Euthymius the Great, St.

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Abbot and Byzantine monastic founder; b. Melitene, Armenia, 377; d. Palestine, Jan. 20, 473. Of a religious family, Euthymius was orphaned early and educated by the bishop of Melitene, Otreus. On his ordination, he was charged with the spiritual care of the ascetics and monasteries of the city, but he fled to Palestine in search of solitude and entered the monastery of Pharan, where he became a friend of St. Theoctistus. Several years later the two monks retired to a hermitage and on being joined by others, Theoctistus (d. 467) founded a laura or cenobitic monastery. The followers of Euthymius later forced him to establish a laura called after him. Its church was consecrated by Bishop Juvenal of Jerusalem in 429. Euthymius organized a way of life in which, after a period of formation, the monk retired to a solitary cell and met with others only for liturgical and spiritual functions. After the death of Euthymius it was reorganized as a cenobium.

By his reputation for sanctity Euthymius converted many nomad Saracens, and had encampment bishoprics (parembolai ) created to care for them (Vita 2021). His advice was sought by several Oriental bishops who took part in the Councils of ephesus (431) and chalcedon (451). Although he appears not to have written any works, his principles of the monastic life and ascetical sayings were recorded by his disciple St. cyril of scythopolis in one of the great early Byzantine hagiographical works, the Vita s. Euthymii.

Feast: Jan. 20.

Bibliography: i. hausherr, Dictionnaire de spiritualité ascétique et mystique. Doctrine et histoire, ed. m. viller (Paris 1932) 2:268790. j. darrouzÈs, ibid. 4:172022. r. janin, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1912) 16:61. e. schwartz, ed., Kyrillos von Skythopolis (Texte und Untersuchungenzur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 49.2;1939). s. vailhÉ, "S. Euthyme le Grand," Revue de l'Orient Chrétien NS 4 (1909) 256263. h. charles, Le Christianisme des Arabes nomades (Paris 1936) 4043. h. g. beck, Kirche und theologische Literatur im byzantinischen Reich (Munich 1959) 198, 203. d. chitty, Excavation of the Monastery of St. Euthymius 1929: Quarterly Statement for the Palestine Exploration Fund (London 1930). a. barrois, Revue Biblique 39 (1930) 272275.

[j. bentivegna]