Born in Cappadocia (modern-day Turkey), Saint Sabas is one of the most highly regarded patriarchs among the monks of Palestine and is considered one of the founders of Eastern monasticism.

After an unhappy childhood in which he was abused and ran away several times, St. Sabas finally sought refuge in a monastery. While family members tried to persuade him to return home, the young boy felt drawn to monastic life. Although the youngest monk in the house, he excelled in virtue.

At age 18 he traveled to Jerusalem, seeking to learn more about living in solitude. Soon he asked to be accepted as a disciple of a well-known local solitary, though initially he was regarded as too young to live completely as a hermit. Initially, St. Sabas lived in a monastery, where he worked during the day and spent much of the night in prayer. At the age of 30 he was given permission to spend five days each week in a nearby remote cave, engaging in prayer and manual labor in the form of weaving baskets. Following the death of his mentor, St. Euthymius, St. Sabas moved farther into the desert near Jericho. There he lived for several years in a cave near the brook Cedron. A rope was his means of access. Wild herbs among the rocks were his food. Occasionally men brought him other food and items, while he had to go a distance for his water.

Some of these men came to him desiring to join him in his solitude. At first he refused. But not long after relenting, his followers swelled to more than 150, all of them living in individual huts grouped around a church, called a laura.

The bishop persuaded a reluctant St. Sabas, then in his early 50s, to prepare for the priesthood so that he could better serve his monastic community in leadership. While functioning as abbot among a large community of monks, he felt ever called to live the life of a hermit. Throughout each year —consistently in Lent—he left his monks for long periods of time, often to their distress. A group of 60 men left the monastery, settling at a nearby ruined facility. When St. Sabas learned of the difficulties they were facing, he generously gave them supplies and assisted in the repair of their church.

Over the years St. Sabas traveled throughout Palestine, preaching the true faith and successfully bringing back many to the Church. At the age of 91, in response to a plea from the Patriarch of Jerusalem, St. Sabas undertook a journey to Constantinople in conjunction with the Samaritan revolt and its violent repression. He fell ill and, soon after his return, died at the monastery at Mar Saba. Today the monastery is still inhabited by monks of the Eastern Orthodox Church, and St. St. Sabas is regarded as one of the most noteworthy figures of early monasticism.

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9 COMMENTS

  1. O wondrous and laudable Saint of God, venerable Father Sabbas!
    Today [in thy holy church] , devoutly standing before thy holy icon and joyously celebrating thy bright memory, we praise thee, as one who cometh to our aid.
    And, honoring thy great boldness before God, we humbly beseech thee, most blessed one, mercifully to receive this our hymn of praise, brought to thee in love and sincerity.
    And as one having great boldness before the Lord, hasten thou in thine intercession so acceptable to God, and ask from the King of kings and Lord of lords, that He continue His great and rich mercies to us sinners; that He bestow the spirit of right faith upon us, the spirit of knowledge and love, the spirit of peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, that He deliver us from troubles and temptations, sending down upon us all those things that are useful unto the salvation of our souls.
    May He grant unto His people blessed and peaceful times; may He send down His grace upon Orthodox bishops, that they may rightly divide the word of His truth: unto those in civil authority and to judges may He send wisdom, and freedom from hypocrisy.

    And unto all Orthodox Christians may He grant peace, tranquillity, freedom from strife, devotion in the fulfillment of His commandments, abundance of the fruits of the earth; may He deliver [the suffering lands of Russia and Serbia,] this and every Christian land from famine, earthquake, flood, fire, the axe, the onslaught of foreign enemies and civil war, deadly contagion and from every ill.
    Yea, O Saint of God, despise not our petitions, but hear us who entreat thee, and keep us under thy protection and defense, [along with this monastery,] undisturbed by enemies visible and invisible, that we may be vouchsafed to complete our life in repentance, and obtain the eternal good things in the Kingdom of Christ
    our God, so as there to praise, together with thee and all the Saints, the rightfully worshipped name of the Most Holy Trinity: the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, unto ages of ages.
    Amen

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