Saint of the Day for 19 July: Saint Arsenio the Great
The wisdom of the desert for a life of faith and soul searching
Saint Arsenio the Great
Circa 350, Rome
450, Scete, Egypt
O God, who gave your people Saint Arsenio the Great hermit, with his help make us strong and persevering in the faith, to collaborate assiduously in the unity of the Church. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who is God, and lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen
At Mount Scete in Egypt, Saint Arsenio, who was, according to tradition, a deacon of the Church of Rome; having retired to a solitary life at the time of the Emperor Theodosius, full of every virtue he rendered his spirit to God.
The Saint and Mission
St Arsenios the Great was an extraordinary example of dedication to spiritual mission. He spent much of his life in the desert, dedicating himself to seeking God’s presence and spiritual growth.
St Arsenios’ mission was to witness to the Christian faith through a life of prayer, penance and withdrawal from the world. His choice of isolation was not to escape responsibility, but to focus completely on seeking God and deepening his relationship with Him.
Despite his withdrawal into the desert, St Arsenio did not forget his duty to bring the message of Christ to others. He offered wisdom and spiritual advice to those who sought him out, guiding them towards a deeper life of faith.
His testimony invites us to reflect on our spiritual mission and how we can witness to the faith to others. St Arsenios urges us to dedicate time to prayer and the search for God, but also to be available to help those seeking spiritual guidance.
The figure of St Arsenio reminds us that the spiritual mission is not only about our personal relationship with God, but also about sharing our faith with others. We can learn from him to live our mission with humility, perseverance and compassion, offering spiritual support to those in need.
May the example of St Arsenio the Great inspire us to live our spiritual mission with dedication and commitment, bringing the light of Christ to those around us and guiding them towards a deeper life of faith.
The Saint and Mercy
St Arsenios the Great was a shining example of mercy in his ascetic life and spiritual commitment. He spent much of his life in the desert, devoting himself to prayer, penance and seeking the presence of God.
Despite his quest for solitude and isolation, Saint Arsenio did not forget the importance of mercy towards others. He offered listening, comfort and wisdom to those who turned to him for advice and spiritual help.
St Arsenio’s mercy extended to all, regardless of their condition or guilt. He understood the profound need of all human beings to be loved, forgiven and guided towards the path of salvation.
His testimony prompts us to reflect on the importance of living mercy in our daily lives. St Arsenio invites us to put aside judgements and show compassion towards others, offering support and forgiveness, just as God does with us.
The figure of St Arsenio reminds us that mercy knows no boundaries and that we are all called to practice it. Whether in our family, work or social environment, we can follow the example of St Arsenio in manifesting God’s love through mercy, bringing hope and healing to those in need.
May the example of St Arsenio the Great inspire us to live mercy in our daily lives, becoming instruments of love and compassion in a world in need of healing and reconciliation.
White with a long white beard, tall in stature, noble in appearance, this was Saint Arsenio at the age of ninety-five, after more than half a century of living in the most arid and desolate desert, that of Scete, in Egypt.
His noble gait came from being Roman, from a senatorial family. He had held very high positions in the imperial palace, and it even seems that Theodosius had chosen him as tutor to his sons, Arcadius and Honorius, who later divided up his father’s empire. When Rome was conquered by the barbarian King Alaric; when the Empire built by the Caesars began to crumble, Arsenio realised how his…