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a document of primary importance, and there is
no reason to doubt that it was really written, as
it claims to be, by Basil, a disciple of Euthymius,
who afterwards became Archbishop of Thessalonica
early in the tenth century. Various writers on Mount
Athos have referred to its importance and have
published extracts from it, generally in a modern
Greek paraphrase ; but any reference to these has
been rendered unnecessary by the excellent edition
of Pere Louis Petit, 1 which gives a text based
on Cod. Athous Laur. A 79 (a MS. of the twelfth
century of which, in ignorance of the projected
edition of P. Louis, I took a copy in 1903 in-
tending to publish it in the present book), with
a partial collation of Cod. Athous Vatoped. 546
(which was written in 1422, but in the opinion
of Pere Louis Petit often has a better text than
the earlier MS.), and with a complete collation of
Cod. Athous Pantel. 207, a MS. of the nineteenth

1 Vie et office de Saint-Eufhyme U jeune, texte grec publie par
le B. P. Louis Petit, A. A. Paris, A. Picard et fils, 1904, part
of the Bibliotheque Hagiographique Orientale, edited by Leon


Euthymius was born in 823 at Opso (or Hopso),
an unknown town near Ancyra, and was given by
his parents the name of Nicetas. When he was
seven years old (i. e. in 830-1) his father died,
leaving his wife to bring up Nicetas and his two
sisters, Maria and Epiphania. When he was sixteen
years old he married a certain Euphrosyne, and
became the father of a daughter, Anastaso. Two
years later he felt increasingly drawn to the monastic
life, and on Sept. 15, 841, deserted his family in
that curious manner which forms the first stage
in so many lives which have afterwards been
canonized. 1 From this time his life may be divided
into six periods, (J) life on Mount Olympus, (2) life
on Mount Athos as a hermit, (3) on Mount Athos
as the head of a laura, (4) at Brastamou as the
head of a laura, (5) at Peristerai as the head of a
monastery, and finally (6) as a hermit on Mount
Athos and on the Island Hiera.

(1) Life on Mount Olympus. 21 After leaving his
family he went to the Mysian Olympus, and ap-
proached the famous Johannicius, 3 with whom he
stayed for a time, and began to earn a reputation
for virtue, but shortly afterwards moved on to a
neighbouring monastery, presided over by a monk
called Johannes, who may perhaps be identified
with the Abbot of Antidius, frequently mentioned
in the life of Johannicius. Here he took the
monastic vows, receiving the name of Euthymius,

1 Petit, op. cit., pp. 16-19. 2 Op. cit., pp. 20-27.

3 See iheActa Sanctorum for November, torn. 2, pp. 311-435.
Johannicius died in 846.


and soon afterwards was sent on to the convent of
Pissadinon, presided over by a monk named
Nicolaus. 1

This seems to have been a regular monastery,
not merely a laura, but it cannot be identified with
any foundation mentioned in the life of Johannicius.
He wa& successively muleteer, cook, servant to the
steward, and waggoner. In these occupations he
behaved exemplarily, and employed his leisure in
learning to read, and in religious exercises. But
after fifteen years of this life the peace of the
church was disturbed by the schism which arose
in 858 owing to the rival claims of Ignatius and
Photius to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, and
the monastery of Pissadinon was broken up, as
the Abbot Nicolaus thought that Ignatius had
been improperly driven out, and refused com-
munion with Photius. Apparently this rendered
the Abbot's position untenable, and he and the
leading monks left the monastery. None of those
who remained felt able to take the leadership, and
Euthymius was attracted to the life of a hermit.
He had heard of Mount Athos as a suitable place
for solitary life, and decided to go there. But he
had not yet received the ' great Schema ', 2 and in

1 In Cod. Vat. 672, f.97-98 * there are encomiums by Psellus on
a monk named Nicolaus on Mount Olympus : but he is described
as the KaOrjyovfJievov T>}S ev TO* 'OA.v/x,7ro> /AOI/^S rrj<s wpcu'as Trrjyfjs.

2 It must be remembered that among the Basilican monks
there are two grades, the piKpov o^/xa, which is given with
a tonsure, and the fie'ya or dyye\i/c6v cr^a. At present the
latter is frequently not taken until extreme old age, or even
just before death. Both these grades are quite independent of


the absence of Mcolaus, and owing to the death
of Johannes who had given him the tonsure, he
did not at first know how to obtain it. Ultimately,
however, he turned to a hermit named Theodore,
who is perhaps also mentioned in the life of
Johannicius, 1 and after eight days' preparation
obtained ordination. He then started for Mount
Athos with a companion named Theosterictus.
On his way he passed through Nicomedia (not
at first sight the most direct route to Mount
Athos, but it was no doubt then, as it certainly
is now, easier to go round by Constantinople), and
then, for the first time since his departure from
Opso, thought of his deserted family, and sent
a message to them telling them of his action, and
recommending them to follow his example.

The result of his message was that his mother,
sisters, and wife embraced a monastic life, leaving
only his daughter Anastaso, who remained ' in the
world ' in order to prevent the family from dying
out, and became the mother of a son and three

(2) Life on Mount Athos as a hermit. 2 Euthymius
and Theosterictus reached Mount Athos in safety,
but the latter soon returned to Olympus, and
Euthymius joined an Armenian named Joseph,
whom he found already established as a hermit.
With Joseph he began the usual ascetic life, and for

sacerdotal rank : Euthymius, for instance, was not yet a deacon,
nor did he become one for many years.

1 Vita Johannicii, op. cit., pp. 366 if.

2 Petit, op. cit., pp. 27-32.


forty days they tried to live as cattle, moving about
on their hands and knees and eating the grass. 1

At the end of the forty days Euthymius proposed
that they should live in a cave for three years. To
this Joseph consented, but the opposition of the
lower creation was so pronounced that at the end of
a year he came out, leaving Euthymius to finish the
three years alone. The result was that the fame of
Euthymius's vow spread, and when he emerged
from the cave a number of monks gathered round
him, and he became the head of a laura.

(8) The laura of Euthymius on Mount Athos. 2
There are no chronological data in the life of
Euthymius to fix accurately the beginning of this
period of his life, but the laura must have been
founded about four years after Euthymius left
Olympus ; this cannot have been earlier than 862,
and probably was at least one year later. It seems to
have been the usual type of a loosely knit together
body of monks, gathered round a leader, and assem-
bling for religious services, but not otherwise living
in common, and possessing no monastic buildings.

On two occasions Euthymius left the laura. The
first time was in consequence of a message brought

1 The reason given for this strange form of asceticism is
a perverted interpretation of Ps. xlix. (LXX, xlviii.) 12, 20.
* Man being in honour hath no understanding : he is compared
to the cattle that have no intelligence, and is made like unto
them ' ; and the idea is that, by really living like cattle, they
might perhaps recover the lost gift of the likeness to God
(rj KO.T eiKora xapis), and so, by being 'made like unto' the
cattle and by having 'no understanding', they might come to
' be in honour '.

2 Op. cit., pp. 32-7.


to him by Theosterictus from Theodore, the hermit
who had given Euthymius the * great Schema',
asking him to come and bring him to Mount Athos.
Euthymius at once journeyed to Olympus, where
he found that Theodore was exceedingly ill. How-
ever, he managed to bring him to Athos, and, when
the life of the laura proved too severe, made him
a cell at Macrosina, a locality which is now un-
known, but is described by Basil, the writer of the
Life, as ' near the villages '. It was probably there-
fore not far from the north end of the mountain.
Shortly before his death Theodore moved to
Thessalonica, and was buried there in the church
of St. Sozon, and this induced Euthymius to leave
his laura for the second time in order to visit the
tomb. Here his fame had preceded him, and he
became the centre of a crowd of admirers who
tried to kiss him, expecting to derive from his
touch some miraculous benefit. In order to avoid
this annoyance he went a short distance out of the
city, and took up his position on a pillar (in the
way made famous by Simeon Stylites), on which
he was i raised visibly nearer to God ' and he could
preach his lessons separated by a safe distance
from his admirers. His preaching met with success,
but the life did not please him ; so he returned to
Athos after commending the care of Theodore's
tomb to the Archbishop of Thessalonica, who was
also named Theodore. This Archbishop appears
as a signatory of the Council of Constantinople in
869, and was also present at the installation of
Theopiste (daughter of St. Theodora) as Abbess in


the previous year, but there is no evidence as to
the year in which he became Archbishop; it
would seem from the data in the life of Euthymius
that his visit to Thessalonica must have taken place
not earlier than 863, and more probably as late as
865 ; it is therefore probable that Theodore 1 became
Archbishop of Thessalonica at least as early as 865
and perhaps earlier. Before leaving Thessalonica
Euthymius was ordained deacon, and, it would seem,
priest. M. Petit in his edition of the Life thinks
that the ordination was in the first place only to the
diaconate, and that priest's orders were given later.
It is, however, surely more probable that they were
given simultaneously, for the reason alleged is the
difficulty of Communion in a desert place in the
absence of a priest.

On his return to Mount Athos Euthymius stayed
for * some years ' in his laura, but after a time the
love of solitude returned, and taking with him two
companions, Symeon and Johannes Kolobos, he
went to the island of Neon (now St. Eustratius),
which can be seen in the distance from Mount
Athos. Here, however, he can scarcely be said to
have settled, for soon after reaching the island the
monks were captured by Arabs. Either miraculous
intervention or the superstitions 2 of the Arabs

1 M. Louis Petit has a note on Theodore in the tfchos de
r 'Orient (iv, 1901, pp. 2, 18 f.).

2 It must be remembered that Mohammedans are forbidden by
their law to interfere with monks or priests. This fact, which
is often forgotten by those who think of Islam as a persecuting
religion, explains why monks were usually released, and why


helped them : for the Arab ship made slow progress,
and thinking that this was due to the malign
influence of the monks, the Arabs took them and
disembarked them on the island. The monks
followed up their good fortune by demanding the
return of their baggage (' implements, hair shirts
and books ' says the writer), and in the end attained
their object, as the baggage ship was also driven
back to the island. This incident is an admirable
example of the way in which the simplest incident
assumed a miraculous character to monastic eyes.
For there is no reason to doubt the substantial
truth of the narrative ; there is nothing miraculous l
in a shift of wind or a delaying current anywhere
in the neighbourhood of Athos ; and in releasing
the monks and restoring their property the Arabs
were only obeying the precepts of Islam, which they
had been tempted to forget. But what is here
obvious is not always so clear, and there is
probably much history in the Ada Sanctorum irre^
coverably concealed by the miraculous explanations
which have been added to it.

After their escape from the Arabs Euthymius and
his friends had no desire to remain on the island,
and returned to Mount Athos. But even here
safety was no longer attainable : a raid was made
on the mountain, and some monks were captured :

the monasteries in Macedonia were not, as a rule, destroyed,
unless they were too obviously used as fortresses.

1 Experience has almost made me inclined to regard as
miraculous a voyage round Mount Athos in a sailing boat
which is not prolonged by these variations.


Euthymius felt that it was unwise to remain, and
the laura was disbanded. The monks who decided
to leave Athos separated into three groups. One,
headed by Symeon, went to Greece; another followed
Johannes Kolobos to Siderocausia (probably not far
from Athos) ; and the third went with Euthymius
himself to Brastamou, the modern Brasta in
Chalcidice near Polygorus. Of the first group
nothing more is known; the second had a short
but important history which is discussed in the
next chapter ; and of the third we know only what
is told us in the Life of JEuthymius. The date of
these events cannot be fixed : it must lie some-
where between 863, the earliest possible date for
Euthymius' visit to Thessalonica, and 871, the date
of the foundation of St. Andreas at Peristerai (see
p. 50). As he was ' some years ' on Mount Athos
after the visit to Thessalonica, 866 seems the earliest
possible date for the foundation of the laura at
Brastamou, and 867 or even 868 is perhaps more

(4) The laura of Euthymius at Brastamou. 1 Euthy-
mius' new foundation seems to have approached
almost more nearly to the nature of a convent than
to that of a laura. He built cells for the monks,
and frequently visited them, but personally he pre-
ferred to live in a ravine some distance away. His
fame spread and attracted many visitors. Among
them was a certain Onuphrius, who is mentioned
as a distinguished ascetic. Of course this is not the
Egyptian who is mentioned in the Ada Sanctorum,
1 Op. cit., 37-8.


and nothing more is known of St. Onuphrius of
Athos, but that such a person really existed need
not be doubted, for in the second ' typicon ' of the
mountain one of the signatories is that of the Abbot
of Onuphrius, and Peter the Athonite is very often
accompanied in the pictures on Mount Athos by
Onuphrius. One may suspect that originally it was
Onuphrius, the Athonite, not the Egyptian, who was
thus celebrated, but the matter is complicated by
the fact that the feasts of Peter the Athonite and
Onuphrius of Egypt fall on the same day June 12. 1

Euthymius seems at this time to have led rather
a restless life wandering about the ravines of Athos,
and at intervals visiting his laura at Brastamou,
among the monks of which was Joseph his old
Armenian friend, whose relics, preserved in the cave
in which he had died, the writer of the Life says that
he had seen. This would seem to imply that Basil,
the writer of the Life, was once a monk at Brastamou.

During one of Euthymius 5 periods of retirement
it was revealed to him that he should leave his
laura and found a monastery on the site of an
ancient church of St. Andrew at Peristerai near
Thessalonica ; therefore taking with him his friends
Ignatius and Ephraim from Brastamou he departed
for Thessalonica.

(5) Euthymius 9 monastery at Peristerai. 2 He had no
difficulty in finding Peristerai, a village about four
hours to the east of Thessalonica, and recognized
a fountain as identifying it with the place which
he had seen in his vision, and after some digging

1 Did they always do so? 2 Op. tit., pp. 38-48.



at a spot which he indicated the remains of an old
church were discovered. Aided by the money and
labour of the pious, but hindered by demons who
contrived frequent accidents, he built a monastery
on the spot, 1 and succeeded in finishing it in 871.
The new foundation was liberally endowed and
furnished by the neighbouring laity, and soon
attracted many monks. Among them was Basilius, 2
the writer of the Life, who, however, received the
tonsure from Euthymius not in the monastery, but
in the church of St. Demetrius at Servilia (now Or-
mulia), on the peninsula Longos, where there seems
to have been a kind of hermitage used by the monks.
For fourteen years Euthymius ruled the monas-
tery, and no doubt became a person of considerable
importance, but the Life gives us no historical
information, though it supplies interesting speci-
mens of his progress, sermons, wonderful cures,
and prophetic insight foretelling, for instance, to
Basilius that he would become a bishop. But
towards the close of this time, either in 882 or 883,
he seems to have taken some part in a settlement
between the Erissiotes, the monastery of his old
friend Johannes Kolobos, and the hermits of Mount
Athos, for his name appears among the signatures to
the agreement which was ultimately reached. A full
account 3 of this agreement and the controversy to
which it put an end will be given in the next chapter.

1 M. Petit mentions that Prof. Kinch, of Copenhagen, has
found the ruins of this monastery : see Festskrift til J. L. Ussing i
anledning ham 80 aarige fodselsdag, Copenhagen, 1900, and Byz.
Zeitschr., 1902, pp. 663 f.

2 Op. cit., pp. 46-7. 3 See pp. 68-70.


About 883 Euthymius again began to be restless,
and summoned to Peristerai his daughter's family
(the date is fixed by the statement that it was forty-
two years after he had left his family and wife), and
made his grandson, Methodius, Abbot of Peristerai,
and his granddaughter, Euphemia, abbess of a con-
vent which he built on ground bought for the
purpose. The relics and altars of these foundations
were consecrated by Methodius, Archbishop of
Thessalonica. The date of this archbishop's con-
secration is not known, but it must have been after
882, when Gregory (see p. 82) was in office. He
seems to have died in 889.

(6) Euthymius 9 last days as a hermit. 1 After thus
settling his affairs Euthymius returned to his old
ascetic life. First he went back to the pillar on
which he lived during his first visit to Thessalonica,
then he retreated to Mount Athos, but as he was
constantly pursued by disciples he finally went on
May 7 to the little island of Hiera, probably the
modern Ginra, not far from Volo. He was accom-
panied by only a single monk, Georgius, and died
on the island on October 15. His relics were then
brought to Thessalonica by the monks Paulus and
Blasius, who went to Hiera for the purpose on
January 13. The year of his death is difficult to
fix. The writer says that it was in the second
indiction that he went to Hiera. This ought to be
either 884 or 898. The former seems rather early,
for it was only in 883 that he' summoned his
family, but the latter seems equally too late, though
1 Op. cit., pp. 48-51.



M. Louis Petit accepts it, and so allows fourteen years
for his last period of life as a hermit. Personally,
I should prefer the early date, and suppose that the
stay on the pillar and on Mount Athos only lasted
a few weeks ; for the impression given by the Life
is that Euthymius did not live long after leaving
Peristerai. It is, however, of course possible that
the ' second indiction' is wrong. Perhaps it was
originally ' eighth indiction ', as a confusion between
ft and 77 is not uncommon.

The importance of the information concerning
Mount Athos contained in this story needs no
emphasis. The most interesting points may be
summed up as follows : (1) as early as 859 when
Euthymius went first to Athos there were already
hermits there for instance, his Armenian friend,
Joseph and, as we know from other sources, Peter
the Athonite was also living at the time ; but there
is no reference to a convent or even to a laura of
monks. (2) A few years later Euthymius himself
was the centre of a definite laura. (3) Although
Euthymius, Johannes Kolobos, and Symeon left the
laura with some of the monks it is more probable
than not that others remained, and, as the next
chapter will show, there was a considerable number
of monks or hermits on the mountain between 870
and 880. (4) There is no reference to a definite
monastery as distinct from a laura, and no mention of
Clementos the monastery which the Life of Peter
the Athonite states to have been in existence c. 890.



THE foundation of Euthymius at Peristerai had not
a very long or distinguished history. The last that
we read of it in the life of Euthymius is that the
saint, on leaving the monastery, appointed his grand-
son Methodius to be abbot. Seeing that this Metho-
dius must have been under thirty, and was probably
not older than twenty-five, the wisdom of this act
is open to question, but whether it led directly to
bad results is unknown. What, however, is certain is
that during the next eighty years the monastery fell
into bad hands and became disreputable. This is
proved by the Typicon of Athanasius the Athonite,
in which it is stated that the monks had lived for
a long time in an absolute disregard of monastic
propriety. At this point the Emperor Nicephorus
Phocas intervened ; he was the patron of Athanasius
and had promised to endow his new foundation, the
monastery now known as ' the Laura'. He therefore
seized the opportunity of suppressing a scandal and
helping a friend by a single stroke of statesmanship,
and transferred the control of St. Andreas to

The effect of this transference is only known to
us from one source Athanasius' Typicon. He was
entirely satisfied with the results achieved, though we
may justifiably doubt whether the monks of Andreas
would have endorsed his judgement. Exactly what
he did is unknown, but at any rate in 970, when
the Typicon was written, a certain Stephanus was
Abbot of St. Andreas, and- enjoyed the complete
confidence of Athanasius. We may surmise that he
had been sent from the Laura to carry out a plan of


reform. It would seem, however, that the reforma-
tion was somewhat superficial, for Athanasius was
not prepared to recommend the appointment of any
further abbot after the death of Stephanus. He
directed that Stephanus should not be disturbed in
his lifetime, nor be called upon for his accounts,
but that after his death the management of the
convent should devolve directly upon' the abbot of
the Laura.

It is easy to see that this arrangement boded ill
for the future independence of St. Andreas, and that
the quiet and peace which Athanasius promised to
the monks was merely that which the tiger offers
to the lamb.

There remained, however, one source of protec-
tion an appeal to the Metropolitan of Thessalonica,
to whom Euthymius had especially commended his
foundation. We have no evidence as to the date
when this appeal was made, but a Chrysobull of Con-
stantine IX, alluded to by Gerasimos Smyrnakes,
seems to mark the end of a struggle between the
Lauriotes on the one hand, and the Peristeriotes
supported by the Metropolitan of Thessalonica on the
other, in which the emperor intervened. According
to this the emperor removed the monastery of
St. Andreas from the protection of the bishop, and
handed it over absolutely to the Laura.

This completed the work of Mcephorus and the
ruin of the convent, which became merely a source
of income for the Laura.

Its further history is unknown : at present the
Laura has no property in the district of Peristerai,
so that it either lost it in one of the many periods of
unrest in Macedonia, or sold it to some one else.

I append the extract from the Typicon of Athana-
sius and the statement of Gerasimos Smyrnakes,
on which this reconstruction of the history of the
monastery is based.


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