Deir el-Muqalik - THEOCTISTUS


After five years spent in Pharan, (the Great Euthymius) went out to (the desert of) Koutila with the blessed Theoctistus, at their customary time <on 14 January 411>, and, passing through the desert, they came upon a fearsome ravine, very deep and inaccessible. As they examined the place and explored the over-hanging cliffs all around, as though guided by God, they found a great and wonderful cave on the northern cliff of the ravine. Then, dangerously scaling the steep face (of the rock), they manage with difficulty to climb up there, and overjoyed, as though this cave had been made ready for them by God himself, they settled in it, feeding on whatever herbs they found. That cavern had been a den of wild beasts before (their arrival), but, reclaimed by the divine hymns and unceasing prayers of the two saintly men, it received the sanctity of a church of God. Then, when God was pleased to make them known, He arranged that some shepherds of the Lazarion should drive their flocks through the ravine. (The two monks) startled them, appearing high up (the cliff), at the cave (mouth): so scared (the shepherds) were, that they ran in flight. But the fathers, perceiving their fright, summoned them back with a mild and gentle voice. “Do not fear, brothers,” they said, “for we are men like you: only, because of our sins, we abide in this place.” Then the goatherds, plucking up courage, climbed to their cave and, discovering that they had no possession of this world, went back in wonder to the estate to which they belonged, and told their families. And from that day the people of Lazarion served (the two holy men). Besides, the fathers of Pharan, who had been searching for them, having learned their whereabouts, began to come often and visit them.

At the beginning, two brothers joined (the couple), in order to renounce the world: they were called Marinus and Luke and, after having been instructed in the monastic discipline by the great Euthymius, and having proved themselves worthy athletes in the ascetic life, finally shone in the vicinity of the village of Metopa, where they founded monasteries. It was they who led to monastic perfection Abba Theodosius, who became the great: coenobiarch of this desert and archimandrite of the coenobitic monasteries.

In a short time Euthymius’ fame spread abroad, and many came to him, and, hearing the word of God, desired to remain with him. However, the glory-hating and God-loving Euthymius, eager to acquire the first Beatitude <Matth. 5:3>, besides all the others, behaved as one who holds the rank of stranger, and so would entrust every one who wanted to renounce the worldly life to blessed Theoctistus, begging him with many entreaties to take care of them. And Theoctistus, who did not know disobedience, accepted the charge, but would act in everything according to great Euthymius’ judgement.

(transl. Leah di Segni)

Euthymius and Theoctistus establish the coenobium of Theoctistus, AD 411.
Key quotation(s): 
Matth. 5:3