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Monday, December 24, 2018

Venerable Aphrodisios the Sabaite

Venerable Aphrodosios the Sabaite (Feast Day - December 24)

Verses

The soul of Aphrodisios was exceedingly beautiful,
Having died he never tasted sexual lust.

In the Life of Savvas by Cyril of Scythopolis we read about the Venerable Aphrodisios (Ch. 44). There is written the following about him:

A brother of the monastery of blessed Theodosios, Asian by birth and called Aphrodisios, who had been given the office of muleteer, was able unassisted to lift from the ground the load for a mule, that is, twelve measures of corn, and place it on his shoulders; for in bodily size he surpassed all in the cenobium. It happened that once on the road he lost his temper, struck with his hand the face of the mule and broke it; when the animal instantly fell down dead, Aphrodisios lifted its load and the saddle onto his shoulders and returned to the monastery. Expelled by the great Theodosios for killing the animal, he went down to the Jordan and laid his offense before the holy John the Egyptian, who was then refulgent with virtues at Choziba. On being told by him, "If you want to be saved, go to our Abba Savvas and do what he tells you," he went to Savvas in haste, confessed his offense and begged to hear a word of salvation from him. Our father Savvas gave him a cell with the words, "Be content with your cell, do not visit any other cell or go outside the lavra, exercise control over your tongue and belly, and you will be saved." Accepting this command and not infringing it in any respect, Aphrodisios for thirty years neither went outside the lavra nor visited a cell, never possessed an earthen or copper pot, an oven or mattress, drank no wine or mixed drink, and did not possess two tunics. Instead, he slept in straw on a rush-mat and patchwork cloak and, getting palms from the steward, supplied the guest-master with ninety completed baskets each month. Taking the left-overs of the cooked food, whether greens or pulses or roughage, he would put them in a single bowl and take a little from the bowl each day, and was satisfied with this. If the food in the bowl began to smell or produced worms, he did not throw it away but simply added more cooked left-overs. His wailing throughout the night left his neighbors no peace.

Having completed thirty years, as has been said, in this mode of life, without ever falling ill or getting discouraged or harming his stomach, he received the charism of second sight and had foreknowledge of the day of his death a week in advance. Going into the church, he asked our father Savvas for one day's leave of absence to visit the monastery of blessed Theodosios. The elder, knowing that his day was near, sent as his companion Theodoulos, priest and brother of Gelasios, with the following message to the blessed Theodosios: "Behold, I earlier received Aphrodisios as a man and now by the grace of Christ I have sent him to you as an angel." The blessed Theodosios received him with joy and embraced him and, after inviting him kindly to a common meal, sent him on his way in peace. Returning to the lavra, Aphrodisios after a short illness died in joy. The fathers tended his corpse and buried him with the priests. The blessed Savvas gave orders for his precious remains to be laid crosswise so that they would be recognized for a long time and venerated by the fathers who went down to the graveyard.


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