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.