Venerable Moses the Ethiopian and Me

mosestheblackAugust 28 is my birthday. Some people try to suppress their birthdays. I am not one of them. During the 3 years that I was in seminary my birthday was always a bust because I was always away from my family. The seminarians spent the 10 days immediately prior to the start of the new school year at the Antiochian Village near Pittsburgh. That first year I was especially sad to be away from my wife and kids and I wandered into the church that is on the camp property. It was late and dark and I was alone. After a minute in the church I was almost overcome with this heavenly smell. I wandered over to a place where relics of saints were and noticed that the smell was coming from a relic of Abba Moses. Fantastic! Then to find out that his feast day and my birthday are the same day what a gift! So, today, a little about Abba Moses, his manner of life and a charming story. Tomorrow’s post will be about the place of relics in the Orthodox Church.

Moses was a desert monk who in the literature is referred to as Moses the Black but now more commonly referred to as Moses the Ethiopian. He had been a slave, but because of his evil life, his master cast him out, and he became a ruthless thief, dissolute in all his ways. Later, however, coming to repentance, he converted, and took up the monastic life under Saint Isidore of Scete. He gave himself over to prayer and the mortification of the carnal mind with such diligence that he later became a priest of exemplary virtue. He was revered by all for his lofty ascetical life and for his great humility. Once the Fathers in Scete asked Moses to come to an assembly to judge the fault of a certain brother, but he refused. When they insisted, he took a basket which had a hole in it, filled it with sand, and carried it on his shoulders. When the Fathers saw him coming they asked him what the basket might mean. He answered, “My sins run out behind me, and I do not see them, and I am come this day to judge failings which are not mine.” When a barbarian tribe was coming to Scete, Moses, conscious that he himself had slain other men when he was a thief, awaited them and was willingly slain by them with six other monks, at the end of the fourth century.


Thou didst prove to be a citizen of the desert, an angel in the flesh, and a wonderworker, O Moses, our God-bearing Father. By fasting, vigil, and prayer thou didst obtain heavenly gifts, and thou healest the sick and the souls of them that have recourse to thee with faith. Glory to Him that hath given thee strength. Glory to Him that hath crowned thee. Glory to Him that worketh healings for all through thee.



Filed under Flames of Wisdom

3 responses to “Venerable Moses the Ethiopian and Me

  1. s-p

    Many years! A venerable Saint’s day to be born on, for sure.

  2. Fr Raphael Johnston

    God grant you many years, my dear brother!

  3. Reader John Herman

    My birthday follows yours by two days. Many years, father.

    Abba Moses! What grace!

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