Short Lives of the Saints – Saint Nilus, Hermit

icon of Saint Nilus the Elder, Yakov Bogatenko, 1904; swiped off WikipediaEntry

The noble Nilus was appointed by the emperor Arcadius in the fourth century of the Christian era, to fill the important post of prefect of Constantinople. Nilus had been trained in Christian piety by the great Saint John Chrysostom, and, being addicted to the serious contemplation of eternal truths, he felt called by the Divine Spirit to retire from the haunts of men, and seek the practice of perfection in some solitary place. He and his good wife felt mutually attracted to a religious life. In the fulfilment of the will of God, Nilus withdrew with his son to the desert of Sinai about the year 390; and his wife remained in retirement, directing her young daughter in the paths of virtue. The holy hermit employed his pen most zealously for the salvation of immortal souls. His learned and pious treatises were distributed far and wide; and he kept up an active and fruitful correspondence with all those of the faithful who sought his counsel.

. . . Are we not called to part,
Fix all our hopes upon a holier world,
And through the cloister climb the steps of heaven
With works of mercy?
    – Marion Muir

Favorite Practice – To encourage the circulation of Catholic books and periodicals.

MLA Citation

  • Eleanor Cecilia Donnelly. “Saint Nilus, Hermit”. Short Lives of the Saints, 1910. CatholicSaints.Info. 24 April 2021. Web. 29 January 2022. <>