Abba Moses the Black

June 30, 2022

Men have marveled at the spiritual fight of Abba Moses the Black for he seized the kingdom of heaven by force, even as the Holy Gospel said on Matthew (11, 12).  He was strong in body and a mighty man in all his deeds.  He ate, drank, killed, fornicated and no man could stand up before him.  It is said he could eat a whole sheep and drink a skinful of wine at a sitting.

Moses the Black was slave for men who worshipped the sun. He often lifted up his eyes towards the sun and said, “O sun, if you are God, talk with me” and in his heart he used to say, “O God Whom I know not, make me know you.”

One day, he heard some men saying that the monks of the desert of Scete Monastery knew God and even see him. So, he rose up and girded on his sword. He then went to the desert of Scete where he found Saint Abba Isidore the priest. When he saw him Moses the Black, he was afraid of him. Then, Moses said, “I am Moses the Black, and I have come to you that you may tell me about God and make me know Him.”

Soon after, Isidore took him to Abba Macarius, who admonished and taught him about religion. Later he baptized him with Christian baptism.  Moses the Black then became a monk and lived in the desert. His monastic life was filled with fight which was greater than by many Saints. This time, enemy Satan warred upon him with his former sins of eating and drinking excess and committing fornication. He informed Abba Isidore about everything which came upon him in his fight with the Enemy and Abba Isidore comforted then taught him what to do.

In addition to his great fight when the holy elders were asleep, he used to go round  their cells, and take their water-pots out of fill them with water and put them back in their cells for the water was a long way off.  He continued his fight for many years.  Satan was envious of him, and he smote him severely with a severe disease in his foot. So, he became very ill and lay down sick for many days.  When he knew that Satan had smitten him, he increased his ascetic practices and spiritual fight until his body became dried up like wood, which has been scorched with fire.  God saw his endurance, and healed him of his disease. He also removed the sickness and bouts of Satan; and the grace of the Holy Spirit descended upon him.

Then, five hundred brethren gathered together and came to him. He became their abbot, and they chose him to make him a priest.  When they set him in the sanctuary, the Archbishop saw him and said elderly Monks, “Why have you brought this black man here?  Take him away.”  Hearing this, Moses went out rebuking himself saying, “They have treated you rightly, O black man, O your face is hideous.” After this the Archbishop called and laid his hand upon him, and made him a priest.  Then, the Archbishop said to him, “Oh Moses, all of you within and out have become white.”

On another day, elderly Monks came to him, and he had no water with to serve. Abba Mosses the Black then go out and come several times whilst the elders saw him. After this a great rain filled the skins in their cells.  The elderly Monks asked him, saying, “Why did you go out and come in many times?”  He said to them, “I said to God, if you do not give me water to give your servile to drink, where am I to obtain water to give them to drink?”  And in His mercy He sent us water.

At that time, Abba Moses went to Saint Abba Macarius  with the elders to visit. Abba Macarius said to them, “Behold, I see one to who belong the crown of martyrdom among you.”  Abba Moses answered and said to him, “Peradventure I am he, O my father for it is written, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52).  Soon after, the Barbarians came and Abba Moses said to the brethren, “Behold the Barbarians have come; among you who wish to flee, let him flee”; and they said to him, “O our father will you not flee?”  He said to them, “Behold, I have been waiting for this day for many years because of the word of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.”

Right away, the Barbarians came and killed him.  The seven brethren who did not wish to flee were also killed. But one of them hid himself behind a bed. He then saw the Angel of God standing with a crown in his hand waiting for him. So, he went out to the Barbarians, and they killed him. The body of Abba Moses the Black is found in Debre Badremos in the desert of Scete. Many miracles are made manifest through it.

“O our brethren, notice the power of repentance and its power.  It changed a man who was an infidel, a murderer, a fornicator and a thief to a Father, a Teacher, a Consoler, a Priest, one who laid down the Rule and Canon of the monks, and one who is mentioned at the altar in all the Churches.”

Source: The Ethiopian Synaxarium pages 591-592