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E07025: The Greek Life of *Auxentios (ascetic and monastic founder in Bithynia, ob. c. 470, S01523) recounts the life and miracles of its hero as an ascetic on mount Oxia, near Chalcedon (broader Constantinople), participant of the Council of Chalcedon, and founder of a nunnery at Gyrita near Chalcedon. It mentions shrines near Chalcedon. Written in Constantinople, probably in the mid 6th century.

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posted on 30.10.2018, 00:00 by Bryan
Life of Auxentios of Bithynia (BHG 199)

Summary:

Life as a layman
[1-2] The author writes a prologue on the utility of reading the lives of saints. In the 35th year of the reign of Theodosius II (437/443) there was a certain Auxentios who was enrolled as a soldier in the fourth imperial regiment (schola). He loved Christ and was very learned in Christian doctrine. Auxentios enjoyed the friendship of certain holy men of the time: the monk Ioannes of Kloubos near Hebdomon, Markianos, initially a Novatian, but later a Catholic and treasurer of the church of Constantinople, Anthimos, later deacon and presbyter, and Sitas. They all used to worship together at the church of *Eirene by the Sea [martyr of Magedon, S02162] in Constantinople.

[3] One day, before a service, Auxentios asked for something to drink and a church minister offered him water mixed with wine. Reproached by Markianos for drinking it, Auxentios replied that he did not ask for wine, but it would have been an act of pride rather than fasting, not to drink what had been offered.

[4-5] There was a beggar who was always disturbing Auxentios. Upon his many requests, Auxentios decided to give him his tunic. After that, he asked his brothers to visit the monk Ioannes of Kloubos. Once there, they again saw the man to whom Auxentios had given the tunic. He confessed to have seven of them, and that he did not really need Auxentios’ tunic. Auxentios reproached him over his wrongdoing.

[6] When he was in the palace, he saw a man being arrested and decided to intervene to free this man, thus enforcing the words of the Psalms according to which it is important to help the poor.

[7] Auxentios worked for three days at a workshop at Battopolion, miraculously helping it to have revenue after a period of poverty. He did not drink or eat for three days. On the third day, he gave everything he earned to the poor.

[8] He cast out an evil spirit from a woman, without harming the child she was carrying in her womb.

Asceticism on Mount Oxia
[9] Auxentios foresaw the rise of the Nestorian and Eutychian heresies. He left the army and went alone into the desert of Bithynia on mount Oxia, around 10 miles from Chalcedon.

[10-11] He lived there, following the example of John the Baptist. With his prayers, he helped some children to find their flock which was lost on the mountain. When the children’s parents learned about his help, they visited him and asked for his prayers. To express their gratitude, they built him a cell.

[12-13] Auxentios’ fame spread across the region. A certain Comitissa from Nicomedia, who was blind, visited him and was cured by him. This is the first miracle performed by Auxentios on mount Oxia. In addition, he cured many people possessed by demons.

[14-17] A friend of Auxentios went to the saint with a reluctant friend who did not believe in Auxentios’ sanctity. This incredulous man was making fun of Auxentios; therefore the holy man refused to speak with him. When the two friends went back to Hemeros (an emporium near the city of Chalcedon), they found the daughter of the incredulous one possessed by a demon. Only then was he persuaded to visit Auxentios and ask him to cure his daughter. When he arrived, Auxentios reminded the incredulous man of the times when he used to make fun of him. The incredulous man wept and asked for mercy. Auxentios cured the girl and everyone believed in God because of him.

[18-21] During his time on mount Oxia, he cured two people suffering from elephantiasis, a paralytic, a woman possessed by a demon who spoke like a snake and two women from Phrygia possessed by demons. These three women were grateful to Auxentios and decided to become hermits as well. All these people were cured by the use of holy oil.

The Council of Chalcedon
[22] Ten years later, during the reign of Marcian, the Council of Chalcedon is convoked against the heresies of Nestorius and Eutyches.

[23-24] The emperor and the local bishop summoned Auxentios to the council, but he refused to come; they sent soldiers who convinced him by reporting about Nestorius’ teaching.

[25-30] On the way to Chalcedon, he performed several miracles, curing oxen, and possessed children.

[31] When Auxentios arrived at the shrine of *Thalelaios [martyr of Aigai, S01137] he ordered the poor (ascetics) who had been following him to return to mount Oxia.

[32-35] At the monastery which is in Philios, near the church of *Ioannes [presumably either John the Baptist, S00020, or John the Apostle and Evangelist, S00042] he cured a possessed young man named Isidoros and met a commander of the army. In this monastery, Auxentios conducted a frugal life, refusing food, and light during the night.

[36] After that he was brought to Rufinianae, a suburb of Chalcedon. At the shrine of the Apostles [S00084] and the monastery of *Hypatios [S02090] he was welcomed by the monks and many people visited him. He cured many demoniacs and sick, including a noble woman (comitissa).

[38-43] The emperor summoned Auxentios to the Council of Chalcedon, and Auxentios approved of its doctrines.

Asceticism on Mount Skopa
[43-45] After the Council, Auxentios settled on a mountain named Skopa, where he had visions and fought against demons.

[46-50] The spiritual teachings of Auxentios.

[51] Many men and women wanted to renounce their possessions of the world and follow Auxentios’ way of life.

[52] Auxentios gave his monks leather tunics, symbolising their anchoretic condition. Among Auxentios’ disciples, there was a young boy named Basil who, during his prayers, was attacked and hurt by demons. Auxentios administered the Eucharist to him and he was cured. He died peacefully three years later.

[53-54] Auxentios’ teachings about temptations and demons.

[55] Auxentios' teaching concerning ascetic practices. He recommended resting, fasting and praying on Saturday, so that the monks might attend the night vigil.

[56] During the first years of Leo I’s rule, Auxentios had a revelation miraculously notifying him of the death of *Symeon the Stylite [Symeon the Elder, stylite of Qal‘at Sim‘ān, ob. 459, S00343].

[57] The writer of the Life of Auxentios certifies the authenticity of this story by mentioning that his source was Auxentios’ successor, a holy man from Mysia.

[58-59] Miracles involving peasants.

[60] Auxentios cured many people possessed by demons by means of the relics of the saints. Before sending them away, he also ordered them to fast on the fourth day of the week and on Saturday. Among these people, there were also imposters who claimed to be possessed in order to gain profit, but Auxentios exposed them as frauds and sent them away.

The foundation of the Nunnery of Gyrita
[61] Eleuthera, a woman of wealthy family and chamberlain of the empress Pulcheria, used to attend services at Auxentios’ community, and gave him some relics. She asked of him to initiate her into the monastic life, and Auxentios reluctantly instructed her to settle at Gyrita, one mile out of Chalcedon. Soon, she was joined by Kosma and another woman, and Auxentios tonsured them as nuns.

[62-65] The community grew to 70 members, and Auxentios ordered them to build an oratory. Auxentios gave sermons of spiritual instruction to the nuns, and three days later fell sick. He died after ten days of illness.

[66] Monks, clergymen, and lay people gathered together to pay homage to Auxentios. His funeral was held on 14 February. Some monks from Rufinianae wanted to bury his remains at their church of the Apostles. Others wanted to bury him at the shrine of *Zechariah [probably the father of John the Baptist, S00597, or possibly the Old Testament prophet, S00283] in a place called Theatre (Theatron). In the end, he was buried at the nunnery of Gyrita, in the oratory he had built. Miracles occurred at his tomb.

[67] Auxentios died under the emperor Leo I (457-474) on 14 February.

Text: Varalda 2017.
Summary: Giovanni Hermanin de Reichenfeld and Efthymios Rizos.

History

Evidence ID

E07025

Saint Name

Auxentios, hermit in Bythinia, ob. 473. : S01523 Hypatios, abbot of Rufinianae, ob. 446 : S02090 Thalelaios, martyr of Aigai (Cilicia, southeast Asia Minor) : S01137 Symeon the Elder, stylite of Qal‘at Sim‘ān, ob. 459 : S00343 Zechariah, Old Tes

Saint Name in Source

Αὐξέντιος Ὑπάτιος Θαλέλαιος Συμεὼν Ζαχαρίας Ἀπόστολοι Εἰρήνη

Type of Evidence

Literary - Hagiographical - Lives

Language

Greek

Evidence not before

473

Evidence not after

600

Activity not before

437

Activity not after

600

Place of Evidence - Region

Constantinople and region

Place of Evidence - City, village, etc

Chalcedon

Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)

Chalcedon Constantinople Κωνσταντινούπολις Konstantinoupolis Constantinopolis Constantinople Istanbul

Cult activities - Festivals

  • Saint’s feast

Cult activities - Places

Burial site of a saint - unspecified

Cult activities - Non Liturgical Practices and Customs

Composing and translating saint-related texts

Cult activities - Rejection, Condemnation, Scepticism

Scepticism/rejection of miracles

Cult Activities - Miracles

Miracle during lifetime Miracle after death Healing diseases and disabilities Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)

Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Women Children Ecclesiastics - abbots Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits Foreigners (including Barbarians) Monarchs and their family Aristocrats Soldiers Heretics

Cult Activities - Relics

Bodily relic - unspecified Contact relic - oil

Source

For the manuscript tradition of the text, see Varalda 2017 and: http://pinakes.irht.cnrs.fr/notices/oeuvre/14739/

Discussion

The Life of Auxentios draws a portrait of the founder of a number of monastic centres in the broader area of Chalcedon, whose activity is placed in the 5th century. The text is distinctly preoccupied with purging the figure of Auxentios (and possibly of his foundations as well) from suspicions for heterodoxy, fraudulent miracles, and avarice. All these accusations, reflected in episodes of the narrative and words of Auxentios, are likely to have circulated both in the hero's lifetime and at the time of the text's composition. The text is thought to have been composed shortly after Auxentios' death, in the early 470s. The author, however, states that the source of his information was not his own acquaintance with the holy man, but Auxentios' first successor whose name is not given. This suggests a gap of about a generation between the death of the hero and the writing of the text. The text is avowedly pro-Chalcedonian and strives to convince the reader that Auxentios both attended and approved of the Council of Chalcedon, even though from the narrative itself it is evident that the saint did not want to take part in the council, and perhaps opposed it altogether. This agenda favours a date after the accession of Justin I (519). If Auxentios' monasteries conformed with the prevailing stance of the imperial church under Zeno and Anastasius (the Henotikon and the denunciation of the Council of Chalcedon), this will have left suspicions of heterodoxy when the doctrine changed. The anonymity of Auxentios' Mysian successor may be explained by this – he may have been a well-known Monophysite, and had been perhaps deposed because of that. All this indicates that the author of the Life of Auxentios wrote under Justin I (518-527) or Justinian (527-565), providing a foundation narrative for the Auxentian monastic communities of Chalcedon in a way which defended their Chalcedonian orthodoxy. In the light of such an agenda, the text resembles other monastic hagiographies which were produced in the same period by Constantinopolitan monasteries, notably the Lives of Isaakios (E06980) and Dalmatos (E07004), where the founders of these houses are presented as defenders of orthodoxy. One may also contrast the Chalcedonianism of the Life of Auxentios with the silence about this Council in the the Life of Daniel the Stylite (E04560) and the Life of Markellos Akoimetos (E07155), both of which were probably written under Zeno or Anastasius.

Bibliography

Text: Migne, J.-P., Patrologiae Cursus Completus: Series Graeca 114 (Paris, 1864), 1377-1436. Halkin F., and Festugière, A.-J., “Vie de S. Auxence (BHG 203b),” in: Dix textes inédits tirés du ménologe impérial de Koutloumous (Geneva, 1984), 44–46. Varalda, P., Vita sancti Auxentii (BHG 199) (Hellenica 64; Alessandria, 2017) (critical edition, Italian translation, and commentary) Further reading: Auzepy, M.F., "Les Vies d'Auxence et le monachisme auxentien," Revue des Etude Byzantines 53 (1995), 205-235. Déroche, V., and Lesieur, B., "Notes d’hagiographie byzantine. Daniel le Stylite – Marcel l’ Acémète – Hypatios de Rufinianes - Auxentios," Analecta Bollandiana 128 (2010), 283-295. Efthymiadis, S., and Déroche, V., "Greek Hagiography in Late Antiquity (Fourth-Seventh Centuries)," in: S. Efthymiadis (ed.), The Ashgate Research Companion to Byzantine Hagiography. Vol. 1: Periods and Places (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011), 35-94. Hatlie, P., The Monks and Monasteries of Constantinople, ca. 350-850 (Cambridge, 2007). Varalda, P., "Sulla tradizione manoscritta della vita Auxentii BHG 199," Medioevo Greco 15 (2015), 269-278.

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