Friday, January 15, 2021

Saint Arsenios of Reggio in Calabria (+ 904)

 
Saint Elias the Cave-Dweller (Sept. 11) was born to a wealthy family of nobles in Reggio of Calabria in the year 864. One day a monk approached him in church and upbraided him for his rich clothes and frivolous life. The young man changed at once and at the age of eighteen ran away to Taormina to escape marriage. From there he traveled to Rome to venerate the tombs of the Apostles, but seeing the dissoluteness in the city and its clergy, he returned to Reggio.

Here he found a spiritual father, Arsenios, who tonsured him as a monk. Elias worked very hard and spent his nights in chanting, prayers and prostrations. He said: "He who works with his hands and prays in his heart becomes doubly rich, for he serves Christ both as Mary and as Martha." The two holy fathers always avoided disputes with others and when God revealed to them the forthcoming Saracen/Arab invasion, they both left for Greece. There, near Patras, they lived for eight years, expelling demons and working wonders.

When the Saracen danger was over, they returned to their Hermitage of Saint Eustratios in Calabria and joined with two other ascetics in forming a monastery in a cave. Arsenios became the Abbot but, foreknowing his death, reposed on January 15, 904, having chosen Elias as the new Abbot. Later, Saint Arsenios' tomb was opened by the Saracens, who found his relics not only incorrupt but also indestructible.
 
 
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