St. Abraham Kidunaia 

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St. Abraham Kidunaia from the Menologion of Basil II, Wikimedia Commons

St. Abraham Kidunaia  

Hermit (Fourth Century) 

As a young man, St. Abraham, who was born near Edessa in present-day Syria, felt irresistibly drawn to a life of prayer. His parents had planned otherwise, and they arranged for him to be married. On his very wedding day, however, Abraham stole off to become a hermit. Afterward he lived for many years in a small cell with no possessions but a bowl for his food and drink, a mat on which he slept, and a goatskin garment in which he clothed himself.  

Despite his vocation to solitude, he did leave his cell on a mission for the Church. The local bishop asked him to make an effort to convert the residents of a nearby pagan settlement. These people had no interest in Abraham’s message, and they harshly beat him for his troubles. When he returned again, denouncing their idolatry and proclaiming the Gospel, they nearly stoned him to death. Still he kept returning, enduring continuous abuse and insults. After three years of this campaign, however, his efforts were rewarded. The people asked to be baptized, and they became his devoted disciples. Thus Abraham felt himself acquitted of further responsibilities and happily returned to his cell, where he died at the age of seventy.  

“To you, your sins seem like mountains, but God has spread his mercy over all He has made. . . . If sparks could set fire to the ocean, then indeed your sins could defile the purity of God. Sin is only part of being human; it happened to you very quickly and now by the help of God you are coming out of it even more quickly, for He does not will the death of sinners but rather that they may live.” —St. Abraham Kidunaia to his orphaned niece, whom he rescued from a brothel 

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Robert Ellsberg

Robert Ellsberg is the publisher and editor-in-chief of Orbis Books and the author of several award-winning books, including All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time; Blessed Among All Women; and The Saints' Guide to Happiness.

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