Martyr Zosima the Wilderness-Dweller

Commemorated Sep 19 (Oct 2 on Civil Calendar)


Let's learn something today from the slave of God Zosimas the wilderness dweller. We live in difficult times. Almost nobody tells the truth anymore, and our society is becoming infested with legally enforced and subsidized immorality and depravity. Many who identify as Christian are no different than those in the world and their love for Christ is cold. I suppose the conditions are no worse and not better than those in which Zosimas live. He chose to reject all the depravity and become holy. That is the ultimate solution for all of us.


When you read his life below, ask yourself if you can answer the question as he did - "I am a Christian". I cannot say this completely yet, and that is why I suppose I confess that I am a liar twice a week, at least when I say my preparation prayers for communion[1]



            The Martyr Zosima the Wilderness-Dweller lived during the IV Century. One time while hunting, the governor of Cilicia named Dometian caught sight of the elder, who calmly and amiably conversed with the beasts around him. Seeing the hunters, the beasts fled. They then interrogated the elder, -- who was he and why did he live in the wilderness. The elder answered, that he was called Zosima, that he was a Christian, and that he was not able to live in the city with the enemies of the Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore he lived alone amongst the wild animals. Then Dometian said threateningly: "If thou dost worship the Nazarene, at Nazareth I shalt hand thee over publicly to fierce tortures, and thou wilt renounce Christ".


To the question of what kind of magic Zosima used to tame wild beasts, the elder answered only: "I -- am a Christian".


At Nazareth the tortures began. They tied the elder head downwards, and to his neck a large stone, and they began to lacerate at his body with iron hooks. The torturers taunted the sufferer: "If the beasts do hearken unto thee, direct one of them to come forth here, and we then will believe in thine God". The holy martyr turned with a prayer to God, and suddenly an huge lion sprang forth. Everyone fled in terror, and the lion went up to the elder, and with its paw began to lift the stone, tied to the neck of the martyr. The governor began to implore the martyr to keep the lion calm, and he gave orders to untie the saint, so as to convey him off to the emperor, but Saint Zosima was already dead, having given up his pure soul to God. (from the Menologion program)


Priest Seraphim Holland 2012     St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church, McKinney, Texas


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[1] Psalm 115 is read in the preparation prayers for Holy Communion. It begins "I believed wherefore I spake; I was humbled exceedingly. As for me, I said in mine ecstasy: Every man is a liar. What shall I render unto the Lord for all that He hath rendered unto me? " See or