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The Cult of Saints in Late Antiquity

from its origins to circa AD 700, across the entire Christian world

The Coptic Life of *Samuel of Kalamun (monk, monastic founder and healing saint, S01991), presented by Isaak, a monk and priest at the monastery of *Mary (Mother of Christ, S00033) founded by Samuel at Kalamun (in the Fayum) on the saint’s feast day, relating his asceticism and sanctity, his visions of angels, his special bond with the Virgin Mary to whom he dedicated his monastic church, his gift of prophecy, and his miraculous healing powers, referring to the ascetic as a martyr without being beheaded; presumably written in the later 8th c.

Evidence ID


Type of Evidence

Late antique original manuscripts - Parchment codex

Literary - Sermons/Homilies

M 578, fols. 1–68

The author of the Life of Samuel is Isaak, a monk and priest at the monastery of Mary founded by Samuel at Kalamun. He is not an eyewitness to the events he relates, but claims that he was urged by many to relate Samuel’s Life, as people would like to learn about events that happened a few generations ago.

The text begins with the following introduction:

Ed. Alcock, p. 1, lines 1–10:

ⲡⲁⲓ ⲡⲉ ⲡⲃⲓⲟⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲧⲡⲟⲗⲩⲧⲓⲁ ⲙⲡⲉⲛⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲛⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲉⲧⲧⲁⲓⲏⲩ ⲛⲁⲛⲁ{ⲛ}ⲭⲱⲣⲓⲧⲏⲥ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲁⲣⲭⲏⲙⲁ<ⲛ>ⲧⲣⲓⲧⲏⲥ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲥⲁⲙⲟⲩⲏⲗ ·
ⲡⲉⲓⲱⲧ ⲛⲧⲕⲓⲛⲟⲛⲓⲁ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲛⲧⲡⲁⲣⲑⲉⲛⲟⲥ ⲙⲡⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲕⲁⲗⲁⲙⲱⲛ ⲙⲡⲧⲟϣ ⲡⲓⲟⲙ · ⲉⲁϥϩⲓⲥⲧⲱⲣⲓⲍⲉ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲛϭⲓ ⲡⲙⲁⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ
ⲙⲡⲣⲉⲥⲃⲩⲧⲉⲣⲟⲥ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛⲁⲥⲕⲩⲧⲏⲥ · ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲉⲧⲟⲟⲩ ⲛⲟⲩⲱⲧ ⲕⲁⲗⲁⲙⲱⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲓⲥⲁⲁⲕ · ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ϫⲉ ⲁϩⲛⲣⲱⲙⲉ ⲙⲙⲁⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛϩⲗⲗⲟ
ⲉⲩⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲡⲣⲟⲧⲣⲉⲡⲉⲓ ⲙⲙⲟϥ ⲉⲉⲣⲡⲁⲓ · ⲛⲧⲟϥ ⲇⲉ ⲁϥϩⲓⲧⲟⲟⲧϥ ϩⲉⲛ ⲟⲩⲛⲟϭ ⲛⲥⲡⲟⲩⲇⲏ ⲁϥⲧⲁⲟⲩⲟ ⲛϩⲛⲕⲟⲩⲓ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉϩⲓⲥⲉ
ⲛⲧⲁϥϣⲟⲡⲟⲩ ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁϥⲁⲣⲭⲉ ϫⲓⲛ ⲡⲉϥϫⲡⲟ · ϣⲁ ⲡⲉϥϫⲱⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ · ⲛⲧⲁϥⲧⲁⲩⲟϥ ϫⲉ ⲙⲡⲉϩⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲉ[ϥⲉⲣ]ⲡⲙⲉⲉⲩⲉ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲉⲧⲉ ⲡⲁⲓ
ⲡⲉ ⲥⲟⲩ ϣⲙⲟⲩⲛ ⲙⲡⲉⲃⲟⲧ ⲭⲟⲓⲁⲕ ϩⲉⲛ ⲟⲩⲉⲣⲏⲛⲏ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ϩⲁⲙⲏⲛ :-

‘This is the Life and the conduct of our holy and revered father, anchorite and archimandrite, Apa Samuel, the father of the holy community of the Virgin on the mountain of Kalamun in the district of the Fayum, narrated by the pious presbyter and ascetic at this same mountain of Kalamun, Apa Isaak, because pious people and holy elders urged him to do this. He (Isaak) undertook it with great enthusiasm and presented a few of the sufferings, which he (Samuel) accepted. He began from his birth to his end. He delivered it on the day of his holy commemoration, which is day eight of the month Choiak (4 December). In peace of God. Amen.’

Addressing his audience gathered at the feast of Apa Samuel, Isaak confirms that what he is going to narrate is a true account, since the events have been passed on orally from truthful eyewitnesses at the time of Samuel down to the present generation of believers (chapter 1).

Samuel was born in the village Tkello, located in the Delta region, to rich and faithful parents, the presbyter Silas and his wife Kosmiane. His parents spent most of their wealth on feeding the poor and housing those in need, comparable to Job. Like many other later saints, Samuel was an only child, born to parents of an advanced age. He led a pious life from early on, restricting his diet, fasting and refusing to marry, expressing his desire to become a monk. His mother died when Samuel was 18 years old (chapter 2).

His father Silas, the presbyter, then had a vision in which an angel told him that his son would become a famous monk and that he himself should prepare for the end of his life. Silas then spent all his possessions on building an elaborate church in which he made his son a deacon before passing away. Samuel was then 22 years old (chapter 3).

Samuel moved from his home village in the Delta to Sketis to become a monk. On his way, he has a vision of an angel who guides him to a mountain top located between the famous monastery of Apa Makarios and that of Apa John in the Sketis, encouraging him to join Apa Agathou at his cave to learn the monastic way of life from him. The angel then informs Apa Agathou of the arrival of his soon to be famous disciple (chapter 4).

Apa Agathou received Samuel and invoked the saints Apa *Makarios and Apa *Antony to watch over Samuel, saying:

Ed. Alcock, p. 4, lines 41–43:

ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲛⲁⲟⲧⲉ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲟⲥ ⲙⲛ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲁⲛⲧⲱⲛⲟⲥ · ⲉϥⲉϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲕ ⲥⲁⲙⲟⲩⲏⲗ ⲡⲁϣⲏⲣⲉ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛϥⲉⲣⲛⲁϣⲧⲉ
ⲛⲁⲕ ϩⲛ ⲛⲉⲕⲑⲗⲯⲥ ⲧⲏⲣⲟⲩ ·

‘God of my holy fathers Apa Makarios and Apa Antony, may he be with you, my son Samuel, and strengthen you through all your tribulations.’

Samuel spent three years living with Apa Agathou and taking care of him in his old age and sickness until he died. Samuel stayed in Sketis and made himself a name through severe fasting and guiding troubled bothers through his exemplary asceticism. He became a spiritual leader in Sketis who provided healing. His fame for healing then reached north into the cities and villages, as far as the coast where he became a protector of merchants and the products on their ships (chapter 6).

Ed. Alcock, p. 5, lines 41–47:

ϩⲱⲥⲧⲉ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲉϥⲥⲟⲉⲧ ⲡⲱϩ ϣⲁ ⲛⲉⲭⲱⲣⲁ ⲉⲧⲥⲁϩⲏⲧ :- ⲥⲭⲏⲧⲱⲛ ⲛϥⲡⲱϩ ϣⲁ ⲛⲉⲡⲟⲗⲥ ⲉⲧϩϫⲛ ⲑⲁⲗⲁⲥⲥⲁ ϩⲱⲧⲉ ⲛⲥⲉⲉⲛⲉ ⲛⲁϥ
ⲛⲛⲉⲧϣⲱⲛⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲧⲉⲣⲉ ⲛⲉⲡⲛⲁ ⲛⲁⲕⲁⲑⲁⲣⲧⲟⲛ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲩ :- ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉϥϣⲁⲛϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲉϫⲱⲟⲩ ϣⲁⲣⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲭⲁⲣⲍⲉ ⲛⲁⲩ ⲙⲡⲧⲁⲗϭⲟ :-
ⲁⲩⲱ ⲟⲛ ⲛⲉⲡⲣⲁⲕⲙⲁⲧⲉⲩⲧⲏⲥ ⲉⲧⲡⲗⲉⲁ · ϩⲛ ⲑⲁⲗⲁⲥⲥⲁ · ⲉⲣϣⲁⲛ ⲟⲩⲕⲩⲛⲇⲛⲟⲥ ⲧⲁϩⲟⲟⲩ · ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲉⲩϣⲁⲛⲧⲁⲟⲩⲟ ⲡⲉϥⲣⲁⲛ ⲙⲙⲁⲧⲉ · ϫⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲛⲁⲡⲁ ⲥⲁⲙⲟⲩⲏⲗ ⲃⲟⲏⲑ ⲉⲣⲟⲛ · ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ϣⲁϥⲧⲟⲩϫⲟⲟⲩ ⲛϭ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲧⲉⲩⲡⲣⲁⲕⲙⲁⲧⲁ :-

‘His fame reached the country in the north, and just reached the cities by the sea, so that those who were ill and those who had an unclean spirit were brought to him. Whenever he would pray over them, God granted them healing.
Furthermore, the merchants who sail on the sea, whenever danger was upon them, as soon as they would utter his name urgently: “God of Apa Samuel, help us!” God would immediately save them and their merchandise.’

When Cyrus was appointed to be archbishop of Alexandria by Heraclius in 631, the conflict between the Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians turned violent. Cyrus sent his men to the Sketis to round up the monks and elders and make them subscribe to the Chalcedonian creed. Many refused and were beaten and exiled from the monasteries and churches. Among them was Samuel who had a bold interchange with the authorities much in the way of a martyr with the governor. He was brutally beaten and tortured to partial blindness and left for dead. But an angel of the Lord appeared to him healing his eyesight and restoring him back to health. The angel instructed him to go south to the district of the Fayum and to dwell at the monastery called Neklone. He told him that he will become famous and be remembered through many generations.
Samuel then made his way south into the Fayum with his handful of disciples and joined the monastery at Neklone. Once established there, he began healing the monks who had fallen ill and soon anyone with any illness in the region is brought to him for healing, waiting in crowds at the gate for his healing prayers (chapters 7–8).

When the archbishop Cyrus made his way into the Fayum to force people to accept the Chalcedonian creed, Samuel stepped up once again to fight this oppression and defend Egyptian Orthodoxy. His actions led to his arrest and to new beatings and torture. Nearly beaten to death, he is then cast out of the monastery of Neklone in the Fayum (chapters 9–11).

An angel of the Lord appeared to Samuel healing his new wounds and telling him to go further south to the mountain of Takinash to settle with his disciples there. Samuel followed this order and established a strict rule of praying and fasting with his disciples, before receiving another vision instructing him to leave his disciples behind and to go from Takinash alone into the mountain. Samuel set out on the day of the assumption of Mary, day 16 of the month Mesore (9 August). He soon reached the marsh-meadow and discovered date trees and a small abandoned church of a former community. Samuel prayed and heard a voice proclaiming this spot to be his inheritance, a higher honour than for other saints (chapter 12).

Ed. Alcock, p. 12, lines 20–25:

ⲉⲧⲉ ⲇⲉ ⲉϥϣⲗⲏⲗ · ⲁϥⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲩⲥⲙⲏ ⲉⲥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ · ϫⲉ ⲥⲁⲙⲟⲩⲏⲗ · ⲥⲁⲙⲟⲩⲏⲗ · ⲁⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲡⲉⲕⲥⲟⲡⲥ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲉⲕϣⲗⲏⲗ · ⲁⲧⲉⲕⲥⲙⲏ
ⲉ ⲉϩⲣⲁ ϣⲁⲣⲟ :- ⲗⲟⲡⲟⲛ ⲧⲱⲕ ⲛϩⲏⲧ ⲙⲡⲉⲣⲉⲣϩⲟⲧⲉ · ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ϯϣⲟⲟⲡ ⲛⲙⲙⲁⲕ ⲉⲓⲥ ϩⲏⲏⲧⲉ ϯⲛⲁϯ ⲛⲁⲕ ⲙⲡⲉⲕⲁϩ ⲉⲩⲕⲗⲏⲣⲟⲛⲟⲙⲉ<ⲁ>
ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉⲕϣⲏⲣⲉ ⲉⲧⲛⲏⲩ ⲙⲛⲛⲥⲱⲕ · ⲉⲩϯⲉⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲁⲣⲁ ⲛⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ϩⲱ <ϯϣⲟⲟⲡ> ⲙⲛ ⲛⲁⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ⲛⲁ ⲉⲧⲛⲏⲩ

‘While he was still praying, he heard a voice saying: “Samuel, Samuel, I have heard your plea and your prayer. Your voice rose to me. Now take courage and do not be afraid. I am with you. Behold, I shall give you this land as inheritance for you and for your (spiritual) sons who are coming with you, an honour far beyond saints. I myself am staying with my saints, these who are coming with you.”’

An angel took Samuel’s hand and led him into the abandoned church. Samuel then spent many days clearing the sand out of the church, before settling down in it for prayer, living off the date trees around it. Samuel is then captured by a horde of barbarians raiding the church in the hope for valuable objects. Since Samuel did not have anything to give, they beat him half to death and then tried to take him along to sell him as a slave. But the she-camel on which they put Samuel’s battered body, refused to leave. The camel spoke to Samuel with a human voice, telling him that he should not have confronted these barbarians, but should have kept quiet hidden inside the church, as the Lord demanded him to do. Eventually, the barbarians took him off the camel which only then started to walk, and left Samuel behind to die of his wounds. Samuel made his way back to the little church, but another attack by the barbarians took place in the nearby villages. On their way home, the barbarians passed Samuel at the marsh-meadow of Kalamun and since he had nothing to give them than his dates from the tree, they took him instead to sell him as a slave in their country.
Sold to a rich barbarian to herd his camels, Samuel met John, the abbot from Sketis. Both men kept comforting each other and praying together in captivity where Samuel was beaten and tortured many times for refusing to worship the sun god, and refusing to get married to a fellow slave girl. Each time, God let his wounds be healed. Occasionally, he sent an angel to strengthen Samuel’s courage and endurance.

Isaak, in his sermon on Samuel’s feast day, addresses the saint briefly as a martyr, asking for his intercession to forgive him his sins and to help him present the account of his life and sufferings correctly:

Ed. Alcock, p. 16, lines 22–28:

ⲱ ⲡⲉⲛⲧⲁϥⲣⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲛⲟⲩⲙⲏⲏϣⲉ ⲛⲥⲟⲡ · ⲁϫⲛ ϥⲧⲉϥⲁⲡⲉ :- ⲱ ⲡϩⲟⲙⲟⲗⲟⲅⲧⲏⲥ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲡⲁⲑⲗⲧⲏⲥ ⲛⲧⲡⲥⲧⲥ ⲛⲟⲣⲑⲟⲇⲱⲝⲟⲥ ·
ϯⲥⲟⲡⲥ · ⲁⲩⲱ ϯⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁ{}ⲗⲉ<> ⲙⲙⲟⲕ · ⲡⲁⲉⲱⲧ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ · ϫⲉⲕⲁⲥ ⲉⲕⲉⲡⲁⲣⲁⲕⲁⲗⲉ ⲙⲡⲛⲟⲧⲩⲉ ⲉϫⲱ · ⲁⲛⲟⲕ ⲙⲛ ⲟⲩⲟⲛ ⲛⲙ
ⲉⲧⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲣⲟ ⲙⲡⲟⲟⲩ · ⲛϥⲕⲱ ⲛⲁⲛ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲛⲉⲛⲛⲟⲃⲉ :- ⲁⲩⲱ ⲛϥϯ ⲛⲧⲟⲟⲧ ⲛⲧⲁϫⲱⲕ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲙⲡⲥⲉⲉⲡⲉ ⲛⲛⲉⲕⲕⲁⲧⲟⲣⲑⲟⲙⲁ · ⲙⲛ
ⲛⲉϩⲥⲉ ⲛⲧⲁⲕϣⲟⲡⲟⲩ ϩϫⲙ ⲡⲣⲁⲛ ⲙⲡⲉⲭⲥ :-

‘O one who became a martyr many times without being beheaded! O, confessor and athlete for the orthodox faith, I beg and entreat you, my holy father, that you may entreat God on my behalf, on mine and on anyone’s who listens to me today, so that he may forgive us our sins and help me to complete the rest of your achievements and the pains which you suffered for the name of Christ.’

Through this long narrative, Isaak also addresses his audience to be patient, as he tries to ensure that they believe the pains the saints suffered for the love of God. After an angel told Samuel that he should stretch out his hand to heal two local barbarians, a crippled man and a mute boy, both inflicted since birth, his life improved. When Samuel touches them, both are healed immediately. Samuel’s shackles dissolve as a result and his fellow slave girl in turn is punished becoming mute and crippled. Days later, he takes pity on her and heals her by sprinkling some water onto her over which he had prayed. The barbarians by then are in awe and fear of him and long to send him back to Egypt planning not to bring any more of these Egyptians over as slaves. When the wife of his barbarian master fell ill, she begged her husband to bring Samuel to grant her healing. She grabbed the saint’s clothes and took his hand and was healed immediately. As a result, the household of his master converted to Christianity. His master finally asked him to pray for him and his barren wife to have a son, confirming his strong believe in God and his saint Samuel, and so he prayed for them and the women conceived and gave birth to a boy. From that moment on, anyone in their village who was ill or in distress, as soon as they would pray to Samuel, they would be healed immediately. Numerous healings took place in that country as the diseased were brought to him and placed wherever he walked. His barbarian master finally set Samuel free and sent him home loaded with gifts, among them a pregnant she-camel. He said his farewells to Apa John, announcing to him all the things that would happen to him, since Samuel had the gift of prophecy, before returning to his small church at Kalamun (chapter 13–24).

Ed. Alcock, p. 21, lines 43–46:

ϩⲱⲥⲧⲉ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲟⲩⲟⲛ ⲛⲙ ⲉⲧϣⲱⲛⲉ · ⲁⲩⲱ ⲉⲧϩⲏϣ · ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ ⲛϣⲁⲩⲱϣ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ · ϫⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲡⲡⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲥⲁⲙⲟⲩⲏⲗ ⲉⲕⲉⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲣⲟⲛ ϩⲙ ⲡⲉⲛϩⲥⲉ · ϣⲁⲣⲉ ⲡⲟⲩϫⲁ ϣⲱⲡⲉ ⲛⲁⲩ ⲛⲧⲉⲩⲛⲟⲩ :-

‘Anyone who was ill and distressed, as soon as they would utter (the words): “God of the saint Apa Samuel, may your hear us in our affliction!” Healing would be upon them immediately.’

Once Samuel returned to the small church at Kalamun, he prayed and had a vision of Mary holding a golden measuring reed in her right hand and measuring the area while men were standing on either side of her glorifying her. He then saw a throne on which the Virgin Mary sat down and claimed that she would make this spot her dwelling place together with Samuel, the servant of her son.
Samuel then brought his disciples he had left at Takinash and they put the small church in order and cleared out the old cells and the springs, sowing and planting and living of the fruits of their labour. Many more monks joined them at Kalamun and the community grew. The ailing bishop Apa Gregory of Kois (near Oxyrhynchus) arrived at the monastery suffering great pain. As soon as he embraced Samuel, his pain was gone and he was healed. In return he sent a large donation of 100 solidi, twenty measures of oil, thirty artabas of wheat and a hundred jars of wine for the church, delivered to the monastery at Kalamun together with a camel and a donkey.
As his monastic community grew, Samuel began to built a new church with the help of Apa Joseph, the bishop of the Fayum, and many others who sent building material and donations for the new church at Kalamun on camel backs and boats, delivered to the monastery, including silk cloth for the altar of the church. In return, the donors asked for a blessing from Samuel and the prayer for their fields, homes, and animals.
When it was time to consecrate the grant newly built church decorated with all
splendour, Joseph, the bishop of the Fayum, was called, and Samuel insisted that it should be consecrated to the Virgin Mary along with the small old church and all the cells (i.e. the monastery as a whole). A church dedicated to himself, Samuel assured his brothers, would be build four generations later at this monastery. Samuel was ordained a presbyter together with Apollo, Apa Djidjoi and Apa Selbane, and others were made deacons (chapter 25–31).

A widowed woman from Oxyrhynchus made yearly donations of three measures of oil, for herself and her two virgin daughters, to Samuel’s monastery of the Virgin Mary, to be remembered. One year, when Apollo the deacon received them and put them inside a cell, as he was holding one he stumbled over another one and broke them both. When Apollo confessed what had happened to Samuel, he told him to collect as much as he could from the oil spill. Returning to the cell, he found the vessels floating on so much oil that they were able to fill all the empty jars with it. Samuel is then referred to as a prophet and compared to the prophet Elisha who provided enough oil for a widow and her children to live on (chapter 32).

Samuel also resurrected a deceased brother named Hatre who had died on a mission to gather reeds for the monastery. Hatre had fallen ill, but died before he could be brought back to the monastery. Samuel prayed for him to return and the Virgin Mary promised him to raise him from the dead. When the message sent from Samuel to Hatre, asking him return to the monastery, reached the dead man, he rose and followed Samuel’s order immediately. He then related what he had seen in heaven, namely the saints greeting him, a man of light, and a great house belonging to Samuel. Hatre later died again at the monastery and was properly buried there (chapter 33–34).

Samuel soon appointed Apa Apollo as his successor and settled in solitude half a day’s journey away from the monastery visiting at Kalamun only every three months. When he left, he took holy relics with him, presumably those of Mary (chapter 35).

Ed. Alcock, p. 30, lines 21–22:

ⲡⲉⲛⲉⲱⲧ ⲇⲉ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲥⲁⲙⲟⲩⲏⲗ · ⲁϥϫ ⲛⲙⲙⲁϥ ⲙⲡⲗⲯⲁⲛⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ·

‘But our father Apa Samuel took with him the holy relic.’

When there was a bread shortage at Kalamun, due to the camels of the monastery being requisitioned to bring corn to Klysma, Apa Apollo in need of feeding the masses who had arrived at the monastic church to celebrate the feast of the Virgin Mary prayed to Apa Samuel. The steward then found the storeroom so full that the monks were unable to open the door and had to get the corn out from the roof (chapter 36).

Ed. Alcock, p. 31, lines 6–10:

ⲁⲡⲁ ⲁⲡⲱⲗⲗⲱ ⲇⲉ ⲁϥⲁϩⲉⲣⲁⲧϥ ⲁϥⲡⲱⲣϣ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ ⲛⲛⲉϥϭϫ ⲁϥϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲉϥϫⲱ ⲙⲙⲟⲥ ϫⲉ ⲡⲛⲟⲩⲧⲉ ⲙⲛ ⲛⲉϣⲗⲏⲗ ⲙⲡⲁⲉⲱⲧ ⲁⲡⲁ ⲥⲁⲙⲟⲩⲏⲗ · ⲉⲕⲉⲥⲱⲧⲙ ⲉⲣⲟ ϩⲱ ⲙⲡⲟⲟⲩ ⲉⲉⲱϣ ⲉϩⲣⲁ ⲉⲣⲟⲕ · ⲛⲕϫⲟⲟⲩ ⲙⲡⲉⲕⲥⲙⲟⲩ ⲉϫⲛ ⲡⲉⲁϩⲟ ⲛⲕⲉⲟⲉⲓⲕ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲡⲙⲱⲛⲁⲥⲧⲏⲣⲟⲛ ⲉⲧⲟⲩⲁⲁⲃ ⲉⲧⲃⲉ ⲛⲉⲙⲏⲏϣⲉ ⲉⲧⲛⲏⲩ ϣⲁⲣⲟⲛ ϩⲙ ⲙⲁ ⲛⲙ :-

‘And Apa Apollo stood up and spread out his hands. He prayed saying: “God together with the prayers of my father Apa Samuel, may you hear me today as I cry out to you, and may you send your blessing upon this storeroom for more bread at the holy monastery because of the multitudes that come to us from every place.”’

When Apa Samuel fell ill due to his severe asceticism, he prayed and the Lord sent an angel to him in a vision to comfort and strengthen him against the demons and the devil. When he had recovered his strength, he used his gift of prophecy to tell his disciple and presbyter Apa Stephen that he would become bishop of Oxyrhynchos, and prevented one of his monks from breaking with his asceticism (chapter 37–39).

Samuel, it is laid out, lived for 98 years. 18 years before deciding to become a monk, 16 years as a monk at Sketis, three and a half years at Neklone, six month at Takinash, three years in barbarian captivity, and 57 years at Kalamun. (chapter 40)

Prior to the end of his long life, Samuel has a vision of an angel while praying. The angel praising him refers to him as a frequent martyr and compares him to famous bishops and abbots: Basil, Gregory, Severus, Antony, Makarios, Pachom and Apa Shenoute. The angel announces that God will end Samuel’s life in eight days and that he will send his saints to meet him (chapter 41).

Ed. Alcock, p. 34, lines 34–35:

ⲭⲁⲣⲉ ⲡⲉⲛⲧⲁϥⲣⲙⲁⲣⲧⲩⲣⲟⲥ ⲛϩⲁϩ ⲛⲥⲟⲡ ⲁϫⲛ ⲡⲉϩⲧⲥⲛⲟϥ ⲉⲃⲟⲗ :-

‘Greetings, you who has become a martyr many times without shedding blood.’

When Samuel fell fatally ill with a fever, many visited him asking for a word of wisdom, comfort and advice. He laid out his monastic rules to them before he died. 120 monks surrounded him at his deathbed, when he had a vision of the Virgin Mary being followed by a great multitude wearing white robes. He smiled and great perfume was diffused as he died (chapter 42–43).

When Apa Samuel was laid out in the church, all the brothers lined up to bid him farewell. Apa Apollo was placing Apa Samuel’s hand on the head of each monk. Christopher, a cantor from the city of Oxyrhynchos who lived in the monastery was blind from birth on. He had sang in the church for fourteen years and Samuel loved him as a perfect monk. When it was his turn to receive the deceased’s blessing, as soon as the hand of the saint’s body touched his eyes, he was healed from his blindness.
Following the funerary service, he was buried and a seven-day mourning was held for him with many night vigils (chapter 44).

At the end of the feast day sermon, Isaak addresses and entreats Apa Samuel for his intercession before God and asks to forgive any faults his narration may have. This is then followed by the final prayer (chapter 45).

(Text and trans. A. Alcock, lightly modified, summary: G. Schenke)

Liturgical Activities

Service for the saint
Ceremony of dedication


Saint’s feast

Cult Places

Cult building - monastic

Places Named after Saint


Use of Images

Verbal images of saints

Non Liturgical Activity

Bequests, donations, gifts and offerings
Distribution of alms
Appropriation of older cult sites
Construction of cult buildings
Visiting/veneration of living saint
Oral transmission of saint-related stories


Miracle during lifetime
Miracle after death
Miracles experienced by the saint
Punishing miracle
Miracles causing conversion
Miracle with animals and plants
Healing diseases and disabilities
Fertility- and family-related miracles (infertility, marriages)
Material support (supply of food, water, drink, money)
Power over life and death
Apparition, vision, dream, revelation
Revelation of hidden knowledge (past, present and future)


Unspecified relic

Protagonists in Cult and Narratives

Ecclesiastics - bishops
Ecclesiastics - abbots
Ecclesiastics - lesser clergy
Ecclesiastics - monks/nuns/hermits
Foreigners (including Barbarians)

Theorising on Sanctity

Using saints to assert ecclesiastical/political status


The parchment codex M 578, found together with many others at the monastery of the Archangel Michael near Hamouli in the Fayum, now belongs to the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. It can be dated to the 9th century by comparison with other manuscripts found with it that provide a precise date of production. The manuscript M 578, fols. 1–68 offers a complete text of the Life of Samuel of Kalamun. Additionally, two other fragmentary Coptic versions, one Sahidic, the other Bohairi, and a complete Ethiopic one are known.


Text and translation:

Alcock, A.,
The Life of Samuel of Kalmun by Isaac the Presbyter, Warminster 1983.

Record Created By

Gesa Schenke

Date Last Modified


Related Saint Records
IDNameName in SourceIdentity
S00033Mary, Mother of ChristⲙⲁⲣⲓⲁCertain
S00098Antony, 'the Great', monk of Egypt, ob. 356ⲁⲡⲁ ⲁⲛⲧⲱⲛⲓⲟⲥCertain
S00518Saints, unnamedCertain
S00863Makarios 'the Egyptian', monastic founder in the Sketis, ob. 391ⲁⲡⲁ ⲙⲁⲕⲁⲣⲓⲟⲥCertain
S01991Samuel, Apa Samuel, monk, monastic founder and healing saint at Kalamun (c. 597–c. 695)ⲁⲡⲁ ⲥⲁⲙⲟⲩⲏⲗCertain

Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL:
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