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E07513: The Greek Account (Diegesis) of *Onouphrios/Onnophrios (4th c. Egyptian anchorite, S00055) by Paphnoutios, recounts the author’s encounter with the great ascetic of the desert, shortly before the latter’s death. The saint promises to assist every person who will make and offering or burn incense to God, invoking his name. Written in Egypt (?).

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posted on 2019-04-06, 00:00 authored by erizos
Paphnoutios, Account (Diegesis) on Onouphrios (BHG 1379h)


Wandering in the Egyptian desert, Paphnoutios encounters a savage-looking old man. The man’s name is Onouphrios, who had begun as a monk in a monastery near Thebes and had decided to live as a hermit upon hearing stories about men living in the desert. An angel had appeared to him, guiding him to the cave in which he had lived for sixty years. Since then, the angel had regularly visited Onouphrios, as well as other hermits living nearby, bringing food and water, and helping them celebrate the Eucharist. The two spend the night together and, in the morning, it is revealed that Onouphrios is going to die during the day. Before he breathes his last, Onouphrios says the following:

4.155-165: Καὶ ὅστις ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου ἢ προσφορὰν προσαγάγῃ κυρίῳ τῷ θεῷ ἢ θυμίαμα, βοηθὸς αὐτῷ γένωμαι κἀγὼ ἐν πειρασμῷ ἐμπεσόντι καὶ θλίψει· καὶ εἴ τις μνησθῇ μου ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματί μου πτωχὸν ἐλεήσῃ καὶ ἀδυνάτῳ διακονήσῃ, μνησθήσομαι αὐτῷ κἀγὼ ἐν τῇ πρώτῃ ὥρᾳ τῶν χιλίων ἐτῶν. Ταῦτα γὰρ τῷ θεῷ ᾐτησάμην, καὶ ἔδωκέν μοι τὸ αἴτημα. Ὁ δὲ ἐκ πάντων ἀπορούμενος καὶ μήτε ἐλεῆσαι μήτε διακονῆσαι δυνάμενος, ἐὰν εὐχὴν πρὸς θεὸν ποιήσῃ καὶ εἴπῃ τὸ “Πάτερ ἡμῶν”, οὐ μὴ ἀπολέσῃ τὸν μισθὸν αὐτοῦ.»

‘If someone makes an offering to God or burns incense in my name, I shall be there to help him in his hour of need and distress. And should someone remember me in their prayer and in my name give alms to the poor or help the powerless, I too shall remember him in the first hour of thousand years. I asked these things from God, and He has granted my wish. If, however, one does not have the means to either give alms or render any service, as long as he prays to God and says "Our Father", his reward shall not be erased.’

He dies on 11 June and is buried by Paphnoutios. From his grave, Onouphrios’ body exudes the most beautiful smells. Paphnoutios continues to travel in the desert, meeting other hermitic communities, who welcome him and help him along his journey. Finally, he arrives in Egypt and starts to live in a cell. Shortly before his death, an angel tells him that all the prophets and apostles are waiting to receive him. Paphnutios dies and his soul is accompanied to heaven by a choir of angels.

Text: Halkin 1989.
Summary and translation: Arsen Nişsanyan


Evidence ID


Saint Name

Onnophrios, 4th c. Egyptian anchorite : S00055

Saint Name in Source


Type of Evidence

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


  • Greek

Evidence not before


Evidence not after


Activity not before


Activity not after


Place of Evidence - Region

Egypt and Cyrenaica

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

Hermopolis ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ Ashmunein Hermopolis

Cult activities - Liturgical Activity

  • Censing

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts


The text is known from one 12th century manuscript, the Codex Athous Pantocratoris 53, f. 30v-42.


Text: Halkin, F., Hagiographica inedita decem (Corpus Christianorum Series Graeca 21; Turnhout, 1989), 77-88.

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    Evidence -  The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity



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