Saint of the Day – 4 October – Saint Ammon the Great (c 286-c 348) Layman, Married, Hermit, Ascetic, Founder of one of the most celebrated monastic communities in Egypt. Born in cc286 in Mariotis, Egypt and died in c 348 in Scetis, Egypt of natural causes. He was one of the most venerated ascetics of the Nitrian Desert and Saint Athanasius mentions him in his life of Saint Anthony. Also known as – Amon the Anchorite/Hermit, Ammonius, Amun, Ammon of Egypt.
Pushed into marriage by his family at the age of 20, he managed to persuade his bride to take a vow of chastity together with him by the authority of St. Paul’s Epistle to the Corinthians. They lived together this way for 18 years, when at her wish, they parted, and he retired to Scetis and Mount Nitria, to the south of Lake Mareotis, where he lived for 22 years, visiting his sister-wife twice a year. She had founded a convent in her own house.
He co-operated with St Anthony and gathered his Monks under his direct supervision, thus forming a Monastery from individual hermits. Traditionally, he is believed to have been the first hermit to have established a Monastery, known as Kellia, near Nitria. This is by no means verifiable but it is more certain that Ammon’s piety and fame drew others to the region. He died at the age of 62 years.
He died before St Anthony tof the Desert, from whom there is an epistle to him. that is, before the year 365, for the latter asserted that he “saw the soul of Ammon borne by angels to heaven” and as St Athanasius’ history of St Antony preserves the order of time, he died perhaps about 348. There are generally seventeen or nineteen Rules of Asceticism ascribed to him – the Greek original exists in manuscript; they were published in the Latin version of Gerardus Vossius. Twenty-two Ascetic Institutions of the same Ammon, exist also in manuscript. A collection of his letters remains extant.