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Saint Of The Day For December 5: Saint Sabas, Abbott

The Life of St Sabas: Born in Mutalasca, near Caesarea of Cappadocia in 439, he entered the monastery while still young.

In 457 he went to Jerusalem to enter the new monastery founded by Passarion, but did not find the peace he desired.

He thus headed for the Dead Sea, where he asked Abbot Theoctistus for hospitality.

In 473, after several unsuccessful attempts, he decided to retire to a tower and live as a loner.

So until 478 when he set out for Jerusalem.

Stopping in the Cedron valley, he chose to occupy one of the caves there, continuing his hermit life.

St Sabas and The great Lavra

His living, however, began to attract the attention of other seekers of God who began to occupy the surrounding caves, so much so that they had to found other ‘hermit monasteries’, which took the name ‘Great Lavra’ from ‘Narrow Path/ Throat’.

The form of the ‘laura’ is typical in the monastic community of the Christian East.

Small in size, consisting of cells or caves, a church and sometimes, in the centre, a communal refectory.

Sabas wanted to express a ‘piece of heaven’, a reflection of the infinite beauty we encounter before God.


The enlargement of the Community brought with it tensions, to such an extent that Sabas decided to leave.

For he was “combative against demons, but gentle towards men”.

So he retreated to a cave inhabited by a lion: when the lion returned and found the monk sleeping, he tried to drag him out, but Saba began to pray the Night Office and the lion came out.

Once the recitation of the psalms was over, Sabas lay down and the lion tried again to drag him outside.

At a certain point Sabas said to him: “The cave is large enough to hold both of us: we are both children of God, if you like, stay with me, if not, bye! ”

At these words, somewhat seized with reverence, the lion left.

At his death, 5 December 532, he left seven Lavras, eight monasteries, three hospices.

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