Venerable Psoi of Egypt

Saint Psoi was the disciple of Saint Pachomios the Great (May 15), and lived during the IV century in the desert of Skḗtis (Σκήτις), also known as Wadi El-Natroun.

Saint Psoi was born in the Egyptian village of Shansa early in the IV century, and his father died when the boy was young. He had been raised in the spirit of Christian piety, and he was inflamed with a desire to devote his life to God. One night, the mother of the future monk beheld an Angel in a dream, who told her that God wanted one of her sons to serve Him. The woman had seven sons, so she told the Angel to choose whichever one he wished. The Angel pointed to her youngest son, Psoi. She protested that he was too weak, and asked the Angel to select one of her stronger sons, who would be able to serve God better. The Angel replied, "The power of God is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

When Psoi grew to adulthood, he retired into the desert. At first, he settled by the cave of Abba John of Egypt, who later blessed him to go to the Nitrian desert. There Saint Psoi lived in a cave 15 km from the cell of Saint Makarios the Great (January 19). Soon his fame spread among those who were eager for salvation. People began coming to Psoi from various places, wishing to be instructed by him. Among these was Saint Ephraim the Syrian (January 28), from whose staff, according to Tradition, a tamarind tree grew, and which still grows at the monastery. However, some researchers deny that Saints Psoi and Ephraim the Syrian ever met.1

When there were many disciples and a monastery, Saint Psoi retired to a deserted place, where now there is a monastery bearing his name. According to Tradition, he was found worthy of beholding Christ several times in his life.

Saint Psoi met all the travelers who came to the monastery, and washed their feet. Once, on the feet of a certain stranger, he saw some wounds made by nails. "I think I know you," Psoi said. The traveler disappeared, and then an Angel declared to Psoi that it was Christ. In gratitude for His mercy, the Saint drank the water that washed the Savior's feet.

Saint Psoi is also called the beloved of Christ. One day, his disciples began to ask him if they could meet Christ, too. He prayed and a voice from above called them to climb the mountain together. On the way they met an old cripple, who, when he learned where they were going, asked to go with them. The disciples refused to take the old man. Saint Psoi was behind them, so the old man made the same request to him. The venerable one took pity on the cripple and carried him on his shoulders. Soon Saint Psoi became exhausted and fell far behind the disciples.

"You know," he said to the cripple, "you are getting heavier and heavier. I don't understand why this is happening."

Suddenly, he noticed that the old man's feet had the imprint of nails. Psoi said, "I think I've washed your feet before!"

The cripple disappeared, and when Saint Psois finally reached the top, he found his disciples there.

"Where have you been? Where is Christ?" they asked.

He answered, "It is not necessary to seek Him on the mountain, but in one's neighbor."

Saint Psoi reposed in the year 417, while he was praying. His relics are incorrupt and rest in the monastery of Al-Sirian in the V century church, on the left side of the iconostasis. His body has been preserved completely incorrupt, just as it was in his lifetime.

1 Sebastian P. Brock, in his book Singer of the Word of God: Ephrem the Syrian and His Significance in Late Antiquity, states that Saint Ephraim lived east of the Euphrates River in the second and third quarters of the IV century, and that he never visited Saint Basil, or Saint Psoi.