Venerable Poemen the Great

Venerable Poemen the GreatAugust 27

Poemen was an Egyptian by birth and a great ascetic of Egypt. As a boy he visited the most renewed spiritual men. He gathered tangible knowledge from them, as a bee gathers honey from flowers. Poemen once begged the elder Paul to take him to St. Paisius. Seeing Poemen, Paisius said to Paul: “This child will save many; the hand of God is on him.” In time Poemen was tonsured a monk, and attracted two of his brothers to the monastic life as well. Once his mother came to see her sons. Poemen did not allow her to enter but asked her through the door: “Do you desire more to see us here, or there, in eternity?” The mother withdrew with joy, saying: “Since I will surely see you there, then I do not desire to see you here!” In the monastery where these three brothers dwelled (which was governed by Abba Anoub, Poemen’s eldest brother), their rule was as follows: At night they spent four hours doing manual work, four hours sleeping, and four hours reading the Psalter. During the day, they alternated work and prayer from morning to noon, did their reading from noon until Vespers, and made supper for themselves after Vespers. This was the only meal in twenty-four hours, and it usually consisted of some kind of cabbage. Poemen is said to have commented: “We ate that which was given to us. No one ever said, ‘Give me something else,’ or ‘I do not want that.’ In this way, we spent our entire life in silence and peace.” Poemen lived a life of asceticism in the fifth century, and reposed peacefully in old age.

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

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