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E06468: In 555/557, Cyril of Scythopolis composes the Life of *Euthymios (monastic founder in Palestine, οb. 472, S01352), recounting his life as a miracle working ascetic, adding a set of posthumous miracle stories, and including references to the cult of several other saints. Written in Greek at the New Laura in Palestine. Overview entry

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posted on 2018-09-11, 00:00 authored by Bryan
Cyril of Scythopolis, Life of Euthymios (CPG 7535 = BHG 647-648b)

(References to other saints, and their cults, are highlighted in bold.)

The book is addressed to Georgios, abbot of Beella, near Scythopolis.

The incarnation of Christ and the life of the saints.

Early life in Melitene (AD 377-406)
2. Euthymios’ parents are Paulos and Dionysia, a noble couple from Melitene of Armenia. Unable to have children, they pray for several days at the shrine of *Polyeuktos [martyr of Melitene, S00325] near the city. A vision announces the birth of a child, which will bring good cheer to the church. They name their son Euthymios (‘man of good cheer’). He is born in August 377, and the prophecy of good cheer in the Church soon comes true: the death of the emperor Valens in 378 brings an end to forty years of distress, caused by the Arian emperors and Julian the Apostate.

3-5. At the age of three, Euthymios is offered by his mother to bishop Otreios of Melitene, who baptises him and ordains him reader. He is educated by the young ascetics Akakios and Synodios, later to become bishops of Melitene. As he grows up, he is ordained priest and is appointed head of the Great Church of Melitene, and overseer of all the monasteries of the city. Being fond of the monastic life, he spends much time at the monasteries of Polyeuktos and the *Thirty Martyrs of Melitene [presumably the Thirty-three Martyrs of Melitene, S01750]. Every Lent, he retires for prayer into the wilderness near the city, where there is now a monastery of the Ascension. He is appointed abbot of the local monks, but escapes to Jerusalem. [For more detail on the shrines at Melitene, see $E06469]

Settlement in Jerusalem (c. 407) and foundation of the first monastery (c. 412)
6-10. He arrives in Jerusalem at the age of 29 (c. 407). After venerating the shrines and monasteries of the area, he settles as a hermit at the laura (community of ascetics) of Pharan, six miles from Jerusalem, where he is closely associated with the ascetic *Theoktistos (S01622). Five years later, the two of them settle in a cave near a stream, where they are frequently visited by monks from the Lazarion (the shrine of *Lazarus in Bethany [S01417]) and Pharan. Disciples are attracted and a new community emerges, which is is organised in a cenobitic form, using the cave as its church. Euthymios resides there, guiding the spiritual life of the monks, from whom he demands prayer and manual work. He heals Terebon, the son of the Saracen chieftain Aspebetos, causing the conversion of their entire tribe.

Wanderings in Rouba and Marda.
11-13. In search of greater solitude, Euthymios with his disciple Dometianos moves to the region of Rouba and Mount Marda [apparently leaving Theoktistos as abbot of the old monastery – not explicitly stated]. Euthymios establishes monasteries, performs miracles, and converts a village of Manicheans. He has the charisma of not being harmed by carnivorous and venomous beasts.

Establishment of the Lavra (432)
14. They decide to pay a visit back to the monastery of Theoktistos, but, on their way, they find a spot three miles from Theoktistos’ monastery, where they settle.

15. Hearing that Euthymios is back, the converted Saracen tribe of Terebon and Aspebetos (baptised as Petros) visit and build buildings on the site. At their request, Euthymios indicates a site nearby for them to settle, and establishes for them a camp with a church. The community grows rapidly, and soon Euthymios requests that Aspebetos-Petros be ordained bishop by the Patriarch of Jerusalem Juvenal (422-451).

16. Euthymios attracts many disciples and is compelled by visions to let them stay with him. His disciples and their careers are enumerated. Among them was Kyrion of Tiberias, presbyter of the church of the martyr *Basileios in Scythopolis [S02629] The community is organised as a laura, and its church is consecrated by Patriarch Juvenal of Jerusalem, accompanied by the presbyter Hesychius of Jerusalem and the very old holy man *Passarion [S01502], on 7 May 432. Euthymios is 52 years old.

Miracles, stories, doctrines, and character of Euthymios
17. Hospitality: Miraculous feeding of four-hundred Armenian pilgrims who stop at the laura, which was then extremely poor, but the holy man insisted in making hospitality a central aspect of the life of his foundation.

18. Obedience: the story of Auxentios from Asia, who was possessed by a demon, when he refused to obey Euthymios and serve as the steward for the monastery.

19. Against acedia: the story of Maron and Klematios who were considering leaving the community. The source of these stories for Cyril was abba *Kyriakos of Souka [S01625], who spent his youth in the monastery of Euthymios.

20. Orthodoxy: during the Council of Ephesus (431), Euthymios sides with Cyril of Alexandria and Akakios of Melitene against Nestorius. Aspebetos/Petros, now bishop of the Saracens, attends the Council, and is instructed by Euthymios to support Cyril.

21. Strict asceticism: Euthymios’ model is thought to have been *Arsenios the Anchorite [S01693], whose stories he was eager to listen.

22. Prophecy: Euthymios foresees the accession of Anastasius I as Patriarch of Jerusalem (458-478).

23. Euthymios’ prayers help the Saracen chieftain Terebon have children. The saint foresees the birth of three sons, which indeed happens. (Terebon’s grandson is one of the author’s sources.)

24. Against fornication: the story of Aimilianos the Roman.

25. Miracle causing rain after a period of drought.

26-27. Orthodoxy: Euthymios opposes all heresies of his time, including the Manicheans, Origenists, Arians, Sabellians, Nestorius and Eutyches. He opposes Dioscurus of Alexandria and accepts the doctrinal definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451), being the only monk of Palestine to oppose the anti-Chalcedonian Theodosius who usurped the bishopric of Jerusalem from Juvenal. He retires for two years into the desert of Rouba where he convinces *Gerasimos of the Jordan [S01507] to accept Chalcedonian Orthodoxy.

28. When he returns to his laura, Terebon the Saracen has a vision of heavenly fire covering Euthymios and the altar during the Eucharist.

29. Euthymios has the charisma of seeing what people have in their soul.

30. The empress Eudocia, then resident in Jerusalem and siding with the Monophysites, is converted to Orthodoxy after meeting Euthymios. (The author mentions her church and monastery in Jerusalem of *Stephen [the First martyr, S00030] in Jerusalem, and the monastery and shrine [martyrion] of *Menas [soldier and martyr celebrated at Abu Mena, S00073] founded by Bassa).

31. The young *Sabas the Sanctified [S00910] comes to Euthymios who commends him to the coenobitic monastery of Theoktistos.

32. Euthymios is joined by two ascetics who have left Egypt after the usurpation of the Alexandrian throne by Timothy Aelurus (AD 454). These are Martyrios the Cappadocian and Elias the Arab. Both founded monasteries in Palestine and later became Patriarchs of Jerusalem.

33. Juvenal of Jerusalem dies (459/460), and is succeeded by Anastasius, as predicted by Euthymios.

34. Terebon is arrested and imprisoned in Bostra, but Euthymios’ letters to the local bishop, Antipatros, achieve his liberation.

35. The empress Eudocia establishes many monasteries, and charitable houses for the poor and the elderly, including the church of *Peter [the Apostle S00036], thirty stades from Euthymios’ monastery. Asking to visit the holy man, Euthymios discourages her and recommends her to prepare her soul for her imminent death. She finishes the church of Stephen in Jerusalem (dedicated on 15 June 459) which she endows richly. She dies on 20 October 460.

36. Theoktistos dies on 3 September 466. Euthymios, then 90 years old, celebrates his funeral, and Patriarch Anastasius comes to meet him. Euthymios appoints Maris as successor to Theoktistos. Two years later, Maris dies, and Euthymios appoints Longinos.

37. The careers of Euthymios’ disciples, Kosmas, Chrysippos, and Gabrielios.

38. During one of his customary Lenten retreats into the inner desert, Euthymios is accompanied by his companion, Dometianos, and also by Sabas the Sanctified and Gerasimos of the Jordan. Sabas, then still very young, is exhausted by thirst, and Euthymios’ causes a miraculous flow of water for him.

Euthymios’ death (473)
39. Euthymios knows of the end of his own life. In January 473, he abstains from his customary retreat to the desert. Having celebrated the vigil of the feast of *Antony ['the Great', monk of Egypt, ob.365, S00098] (17 January), he announces to his community that he is about to die, and addresses to them his final teaching. He also predicts that Dometianos will die seven days later, and appoints Elias of Jericho as his successor, elected by the monks. He foresees that the laura will soon b


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Euthymios, abbot of Palestine, ob.473 : S01352 Polyeuktos, soldier and martyr of Melitene : S00325 Arsenios the Great, ascetic of Scetis and Turah, ob. 445 : S01693 Gerasimos, anchorite, founder of a monastery in the Judean desert, ob. 475. : S015

Saint Name in Source

Εὐθύμιος Πολύευκτος Ἀρσένιος Γεράσιμος Στέφανος Σάβας Ἀντώνιος Τάραχος, Πρόβος, Ἀνδρόνικος Θεοτόκος Κυριακός Πέτρος Τριάκοντα Μάρτυρες Πασσαρίων Μηνᾶς Θεόκτιστος Λάζαρος Βασίλειος

Related Saint Records

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Other saint-Hagiographical - Livesrelated texts


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Palestine with Sinai

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

New Laura

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

New Laura Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Major author/Major anonymous work

Cyril of Scythopolis

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Service for the Saint

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Cult building - independent (church)

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs


Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Ecclesiastics - bishops Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Heretics Foreigners (including Barbarians) Relatives of the saint Merchants and artisans Animals


Born in Scythopolis in c. 525, Cyril was the son of a lawyer serving the bishopric of the city. He grew up in an environment closely linked to the clergy and monasteries of the Chalcedonian Orthodox community of Palestine. During a visit to Scythopolis in c. 531-2, Sabas the Sanctified blessed little Cyril and marked him out as a future monk. Cyril was indeed tonsured, and left for Jerusalem in 543. At the advice of John the Hesychast, he joined the monastery of Euthymios in the same year, where he stayed for ten years. He was chosen to join the 120 monks who reclaimed the New Laura for Orthodoxy, after the expulsion of the Origenists from it in 553. In 557, he was preparing to move to Sabas’ Great Laura, after which nothing is known about his life. All the information concerning Cyril's life is deduced from his writings. Cyril’s only known work are the Lives of the Monks of Palestine (Μοναχικαὶ Ἱστορίαι), a collection of seven monastic biographies of uneven length. The most extensive and important works of this corpus are the lives of Euthymios and Sabas, founders of the two monasteries which defined Cyril’s own life as a monk. In the epilogue of the Life of Euthymios, the author informs us that he conceived the idea of the work, while living at the monastery of Euthymios and witnessing various miracles of that saint. In the early to mid 540s, he started collecting notes of stories which were orally recounted by older monks, but was only able to turn them into a coherent narrative when he moved to the New Laura (555-558). The Life of Euthymios was apparently the first of these biographies to be composed, starting in c. 556, at the request of Georgios, abbot and founder of a monastery near Cyril’s native Scythopolis. The Life of Sabas was either slightly later, or roughly contemporary. The third major biography is the Life of Ioannes/John the Hesychast, Cyril’s personal mentor, which was written while its hero was still alive at the age of 104, in 557/558. The briefer Lives of Kyriakos, Theodosios, Theognios and Abraamios are probably the last to be written by the author. By including these figures, which were closely connected with Sabas and his monastery, Cyril produced a gallery of hagiographies of the main Chalcedonian monasteries of the Judaean Desert, which resembles and perhaps follows the model of Theodoret’s Religious History. For the manuscript tradition of the texts, see:


Being the first of Cyril's hagiographical collection, the Life of Euthymios recounts the origins and development of the monastic settlement established by its hero, and provides rich information about the history of Palestine in the 5th century. Euthymios, the first of the monastic heroes whose lives are recounted by Cyril, is portrayed as the founding father of Chalcedonian monasticism in Palestine. His activity falls during the period of the Council of Chalcedon and its turbulent aftermath, when the diocesan and monastic communities of Jerusalem were deeply divided over the Christological definition of the Council. The personality of the hero, the foundation of his monastic community, and the network of his other foundations and disciples are the central points of Cyril's narrative. Although during Euthymios' lifetime his monastic foundation was a laura, it became a coenobium after his death. We should note the author's description of the physical evolution of the site, as its institutional character was changing. What was once a troglodyte settlement of caves was transformed into a built fortified compound, starting with the construction of the vaulted chapel which contained the saint's tomb and shrine – an object of popular veneration and pilgrimage. The description of Euthymios' posthumous prodigies constitutes a full miracle collection appended to the saint's biography. The author also refers to shrines in the vicinity of Euthymios' native Melitine, including those of the notable cults of Polyeuktos and the Thirty-Three Martyrs, both of which are said to have functioned as monasteries (E06469). Of special interest are the testimonies of the text concerning the building activity of the empress Eudocia in Jerusalem.


Text: Schwartz, E., Kyrillos von Skythopolis (Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 49.2; Leipzig, 1939). Translations: Baldelli, R., and Mortari, L., Storie monastiche del deserto di Gerusalemme (Abbazia di Praglia, 1990), 97–191. Festugière, A.-J., Les moines d'Orient, vol. 3, part 1, Les moines de Palestine: Vie de saint Euthyme (Paris, 1962), 55–144. Price, R., and Binns, J., Cyril of Scythopolis, Lives of the Monks of Palestine (Cistercian Studies Series 114; Kalamazoo, 1991), 1-92. Further reading: Flusin, B., Miracle et histoire dans l'œuvre de Cyrille de Scythopolis (Paris, 1983). Flusin, B., "Palestinian Hagiography (Fourth-Eighth Centuries)," in: S. Efthymiadis (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography I: Periods and Places (Farnham, 2011), 199-226. Hombergen, D., The Second Origenist Controversy: A New Perspective on Cyril of Scythopolis' Monastic Biographies as Historical Sources for Sixth-Century Origenism (Rome, 2001).

Continued Description

ecome a coenobium, and indicates the site where the monastery should be built, providing instructions on its regulations of worship and hospitality. He dies three days later, on the night of Saturday/Sunday 20 January 473, in the diakonikon of the church. 40. The author gives a description of Euthymios’ appearance, a detailed chronology of his death, a synoptic timeline of his life, and an account of his funeral. Patriarch Anastasius orders the construction of a burial chapel (koimeterion) for his tomb, delegating the task to deacon Phidos/Fidus (see $E06470).41. Dometianos dies after a vision of Euthymios shining in glory.42. The burial chapel is built in the form of a large vaulted building, near the cave where Euthymios used to live, when he first settled in the area. His remains are transferred there from the laura, and buried in a tomb in the middle of the chapel, surrounded by coffins for abbots, presbyters and other holy men. Sealed under a stone slab, the saint’s tomb is surrounded by railing and covered by a silver baldachin. Several miracles occur. The transfer of Euthymios’ remains took place on 7 May (see $E06470).The establishment of the cenobitic monastery (488-483) and posthumous miracles of Euthymios43. Six years after Euthymios’ death (c. 479), deacon Phidos/Fidus is sent by Patriarch Martyrius of Jerursalem to Constantinople, in order to ask for the emperor’s help against the schismatic (anti-Chalcedonian) monks of Palestine. He is shipwrecked and rescued from the sea by an apparition of Euthymios, who miraculously brings him back to Jerusalem. Phidos' journey, the saint announces, is not approved by God, because the schism is destined to be healed in a miraculous manner. The saint also instructs that his laura be turned into a coenobium. Phidos indeed builds a fortified monastery around the burial chapel of Euthymios (c. 480). The site of the new monastery is described.44. The construction is finished three years later. A vision of Euthymios is followed by a miraculous rainfall which fills the two great cisterns of the monastery. The dedication of the monastery is celebrated by Martyrios of Jerusalem, on 7 May 483. Relics of the martyrs *Tarachos, Probos, and Andronikos [S00710] are deposited under the altar (see $E06470). [For more detail on the burial chapel of Euthymios, see $E06470.]45. Euthymios’ prophecy about the healing of the schism comes true in a wondrous way.46. Barbarian invasions devastate the Christian Saracen community.47. Succession of abbots at Euthymios’ monastery. Kaisarios from Antioch is healed from an illness by anointing himself with the oil of the saint’s tomb. He becomes a great benefactor of the monastery.48. Miraculous punishment and revelation of Theodotos who stole money from the monastery, under the abbot Thomas.Posthumous Miracles of Euthymios witnessed by Cyril himself49. The author (Cyril of Scythopolis) started his clerical and monastic career in 542, at the monastery of Belaa near Scythopolis, and was ordained by abbot Georgios – the addressee of this book. In November of that year, he travels to Jerusalem to attend the dedication of the Nea Church of *Mary [Mother of Christ, S00033]. There, he meets Ioannes/John the Hesychast, who advises him to join the monastery of Euthymios. In July, he is admitted by abbot Leontios into that monastery.50. A monk of the monastery of Martyrios is miraculously cured of demonic possession. He is placed by the tomb of Euthymios and healed after a vision of the saint.51. During a period of conflicts and attacks, the Saracen Thalabas attempts to violate a cistern of the monastery, but is possessed by a demon. He is brought to the monastery and placed by the saint’s tomb where he is healed.52. Thalabas’ niece is healed of a demon by being anointed with the oil of the saint’s tomb.53. A possessed Saracen is healed by the saint’s tomb.54. A possessed woman is brought to the monastery and healed by drinking from the oil of the ever-burning lamp of the saint, after a vision of him. She returns every year and offers a meal for the monks.55. A man from Galatia, called Prokopios, is healed from demonic possession after venerating Euthymios’ tomb.56. A possessed man is healed at the tomb.57. Romanos, a villager from Betakabeon near Gaza, is assaulted by magic and falls ill. He prays to Euthymios, while at home in his village, has a vision of the saint and is healed. He then visits the monastery and venerates his tomb. Every year, Romanos holds a feast at his village on the date of the miracle.58. A man takes a false oath at the saint’s tomb and causes injustice to a poor person. Euthymios appears to the perjurer, accompanied by five youths who flog him badly. The man confesses his injustice and, badly injured, is taken to the monastery in order to seek Euthymios' forgiveness and healing. The saint does not heal him and the man dies. From that point on, the monks discourage taking oaths at the saint’s tomb.59. A stranger attempts to steal the silver baldachin of the saint’s tomb, but is miraculously prevented from leaving the premises of the monastery, although walking thirty miles during the night.Epilogue60. Witnessing all these and other miracles, Cyril decides to write the life account of Euthymios. He collects as much as he can from old monks of the generation of Sabas, who had heard the stories of Euthymios. Recording them in notes, he is unable to turn them into a coherent book. After the Council of Constantinople (553), he settles at the New Laura, joining the monks who replaced the ousted Origenists. His addressee, Georgios of Beella, hears about Cyril’s material and asks him to write a book, but his efforts to write are still fruitless, until he has a dream vision of Sabas and Euthymios. The latter touches Cyril’s tongue with a pen, dipped in a sweet tasting oil. From this point on, Cyril receives the grace and inspiration to write both his book on Euthymios and that on Sabas.Text: Schwartz 1939.Summary: Efthymios Rizos.

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