June 17, 2017

Life and Sayings of Holy Abba Pior of Scetis

Holy Abba Pior (Feast Day - June 17)


The soul of Pior had a wealth of virtues,
His rich soul departing full of fat.

Pior, an early settler in Nitria, lived at first with Anthony the Great. He was a priest, and became a solitary in Scetis. Below are the life and sayings of Abba Pior as we read in the Lausiac History and the Paradise of the Fathers.

Concerning Abba Pior

By Bishop Palladius of Helenopolis

Lausiac History, Ch. 11

And there was an Egyptian youth whose name was Pior, and he was a holy man; and when he departed from the house of his parents he made a covenant with God with the zeal of excellence that he would never see again any of his kinsfolk. And after fifty years had passed, the sister of this blessed man, who was very old and grey, heard that he was alive, and she greatly desired to see him; now she was unable to come to him to the desert, and she besought the Bishop, who was in that country, to write to the fathers who lived in the desert telling them to urge him, and to send him to see his sister. Then when the blessed man saw the pressure which came from them to make him go, he took with him certain of the brethren, and set out to go on the journey, and having arrived he sent and informed his sister’s household, saying, “Behold, Pior your brother has come, and he stands outside.” Now when his sister heard his voice, she went forth in great haste, and when Pior heard the sound of the door, and knew that the aged woman his sister was coming forth to see him, he shut his eyes tightly, and said, “So and so, I am your brother; look at me as far as you can do so;” and having seen him she was relieved in her mind, and gave thanks unto God, but she was unable to persuade him to enter into her house. And he made a prayer by the side of the door with his eyes closed tightly, and departed to the desert.

And he also wrought the following wonderful thing: In the place where he lived he dug a hole in the ground, and found water which was bitter in taste, but until the day wherein he died he endured the bitter taste of the water, in order that he might make known that which he suffered patiently for the sake of God. Now after his death many of the monks wished to abide in that place, but they were not able to do so, even for one year, chiefly because of the terrible nature of the country and the barrenness thereof.

Sayings of Abba Pior

Paradise of the Fathers

1. Blessed Pior worked at harvest-time for someone, and he was told to go and get his wages. But he put it off till later and returned to his hermitage. Next year, when the season required it, he went harvesting, worked strenuously and returned to his hermitage without anyone giving him anything. When the third summer was coming to an end and the old man had completed his usual work, he went away without taking any payment. But the master of the harvest, having put his affairs in order, took the wages and went to the monasteries, in search of the Saint. Scarcely had he found him than he threw himself at his feet, giving him his due and saying, 'The Lord gave it to me.' But Abba Pior only asked him to take the wages to the church to the priest.

2. Abba Pior used to walk a hundred paces while he was eating. Someone asked him why he ate like that, and he said, 'I do not want to make eating an occupation, but something accessory.' To another who also asked him the same question, he replied, 'It is so that my soul should not feel any bodily pleasure in eating.'

3. There was at that time a meeting at Scetis about a brother who had sinned. The Fathers spoke, but Abba Pior kept silence. Later, he got up and went out; he took a sack, filled it with sand and carried it on his shoulder. He put a little sand also into a small bag which he carried in front of him. When the Fathers asked him what this meant he said, 'In this sack which contains much sand, are my sins which are many; I have put them behind me so as not to be troubled about them and so as not to weep; and see here are the little sins of my brother which are in front of me and I spend my time judging them. This is not right, I ought rather to carry my sins in front of me and concern myself with them, begging God to forgive me for them.' The Fathers stood up and said, 'Truly, this is the way of salvation.'

In the 85th Saying of Abba Poemen, we also read:

85. He also said concerning Abba Pior that every day he made a new beginning.