Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Saint George of Sinai (6th cent.)

St. George the Sinaite (Feast Day - March 11)

Our holy father, George of Mount Sinai, lived at the time of Justinian I (527-565), and during the tenure of Patriarch Peter of Jerusalem, who served for twenty-eight years (524-552).

According to Saint Sophronios (also celebrated this day), the venerable George lived and struggled virtuously in asceticism on Mount Sinai. It is said that once he had a desire to receive Holy Communion in the Church of the Resurrection of our Lord in Jerusalem and - lo, the miracle! - he found himself in that very sacred place. Indeed, a twelve-day journey was traversed in seconds! He arrived just when they were celebrating the Divine Liturgy, and received the Holy Mysteries at the hands of Patriarch Peter. (Some say that Saint George had this holy desire on the Day of the Holy Resurrection).

After the service, the Patriarch remarked to his steward Menas: "When did the monk from Sinai arrive?" He replied: "But your Beatitude, I just saw him myself!"1 The Patriarch continued: "Invite him to remain and sup with us." When Menas invited the venerable George to the table, he answered: "May the Lord's will be done." Straitway, after he made a prayer and paid his respects, he found himself back home on Mount Sinai.2 When it came time to eat, the Patriarch looked for Abba George, but he could not find him anywhere. So, he reproached him as a disobedient monk.

However, later, he sent the monk Photinos to the Bishop of Faran, whose jurisdiction was Sinai, with letters to the Sinai fathers ordering them to send the monk George back that he might sup with him. When the Sinai fathers saw the prelate's letter, they were astounded and perplexed. Unanimously, and with a clear conscience, all testified that George, in fact, had never left Mount Sinai, but was present at all times. To testify to this, they sent three eminent priests to the Patriarch. They were Abba Stephanos the Cappadocian, Abba Zosimas and Abba Doulites.

In turn, our venerable father also sent a letter to the Patriarch stating: "Forgive me, your Holiness, but I have not departed Sinai in seventy years, nor did I ever come to Paelstine.3 If I did come, I had no intention of insulting your angel. Nevertheless, may it please your Beatitude to know that in six months we shall both go to meet our Lord and will thereafter be inseparable!" Indeed, his prediction came to pass, and, after six months, both reposed in the Lord.

Notes:

1. It is possible that the monastics of Mount Sinai had some distinguishing mark whereby the Patriarch recognized our Saint to be one of their number.

2. Dositheos comments upon this miracle in his Dodekavivlos, p. 472.

3. The holy George was not lying when he said that he did not leave Mount Sinai; for he did not depart on his own accord or by his own efforts. He was taken there by the awesome power of the Holy Spirit.

From The Lives of the Saints of the Holy Land and the Sinai Desert, Holy Apostles Convent, Buena Vista, Colorado, 1988, pp. 179-180.

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