A Garner of Saints – Saint Onophrius

Saint OnophriusArticle

Served God for sixty years in a vast desert in Egypt. When the abbot Paphnuce was wandering through the desert he came upon a man with long hair and nails and quite naked except for a girdle of leaves, and he began to flee, taking it for some wild beast, but Onophrius, for it was he, recalled him and related to the abbot his manner of life, and how he had once lived with a thousand brethren in the monastery at Thebes. Being incited by the example of Elias and John the Baptist, he had become a hermit. Entering the desert he had been led by a column of fire while he heard an angel’s voice consoling him. After following for sixty—six miles he found a servant of God in a cave and remained there seven days. This holy man led him to the cave designed for him, by which there grew a palm tree and a fountain of water welled up. After remaining with him for thirty days, the man of God departed, but continued to visit him every year until his death, when Onophrius buried him near his cell. For thirty years of his stay in the desert Onophrius had lived on nothing but the leaves, roots and fruit of the palm, but during the other thirty years an angel had brought him celestial bread. He had been much tempted by the devil but had overcome, and he added that on every Sunday an angel brought him the eucharist. It had been revealed to him that God would send the abbot there to bury him when he died. That evening, bread and a cruse of water were supplied to them from heaven. After a night of sleep and prayer Paphnuce rose only to see the hermit die and angels came and wafted his soul to heaven, in the form of a dove, while the body emitted a fragrant odour. The abbot had no spade with which to dig a grave, but two lions appeared upon the scene, and after kneeling to adore the holy body, they dug up the ground with their claws. Paphnuce then buried the body, wrapping it in his own cloak. On the departure of the lions, the cell and the palm tree crumbled away. Paphnuce having been comforted by an angel, returned to Egypt. 12th June.

Attributes

  • Naked with long beard and hair and wearing a girdle of leaves.

MLA Citation

  • Allen Banks Hinds, M.A. “Saint Onophrius”. A Garner of Saints, 1900. CatholicSaints.Info. 23 April 2017. Web. 26 May 2017. <>