August 11, 2017

Saint Passarion of Palestine (+ 428)

St. Passarion of Palestine (Feast Day - August 11)


Passarion bore every virtue,
Distanced from the earth he received every form of recompense.

Saint Passarion was an important figure in the early history of Palestinian monasticism. In the Account of the Death of Theodosios and Romanos by John Rufus, we read that he was a disciple of Saint Romanos, who had established a monastery fifteen miles south of Jerusalem which composed of 600 monks. Cyril of Scythopolis in the Life of Euthymios calls him "the holy Passarion, then rural bishop and archimandrite of the monks." A rural bishop, or "chorepiscopos", was appointed to assist the bishop of a large or prominent diocese in his duties, while an archimandrite is one who oversaw a large monastery or group of monasteries. It appears therefore that Passarion inherited the spiritual gifts and holiness of his spiritual father Romanos and became himself a leader of early Palestinian monasticism.

In the Life of Peter the Iberian by John Rufus, the following is said of Passarion:

"The blessed Passarion, that great lover of the poor and lover of strangers, besides his other godly virtues and righteous acts, built a house for the poor outside the eastern gates of the city [of Jerusalem] for the rest and consolation of those whose bodies were wretchedly afflicted by weakness. He also erected inside the walls of Holy Zion a great and beautiful monastery for the service and for the chanting of those who continuously without ceasing praise the Lord. When Peter saw this, he longed to become an imitator of this good thing. He made up his mind that with the help of the Lord he would build a house and would there establish a certain number of holy monks to praise the Lord."

Passarion left a lasting legacy on Palestinian monasticism, serving as a model not only for Peter the Iberian but for many others, since he preceded many of the great monastic fathers of Palestine, such as Euthymios and Savvas, who spent a year in the monastery of Passarion under his successor. His immediate successors were Elpidios and Gerontios, who shared the office of abbot of the monks of Palestine. There was also in his monastery a monk by the name of Anastasios, who was a keeper of the sacred vessels of the Church of the Resurrection.

We also read in the early ninth century Chronicle (I 86.26-87.5) of Theophanes the Confessor, the following:

"In this year [5920 or 421 AD], following the example of the blessed Pulcheria, the devout Theodosius [II] sent much money to the bishop of Jerusalem [Juvenal] for distribution to those in need and a golden cross set with stones to be erected at the Place of the Skull. In return, the archbishop sent the relic of the right hand of Stephen the Protomartyr by the holy Passarion. When he came to Chalcedon, that night the blessed Pulcheria saw Saint Stephen in a dream saying to her: 'Behold, your prayer has been heard, your request granted, and I am come to Chalcedon.' Taking her brother with her, she rose up and went to meet the holy relic. She received them into the palace and built a glorious house in honor of the holy Protomartyr in which she deposited the holy relic."

The Holy Passarion reposed in peace "on the 25th of the second Teshrin," namely November, in the year 428. Though his feast day was initially celebrated on November 25 with Saint Romanos, who reposed a few years prior to Passarion, he is now celebrated on August 11.