Venerable Aninas of the Euphrates

Commemorated on March 18

Saint Aninas was born at Chalcedon into a Christian family. After the death of his parents, he withdrew at age fifteen into a monastery, where he received monastic tonsure. In search of complete solitude, he went off into the heart of the desert where the River Euphrates separates Syria from Persia. There he came upon an Elder named Maium and settled there with him. Both ascetics led a very strict life. During the forty days of the Great Fast they ate nothing, taking delight and joy instead in spiritual nourishment.

Every day Saint Aninas carried drinking water from afar. Once, he returned with full water pitchers earlier than usual, since an angel had filled the vessels with water. The Elder Maium realized that his disciple had attained to high level of spiritual accomplishment, and he in turn asked Saint Aninas to become his guide, but he refused out of humility. Later, the Elder went to a monastery, and Saint Aninas remained alone in the wilderness.

By constant struggles the saint conquered the passions within himself, and he was granted gifts of healing and clairvoyance. Even the wild beasts became docile and served him. Wherever the saint went, two lions followed after him, one of which he had healed of a wound on its paw.

Accounts of the saint spread throughout all the surrounding area, and the sick and those afflicted by evil spirits began to come to him, seeking healing. Several disciples also gathered around the saint. Once, in his seventeenth year as an ascetic, several men had come to the saint and asked for something to quench their thirst. Relying on the power of God, the saint sent one of his disciples to a dried-up well. The well miraculously filled up to its very top, and this water remained for many days. When the water ended, the saint did not dare to ask for a miracle for himself, and so he began to carry water from the Euphrates at night.

Bishop Patrick of Neocaesarea repeatedly visited the monk and ordained him presbyter, although the humble ascetic was resolved not to accept the priestly office. When he learned that the saint himself carried water from a distance, Bishop Patrick twice gave him donkeys, but each time Saint Aninas gave them away to the poor and continued to carry the water himself. Then the bishop ordered that a large well be dug, which they filled from time to time, bringing donkeys from the city.

Saint Aninas discerned the desire of a certain stylite monk, who struggled far from him, to come down off his pillar and make a complaint in court against a robber who had hurt him with a stone. Saint Aninas wrote a letter to the stylite, advising him not to carry out his intent. The letter was brought to the stylite by a trusty lion, and it brought him to his senses.

A certain pious woman, who had fallen ill, went to Saint Aninas to ask for his prayers. Along the way a robber chanced upon her. Since the woman had no money, he decided to assault her and force her into sin. The woman called on the saint’s help and cried out, “Saint Aninas, help me!” Terror suddenly overcame the robber, and he let go of the woman.

The woman went to Saint Aninas and told him everything, and she also received healing. The robber also came to the monk in repentance, was baptized, and then tonsured as a monk. A spear which he had thrust into the ground when he attacked the woman, grew into a mighty oak.

At the age of 110 the saint predicted the time of his death, and he directed his successor as igumen to assemble the brethren.

Before his death, Saint Aninas conversed with the holy Prophets Moses, Aaron and Or [or Hur: Ex. 24:14]. He fell asleep in the Lord saying, “ O Lord, receive my soul.”

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