Saints and Holy People

Find out about their lives and how they changed the world

Abba Poemen the Great  (c. 340–450)

Abba Poemen the Great (c. 340–450)

Feast day: September 9 (in the Gregorian calendar) or on August 27 (in the Julian calendar)

Abba Poemen was born in Egypt and entered the monastery called Scetis (or Skete). In 407, this monastery was raided and the monks were forced to flee. They scattered across the area, and thus began a new kind of monastic life: that of monks living separately, but in small groups, keeping alive the wisdom of the monks of Skete. This wisdom was eventually written down in a manuscript called The Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

Abba Poemen is the most quoted spiritual father in this manuscript. He was renowned for his mercy and compassion, as several anecdotes handed down to us attest. He lived an ascetic life, and died peacefully at the age of 110. The name Poemen means “shepherd,” and Abba (Father) Poemen’s great gift to us is his wisdom as a spiritual shepherd and guide.

(Image is in the public domain)