Saint Archellides

SAINT ARCHELLIDES

A Roman noble who became a monk in Palestine (feast day: 13 Tubah). The account of his life has been preserved in Sahidic in a complete codex (New York, M 579.1) and in various fragments from DAYR ANBA SHINUDAH (ed. Drescher, 1947), and is attributed to one Eusebius, a historiographer of who, in the mind of whoever composed it, was obviously the same person as EUSEBIUS OF CAESAREA, without apparent reason for such an attribution.

We are told that Archellides came from a noble and very pious family of the city of Rome. He is educated by “philosophers” and sent to complete his education in and Beirut. Along the way he meets a corpse and is so struck by this that he takes a vow of virginity and goes to the Palestinian monastery of Saint Romanus. He is accepted by the monks, performs great of asceticism, and is also respected for his wisdom.

Without any news of him, his mother is very sad; she opens a hostel where she takes care of wayfarers. After twelve years some passing merchants discuss Archellides, and his mother learns where he is. She gives her belongings to the poor and sets out. When she reaches the monastery, she asks to see her son, who refuses her an audience [presumably because he has vowed not to look at the face of a woman]. The mother insists, and in his difficulty Archellides prays intensely for death. His mother thus manages to see him, although he is already dead; she prays that she too may die, and her is granted.

The text is one of the fictitious stories not linked to a Cycle and seems to have been composed directly in Coptic in about the seventh century.

  • Drescher, J. Three Coptic Legends: Hilaria, Archellites, the Seven Sleepers. Supplement to Annales du Service des Antiquités ‘Egypte 4. Cairo, 1947.

TITO ORLANDI