The Holy Monk Nilos the Faster

Commemorated on November 12

      The Holy Monk Nilos the Faster, a native of Constantinople. He lived during the V Century and was a student of Saint John Chrysostom. Having received a fine education, the saint while still a young man was appointed to the important post of prefect of the capital. During this period, Nilos was married and had children. But the pomp of courtly life bothered the couple. Saint John Chrysostom exerted a tremendous influence upon their lives and their strivings. The spouses decided to separate and devote themself to monastic life. The wife and daughter of Nilos set out to one of the women's monasteries in Egypt, and the Monk Nilos and his son Theodoulos went to Sinai, where they settled in a cave dug out by their own hands. For forty years this cave served as the dwelling of the Monk Nilos. By fasting, prayer and works, the monk attained to an high degree of spiritual perfection. People began to come to him from every occupation and social rank – from the emperor down to the farmer, and each found counsel and comfort from the saint. In solitude the Monk Nilos wrote much. A letter of his is known of – in which there is an angry denunciation of the emperor Arcadius, who had exiled Saint John Chrysostom. And widely known are the ascetic works of the Monk Nilos: they are perfectly executed in form, profoundly Orthodox, and filled with sincere sense and clear thought.
      The Monk Nilos suffered many a misfortune in the wilderness. Thus, for example, Saracens captured his son Theodoulos, whom they intended to offer as a sacrifice to their pagan gods. Through the prayers of the saint the Lord saved Theodoulos, and the monk found him with the bishop of Emessa, who had ransomed the young man from the barbarians. And this bishop ordained both of them as presbyters. After ordination they returned to Sinai, where they asceticised together until the death of the Monk Nilos.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.