MOSES THE BLACK, SAINT (d. 407)
Anchorite and martyr and the most famous of the monks called Moses (feast day: 24 Ba’unah). He was a former black slave who had been dismissed by his master “because of his immorality and acts of highway robbery.” When he became a monk at Scetis, he was subjected to violent assaults by demons, but he triumphed over these with the advice and encouragement of Abba Isidorus. His progress in virtue was so rapid that he was soon reckoned among the greatest of the old men and was ordained a priest. Above all else, he was distinguished by his compunction, his gentleness, and his humility.
He was so gracious and welcoming that he no longer had a moment’s peace. On the advice of Macarius, he withdrew to greater solitude at Petra. His death at the hands of the Mazices was thus the bloody death he had predicted and wished for as the just punishment for his former crimes. Most of the collections of apothegms contain in various forms “seven chapters sent by the abba Moses to the abba Poemen,” possibly representing something in the nature of a summary of what Moses taught his disciples. Among the latter, the most famous is fairly clearly ZACHARIAS, who died a godly death before his master’s very eyes.
Moses is very popular among the Copts. He is honored on 24 Baunah. His remains are venerated in the main church of DAYR AL-BARAMUS of Scetis.
- Butler, C. The Lausiac History of Palladius, Vol. 2, pp. 58-62, 197f. Cambridge, 1904.
- Chitty, D. J. The Desert a City, pp. 53, 60, 66f. Oxford, 1966. Cotelier, J. P., ed. Apophthegmata Patrum. PG 65, pp. 281-89. Paris, 1856.
- Evelyn-White, H. G. The Monasteries of the Wadi’n Natrun, . The History of the Monasteries of Nitria and Scetis. New York, 1932.