Euthymius the Great

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St. Euthymius the great: 17th c. painting on wood at Dionysiou Monastery, Mt. Athos
Our great and venerable father Euthymius (sometimes spelled Euthymios or Efthymios - feastday January 20) was born during the reign of king Gratian in 377 A.D. He came from Melitine in Armenia (now Makatya, Turkey), and was the son of pious and faithful parents, who were called Paul and Dionysia.

As John the Forerunner had been born of a barren mother so this venerable Euthymius was born of a sterile woman and received the name Euthymius from God before even being born. His parents were praying to God to grant them a child. So, they heard the voice of an Angel who told them to be jolly and cheerful or rather that not only his parents but all should be jolly and cheerful, because with the child's birth every heresy was going to be abolished and universal peace was going to be granted to the Church of God. So, for this reason this saint was called Euthymius (bringer of jollity). Since the saint's father died, his mother offered him to Eutrojos, bishop of Melitine, by whom he was counted with the order of clerics. Because he was clever at studying the holy things of God and surpassed all the virtuous men in virtue and asceticism, he was forced to be ordained priest and accept to look after the holy hermitages and monasteries. When he was twenty-nine years old, he went to Jerusalem and lived with St. Theoktistos in a cave on the mountain. While he was there, St. Euthymius liberated many men from the terrible chains of disease.

They also say that this saint fed four hundred men, who had come to the monastery, with very few loaves of bread. Moreover, not only did he break his mother's sterility and was born, but also through prayer he proved even other barren and childless women to be fruitful and able to give birth to many children. He also opened the gates of heaven, as great Elijah had done, and brought rain with which he cured the earth which was only giving poor crop. The column of light, which was seen by the by-standers coming down from heaven while the saint was celebrating the bloodless sacrifice, made the internal brightness of divine Euthymius' soul known as it shone over the saint till he ended the Liturgy. A sign and proof of the perfect purity and chastity of the saint was that he could spiritually see with the perceptive eye of his soul the mood and the condition of those souls which were approaching to receive the Holy Communion, i.e., he could see who approached with a clean conscience and who with a spotted one.

When he was ninety-six years old he depared to the Lord in 473 A.D., after establishing religious communities throughout Palestine. He had a graceful kind of face and his soul was simple and easy to reach. He was of white colour and according to his age and his body's stature he was respectable and humble. He had white hair and a long beard which reached as far down as his thighs.

They also say this about St. Euthymius: Once a monk was about to die. This monk outwardly appeared and was thought by many to be a prudent and abstemious saint but in his heart he was lecherous and imtemperate, because he used to accept and be sweetened with shameful thoughts. So, when this monk was about to die, as we have already said, blessed Euthymius saw an Angel breaking off and taking the soul of that miserable monk by force with a three-pronged spear which he held. Immediately the saint also heard a voice revealing all the hidden and shameful thoughts of that dying monk.

Sources and further reading