you eat bread not earned by your own labor, know that you are eating of someone else’s labor.” When some of the younger monks wanted to fast more than others, he forbade them to do so and commanded them to come to the communal table, so that they would not become prideful as a result of their excessive fasting. He also said that it was not good for a monk to move from place to place, for, he said, “a tree frequently transplanted does not bear fruit.” Whoever desires to do good, can do it from the place where he is. Concerning love, he said: “What salt is to bread, love is to other virtues.”

During the first week of Great Lent, he retreated to the desert and remained there in solitary silence and divine contemplation, until just before the Feast of the Resurrection. During his lifetime a large monastery was established in the proximity of his cave. Down through the centuries, this monastery was completely filled with monks, as a beehive is filled with bees. Euthymius’s final command was that the monastery always adhere to hospitality and that the gates of the monastery never be closed. He reposed at the age of ninety-seven. The Patriarch of Jerusalem was in attendance at his funeral. The patriarch waited all day long until the great masses of people reverenced the body of the saint, and only in the evening were they able to complete the Office for the Burial of the Dead. On the seventh day following his death, Euthymius appeared radiant and rejoicing to Dometian, his disciple. The Venerable Euthymius was a true “son of light.” He reposed in the year 473.

Source: St. Nikolai Velimirovic, The Prologue of Ohrid – Volume One.

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