Saint Chariton the Confessor suffered at Iconium during one of the persecutions against Christians under the emperor Aurelian. The grace-bearing example of the holy Protomartyr Thekla (September 24) encouraged him in his confessor’s deed. She being a native of his city, whose memory he in particular deeply venerated.
St Chariton bravely denounced the pagan gods and staunchly confessed faith in the One True God, Christ the Savior. The holy Confessor underwent fierce tortures but, through the Providence of God, he remained alive. When the persecution abated, the saint was set free from prison and he dedicated all his life to the service of the Lord.
Journeying to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places, he fell into the hands of robbers. They tied him up and threw him in a cave, intending to kill him later, and they hastened away on business. The saint prayed fervently in expectation of death. He gave thanks to God and entreated him to do with him according to His will.
At this time a snake crawled into the cave and began to drink wine from a vessel setting there, poisoning it with its deadly venom. Returning to the cave, the robbers drank the poisoned wine and they all perished. St Chariton gave thanks to God and began his ascetic struggles at the place of his miraculous rescue. He distributed the plundered gold of the robbers to the poor, and in the robbers cave he built a church, around which in time there formed a monastery, the renowned Pharan Lavra in Palestine.
St Chariton compiled a strict rule for his monastery. Yearning for solitude, the monk went farther into the desert, but there also he did not reject those who sought his spiritual guidance, and he founded two more monasteries: the Jericho and the Souka, named the “Old Lavra.” At the end of his life, St Chariton struggled in a cave on a hill near the Souka monastery, but he did not cease to provide guidance for all three of the monasteries he founded.
According to Tradition, St Chariton compiled the office of taking monastic vows. St Chariton the Confessor died in extreme old age and was buried, in accord with his last wishes, in the Pharan monastery in the church, built on the site of the robbers’ cave.