December 5 - Saint Sabbas

Quick Facts
  • Spiritual student of Saint Euthymius the Great at age 20.
  • Anchorite from age 30, living in a cave, devoting himself to prayer and manual labor.
  • He wove ten willow baskets each day.
  • On Saturday he would take them to the local monastery, led by Saint Euthymius, and trade them for a week's food, and a week's worth of willow wands for more baskets.
  • Took over leadership of the monks upon the death of Saint Euthymius.
  • Co-superior with Saint Theodosius over 1,000 monks and hermits in the region.
  • Sabbas was a simple man with little education, but with a firm belief in the spiritual benefits of simple living.
  • The combination of his lack of education and his severe austeries caused some of his charges to rebel.
  • Sabbas tired of the squabbling, and he missed his time in prayer, so he fled to TransJordania.
  • There he found a cave inhabited by a lion; the lion moved on, finding a new home, and giving the cave to the holy man.
  • A distorted version of this tale reached the rebelious monks; they seized on it, reported to the patriarch that Sabbas had been killed by a lion, and requested a new leader be appointed.
  • As this message was being formally presented to the patriarch, Sabbas walked into the room.
  • This led to a confrontation during which the complaints of the monks were aired.
  • However, the patriach took Sabbas's side, and the two restored order and discipline to the lives of the anchorites.
  • Led a peaceful uprising of 10,000 monks who demanded the end of the persecution of Palestinian bishops of Anastatius I.
  • At age 90, Sabbas travelled to Constantinople where he successfully pled for clemency from Justinian for Samarians who were in revolt.