St Euthymius of Athos the translator

The venerable Euthymius of Mt. Athos was the son of St. John of Mt. Athos, a military commander during the reign of King Davit Kuropalates, who abandoned the world to enter the monastic life.

While St. John was laboring on Mt. Olympus, the Byzantine emperor returned a large portion of the conquered Georgian lands, but in exchange for this benefaction he ordered that the children

of certain eminent aristocrats be taken to Constantinople as surety.

Among his hostages was St. John’s young son, Euthymius. When John discovered that his son was being held captive in Constantinople, he departed immediately to appeal to the emperor for his release. Eventually John’s request was granted, and he took Euthymius back with him to the monastery. However, by this time the young Euthymius had already forgotten his native language.

Soon St. John’s name was known in every monastery on Mt. Olympus, so the holy father withdrew with his son and several disciples to Mt. Athos, to the Lavra of St. Athanasius the Great, to escape the homage and praise.

From his youth Euthymius received great grace from the Holy Spirit. While still a child he fell deeply ill, and his father, losing hope in his recovery, sent for a priest to bring him Holy Communion. Then he went into a church, knelt before the icon of the Most Holy Theotokos, and began to pray for his son. When he returned to his cell he was greeted by the pleasant scent of myrrh and the sight of his son, standing in perfect health.

Euthymius told his father that a magnificent Queen had appeared to him and asked him in Georgian, “What has happened to you? What has disturbed you so, Euthymius?”

“I am dying, my Queen,” he had said.

Then the Queen embraced him, saying, “Arise, do not be afraid, but speak freely in your native Georgian tongue!”

After this miraculous healing the Georgian language flowed from Euthymius’s mouth like water pouring forth from a clear spring, and the young man surpassed all others in eloquence.

Venerable John gave great thanks to God and explained to his son the meaning of the vision: “My son! Our country is suffering from a terrible shortage of books. But the Lord has bestowed upon you a gift, and now you must labor diligently in order to more abundantly recompence the Lord.”

St. Euthymius began his new task with great joy, and many people marveled at his success. St. Giorgi of Mt. Athos recorded the life of St. Euthymius, and his account mentions more than fifty works that he translated from the original Greek into Georgian.

After St. John’s death, Euthymius succeeded him as abbot of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos. (St. John had founded the Iveron Monastery with St. John-Tornike.) His leadership of the monastery brought with it many responsibilities, and Euthymius was obliged to continue his translations at night.

St. Euthymius performed many miracles. Once, while his father was still living, Byzantium was struck by a terrible drought. The earth became cracked, trees and vineyards withered, and all the vegetation dried up after four months without rain. St. John sent Euthymius and his brothers to the Church of the Prophet Elijah to celebrate an All-Night vigil. (During periods of drought Orthodox Christians have traditionally turned to the Prophet Elijah to bring rain as he did in the Old Testament.) During the Gospel reading a dark cloud formed in the sky, and at the moment Euthymius received Holy Communion it began to rain.

Once, during the Feast of the Transfiguration, the faithful of Mt. Athos saw Fr. Euthymius embraced by divine fire. The crowd of witnesses fell on their knees before him, but the saint calmed them, saying, “Do not be afraid, my brothers; God has looked down on us, and Christ

has glorified His feast!”

But the devil could not tolerate the godly labors of the venerable Euthymius and his brothers at the monastery, so he persuaded a certain beggar, who resembled a monk, to kill the holy father.

When the killer approached Fr. Euthymius’s cell, two monks blocked his way. So the assassin slashed them with his sword. Upon hearing the noise, Father Euthymius came outside and served Holy Communion to his fallen brothers. The two monks were fatally wounded and crowned as martyrs of the Church, while the killer confessed his sin and died, greatly afflicted in spirit.

Later a monastery gardener attempted to murder St. Euthymius, but when he lifted his hand to strike the saint, it withered suddenly, and only the prayers of Fr. Euthymius could heal it.

St. Euthymius labored as abbot of the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos for fourteen years. His literary endeavors demanded much time and great effort, so, according to his father’s will, he appointed a certain George (later St. George of Mt. Athos, the Builder) his successor.

Then he locked himself in his cell and dedicated himself exclusively to his translations.

Once the Byzantine Emperor Constantine VIII (1027-1039) summoned Fr. Euthymius to his court. Before departing for Constantinople, the venerable father gathered his brothers, prepared for them a meal, and asked them for their prayers. Then, just before he left on his journey, he visited his childhood friend, the elder Theophan. When they were bidding each other farewell, Theophan embraced him tearfully, crying out, “What grief I am suffering, O holy Father, for I will not see you again in the flesh!” The elder’s prophecy was soon fulfilled.

The emperor received St. Euthymius with great honor. On May 8th, following the Liturgy for the feast of St. John the Theologian, St. Euthymius set off to visit a certain iconographer from whom he had earlier commissioned an icon. He was seated on a young mule and sent on his way. But along the road he was approached by a beggar, clad all in black, who asked alms of him. The venerable father reached into his pocket, but when the mule suddenly noticed the strange man by the roadside, he was frightened, lurched violently, and cast the holy father to the ground, killing him.

All of Byzantium mourned the death of St. Euthymius. His holy relics are buried in the Church of St. John the Baptist at the Iveron Monastery on Mt. Athos.