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Saint Safronios, patriarch of Jerusalem.

Safronios was born in Damascus around the year 558, and grow up, according to an old tradition in Besharri, North Lebanon. He went after studying and was a quite distinguished learner with vast knowledge and deep wisdom, which acquired him the title “Wiseman”. He used rhetoric as a medium to seed the wisdom of God in the heart of his audience. After a life of research and teaching he deserted the world and went to Palestine (Holy Land), where many monastic communities and hermits were flourishing. After visiting the holy sites there, he joined the monastery of Saint Theodosius, nearby Jerusalem, wherein he spent several years [1] training himself in Christian virtues, mental prayer and monastic practices.

In that busy crowded monastery, he met the John Moskhos the famous well learned and virtuous monk and priest, and took him as his master and spiritual director. He also assisted him in writing down his famous book “The monks’ Garden or Spiritual Garden [2]”.

They then traveled to Alexandria, Egypt [3], where they stayed by its patriarch saint John the Merciful (or compassionate). It was there when Saint Safronios professed his monastic vows, deciding to consecrate his life to serve God in his people.

[1] The original Arabic texts says “he lived there for a long time”, without specifying what a long period of time is, I presume somewhere around 40 years. Because if he was born in the year 558, then became the Patriarch of Jerusalem in 634 (@ the age of 76), then he could probably had joined that monastery @ the age of 30-36. (ma che ne so io?).

[2] Known in Arabic as بستان الرهبان= bistan al rohban, and contains a series of stories about holy monks, their wisdom sayings and teachings.

[3] Usually the original text does say: Alexandria, Egypt, but only “Alexandria” presuming that the reader is familiar where Alexandria is, and treating all these Middle Eastern cities as different localities in the same big Roman Byzantine Empire.