Venerable Zachariah of Egypt

Saint Zachariah was the son of St Karion. St Karion lived in Scetis in Egypt during the fourth century. He became a monk and left his wife and two children behind in the world. When a famine struck Egypt, ‘St Karion’s wife brought the children to the monastery and complained of their poverty and difficulties. The saint took his son, and the daughter remained with the mother.

He raised his son at the skete, and everyone knew that Zachariah was his son. When the lad grew up, the brethren began to grumble. The father and his son then went into the Thebaid, but complaints about them arose there, too. Then St Zachariah went to Lake Nitria, immersing himself in the foul-smelling water up to his nostrils and he stayed there for an hour. His face and his body were covered with welts, and he looked like a leper. Even his own father hardly recognized him.

The next time St Zachariah came for Holy Communion, it was revealed to the St Isidore the Presbyter what Zachariah had done. The holy priest said to him, “Child, last Sunday you communed as a man, but now you receive as an angel.”

After the death of his father, St Zachariah began to struggle together with St Moses the Black (August 28). “What must I do, to be saved?” asked St Moses. Hearing this, St Zachariah fell to his knees and said: “Why do you ask this of me, Father?”

“Believe me, my child, Zachariah,” St Moses continued, “I saw the Holy Spirit come down upon you, and that is why I ask you.”

St Zachariah then took the koukoulion (cowl) from his head, trampling it under his feet. After putting it on again he said, “If a man is not willing to be treated this way, he cannot be a monk.”

St Moses asked Zacharias just before his death, “What do you see, brother?”

“Isn’t it better if I keep silent, Father?” St Zachariah replied.

“Yes, child, remain silent”, agreed St Moses.

When the soul of St Zachariah was leaving his body, Abba Isidore lifted his gaze toward the heavens and said, “Rejoice, Zachariah my child, for the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven are opened to you.”

St Zachariah died towards the end of the fourth century and was buried in Skete with the Fathers.