Sisoes the Great

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Sisoes the Great
Saint Sisoës the Great at the tomb of Alexander the Great (16th c., Varlaam monastery, Meteora), signifying the remembrance of death (Memento mori).[note 1]
Venerated inOriental Orthodox Churches
Eastern Orthodox Churches
Catholic Church
FeastJuly 19

Saint Sisoës the Great (also Sisoi the Great, Sisoy the Great, Sisoes of Sceté or Shishoy; †429 AD) was an early Christian desert father, a solitary monk pursuing asceticism in the Egyptian desert in a cave of his predecessor, St Anthony the Great. St Sisoës is revered as a saint by Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches, who consider him a wonderworker. His feast day is observed on July 19 [O.S. July 6].[note 2][note 3]

Sisoës was an Egyptian by birth. Having withdrawn the world from his youth, he retired to the desert of Sceté, and lived some time under the direction of abbot Hor. The desire of finding a retreat yet more unfrequented induced him to cross the Nile and hide himself in the mountain where St. Anthony the Great died some time before.

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  1. ^ Concerning the icon of St. Sisoës staring over the dead bones of Alexander the Great, we do not know for sure if this depicts a historical event. We do not have a historical account of what the icon describes until its depiction first starts appearing in monasteries in Greece following the Fall of Constantinople in 1453. The most famous examples come from the Holy Trinity Monastery and Varlaam Monastery at Meteora, and at Hosios Loukas. It is not implausible that the depiction of Sisoës lamenting over the tomb of Alexander is a historical event lost to us in document form but survives only in iconography. Sisoës was a contemporary of the events surrounding Emperor's Theodosius' series of decrees outlawing the worship of pagan gods, among whom Alexander was to the fore. In Alexandria, the Christians rioted and destroyed the Serapeum, the leading pagan temple. This is the time that Alexander's remains finally disappear from history.
  2. ^ In some Latin Calendars his feast day was held on July 4.
  3. ^ Patristic scholar and Roman Catholic theologian Jean-Baptiste Cotelier bestowed much space on Sisoës in his Ecclesiæ Græcæ Monumenta, t. i. 662-678.