Presenting a brief video biography of one of the most fascinating saints of antiquity, Moses the Black, as extracted from the 5th century work, The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen.
Abba Moses is known by numerous other names including Moses the Strong, Moses the Ethiopian, Moses of Scetis, Moses of Abyssinia and Moses the Robber. He was an anchorite of the Egyptian desert and lived in the generation immediately after Saint Anthony the Abbot—that is, from about AD 330-400. He was famous among his peers for his legendary physical strength, and his even more amazing conversion from the depths of vice and wickedness, to the heights of self-denial, humility and sanctity.
Here is the video excerpt in text form:
"Moses was originally, a slave, but was driven from his master's house on account of his perversity. He joined some robbers, and became leader of the band. After having perpetrated several murders and other crimes, he embraced a life of asceticism, and attained the highest point of philosophical perfection.
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As the healthful and vigorous habit of body which had been induced by his former avocations acted as a stimulus to his imagination and excited a desire for pleasure, he resorted to every possible means of macerating his body. Thus, he subsisted wholly upon bread, subjected himself to severe labor, and prayed fifty times daily. During six years, he spent all his nights in prayer. He prayed standing, without bending his knees or closing his eyes in sleep. He sometimes went, during the night, to the cells of the monks, and secretly filled their pitchers with water, although he had sometimes to go ten, sometimes twenty, and sometimes thirty stadia in quest of the water. Notwithstanding all his efforts to macerate his body, it was long before he could subdue his natural vigor of constitution.
Four robbers once broke into the dwelling where he lived alone. He bound them, threw them across his shoulders, and bore them to the church, that the monks who were then assembled might deal with them as they thought fit, for he did not consider himself authorized to punish any one.
So sudden a conversion from vice to virtue was never before witnessed, nor such rapid attainments in monastical philosophy. Hence God rendered him an object of dread to the demons, and he was ordained presbyter over the monks at Scetis. After a life spent in this manner, he died at the age of seventy-five, leaving behind him numerous eminent disciples."This excerpt from Sozomen's Ecclesiastical History is a simple summary of the eventful life of Abba Moses. More details may be drawn from another early bio in the Lausaic History of Palladius. I transcribed this bio in another blogpost if you want to check it out: Moses the Strong ~ Powerful in Body, More Powerful in God's Grace.
Sozomen's History also includes capsule biographies of numerous other noteworthy monks and holy men and women from that period, particularly those in Egypt and Palestine and is well worth reading for anyone interested in early Church history or Roman history of the 4th and 5th centuries AD.