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E07124: The Greek Life of *Chariton (ascetic and monastic founder in Palestine, ob. 4th c., S02329) is a homiletic text, recounting the life and miracles of its hero. Written in Palestine in the 6th century.

online resource
posted on 2018-11-21, 00:00 authored by erizos
Life of Chariton (BHG 300z)


Confessor in Iconium
1-8. The author instructs the reader that the Life of Chariton has been written to inspire other people to follow in his footsteps. Chariton lived in Iconium under the emperor Aurelian who was a pagan and started a persecution of Christians. He was arrested, put on trial, and renounced the pagan gods, affirming that he was a disciple of Thekla and Paul. The governor had him tortured without managing to convert him. Soon the emperor died, and his successor did not continue the persecution. Freed from prison, Chariton decided to move to Jerusalem.

The establishment of the lavra of Faran
9-13. Near the city, he was robbed and captured by bandits who bound him and brought him to their den, intending to kill him. But a snake infected the outlaws’ wine with its venom, and, when they drank it, they died. Freed from his bonds, Chariton distributed the booty of the bandits among the poor and the desert fathers, who were living in the caves of Kalamon, escaping the persecution. With the remaining money, Chariton built his lavra and its church which was later dedicated by bishop Macarius of Jerusalem (312-335).

14-19. Chariton lived as a hermit in that cave, and his miracles attracted many people to Christianity and monasticism. He was able to cast away demons and heal illnesses. He instructed his disciples about the appropriate monastic rules, such as dietary requirements, spiritual, and charitable practices. Satisfied by the spiritual progress of the community, Chariton nominated an abbot, and left his lavra for the area of Jericho.

The monastery of Douka near Jericho
20-21. Chariton now cured both spiritual and physical illnesses. He founded another monastic community, which later grew into a larger monastery under abbot Elpidios. The place was called Doukas after a military commander (dux) who protected it against the attacks of a nearby Jewish community.

The lavra of Souka
22-24. Once again, Chariton decided to move to another place, and settled in the area of Thekouon, where the majority of the population was still pagan. He attracted disciples and established a monastic community known in Syriac as Soukas and in Greek as the Old Laura. He settled in an inaccessible cave. Since he was unable to carry water there, he prayed and a spring appeared in the corner of his cave, as happened in the cases of Moses, Samson and Elisha.

25. A vision informed Chariton that his death was near. He therefore summoned the abbots and monks of the three monasteries which he had founded, and returned with them to Faran. He taught them everything they needed to know and announced his forthcoming death.

26-36. Spiritual teaching of Chariton to the monks.

37. Chariton died peacefully without any illness or pain.

38-41. Chariton is described as an apostle, prophet, and martyr, and as the founding father of monasticism in Palestine.

42-43. Chariton’s memory was preserved orally through several generations of monks.

44. Epilogue

Text: Garitte 1941.
Summary: Lavinia Cerioni, Efthymios Rizos.


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Chariton, monk and confessor in Iconium in the Judean desert, ob. c. 350. : S02329

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives Literary - Sermons/Homilies


  • 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


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

Jerusalem Caesarea Maritima Καισάρεια Kaisareia Caesarea Kayseri Turris Stratonis

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Sermon/homily

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money) Exorcism Healing diseases and disabilities

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Ecclesiastics - abbots


For the manuscript tradition of the text, see:


This is the earliest extant record of the life of one of the first monastic founders of Palestine. The rhetorical encomiastic praise of the last section indicates that the text was written as a homily, and perhaps preached at the saint's feast.


Text: Garitte, G., "La vie prémétaphrastique de S. Chariton," Bulletin de l’Institut Historique Belge de Rome 21 (1941), 5-50.

Usage metrics

    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity