Butler’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Isaias, Saint Sabbas, etc., Martyrs of Sinai

Article

Saints Isaias, Sabbas, and thirty-eight other holy solitaries on mount Sinai, martyred by a troop of Arabians, in 273; likewise Paul, the abbot; Moses, who by his preaching and miracles had converted to the faith the Ishmaelites of Pharan; Psaes, a prodigy of austerity, and many other hermits in the desert of Raithe, two days’ journey from Sinai, near the Red Sea, were massacred the same year by the Blemmyans, a savage infidel nation of Ethiopia. All these anchorets lived on dates, or other fruits, never tasted bread, worked at making baskets in cells at a considerable distance from each other, and met on Saturdays, in the evening, in one common church, where they watched and said the night office, and on the Sunday received together the Holy Eucharist. They were remarkable for their assiduity in prayer and fasting.

Also, many holy anchorets on mount Sinai, whose lives were faithful copies of Christian perfection, and who met on Sundays to receive the Holy Eucharist, were martyred by a band of Saracens in the fifth century. A boy of fourteen years of age led among them an ascetic life of great perfection. The Saracens threatened to kill him, if he did not discover where the ancient monks had concealed themselves. He answered, that death did not terrify him, and that he could not ransom his life by a sin in betraying his fathers. They bade him put off his clothes: “After you have killed me,” said the modest youth, “take my clothes and welcome: but as I never saw my body naked, have so much compassion and regard for my shame-facedness, as to let me die covered.” The barbarians enraged at this answer, fell on him with all their weapons at once, and the pious youth died by as many martyrdoms as he had executioners. Saint Nilus, who had been formerly governor of Constantinople, has left us an account of this massacre in seven narratives; at that time he led an eremetical life in those deserts, and had placed his son Theodulus in this holy company. He was carried away captive, but redeemed after many dangers.

MLA Citation

  • Father Alban Butler. “Saint Isaias, Saint Sabbas, etc., Martyrs of Sinai”. Lives of the Fathers, Martyrs, and Principal Saints, 1866. Saints.SQPN.com. 13 January 2013. Web. 25 December 2014. <>