Featured Saint 16/1

St Moses the Black

Claim to fame: St. Moses was born about 332 AD. In his youth, he was the slave of a high government official who could not tolerate St. Moses’ dishonesty and violence. It was even said that St. Moses went so far as to commit murder. Finally, his master drove him out of his house. St. Moses became the head of a gang of seventy robbers. He was a strong and fierce man of huge stature.

The specific circumstances regarding St. Moses conversion are not known. It was mentioned that St. Moses used to address the sun saying, if you are god let me know, and You the God whom I know not, lead me to You. St. Moses heard from someone that the monks in the wilderness of Scetis knew God, so he immediately girded himself with his sword and went to the wilderness.

When St. Moses was seen next, he was in Scetis in the western desert of Egypt. An elder found him and led him to St. Macarius the great at Petra in the northern end of Scetis. It was about 365 AD when St. Moses arrived there. At that time, thousands of monks had followed St. Macarius after he came to that area in the year 340 AD.

St. Moses was received by one of the priests of Scetis, St. Isidore. He was fortunate enough to have such an experienced and pious elder as his spiritual guide and director. St. Isidore led St. Moses safely during a very turbulent time in his life. As a catechumen, St. Moses received the basic Christian teachings from St. Isidore. However, the Divine Light was too much for the newly converted St. Moses, who was heavily burdened with sin. Frequently, he exploded in tears, and had to find relief in kneeling before his guide, St. Isidore, and confessing his sins. When the time for his baptism came, St. Moses confessed all his past evil deeds publicly in the church.

During his confession, St. Macarius saw a tablet that was all black representing the sins of St. Moses. An angel was seen wiping off every sin as it was confessed by St. Moses, until finally the tablet was completely white.

Quote: “Four virtues aid the young monk: continuous meditation on the word of God, watchfulness, fervent prayer and considering himself as nothing. One of his other sayings may summarize his spirituality: Humility of heart precedes all virtues, and the desire of the belly is the source of all passions. Pride is the basis of all vices and love is the origin of all goodness.”

Fun fact: Once the Fathers of the Scetis were holding a council to reprimand a monk who had committed a fault. St. Moses was invited, but he refused to attend. The priest went to him, and said, Come, for the people are expecting you. St. Moses arose, took a basket filled with sand that had a hole in the bottom of it, carried it on his shoulder and started walking towards the council. When the monks saw him coming with the bag of sand, with sand pouring out of the hole, they asked him the reason of his behavior. He said to them, The sand you see running from the bag represents my sins which are always following me, and yet, today I am coming to judge the errors of my brother. When they heard this, they left the council and every monk went to his own cell, as none could judge that monk.