St. Pachomius (292 – 346)
The Education and Training of St. Pachomius
St. Pachomius was the abbot of a remote monastery far out in the Egyptian desert. One time, relate the brothers, the demons tried to tempt him into frivolous laughter by bouncing a leaf around his cell. But Pachomius, realizing the source of this strange phenomena, groaned and called upon the Lord with his prayers, and immediately this strange movement was halted.
Through experiences like this, and many others, Pachomius was taught to place all of his trust in God. And so he was able to walk through swamps infested with poisonous snakes and scorpions, and even crocodiles, and he was never bothered. Such was his holiness and loving connection to the animals that if he ever had to cross the river, the crocodiles or hippopotamus would come to his aid and help him across the river. Then with the utmost subservience they would set him down on the opposite bank at whatever spot he wished.
~ Legends of the Egyptian Thebaid, as rendered by Helen Waddell, Beasts and Saints, Constable & Co., Toronto, 1934.
Pachomius was born of pagan parents in Egypt and became an officer in the Roman Legion. While on a military campaign, he was indelibly touched by the warm hospitality of local Christians. When discharged from military service, he returned to his encounter with the Christian community, was baptized and sought spiritual perfection in the desert. Pachomius was the first to codify monastic disciplines into a set of rules. In his rule, he emphasized that the saints are models for us. When he prayed, it was for many particular causes, but especially for the health and vitality of the whole world. His ecological legacy is a store of anecdotes and legends which depict such a keen rapport between Christ and himself that all of creation acted to support his prayers.