August 27th (IX - 9)
Icon of the Venerable Poemen the Great and the Martyr Fanourios
The Monk Pimen the Great (+ c. 450). Monks: PriestMartyr Kuksha and Pimen the Faster, of Pechersk in the Nearer Caves (+ post 1114). Sainted Hosia the Confessor, Bishop of Corduvium (Cordova) (+ 359). Sainted Liberius the Confessor, Pope of Rome (+ 366). Monk Pimen of Palestine (+ c. 602). Martyress Anthysa the New. Monk Sava. Monk Theoklitos. Saint Liudina. Martyr Phanurias (pre-VIII).
The Monk Pimen the Great was born in about the year 340 in Egypt. With his two brothers, Anubias and Paisias, he went into one of the Egyptian monasteries, and all three accepted monastic tonsure. The brothers were such strict ascetics, that when their mother came to the monastery to see her children, they did not come out to her from their cells. The mother stood there for a long time and wept. Then the Monk Pimen said to her through the closed door of the cell: "If thou bearest with the temporal parting from us now, then in the future life wilt thou see us, since we do hope upon God the Lover-of-Mankind!". The mother was humbled and returned home.
Fame about the deeds and virtues of the Monk Pimen spread throughout all the land. One time the governor of the district wanted to see him. The Monk Pimen, shunning fame, reasoned thus: "If dignitaries begin coming to me with respect, then also many of the people will start coming to me and disturb my quiet, and I shalt be deprived of the grace of humility, which I have found only with the help of God". And so he relayed a refusal to the messenger. For many of the monks, the Monk Pimen was a spiritual guide and instructor. And they wrote down his answers to serve to the edification of others besides themselves. A certain monk asked: "Ought one to veil over with silence the sin of a transgressing brother, if perchance one see him?" The elder answered: "If we reproach the sins of brothers, then God will reproach our sins, and if thou seest a brother sinning, believe not thine eyes and know, that thine own sin is like a wood-beam, but the sin of thy brother is like a wood-splinter, and then thou wilt not come into distress and temptation". Another monk turned to the saint, saying: "I have grievously sinned and I want to spend three years at repentance. Is such a length of time sufficient?" The elder answered: "That is a long time". The monk continued to ask, how long a period of repentance did the saint reckon necessary for him -- a year or forty days? The elder answered: "I think, that if a man repenteth from the depths of his heart and posits a firm intent to return no more to the sin, then God would accept also a three-day repentance". To the question, as to how to be rid of persistent evil thoughts, the saint answered: "If a man has on one side of him fire, and on the other side a vessel with water, then if he starts burning from the fire, he takes water from the vessel and extinguishes the fire. Like to this are the evil thoughts, suggested by the enemy of our salvation, which like a spark can enkindle sinful desires within man. It is necessary to put out these sparks with the water, which is prayer and the yearning of the soul for God".
The Monk Pimen was strict at fasting and did not partake of food for the space of a week or more. But others he advised to eat every day, only but without eating one's fill. For a certain monk, permitting himself to partake of food only on the seventh day but being angry with a brother, the saint said: "Thou wouldst learn to fast over six days, yet cannot abstain from anger for even a single day". To the question, which is better -- to speak or be silent, the elder said: "Whoso doth speak on account of God, doeth well, and whoso is silent on account of God -- that one doth act well". And moreover: "It may be, that a man seems to be silent, but if his heart doth judge others, then always is he speaking. But there are also those, who all the day long speak with their tongue, but within themself they do keep silence, since they judge no one".
The saint said: "For a man it is necessary to observe three primary rules: to fear God, to pray often and to do good for people". "Malice in turn never wipes out malice. If someone doeth thee bad, do them good, and thine good will conquer their bad". One time, when the monk with his students arrived at an Egyptian wilderness-monastery (since he had the habit to go about from place to place, so as to shun glory from men), it became known to him, that the elder living there was annoyed at his arrival and also was jealous of him. In order to overcome the malice of the hermit, the saint set off to him with his brethren, taking along with them food as a present. The elder refused to come out to them. Thereupon the Monk Pimen said: "We shall not depart from here, until we are granted to see and pay respect to the holy elder", -- and he remained standing in the bright heat at the door of the cell. Seeing such perseverance and lack of malice on the part of the Monk Pimen, the elder received him graciously and said: "It is right what I have heard about you, but I see in you the good deeds and an hundred times even moreso". Thus did the Monk Pimen know how to extinguish malice and provide good example to others. He possessed such great humility, that often with a sigh he said: "I shalt be cast down to that place, whither was cast down Satan!"
One time there came to the saint a monk from afar, to get his guidance. He began to speak about sublime matters difficult to grasp. The saint turned away from him and was silent. To the bewildered monk they explained, that the saint did not like to speak about lofty matters. Then the monk began to ask him about the struggle with passions of soul. The saint turned to him with a joyful face: "Here now thou well hath spoken, and I mustneeds answer", -- and for a long while he provided instruction, as to how one ought to struggle with the passions and conquer them.
The Monk Pimen died at age 110, in about the year 450. Soon after his death he was acknowledged as a saint pleasing to God and received the title "the Great" -- as a sign of his great humility, modesty, uprightness and self-denying service to God.
The PriestMartyr Kuksha and the Monk Pimen the Faster died after the year 1114. Sainted Simon, Bishop of Vladimir and Suzdal' (XII Century, Comm. 10 May), in a missive to the Monk Polykarp, Archimandrite of Pechersk (+ 1182, Comm. 24 July), wrote thus about the Monk Kuksha: "How can I worthily proclaim the glory of those saintly men, dwelling in the holy Pechersk monastery, in which pagans were baptised and became monks, and Jews accepted the holy faith? But I cannot keep silent about the Blessed PriestMartyr and Black-Robed Kuksha of this monastery, about whom everyone doth know, that he cast out devils, baptised the Vyatichi, caused it to rain, dried up a lake, did many other miracles, and after many torments was killed together with his disciple Nikon". The death of the PriestMartyr Kuksha was discerned by the Monk Pimen the Faster. Standing amidst the Pechersk Great church, he loudly exclaimed: "Our brother Kuksha was killed at dawn".
The Vyatichi, among whom the PriestMartyr Monk Kuksha preached and died, lived along the River Oka, and they occupied the locale of the Orlov and Kaluzh districts. They were pagans. The Monk Nestor the Chronicler (Comm. 27 October), writing about the Vyatichi, was shocked by their brutal customs and he added, that they thus live "furthermore only for the present day", remaining unacquainted with the Law of God and instead making their own law. The PriestMartyr Monk Kuksha preached to the Vyatichi during the era of Sainted Theoktist, Bishop of Chernigov (1113-1123, Comm. 5 August). He was buried thus, as was the Monk Pimen the Faster, in the Nearer Caves (Comm. of Monks of the Nearer Caves is 28 September).
Sainted Hosia the Confessor was bishop for more than 60 years in the city of Cordova (Spain) during the IV Century. The holy emperor Saint Constantine the Great (306-337) deeply revered him and made him a privy counsellor. The saint advised that Saint Constantine should convene the First OEcumenical Council at Nicea in the year 325, and he was the first to undersign the deliberations of this Council. After the death of Saint Constantine the Great, Saint Hosia firmly defended Sainted Athanasias of Alexandria (326-373, Comm. 2 May) against the emperor Constantius (337-361), an advocate of the Arian heresy. For this they sent him to prison in Sirmium. Upon his return to Cordova, Saint Hosia died in the year 359.
Sainted Liberius the Confessor, Pope of Rome, entered upon the papal throne in the year 352, after the death of Pope Julius. Saint Liberius was a fervent proponent of Orthodoxy against the Arian heresy and a defender of Saint Athanasias of Alexandria (Comm. 2 May). The emperor Constantius (337-361), inclining to side with the Arians, was not able to compel Saint Liberius to make a judgement against Saint Athanasias nor therefore against Orthodoxy. For such intransigence he was sent off to prison in Beroeia (Thrace), but was soon returned back on the insistent demands of the Roman people. Before his return, they summoned Saint Liberius to the Third Sirmian Semi-Arian Council, where they forced him to undersign the deliberations of the Council. Holy Pope Liberius afterwards deeply repented of this, and toiled much at Rome for the affirmation of Orthodoxy. He died peacefully in the year 366.
The Monk Pimen of Palestine lived during the VI Century in a cave in the Ruv wilderness. The holy fathers Sophronios and John speak about him in Chapter 167 of the book, "The Spiritual Meadow" ("Limonarion"). One time during winter the monk Agathonikes came to the Monk Pimen for guidance and remained to spend the night in an adjoining cave. In the morning he mentioned, that he had suffered much from the cold. The Monk Pimen answered, that he himself had been uncovered, but he did not feel the cold because a lion came to him and lay alongside him, warming him. "But I know, -- added the ascetic, -- that I shall be devoured by wild beasts, since when I lived in the world and shepherded sheep, a man came by my flock whom my dogs attacked and tore apart. I could have saved him, but I did not. It was later revealed to me, that I myself would die a similar death". And so it occurred: three years later it became known, that the holy Hermit Pimen of Palestine was torn apart by wild beasts. This happened at the end of the VI Century.
© 2000 by translator Fr. S. Janos