This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15 -- Feast of Saint Euthymius the New

Vanity of Vanities... a Peripatetic Saint Struggling to Escape His Own Reputation

Euthymius the New
Euthymius was given the monniker "New" or "Younger" to distinguish him from Saint Euthymius the Great, the fourth century abbot.  This Euthymius, named Nicetas at birth (in the ninth century), married around age seventeen.  He and his wife swiftly had a daughter, whom they named Anastasia.  He bolted a year later, setting off to become a monk, and never seems to have looked back.  He's lucky to have already been canonized because I probably wouldn't have nominated him if others hadn't vouched for him. 

Go Monks!
Euthymius settled at a laura (hermits' colony) on Mount Olympus, but moved on to a monastery at Pissidion.  When there was a shake-up in management at the monastery, Euthymius again took to the road, though by now he was sporting the Great Habit, the vestments of the highest rank of monk.  He went to Mount Athos, where he entered into competition with a monk named Joseph.  It was a classic monks' duel, a test of monkiness, if you will.  At Saint Joseph's College of Maine they have a competition called the Last Monk Standing, but it generally lasts two days, not three years or more.  The first test was to live on nothing but vegetables for forty days.  Easy peas-y, I guess.  They probably had some other tests in between -- auto-flagellation, cold river baths, cruciform vigils on flagstones and the like -- but they eventually got down to the ultimate test: stay in their cells for three years.  Joseph came out after only one year but Euthymius stuck it out for three.  I tend to think that a any test like that is a sign of vanity and thus the winner defeats himself, but Euthymius eventually had to reap what he had sown. 

some fellow stylites
Soon after this demonstration of monastic prowess, he moved to Salonika, where he lived (and preached) as a stylite, i.e. spending day and night on top of a pillar.  I have a hard time not seeing this as ostentatious, especially since he performed exorcisms and healings.  He was ordained as a priest and then a deacon, but felt he was becoming too sensational and returned to Mount Athos (after a narrow escape from some pirates).  He and Joseph hung out again -- apparently without residual rivalry.  When Joe reposed, Euthymius got a vision to live monastically rather than eremitically.  He restored the ruined monastery of Saint Andrew and then recruited monks.  His recruiting was so successful that he wound up opening it as a double monastery -- one part for men, the other for women.  They were up and running well, but his reputation, or perhaps his celebrity, was taxing him again.  So he took off again to Mount Athos, where he died in 898.

I'm not inclined to get a tattoo, but if I did, Eccles1:2 might be worth the ink, just as a warning.   

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