The Ancient Library

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boy, and the management of his absent father's property, he was placed in a monastery, called Flavianae, about twenty miles from Mutalasca, where he was trained up in the strictness of mo­nastic observance, to which he so heartily devoted himself, that when, upon his uncles' reconciliation, he was invited to leave the monastery and take the charge of his father's property, he refused, quoting the declaration of Jesus Christ, that " no man put­ting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is * fit for the Kingdom of Heaven." His biographer Cyril represents his removal to his uncle Gregory's house, and afterwards to the monastery, as his own acts,, which, from his tender age (he being only five years old at his father's departure), is hardly probable, though it may have been the consequence of his own wish. In the monastery of Flavianae he spent ten years.

When in his eighteenth year Saba was seized with the desire of visiting Jerusalem, and of leading a solitary life in the wilderness near that city ; and having obtained permission, though with difficulty, from his archimandrite or abbot, he set out and reached Jerusalem in A. d. 457, toward the close of the reign of the Eastern emperor Marcianus. After rejecting the invitations of several monastic com­munities to settle among them, he withdrew to the wilderness east of the city, and would have placed himself in the monastery of which Euthymius, the most eminent of the monks of Palestine, was the abbot ; but Euthymius rejected him, as too young, and recommended him to the care of another abbot, Theoctistus, to be by him further trained in mo­nastic severities. While under the care of Theoc­tistus, he was allowed to accompany one of the monks who had private business at Alexandria ; and in that city he was recognised by his parents, who appear to have been strangely ignorant, if not regardless of their child. They would have had him engage in military service, in which his father, who had assumed the name of Conon, had risen to an important command. Saba, as might have been expected, refused to comply with their wishes, and returned to his monastery. After a time he ac­companied Euthymius into the wilderness of Ruba, near the Jordan, and then into the wilderness south of the Dead Sea, and appears to have been present with him at his death, in or about A. d. 573.

After the death of this eminent person, Saba withdrew altogether from his monastery into the wilderness near the Jordan ; and from thence re­moved to a cave near " the brook that flows from the fountain of Siloam," where in his forty-fifth year (a. d. 483 or 484) he began to form a com­munity from those who now resorted to him, and founded the " Laura " or monastery, known after­wards as Magna Laura, the inmates of which soon amounted to a hundred and fifty. In his fifty-third year, a. d. 491 or 492 (Cyrill. Scythop. Sabae Vita, c. 19), not his forty-fifth, as Cave affirms, he received ordination as presbyter. He was the founder of some other monastic societies beside that of Magna Laura ; and was appointed by the Patriarch of Jerusalem archimandrite of the an­chorets of Palestine. But the peace of these soli­taries was disturbed by the seditious proceedings of some of them, and by the disputes occasioned by the revival and progress of Origenistic and other opinions [origenes] regarded by Saba as heretical. In his seventy-third year (a. d. 512) Saba was sent, with some other heads of the anchorets of



Palestine, by Elias I., patriarch of Jerusalem, to avert the displeasure of the Eastern emperor Anas-tasius, who, in consequence of the great monophy-site schism, was at variance with the patriarch. The great reputation of Saba secured for him a gracious reception at court, and several gifts and favours from the emperor : the gold he distributed among the monasteries of which he was the founder or the virtual superior. His interposition, how­ever, did not divert the imperial patronage from the Monophysites, or prevent the ultimate deposi­tion (a. d. 513) of the patriarch Elias, who stre­nuously opposed them. Saba, who supported the same party (that of the Council of Chalcedon) as Elias, in conjunction with Theodosius, another eminent archimandrite of Palestine, superior of the Coenobites, persuaded Joannes, the successor of Elias, to break the engagement to support the Monophysite party, which had been the condition of his elevation : they also supported him in defy­ing the imperial mandate. For this contumacy, Joannes, Saba, and Theodosius, would probably all have suffered banishment, had not the troubles ex­cited by Vitalianus the Goth (a. d. 514) diverted the emperor's attention. [anastasius I.] In a. d. 518, Saba, now in his eightieth year, visited the ex-patriarch Elias, in his place of exile, Aila, the mo­dern Akaba, at the head of the gulf of Akaba, an arm of the Red Sea. Soon after this, the accession of Justinus I. to the empire having overthrown the ascendancy of the Monophysites, Saba was sent by the patriarch Joannes, to publish in the cities of Palestine the imperial letter, recognizing the Coun­cil of Chalcedon. In his ninety-first year (a. d. 529 or 530) he undertook another journey to Con­stantinople, where he obtained from Justinianus I., now emperor [ justinian us I.], a remission of taxes for Palestine, in consideration of the ravages occasioned by a revolt of the Samaritans, an inci­dent worthy of notice, as furnishing one of the few links in the obscure history of that remarkable people. He received also many gifts for his mo­nasteries. Saba died in his monastery, the Magna Laura (a. d. 532), in his ninety-fourth year.

Saba was a man of great energy. He acted an important part in that turbid period of ecclesiastical history, and fearlessly threw himself into the agi­tation arising from the great Monophysite schism ; nor does age seem either to have diminished his ardour or restricted his exertions.

Early in the seventeenth century ( a. d. 1603, also in 1613 and 1643) there was printed at Venice, in folio, an office book, or Liturgy of the Greek Church, entitled, ivttik.ov fftiv ©e&3 dyice}irapeixov Tra&avrriv ^idra^iv ttjs eKK\ri(nao'riK7Js a,Ko\ov6ias tov XP°~ vov oAou, Typicum, favente Deo, continens Integrum Officii Ecclesiastici Ordinem per totum Annum. It is a compilation, the first work in which is de­scribed by Cave as, " Typicon t^s eKK\V)(ria.<TTi-ktjs a,Ko\ovBia.s^ Sanctae Laurae in Hierosolymis, quod et in aliis Monasteriis Hierosolymitanis aliisqiiQ Ecclesiis obtinet ex Praescripto S. Sabae Capita lix. complexum " {Hist. Litt. Dissert. Secunda de Libris Eccles. Graecor.). This Typicon he elsewhere de­scribes as written by S. Saba, and used in all the monasteries of Jerusalem ; and states that having been corrupted and almost lost in the various in­vasions and disturbances of Palestine, it was re-­stored by Joannes Damascenus. But Oudin con­siders that the work is at any rate much interpo­lated, and that it probably is not the work of Saba

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