September 10, 2023 - Nasie 5, 1739
Departure of St. Barsoma, the Naked
On this day also, in the year 1033 A.M., the great saint who was perfect in the love of God, Anba Barsoma the Naked (El-Erian), departed. He was born in Misre (Cairo). His father called El-Wageeh Moufdel, was the scribe of the Queen Shagaret El-dor, and his mother was from the family of El-Taban. When his parents departed, his uncle took possession of all that they had left. Barsoma did not quarrel with him but forsook the world and lived the life of the righteous hermits. He lived outside the city for five years suffering the harshness of the summer heat and the winter cold. He wore no clothing except a hairy sackcloth, following the example of the Saint Anba Paul (Anba Paula), the first hermit. Then he shut himself in a cave inside the church of St. Marcurius Abu-Saifain for twenty years in ceaseless prayer and fasting, by day and night. There was a huge serpent in that cave. When he entered the cave and saw this serpent, he cried saying, O my Lord Christ, the Son of the Living God, who gave us the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and every power of the enemy. You granted healing to the children of Israel, who were bitten by the serpents, when they looked to the brass serpent. Now I look to you, O You Who was hanged on the Cross, so that you might grant me power to be able to overcome this beast. Then he made the sign of the cross over himself, and moved toward the serpent saying, You trampled the serpent and the snakes, and You tread upon the lion and the dragon.
The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid? Then he said to the serpent, O blessed one stand still in your place, and then he made the sign of the cross over it. He prayed to God and asked Him to remove the beastly nature from it. As he finished his prayer, the serpent changed its nature and became tame. The saint said to the serpent, Henceforth, O blessed one, you shall not have power or might to harm any man, but you shall be subject and obedient to what I say to you. The serpent manifested signs of submission and obedience, and became with the saint as the lion was with Daniel, the prophet, in the din. Then he left the cave and lived on the roof of the church. He endured the summer heat and the winter cold, until his skin became dark from much worship and asceticism. He remained in this state for fifteen years. During his days, a great persecution befell the Christian nation. The churches were shut and the Christians were forced to wear blue turbans. As for this saint, the ruler seized him, severely smote him, then cast him in prison. When he was released, he went to the monastery of El-Shahran, where he lived on the roof of the church and he increased in his asceticism. He did not replace his white turban. The rulers of that time from princes, judges and others, visited him and saw his white turban, but no one dared to force him to wear a blue one for they knew that the power of God was with him. The saint continually asked and supplicated God to take his anger away from His people. Having completed his strife, he departed at a good old age, in the year 1033 A.M. He was then sixty years old, and was buried in the monastery of El-Shahran. May his prayers be with us. Amen.