Eucherius of Lyon

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Statue of Eucherius of Lyon

Saint Eucherius of Lyon (c. 380 – c. 449) was the archbishop of Lyon. He was a high-born and high-ranking ecclesiastic in the Christian Church of Gaul.



De laude eremi

Although God is present everywhere, and regards the whole world as his domain, we may believe that his preferred place is the solitudes of heaven and of the desert.
Vivian, Tim; Vivian, Kim; Russell, Jeffrey Burton (1999). The life of the Jura fathers: the life and rule of the holy fathers Romanus, Lupicinus, and Eugendus, abbots of the monasteries in the Jura Mountains. Kalamazoo, Michigan: Cistercian Publications. pp. 197-215. 

Quotes from De laude eremi ("In Praise of the Desert"), which has 44 chapters or sections:

  • You show how strong in you is the love of solitary places, since the strongest human love must yield to it. What shall I call that love of the desert if not the love of God in you?
    • Chapter 1
  • I would say that the desert deserves to be called a temple of our God without walls. Since it is clear that God dwells in silence, we must believe that he loves the solitary expanses of the desert. ... Although God is present everywhere, and regards the whole world as his domain, we may believe that his preferred place is the solitudes of heaven and of the desert.
    • Chapter 3
  • The story is told that someone once asked a wise man where he could be sure to find God. The wise man told his questioner to come along where he would lead him, and together they went into the solitude of the open desert. ‘Behold’, he said, ‘where God is’. God is more promptly believed to be there, since he is more easily found there.
    • Chapter 4
  • I am convinced that God, in foreknowledge of the future, prepared the desert for the saints to come. I believe he wanted some parts of the world to be rich in the fruits of agriculture and other parts, with drier climate, to abound with holy men. In this way the desert would bear fruit. When he ‘watered the hills from the heights above’, the valleys were filled with plentiful crops. And he planned to endow the sterile deserts with inhabitants, lest any land go to waste.
    • Chapter 5
  • From the dwelling places in the desert, the road lies always open to our true homeland. Let those who desire “to see the good things of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalms 27:13; 116:9) take up their residence in an uninhabitable wasteland. Let those who strive to become citizens of Heaven be guests first of the desert.
    • Chapter 16
  • Did not he also live in the desert who was greater than any man born of woman, he who was a voice crying in the desert? In the desert he instituted baptism, and in the desert he preached repentance. In the desert the Kingdom of Heaven was first heard of. In the desert he first commanded those mysteries to his listeners, because by going into the desert they could sooner merit them. It was highly fitting that this desert dweller, this angel sent before the face of the Lord, should open the way to the heavenly kingdom. He was both a precursor of Christ and a witness worthy to hear the Father speaking from heaven, to touch the Son as he baptized him, and to see the Holy Spirit descending.
    • Chapter 21
  • Scripture says that the Lord Jesus was accustomed to go into a desert place to pray. The desert may rightly be called a place of prayer, for God himself has approved it and taught by his example that it is appropriate for prayer. The prayer of a humble petitioner will more easily penetrate the clouds if it rises from the desert, because that solitary place gives it increased merit. The Lord Jesus, seeking that place for prayer, showed us where he prefers us to pray.
    • Chapter 26
  • The cell in the desert truly deserves to be called the ark of strength, the seat of faith, the tabernacle of charity, the treasury of piety, the storehouse of justice. For just as in a home precious objects and valuables are kept in a hidden place behind locked doors, so also those magnificent gifts of desert sanctity are put away in a cell in some desert protected by natural inaccessibility, lest they decay because of exposure to worldliness. The desert is an ideal place for the Lord of all to preserve his precious ornament of sanctity, not only to store it there but to bring it out of its hiding place when it is needed.
    • Chapter 28
  • It is right for a holy man aflame with divine passion to leave his own home and choose the desert as his dwelling. It is right for him to sell all his goods and prefer the desert to father and mother and children. It is right to abandon the land of one’s birth and seek a provisional homeland in the desert, never to be called back by fear or longing or joy or sadness. Clearly this desert dwelling is worthy of total devotion.
    • Chapter 30
  • Who can number adequately all the benefits of the desert and the advantages for virtue enjoyed by those who live there? Finding themselves placed in this world, they in a way go beyond this world. As the Apostle says, ‘They wander through desert places, in mountains and caves and in holes of the earth’. Quite correctly the Apostle says that the world is not worthy of such people, for they are alien to the confusion of human society; they are distant, quiet, silent, and free now both from sin and from inclination to sin.
    • Chapter 31
  • In former times it was customary for illustrious men, after wearing themselves out in business affairs, to turn to philosophy as to their proper home. How much more fitting is it for people today to direct themselves to the study of the highest wisdom, and how wonderful for them to withdraw into the leisure of solitude and the solitary places of the desert! This enables them to be free for philosophy alone and to wander in the desert with more pleasure than athletes exercising in the gymnasium.
    • Chapter 32
  • Nowhere but in those solitary places in which it is easy to find God and never lose him again.
    • Chapter 33
  • The desert holds them as in their mothers’ lap while they long for eternity, despising this brief life; indifferent to the present life, they are confident of the life to come. In this way, by hastening toward the world’s end, they manage to attain the world without end.
    • Chapter 34
  • How pleasant is the solitude of a remote place to those who thirst for God! How attractive for those who seek Christ are those solitary lands stretching in every direction under protecting nature. All things are silent there, and the joyful mind is spurred on by silence in its search for God, finding nourishment in ineffable ecstasies. No sound is heard in the desert save the voice of God. Only that sound that is sweeter than silence, the holy activity of a moderate and holy way of life, breaks into the state of quiet peace, while only the sound of the desert outpost interrupts the silence.
    • Chapter 37
  • Then our prowling adversary howls in vain, like a wolf in the sheepfold when the sheep are well guarded, as the vast expanse of the desert protects them like a strong wall.
    • Chapter 38
  • O admirable desert, how right it is for the holy monks to live or desire to live near you and within you, for you are rich and fertile in all the good things of him in whom all things are held.
    • Chapter 41

See also

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