January 23, 2016

Saint Salamanes the Hesychast

St. Salamanes the Hesychast (Feast Day - January 23)


Crawling on the ground and sunk down in life,
Your acts and words were lofty Salamanes.

By Theodoret, Bishop of Cyrus in Syria

Since I think I would be wronging virtue if I were not also to make known to posterity the life of the wonderful Salamanes,* but allow it to be buried by oblivion, I shall, in summary, make the narration. To the west of the river Euphrates, lying on the very bank, is a village called Capersana. Originating from this village, he embraced the quiet life. Finding a small hut in the village on the opposite bank, he confined himself, leaving neither door nor window. Once a year he would dig a hole at ground level and receive his food for the whole year, never speaking to anyone; and he continued in this way not for a short time but for the longest possible.

The bishop of the city to which the village belonged, learning of the man's virtue, came with the intention of giving him the gift of the priesthood; getting in by digging through a part of the hut, he laid his hand on his head and performed the prayer, and spoke to him at length, explaining the grace resulting. Without hearing any speech he departed, after ordering the hole to be walled up again.

On another occasion the inhabitants of his village of origin, crossing the bridge of the river by night and digging through his cell, seized and carried him, neither resisting nor ordering it, along to their own village, where at daybreak they built a similar hut, where they immediately confined him. He maintained silence as before, saying nothing to anyone. But after a few days the inhabitants of the village on the other side, also coming by night and digging through the cell, led him back to themselves, while he made no protest, neither struggling to remain nor returning back eagerly. Thus had he made himself totally dead to this life, and could utter truthfully the apostolic saying, "I have been crucified with Christ: I no longer live, but Christ lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20-21). Such was this man; for these particulars suffice to show the whole purpose of his life. I myself, after reaping thence a blessing, shall proceed to give an account of the others.

* Salamanes was a recluse in a village on the east bank of the Euphrates; it lay opposite Capersana, a village north of Zeuma. His dates are unknown.

From the A History of the Monks of Syria.