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Sabas, Ss.


A monastic founder and two martyrs of the early Church.

Sabas of Palestine, monastic founder; b. Cappadocia, 439; d. Palestine, Dec. 5, 532. According to his biographer, cyril of scythopolis, Sabas was born at Mutalaska in Cappadocia, and entered a monastery in his native province. In 457 he migrated to the monastery of Passarion in Jerusalem and met (St.) Euthymius, who because of Sabas' youth, sent him to (St.) Theoctistus in Wadi Mukelik, where he remained 17 years. In 478 he went to live in a grotto in Wadi en Nar and in 483 founded his famous laura there. After he was obliged by Sallustius, patriarch of Jerusalem (d. 494), to take sacred orders, he became director of all the anchorites who populated the lauras of Judea. Later he founded three other lauras, six monasteries, and four hospices, while his disciples in turn founded three lauras and two monasteries.

The four lauras of St. Sabas are: the Great Laura (today St. Sabas in the lower Cedron Valley) in 483; the New Laura (actually begun by rebel origenistic monks) in 507; the Laura Heptastomos in 512; the Laura of Jeremias in 531. The Great Laura had 150 monks and the New Laura 120.

Because of dissensions over Origenism (see origen and origenism), many monks left the Great Laura and founded another; Sabas himself withdrew from the Great Laura to Nicopolis (Emawas), where he founded a monastery (5038). Twice, in 512 and 531, he intervened with the imperial court for the abolition of the crisorgirus (an odious tax) and to defend the faith against the Monophysites (see monophysitism). Cyril of Scythopolis salutes him and his monks as "the strongest bulwark of the Catholic faith in Palestine."

The typikon of St. Sabas, in its present state at least, dates only from the twelfth or thirteenth century. His influence was considerable on the organization of later monasteries. The original chapel tomb of the saint is in the monastery of St. Sabas, but his remains are in Venice. In Rome a church was erected in his honor on the Aventine in the ninth century. The body was returned to Palestine by Pope Paul VI in 1965.

Feast Day: December 5.

Sabas the Goth, fourth-century martyr; d. Cappadocia, April 12, 372. The persecution of King Athanaric (371) having broken out, Sabas supported his coreligionists in resisting an edict obliging them to eat meat sacrificed to the idols. For this he was exiled. He returned but was exiled again. While celebrating Easter of 372 with his friend Sansala, he was set upon by robbers; he was ill treated, tied to a beam, and ordered to eat the sacrificed meat. On refusing, he was drowned in the Musaeus River; he is one of 51 martyrs commemorated by the Greeks as having suffered in that nation. The Christian Goths wrote to St. basil regarding these events when the body was taken to Caesarea of Cappadocia by Julianus Soranus, duke of Scythia.

Feast Day: April 12; April 15 in Russia.

Sabas the Martyr is commemorated by the Latin and Greek martyrologies as a Roman who suffered under Aurelian; but otherwise he is unknown. He may be identical to St. Sabas the Goth.

Feast Day: April 24.

Bibliography: Sabas (of Palestine). e. schwartz, ed., Kyrillos von Skythopolis (Texte und untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 49.2; Berlin 1939). e. hoade, Guide to the Holy Land (Jerusalem 1962). v. corbo, "L'Ambiente materiale della vita die monaci," Orientalia Christiana Analecta 153 (1958) 235257. cyril of scythopolis, Vie de saint Sabas, tr. a.j. festugiÈre (Paris 1962). g. heydock, Der Heilige Sabas und seine Reliquien (Geisenheim, Germany 1970). j. patrich, Nezirut Midbar Yehudah batekufah haBizantit (Jerusalem 1995); Sabas, Leader of Palestinian Monasticism (Washington, D.C. 1995). Sabas the Goth. Acta Sanctorum, April 2:8790. h. delehaye "Saints de Thrace et de Mésie," Analecta Bollandiana, 31 (1912) 213221, 288291.

[e. hoade]

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