Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Saint Romanos of Cilicia the Wonderworker

St. Romanos the Wonderworker (Feast Day - February 9)

Verses

Having deep forgetfulness and living life,
Romanos departed this life.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus, Syria

The Great Theodosios, while originating from Antioch and contending in the mountains of Rhosus, returned to the city of Antioch to finish his life there. In contrast, the godly Romanos, both born and first reared at Rhosus, took up the contests of virtue in Antioch; he pitched his tent outside the circuit of the city by the foot of the mountain, and lived all the time in someone else's house, and this a tiny one.1 He continued into old age neither using fire nor accepting the light of a lamp; his food was bread and salt and his drink spring-water. His hair was like that of the great Theodosios, as likewise his dress and irons. He surpassed him, however, in simplicity of character, gentleness of behavior, and modesty of spirit. Because of this he emitted the radiance of divine grace; for, "On whom," says the Lord, "will I look except on the man who is gentle and quiet and trembles at my words?" And again he said to his own disciples, "Learn from me, for I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls," and again, "Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." And this was the distinguishing feature of the achievements of Moses the lawgiver: "Moses," he says, "was very meek, more than all men that were on earth." The All-holy Spirit bore witness of this in the case also of the prophet David: "Lord, remember David and all his meekness." And concerning the patriarch Jacob we have learnt that he "was a quiet man, dwelling at home." Gathering these virtues like a bee from the divine meadows, he made the true honey of philosophy.

But he did not enjoy these labors in solitude; also to those outside there flowed from him most pleasant streams. Speaking gently and sweetly to those who visited him, he addressed many exhortations on fraternal love, many on harmony and peace. Many he made lovers of the things of God simply by being seen; for who would not have been overwhelmed with admiration on seeing an old man who was worn away in body, put up with long hair, chose to wear as much iron as possible, used clothing made of hair, and took food sufficient only to prevent death from hunger? In addition to the greatness and number of his labors the bloom of grace induced all to admire and honor him. From many he often drove out serious diseases, to many sterile women he gave the gift of children. But although he had received such power from the divine Spirit, he called himself a pauper and beggar. He continued his whole life long, by his presence and words, to shower with benefits all who visited him.

On his departure from here and transference into the angelic choir, he left behind a memory not buried with the body but flowering, flourishing, abiding inextinguishable forever, sufficing to profit those who wish. And so after gaining blessing therefrom, I shall recount, as far as possible, the facts about the other athletes.

NOTES

1. Romanos is listed in Theodoret, Eccl. Hist. IV.28 as one of the hermits on Mt. Silpius, near Antioch, in around the time of Valens (364-378). He clearly died before the young Theodoret could visit him or, indeed, gather more precise information about him. It is solely his birthplace, Rhosus, that wins him mention here (to balance Theodosios).

From The History of the Monks of Syria.

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