Today is the feast day of Saint Abraham Kidunaia. Ora pro nobis.
The birthplace of St. Abraham was near Edessa in Mesopotamia, where his parents occupied an important position, being possessed of great riches. Ceding to his parents’ desire, while still very young he married, but escaped to a cell near the city as soon as the feast was over. His family searched for him for seventeen days, and were still more astonished when they found him. Why are you surprised? he asked them. Admire instead the favor God has granted me, the grace to bear the yoke of His service, which He has wanted to impose on me without regard to my unworthiness. He walled up his cell door, leaving only a small window open for the food which would be brought to him from that time on. (2)
When his parents died, he inherited their fortune. He arranged for a friend to manage it, and distributed half of it to the poor. He lived only with a goatskin tunic, a cloak, a bowl to serve as both dish and cup, and a mat of rushes for a bed. Despite his desire for solitude, many people came to him to ask his advice. (2)
One day the Bishop of Edessa asked to speak with him. He told St. Abraham that he wanted the hermit to leave his cell and go to the neighboring city of Beth-Kiduna, where he had sent many priests, but all had either been driven away or murdered without converting the city from its deeply entrenched idolatry. Abraham saw the will of God in that invitation, and accepted it. (3)
Soon after his ordination, he was sent to an idolatrous city which had hitherto been deaf to every messenger.
After praying earnestly, he went forth and cast down the altars and destroyed every idol he could see. The infuriated villagers rushed upon him, beat him and drove him from the village. During the night he returned, and was found in the morning praying in the church. Going out into the streets he began to harangue the people and to urge them to give up their superstitions, but they again turned on him, and seizing him dragged him away, stoned him and left him for dead. Upon recovering consciousness he again returned, and though constantly insulted, ill-treated and sometimes attacked with sticks and stones, he continued for three years to preach, without any apparent result.
Suddenly the tide turned: the saint’s meekness and patience convinced the people that he was indeed a holy man, and they began to listen. “Seeing them at last so well disposed, he baptized them all in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, to the number of a thousand persons, and thenceforth he read the Holy Scriptures assiduously to them every day while instructing them in the principles of faith, of Christian justice and of charity.” Thus for a year he continued to build up his converts, and then, fearing that he himself was becoming too much absorbed in the things of this world, he determined to leave his flock to the care of others and stole away at night to hide himself once more in the desert. St. Abraham lived to the age of seventy. At the news of his last illness, the whole countryside flocked to receive his benediction, and after his death each one sought to procure some fragment of his clothing.
St. Abraham lived to the age of 70. (2)
Image: St Abraham (4)
Research by Ed Masters, REGINA Staff