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E00611: Greek Life of *Pachomios (Egyptian monastic founder, ob. 346, S00352), written at an uncertain date, and based largely on the Sahidic Coptic Life (E00602); includes miraculous healing activity and visions, a description of Pachomios’ death, and a transfer of his body to a secret location.

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posted on 2015-06-18, 00:00 authored by pnowakowski
Greek Life of Pachomios (BHG 1396)

For a short summary of the general structure and content of Pachomios’ Life, see E00610.

The Greek Life, however, includes a very interesting story, not known in the Coptic Lives, of the ‘trial' of Pachomios’ clairvoyant powers at a church council held at Latopolis. This is quoted and discussed in a separate entry: E00612.

Quoted below is the passage relating to the death of the saint, where, as in the earlier Sahidic Life (but with much less detail), he enjoins his follower Theodore to bury his body secretly:

Ch. 116:
Καὶ ταῦτα εἰπὼν ὠχλεῖτο ἀποδοῦναι τὸ πνεῦμα. Κρατήσας δὲ τοῦ πώγωνος Θεοδώρου λέγει αὐτῷ· «Ἐὰν κρύψωσι τὰ ὀστᾶ μου, μετένεγκε αὐτὰ ἐκεῖθεν.» Θεοδώρου δὲ νομίσαντος ὅτι λέγει αὐτῷ μὴ ἀφεῖναι τὸ σῶμα αὐτοῦ ὅπου θάπτουσιν, ἀλλὰ μεταθεῖναι τοῦτο ἀλλαχοῦ λάθρᾳ, λέγει αὐτῷ ὅτι «Οὐ μόνον τοῦτο λέγω σοι, ἀλλὰ καὶ τοῦτο.» Καὶ τρὶς παρήγγειλεν αὐτῷ· ἔλεγε δὲ μὴ ἀμελεῖν τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἀμελούντων, ἀλλὰ διεγείρειν αὐτοὺς τῷ νόμῳ τοῦ θεοῦ. Καὶ λέγει αὐτῷ Θεόδωρος· «Καλῶς.» Καὶ οὕτως ἀπέδωκε τὴν ἁγίαν ψυχὴν τῇ τεσσαρεσκαιδεκάτῃ τοῦ παχὼν μηνός. Καθ’ ὅλην δὲ τὴν νύκτα περὶ αὐτὸν ἀγρυπνούντων ἐν ἀναγνώσεσι καὶ εὐχαῖς, κηδευθὲν τὸ σῶμα πρὸς τὸ ὄρος ἀπηνέχθη μετὰ ψαλμῶν ὁμοίως, καὶ ἐτάφη. Καταβάντων δὲ τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἐκεῖθεν, μετεβίβασεν αὐτὸ Θεόδωρος καὶ ἄλλοι τρεῖς ἀδελφοὶ εἰς ἄλλον τόπον, ἐν ᾧ ἐστιν ἕως ἄρτι.

'And he was in pain, at the point of giving up the spirit. He grabbed Theodore entreatingly by the beard and said to him, "If they hide my bones take them away from there." Theodore thought he was enjoining him not to leave his body in the place of its burial but to transfer it elsewhere secretly. So [Pachomius] told him, "I say not only this to you but also this." And he enjoined him three times. What he also told him was not to neglect the negligent brothers, but to rouse them by God’s law. And Theodore answered, "Very well." And so he gave up his holy soul on the fourteenth of the month of Pashons. All night long they kept vigil about him with reading and prayers. Then his body was prepared and carried away to the mountain in like manner with psalms and buried. When they had come down, Theodore and three other brothers transferred it to another place, where it is to this day.'

The Greek Life also contains a much abbreviated version of a story told in the Bohairic Life (E00610), in which Theodore visits the tomb of Pachomios:

Ch. 146:
Καὶ πορευομένῳ πολλάκις εἰς τὸ ὄρος νυκτὸς ἠρέμα πρὸς τὸ εὔξασθαι ὅπου οἱ τάφοι τῶν ἀδελφῶν ὡς ἀπὸ μιλίων ὄντες πλέον τριῶν, ἠκολούθησέ τις αὐτῷ ποτε· καὶ εἶδεν ἑστηκότα μακρόθεν ἄνω πρὸς τῷ μνημείῳ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Παχωμίου καὶ εὐχόμενον· προσεγγίσας δὲ ἤκουε τί ηὔχετο καὶ ἐφοβήθη.Ταῦτα δὲ εὐχόμενος ἔλεγε· «Κύριε ὁ θεὸς τοῦ δούλου σου Παχωμίου, οὗ στήκω νῦν ἐν τῷ τάφῳ, εὐδόκησον τοῦ ἐπισκέψασθαί με, εἰ θέλημά σού ἐστιν.

'He (Theodore) would often go quietly by night to the mountain at a distance of about three miles to pray where the tombs of the brothers were. One night a brother followed him and from afar saw him standing in prayer on the tomb of our father Pachomios. He heard the prayer and was afraid. Here is what he said in his prayer: "Lord of your servant Abba Pachomios, upon whose tomb I am now standing, deign to visit me, if it is your will."'

Translation: A. Veilleux, Pachomian Koinonia, 379-80, 403. Summary: Gesa Schenke.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Pachomius, Egyptian monastic founder, ob. 346. : S00352

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives of saint


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Tabennese Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Life of Pachomios

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - tomb/grave

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Scepticism/rejection of specific relics

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - entire body


The manuscript of the earliest Greek Life (G1) dates from the year 1021. It is very similar in content to the Bohairic Life (SBo), datable to the 8th or 9th century ($E00610), but the two are not dependent on each other. They seem rather to be two separate witnesses to an earlier common prototype.


In contrast to the Sahidic Coptic Life (E00602), this Greek Life (G1) gives only a much abbreviated account of Pachomios’ concern that his body be secretly reburied upon his death, and does not explain that the saint was seeking to avoid a cult developing around his remains. Very possibly, by the time the Greek Life was written, an earlier desire to avoid the cult of Pachomios’ relics had come to seem old-fashioned. The Greek Life also offers only a very brief version of an elaborate story, recorded in the Bohairic Life, in which Pachomios’ successor, Theodore, visits his grave (E00610). Again the concerns around which the Bohairic story revolves (that the ideals of Pachomian monasticism had declined) may no longer have seemed relevant at the time of the Greek composition.


Edition: Halkin, F., Sancti Pachomii Vitae Graecae (Subsidia hagiographica 19; Brussels, 1932). Further reading: Rousseau, P., Pachomius: The Making of a Communitiy in Fourth-Century Egypt (Berkeley, 1999). Veilleux, A., Pachomian Koinonia I: The Life of Saint Pachomius and His Disciples (Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1980). Veilleux, A., “Pachomius, Saint,” in: A. S. Atiya (ed.), The Coptic Encyclopedia, vol. 6 (New York et al., 1991), 1859–1864.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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