Some Awesome People

Saturday, March 31, 2012

St. Stephen of Mar Saba

(d. 794)

Feastday: March 31

A "do not disturb" sign helped today's saint find holiness and peace.

Stephen of Mar Saba was the nephew of St. John Damascene, who introduced the young boy to monastic life beginning at age 10. When he reached 24, Stephen served the community in a variety of ways, including guest master. After some time he asked permission to live a hermit's life. The answer from the abbot was yes and no: Stephen could follow his preferred lifestyle during the week, but on weekends he was to offer his skills as a counselor. Stephen placed a note on the door of his cell: "Forgive me, Fathers, in the name of the Lord, but please do not disturb me except on Saturdays and Sundays."

Despite his calling to prayer and quiet, Stephen displayed uncanny skills with people and was a valued spiritual guide.

His biographer and disciple wrote about Stephen: "Whatever help, spiritual or material, he was asked to give, he gave. He received and honored all with the same kindness. He possessed nothing and lacked nothing. In total poverty he possessed all things."

Saint Stephen of Mar Saba was likely persecuted near the end of his life, as the Islamic faith began spreading through the region. The Saracens, spreading that faith, attacked many of his brethren, and many monks of Mar Saba were slain. Despite this growing threat, his heart remained strong in service to the Lord. While the details of his death are unknown, Stephen left behind a life rich with faith and miracles, a legacy of faith, and several hymns which demonstrate endurance in times of sadness.

Stephen died in 794.

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