Saint Sabbas of Mar Saba

detail of a medieval icon of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified, date and author unknown; uploaded on 18 October 2007 Alekjds; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsAlso known as

  • Sabbas the Sanctified
  • Sabbas the Great
  • Sabas….
  • Sava….



Spiritual student of Saint Euthymius the Great at age 20. Anchorite from age 30, living in a cave, devoting himself to prayer and manual labor. He wove ten willow baskets each day. On Saturday he would take them to the local monastery, led by Saint Euthymius, and trade them for a week’s food, and a week’s worth of willow wands for more baskets. Took over leadership of the monks upon the death of Saint Euthymius. Co-superior with Saint Theodosius over 1,000 monks and hermits in the region.

Sabbas was a simple man with little education, but with a firm belief in the spiritual benefits of simple living. The combination of his lack of education and his severe austerities caused some of his charges to rebel. Sabbas tired of the squabbling, and he missed his time in prayer, so he fled to TransJordania. There he found a cave inhabited by a lion; the lion moved on, finding a new home, and giving the cave to the holy man. A distorted version of this tale reached the rebellious monks; they seized on it, reported to the patriarch that Sabbas had been killed by a lion, and requested a new leader be appointed. As this message was being formally presented to the patriarch, Sabbas walked into the room. This led to a confrontation during which the complaints of the monks were aired. However, the patriach took Sabbas’s side, and the two restored order and discipline to the lives of the anchorites.

Sabbas led a peaceful uprising of 10,000 monks who demanded the end of the persecutions of Palestinian bishops of Anastatius I.

At age 90, Sabbas travelled to Constantinople where he successfully pled for clemency from Justinian for Samarians who were in revolt.





  • man holding the rule of his monastery in his hand
  • man seated at the edge of a cliff
  • man praying in a cave with a lion nearby

MLA Citation

  • “Saint Sabbas of Mar Saba“. CatholicSaints.Info. 6 February 2019. Web. 22 October 2021. <>