December 18

St. Moses

St. Moses

Born in 330 AD in Ethiopia, Saint Moses is known by several names. Thenames he is also known for includes Moses the Black, Abba Moses theRobber, the Ethiopian and the Strong (Starodubcev, 2019).

He is highly respected in several branches of Christianity including theEastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodoxy, the Roman CatholicChurch, the Eastern Catholic Churches, Anglican Communion andLutheranism (Starodubcev, 2019). The major shrine of Saint Moses is inthe Paromeos Monastery, Church of the Virgin Mary, in Scetes, Egypt.

Before his conversion to Christianity, Saint Moses worked as agovernment official in Egypt (Starodubcev, 2019). However, after beingfound guilty of theft and suspected of murder, Saint Moses wasimmediately dismissed from being a government official (Starodubcev,2019). From a life of crime, what made Saint Moses turn to Christianity?Let’s read on and investigate further.

From Sinner to Ascetic

While attempting to rob someone in the early hours of the morning, a doghindered Moses from succeeding in the robbery (Gasperetti, 1952). As aresult of this, Moses swore vengeance on the owner of the dog. Mosesthen proceeded to swim down the river, close to the owner’s hut, withhis weapons in his mouth (Gasperetti, 1952). Again, alerted by the dog,the owner hid away from Moses and Moses became frustrated. In thismoment of frustration, Moses proceeded to slaughter some of the sheepbelonging to the owner (Gasperetti, 1952).

The owner immediately reported Moses to the local authorities and Moseswas soon on the run. Extremely tired, Moses sought refuge with monks ina colony in the desert, now called Scetes, near Alexandria in Egypt(Gasperetti, 1952). Moses soon became heavily influenced by the monksand their ways of life, especially their dedication, peace, andcommitment to their faith. As a result of this, Moses decided to turnover a new leaf and soon became a Christian (Gasperetti, 1952). After afew months of learning the teachings of the monks, Moses was baptizedand joined the monastic community in Scetes, becoming a notable DesertFather. The Desert Fathers, in the Christian faith, were the first earlyChristian hermits, monks and ascetics (Gasperetti, 1952). They livedmainly in the desert in Scetes, Egypt, around the third century AD.

Life as a Monk in the Monastic Community

Moses struggled greatly with adapting to the monastic life he foundhimself in (Sister Felicity, 1964). The main reason for this? The senseof adventure within Moses remained with him. One night, Moses wasbrutally attacked by a group of robbers in his desert cell (SisterFelicity, 1964). Moses fought back and took the robbers to the chapel,where other brothers in the monastery were busy with their prayers.After much discussion, the robbers repented for their sins and soonjoined the community, becoming brothers later (Sister Felicity, 1964).

Moses believed he was not perfect enough to be a monk, until one morningwhen the abbot of the monastery spoke to Moses. He lifted Moses hopes ofbecoming a monk (Sister Felicity, 1964). It was from this day on, thatMoses proved himself and found that he was effective as a propheticspiritual leader. One notable moment in which this can be seen is when afellow brother committed a fault and Moses was called to attend ameeting to discuss an appropriate penance for the brother (SisterFelicity, 1964).

Moses refused to attend this meeting and when called to another meetingregarding the same subject matter, Moses took a leaking jug filled withwater on his shoulder to the meeting. Upon arrival, the brothersquestioned Moses about the leaking jug (Sister Felicity, 1964). Mosesproceeded to explain to the brothers that his sins are unseen by himbehind him, but he is here to judge the sins of another brother. AfterMoses said this, the other brothers forgave the monk at fault.

Soon after this, Moses became the spiritual leader of the hermits in theWestern Desert (Sister Felicity, 1964). He led them with pride in hisheart and soon, he was ordained as a priest.


Saint Moses passed away at the age of 75 years old, in 405 AD(Kravchenko, 2021). He passed away in Al Natron Valley, in Egypt. Thiswas following an attack on the monastery by a group of Berbers. Insteadof taking up weapons, Saint Moses decided to remain behind and wasjoined by seven other brothers in a violent death by the robbers(Kravchenko, 2021). Together, they were martyred by the bandits andtheir legacy lives on.

Today St. Moses is celebrated as the saint of Africa and non-violence.

5 Interesting Facts About St. Moses

  1. Saint Moses is known as a man of peace for his humility and
    example set by repenting for the awful crimes he committed while being
    a bandit
  2. During his ministry, Saint Moses called people to reconciliation
    and forgiveness by word and through example
  3. Before becoming a Christian, Saint Moses was a leader of a gang of
    bandits that roamed the Nile Valley, spreading terror and violence
    wherever they could.
  4. Saint Moses was trained by Abba Isidore the Priest to become a
    monk and later, an ordained priest
  5. Saint Moses started out his life as a slave in the home of an
    Egyptian governor.

Prayer to St. Moses

Almighty God, whose blessed Son guides our footsteps in the way ofpeace: Deliver us from paths of hatred and violence, that we, followingthe example of your servant Moses, may serve you with singleness ofheart and attain to the tranquility of the world to come; through JesusChrist our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the HolySpirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Reference List

Starodubcev, T. (2019). St. Moses the Ethiopian or the black. Cult andrepresentation in the middle ages. Zograf, pp. 1-22. DOI:10.2298/ZOG1943001S.

Gasperetti, E. (1952). Saint Moses the Black. Negro History Bulletin,15(8), 167-169. Retrieved August 2, 2021, from[]{.ul}.

Sister Felicity. (1964). St Moses the Black. Life of the Spirit(1946-1964), 19 (214), 36-38. Retrieved August 2, 2021, from[]{.ul}

Kravchenko, E.V. (2021). The Matter of Race: Brotherhood of St. Mosesthe Black and the Retelling of African American History through OrthodoxChristian Forms. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 89(1), pp. 298–333. DOI:[]{.ul}