Miniature Lives of the Saints – Saint Poemen, Abbot

Saint PoemenArticle

The sanctity of Saint Poemen was so eminent that he has been called the fellow-citizen of the angels, the chief of solitaries, and the prince of the desert. He was an Egyptian, and about the age of fifteen he entered the desert, and persuaded his six young brothers to do the same. They embraced a life of prayer, labour, and extreme mortification, often passing many days without tasting food. Although so severe towards himself, Poemen’s spirit was one of marvellous gentleness towards others. He would say, “If a monk wishes to taste true peace, he must learn never to judge another, and be convinced of his own nothingness.” A solitary once said to him, “My father, when I receive a visit from one of the brethren whom I know to be guilty of a considerable fault, I refuse to admit him; but if I know him to be a good religious, I receive him with joy.” Saint Poemen answered, “If you are kind to him who is good, you should be doubly so to him who is ailing.” He also said: “God came down to earth to see the guilt of Sodom before punishing it, to teach us never to believe the evil we hear of another.” And again: “A just man who subdues his passions may give lessons to others; but if he is subject to them he is like one who pulls down his own house to build that of another.”

Poemen died at a great age, about the year 451.

We shall never arrive at true purity of heart until we believe ourselves to be lower than all other creatures. This is not difficult, for even if we were to see a murderer, we might say, “He has only killed one man, while I have put my soul to death many times by my sins.”

If by silence we hide the faults of others, God also will hide ours; but if we divulge them, God will also make known our own. – Saint Poemen

Saint Poemen greatly disapproved that bitter zeal which blames every little fault without consideration for the weakness of human nature, and which is ever prone to judge and condemn our neighbour. Some solitaries said to him, “My father, when we see any of the brethren asleep at the hour of prayer, ought we not to awaken them?” But Poemen answered, “When I see a brother thus overcome by sleep, I only wish I could pillow his head upon my knees, that he might rest the better.”

Why judgest thou thy brother? or why dost thou despise thy brother? For we shall all stand beiore the judgment-seat of Christ. – Romans 14:10

MLA Citation

  • Henry Sebastian Bowden. “Saint Poemen, Abbot”. Miniature Lives of the Saints for Every Day of the Year, 1877. CatholicSaints.Info. 8 March 2015. Web. 20 February 2019. <>