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Barsanuphius (died c. 545), was a Christian hermit and writer of Egyptian origin in the sixth century who is venerated as a saint by various Christian churches. While he was living as a hermit close to Gaza, he became a famous spiritual director with many disciples who asked him for his guidance. In response, he wrote, together with his fellow hermit John the Prophet, over 800 letters which influenced in particular Byzantine and Slavic monasticism.


Orthodox icon of Barsanuphius


  • Humility means not reckoning oneself as anything in every situation and cutting off one’s own will in everything and calmly enduring whatever occurs externally.
    • Cited in Barsanuphius and John: Letters, vol. 1, p. 278
  • And as for the conversation, when you see yourself almost theologizing, remember that silence is more admirable and more glorious than that.
    • Cited in Barsanuphius and John: Letters, vol. 1, p. 53
  • To renounce one’s own will is a sacrifice of blood. It means that one has reached the point of laboring to death and of ignoring one’s own will. The statement ‘Behold, we have left everything and have followed you’ is about perfection; it is not about property and small amounts of money, but about thoughts and desires. You, however, have not yet come to this perfection; when you approach there, you will hear what you have to do. For the time being, simply remain carefree in all matters and concerns. As for your property, keep it for now for your nurture. The Lord Jesus Christ will bring you to that ineffable joy; for he is eternal light. Amen.
    • Cited in Barsanuphius and John: Letters, vol. 1, p. 257-258
  • Be vigilant in attending to yourself, … that you may set God before you at all times.
    • Cited in The First Thousand Years: A Global History of Christianity (2012), p. 106
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