Syncletica

SYNCLETICA (fourth century?), nun.

The little that is known about Syncletica is furnished by a Vita sanctae Syncleticae, transmitted by numerous Greek manuscripts, that at a late date was arbitrarily attributed to Athanasius of Alexandria. It is modeled on the Vita sancti Antonii, which probably explains this incorrect attribution. It is in the main a treatise on asceticism in which the biographical data occupy little space. Of Syncletica we learn only that she belonged to a family from Macedonia that had settled in Alexandria. Her parents were Christians. After their death, she renounced the world, as a sign of which she cut off her hair, distributed all her goods, and withdrew to a tomb near the town with her blind sister, to live there in virginity and asceticism. She died there at the age of eighty, after long and terrible sufferings due to a malady that the biographer describes with precision, and that seems to have been a purulent osteitis. The most important part of the Vita reports the teaching that she gave to the virgins who came to visit her or, as it seems, lived beside her.

The alphabetic recension of the APOPHTHEGMATA PATRUM has collected eighteen apothegms under her name, which are extracts from the Vita. The latter is probably from the fifth century, for it exhibits the influence of the teaching of EVAGRIUS. I. Hausherr thought that it could be earlier than Evagrius, and detected in it the influence of Methodius of Olympus. In this case, if we are to accord any historical value to the Vita, Syncletica would have lived in the fourth century. A French translation has been published in the collection Spiritualité orientale.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Bernard, O. B. “Vie de sainte Synclétique.” Presentation of Dom Lucien Regnault. Spiritualité orientale, no. 9. Bellefontaine, 1972.
  • Cotelier, J. B., ed. Apophthegmata patrum. PG 65, pp. 421A-428A. Paris, 1864.
  • Hausherr, I. “De doctrina spirituali christianorum orientalium.” Orientalia Christiana 30, no. 3 (1933): 173-75.
  • Vita et gesta sanctae beataeque magistrae Syncleticae. PG 28, pp. 1487-1558. Paris, 1887.

ANTOINE GUILLAUMONT

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