Home > Lives of Saints > Venerable MOSES THE BLACK


Moses was an Ethiopian by birth and by profession, at first, a robber and leader of a band of robbers and, after that, a penitent and great ascetic. As the slave of a master, Moses escaped and joined the robbers. Because of his great physical strength and arrogance, the robbers chose him as their leader.

Suddenly, Moses was overcome with pangs of conscience and repentance for the misdeeds, which he had committed. He left the group, entered a monastery and gave himself completely in obedience to his spiritual father and to the monastic rule. He benefited much from the teachings of Saints Macarius, Arsenius and Isidore.

Later, he withdrew to solitude in a cell where he dedicated himself completely to physical labor, prayer, vigils and godly-thoughts. Tormented by the demon of fornication, Moses confessed to Isidore, his spiritual father, and from him, received counsel to fast even more and never to eat to full satisfaction.

When even this did not help he, at the counsel of the elder, began to keep vigil at night and to pray standing; after that, he began the practice of bringing water to the elderly monks from a distant well all night long. After six years of terrible struggles, St. Isidore finally miraculously healed him of fornicating thoughts, fantasies and dreams brought about on him by demons.

Moses was ordained a priest in old age. He founded his own monastery and had seventy-five disciples and lived in this life for seventy-five years. He foresaw his death and, one day, he told his disciples to flee for the barbarians were going to attack the monastery. When the disciples also urged him to flee with them, Moses said that he must die by violence for, at one time, he himself committed violence and, according to the words: For all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword” (St. Matthew 26:52). He remained there with six brethren and the barbarians came and slew them. One of the brethren, hidden in the vicinity, beheld and saw seven shining wreaths as they descended upon the seven martyrs.


Blessed is he upon whom God shows mercy!

The mercy of God is joy,

In both worlds joy.

Moses Murin [the Black] as a prodigal son

Repented and to God returned,

By much weeping, many sins repaid

By much fasting, himself withered,

Black in the face, shining in the soul.

By many all-night vigils, passions he tamed,

Of demons authority, freed himself.

While his soul, as a lake became

Atop the mountains that, into the heavens gaze.

In which heaven mirrors its face.

When once, they asked Moses

“Do not the sins of others sadden you?”

“Sinful men, do they not concern you?”

Saint Moses tearfully replied:

“Whoever has a corpse in the house

That one does not weep over someone else’s corpse

Rather weeps over his own corpse.”

The lion, into a lamb, often changes,

Such a miracle, only Christ performs.

Moses, a lion in the mountain was

And, a gentle lamb became.

By his holy prayers, let

God grant salvation to us also.

Categories: Lives of Saints
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