Saint of the Day: Sts. Thallasios and Limnaios

(Welcome to our Saint of the Day series! Each weekday, we present you with an excerpt from Fr. George Poulos' Orthodox Saints series, published by Holy Cross Orthodox Press.Today's saint, Sts. Thallasios and Limnaios comes from Volume 1 of the series.)

Saints Thallasios and Limnaios

Many of the saints of Christianity who are known but to God would still be unknown except for manuscripts of the Church which have been uncovered to reveal their identity. Sts. Thallasios and Limnaios would have gone undiscovered had their lives not been recounted by a fifth-century hagiographer who was also the Bishop of Kyrros, Syria, and who went by the name of Theodoret. Except for Bishop Theodoret’s well-preserved account based on firsthand knowledge, the names of Thallasios and Limnaios would live only in anonymity.

Although Thallasios precedes Limnaios, the latter’s life seems to have been outlined in greater detail by the bishop, in spite of the fact that they are revered together. Of the great eremites and monks of that period, Thallasios emerged to prominence in the city of Kyrros. His preaching was of such convincing eloquence that he was required by popular demand to remain for longer periods of time so that no one would miss an opportunity to hear him speak.

When he managed to get away from the city, he found peace and solitude in a cave where he was content to pray, meditate and fast. The virtually inaccessible cave assured him the privacy he preferred until one day a young man named Limnaios, who had been searching for him for a long time, came upon the holy man’s hideout. Ordinarily the uninvited guest would have been treated with cordiality and then be asked to leave with the holy man’s blessing, but Limnaios so impressed the ascetic that he was asked to remain. This proved to be of mutual benefit because Limnaios was such an apt pupil that he and his mentor found inspiration in each other and thereby assured themselves of a spiritual attainment that was to lead to greatness for both.

When Thallasios sensed that Limnaios needed a change after years in the same place, he recommended him to another holy man by the name of Maron, as ascetic whose sainthood is observed on February 14. A Syrian like himself, Maron had achieved a popularity on the level of Thallasios and the arrival of Limnaios seemed to spur him to even greater effort.

Having been identified with two of the greatest and holiest ascetics of his time, it came time for Limnaios to strike out on his own. With the blessing of Maron he sought out a high mountain peak atop which he decided to build a crude hut, omitting a roof that obscured an upward look to heaven. One of the many visitors to this roofless home was none other than Bishop Theodoret, who came to pray with this devout monk.

One of the charities dearest to the heart of Limnaios was assistance to the blind. Realizing that he had not the omnipotence of the divine with which to cure those unfortunate souls who were forced to live in eternal darkness, he went forth from his homeless dwelling and raised money from his sighted brothers to help the sightless. He succeeded in erecting two homes for the blind, especially constructed with appropriate railings and rooms arranged in an orderly fashion so that the blind could move about without tripping over furniture and bumping into an object. His ingenuity and resourcefulness made life a great deal easier for the occupants.

In addition to making their lives useful and giving them the pride of independence, Limnaios brought to those who dwelled in darkness the light of Jesus Christ. A portion of their time was given over to arts and crafts which volunteers had taught them. Church services and vespers were held regularly and the holidays and feast days observed. Instead of cursing their fate, these devout Christians praised the Lord and in all probability envisioned the Savior more clearly than those who could see. Limnaios brought hope and happiness to hundreds of those who would otherwise have known despair and misery.

While traveling to his mountain top retreat with a pair of his closest associates, Limnaios was bitten by a snake whose venom was deadly. The alarmed companions marveled when Limnaios simply said a prayer and continued walking as though nothing had happened. For thirty-eight years this holy man toiled in the service of God and man. Following his death, he was sainted together with his Thallasios, both of whom are commemorated by the Orthodox Church on February 22.

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