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E03315: Palladius of Helenopolis in his Lausiac History recounts the story of *Pambo (monk of Nitria, ob. c. 370, S02850) as recounted to him by other monks of Nitria (Lower Egypt) and by Melania the Elder. Before dying, he gave a basket to Melania as a keepsake. Written in Greek at Aspuna or Ankyra (both Galatia, central Asia Minor), 419/420.

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posted on 2017-07-18, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Palladius of Helenopolis, Lausiac History (BHG 1435-1438v; CPG 6036), 10

10. Pambo of Nitria, the teacher of the Tall Brothers, was one of the holy men of the Nitrian monastic community, whom Palladius never met, but heard of from his companions, and from Melania who had met him and donated to him three hundred pounds of silver for the monasteries. Pambo died at the age of 70 while making a basket which he gave to Melania as a keepsake:

(5.) Μετ’ ὀλίγον χρόνον κοιμᾶται ὁ ἄνθρωπος τοῦ θεοῦ ἀπύρεκτος, μὴ νοσήσας, ἀλλὰ τὴν σπυρίδα καταράπτων, ἐτῶν ὢν ἑβδομήκοντα· ὃς μεταστειλάμενός με, καὶ τοῦ τελευταίου κεντήματος πρὸς ἀπαρτισμὸν ὄντος, μέλλων ἐκλείπειν λέγει μοι· “Δέξαι ταύτην τὴν σπυρίδα ἐκ τῶν ἐμῶν χειρῶν, ἵνα μέμνησαί μου· ἄλλο γάρ σοι οὐκ ἔχω τί καταλείψω”». Ὃν ἐνταφιάσασα καὶ ὀθονίοις τὸ σῶμα ἑλίξασα κατέθετο· καὶ οὕτως ἀνεχώρησε τῆς ἐρήμου, ἕως θανάτου τὴν σπυρίδα ἔχουσα μεθ’ ἑαυτῆς.

[Quoting the narrative of Melania] '"The man of God fell asleep [=died] a little later, without a fever or illness, but while stitching up a basket, at the age of seventy. He summoned me and, while putting the last stitch to complete the work, at the point of death, he said to me: "Accept this basket from my hands, in order to remember me, for I have nothing else to leave you."” She prepared him for the tomb, wrapped the body in linen and buried it. She thus left the desert, keeping the basket with her until her death.’

Text: Bartelink et al. 1974. Translation: Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Pambo, monk of Nitria, ob. c. 370 : S02850

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Monastic collections (apophthegmata, etc.)


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Asia Minor

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc


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

Aspuna Nicomedia Νικομήδεια Nikomēdeia Izmit Πραίνετος Prainetos Nicomedia

Major author/Major anonymous work

Palladius of Helenopolis

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Visiting/veneration of living saint

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits

Cult Activities - Relics

Contact relic - saint’s possession and clothes


Born in 364 in Galatia in central Asia Minor, Palladius became a monk in 386, spending some years in Palestine, before moving to Alexandria. In c. 390, he joined the monastic community of Nitria, where he spent nine years, under Makarios of Alexandria and Evagrios of Pontus. In c. 399, he returned briefly to Palestine and then left for Constantinople where he became closely associated with John Chrysostom. By 400, he was ordained bishop of Helenopolis in Bithynia (north-west Asia Minor), probably by Chrysostom. Palladius stood by his new protector throughout John’s conflict with Pope Theophilos of Alexandria over the affair of the Tall Brothers and the Council of the Oak. One year after John’s exile in 404, Palladius visited Rome in order to plead on John’s behalf with Pope Innocent I (401-411). Returning to Constantinople, he was arrested and one year later (406), he was exiled to Syene (Aswan) and Antinoe in Egypt. There he received the news of John’s death in Pontus (407) and wrote the Historical Dialogue on the Life of John Chrysostom (in 408 or shortly after, E02400). In the 410s, he was allowed to return to his native Galatia, and was restored as a bishop in the imperial church, being appointed to the see of Aspona. After his return from exile, in c. 419/420, Palladius published the Lausiakon (‘Book for Lausos’, widely known as the Lausiac History), a book commissioned by and dedicated to the patrician Lausos (imperial chamberlain in 420-422). Along with the History of the Monks of Egypt (E03558, composed in 395/397), Palladius’ work inaugurates the monastic genre of edifying stories and apophthegms. It immediately became a success: two decades after its publication, the ecclesiastical historian Socrates used the Lausiac History as a source (4.23.78), and it was translated into Latin and Syriac. There are also Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopic, and Arabic translations. Its copious manuscript tradition (242 manuscripts) and unstable transmission render a definitive critical edition of the text very difficult. On the manuscript tradition of the Greek text, see: Like all monastic collections, the Lausiac History was mainly written to provide exemplars of ascetic virtue and edifying stories for broader spiritual benefit, rather than to encourage the active cult of the men and women included within it – indeed some of them serve as negative examples to avoid. It was, therefore, difficult for us to decide how to treat this work in our database, focused as it is on the cult of saints. At one extreme, we could have entered every (positive) figure within it as a saint, while, at the other extreme, we might have ignored the text altogether. In the end we came to a compromise position, with one overview entry for the full text (E03176), where all the holy men and women are named, and individual entries for chapters that either reveal interesting incidental details of saintly cult or cover major figures who, in time, came to attract cult. The Lausiac History in its many manuscripts and its many translations was in fact one of the principal ways these figures came to be known, and often venerated, across the Christian world. Some of its chapters were, indeed, later detached from the collection, and circulated as independent pieces of hagiography.


Pambo, who probably died in the 370s, was a revered figure of the Nitrian monastic community, whose stories Palladius heard from his disciples, the Origenist Tall Brothers, and from Melania the Elder. The episode concerning the basket Pambo left to Melania recalls stories about other holy men bequeathing their possessions to their followers, like the dying Antony and John Chrysostom. It is unknown whether Pambo's basket was ever treated as a relic.


Text: Butler, Cuthbert. The Lausiac History of Palladius: Greek Text Edited with Introduction and Notes. Texts and Studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1904. Bartelink, G. J. M., Barchiesi, M. and Mohrmann, C. Palladio, La Storia Lausiaca. Scrittori Greci E Latini. Milano: Fondazione Lorenzo Valla, Arnoldo Mondadori, 1974. (with Italian translation) English Translations: Wortley, J. Palladius, the Lausiac History, Collegeville, MN: Cistercian Publications, 2015. Meyer, R. T. Palladius, the Lausiac History, Westminster MD: Newman Press: 1965. Lowtber Clarke, W. K. The Lausiac History of Palladius, London: Macmillan, 1918. Further reading: Katos, D. Palladius of Helenopolis: the Origenist Advocate. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011. Rapp, C. ‘Palladius, Lausus and the Historia Lausiaca.’ In C. Sode, S. Takács (eds.), Novum Millennium. Studies on Byzantine History and Culture Dedicated to Paul Speck, 19 December 1999, Aldershot: Ashgate, 279-289.

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