Dictionary of Christian Biography and Literature to the End of the Sixth Century/Euthymius (4), abbat in Palestine
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Euthymius (4), abbat in Palestine
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Euthymius (4), abbat in Palestine, born in 377, at Melitene in Armenia, and placed at an early age under the direction of its bishop, Otreius. After his ordination as priest he was placed in charge of all the monasteries in and near the place. Finding this too great an interruption to his meditations, in his 29th year he escaped to Jerusalem to visit the holy places, and found a home with a community of separate monks at Pharan, 6 miles from Jerusalem. With another hermit, Theoctistus, he used to take long walks into the desert of Cutila at sacred seasons. On one of these occasions, in the 9th year of his stay at Pharan, they came to a tremendous torrent with a cavern on one of its banks. Here they determined to live, lost to the world. They were, however, discovered by some shepherds, who sent them gifts. The fathers of Pharan also found them out, and came at times to see them. About 411 Euthymius began to receive disciples. They turned the cavern into a church, and built a monastery on the side of the ravine. Theoctistus had charge of it. In 420 Euthymius erected a laura, like that of Pharan, on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho, where he would see inquirers on Saturdays and Sundays, and his advice was always given with captivating sweetness and humility. In 428 the church of his laura was consecrated by Juvenal, the first patriarch of Jerusalem, accompanied by the presbyter Hesychius and the celebrated Passarion, governor of a monastery in Jerusalem.
A new turn was given to the life of Euthymius by a cure which he effected for Terebon, son of Aspebetus, prince of the Saracens, who, hearing of his fame, brought the afflicted boy to his gloomy retreat with a large train of followers. The prayers of Euthymius are said to have restored health to the patient, and the whole company believed on the Lord Jesus. Euthymius ordered a little recess for water to be hollowed out in the side of the cave, and baptized them on the spot, the father taking the name of Peter. His brother-in-law Maris joined the community of anchorets, bestowing all his wealth for the enlargement of the buildings. The story spread over Palestine and the neighbouring countries, and Euthymius was besieged with applications for medical assistance and prayer.
Peter, bp. of the Saracens, on his way to the council at Ephesus, a.d. 431, visited Euthymius, who exhorted him to unite with Cyril of Alexandria and Acacius of Melitene, and to do in regard to the creed whatever seemed right to those prelates. When the council of Chalcedon issued its decrees (451), two of his disciples, Stephen and John, who had been present, brought them to their master. The report of his approval spread through the desert, and all the recluses would have shared it but for the influence of the monk Theodosius, whose life and doctrine appear to have been equally unsatisfactory, who even tried hard to persuade Euthymius to reject Chalcedon, but without success.
The empress Eudoxia, an energetic Eutychian, after the death of her husband in 450, went to Jerusalem, and being urged by her brother Valerius to become reconciled to the Catholic church, determined to consult Euthymius. She built a tower about 4 miles S. of his laura, and sent to him Cosmas, guardian of the so-called True Cross at Constantinople, and Anastasius, a bishop. Euthymius came; and after giving his blessing to the empress, advised her that the violent death of her son-in-law, Valentinian, the irruption of the Vandals, the captivity of her daughter Eudoxia and of her grandchildren, might all be attributed to her Eutychian opinions. She should abjure her schism, and embrace the communion of Juvenal, patriarch of Jerusalem. The empress obeyed, and her example was followed by a multitude of monks and laymen. A celebrated anchoret also, Gerasimus, owed his separation from Eutychianism to Euthymius. Euthymius died in 473; his obsequies were celebrated by the patriarch Anastatius and a large number of clergy, among whom are mentioned Chrysippus, guardian of the Cross, and a deacon named Fidus. See Cotelier's ed. of the Vita Euthymii by Cyrillus Scythopolitanus (Cot. Eccl. Graec. Monum. iv. 1, Paris, 1692).