Saint of the Day – 20 January – Saint Euthymius (c 377–473) Abbot, Hermit, Ascetic, founder of Monasteries, spiritual teacher. Born in c 377 at Melitine, Armenia (modern Malatya, Turkey) and died on 20 January 473 of natural causes. Also known as Euthymius the Great.
Euthymius was educated by Bishop Otreius of Melitene, who afterwards Ordained him Priest and placed him in charge of all the Monasteries in the Diocese of Melitene.
At the age of twenty-nine he secretly set out on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and remained for some time with a settlement of Monks, about six miles east of Jerusalem. In 411 he withdrew, with St Theoctistus, a fellow-hermit, into the wilderness and lived for a while in a rough cavern on the banks of a torrent. When many disciples gathered around them, they turned the cavern into a Church and built a Monastery which was placed under the Abbacy of St Theoctistus.
A miraculous cure which Euthymius effected for Terebon, the son of the Saracen chief Aspebetus, spread the fame of the holy hermit far beyond the confines of Palestine. Aspebetus was afterwards Ordained Priest and became Bishop over his area and people, in which capacity, he attended the Council of Ephesus in 431.
When the report of this miracle had made the name of Euthymius famous throughout Palestine and large crowds came to visit him in his solitude, he retreated with his disciple Domitian, to the wilderness of Ruba, near the Dead Sea. Here he lived for some time on a remote mountain called Marda whence he afterwards withdrew to the desert of Zipho. When large crowds also followed him to this place, he returned to the neighbourhood of the Monastery of Theoctistus, where he took up his abode in a cavern.
Every Sunday he came to the Monastery to take part in the Divine services. At length, because numerous disciples desired him as their spiritual guide, he founded, in 420, on the right side of the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, a Monastery made up of separate cells or huts where the hermits met in a communal area for meals, similar to that of Pharan. The Church connected with this Monastery was dedicated in 428 by Juvenal, the first Patriarch of Jerusalem.
When the Council of Chalcedon (451) condemned the errors of Eutyches, it was greatly due to the authority of Euthymius that most of the Eastern recluses accepted its decrees. The Empress Eudoxia was converted to Catholic unity through his efforts.
The Church celebrates his feastday on 20 January, the day of his death.