St. Onuphrius (Onoufrios) icon
Orthodox Icon of Venerable Onuphrius the Great.
Commemorated June 12.
The life of Saint Onuphrius shown in this icon was writen by St Paphnutius, who led an ascetical life in the Thebaid desert in Egypt. It occurred to St Paphnutius to go to the inner desert in order to see if there were a monk who labored for the Lord more than he did. once he made a jouney into the deseert and met Saint Onuphrius. St Onuphrius had lived in complete isolation in the wilds of the wilderness for sixty years. In his youth he had been raised at the Eratus monastery near the city of Hermopolis.
Having learned from the holy Fathers about the hardships and lofty life of the desert-dwellers, to whom the Lord sent help through His angels, St Onuphrius longed to imitate their exploits. He secretly left the monastery one night and saw a brilliant ray of light before him. St Onuphrius became frightened and decided to go back, but the voice of his Guardian Angel told him to go into the desert to serve the Lord. After walking six or seven miles, he saw a cave. At that moment the ray of light vanished. In the cave was an old man.
St Onuphrius stayed with him to learn of his manner of life and his struggle with demonic temptations. When the Elder was convinced that St Onuphrius had been enlightened somewhat, he then led him to another cave and left him there alone to struggle for the Lord. The Elder visited him once a year, until he fell asleep in the Lord. At the request of St Paphnutius, Abba Onuphrius told him of his labors and ascetic feats, and of how the Lord had cared for him. Near the cave where he lived was a date-palm tree and a spring of pure water issued forth. Twelve different branches of the palm tree bore fruit each month in succession, and so the monk endured neither hunger nor thirst.
The shade of the palm tree sheltered him from the noonday heat. An angel brought Holy Communion to the saint each Saturday and Sunday, and to the other desert-dwellers as well. The monks conversed until evening, when Abba Paphnutius noticed a loaf of white bread lying between them, and also a vessel of water. After eating, he Elders spent the night in prayer. After the singing of the morning hymns, St Paphnutius saw that the face of the venerable Onuphrius had become transformed, and that frightened him. St Onuphrius said, God, Who is Merciful to all, has sent you to me so that you might bury my body.
Today I shall finish my earthly course and depart to my Christ, to live forever in eternal rest. St Onuphrius then asked Abba Paphnutius to remember him to all the brethren, and to all Christians. St Paphnutius wanted to remain there after the death of Abba Onuphrius. However, the holy ascetic told him that it was not God's will for him to stay there, he was to return to his own monastery instead and tell everyone about the virtuous lives of the desert-dwellers. Having then blessed Abba Paphnutius and bid him farewell, St Onuphrius prayed with tears and sighs, and then he lay down upon the earth, uttering his final words, Into Thy hands, my God, I commend my spirit, and died.
St Paphnutius wept and tore off a portion of his garment, and with it covered the body of the great ascetic. He placed it in the crevice of a large rock, which was hollow like a grave, and covered it over with a multitude of small stones. Then he began to pray that the Lord would permit him to remain in that place until the end of his life. Suddenly, the cave fell in, the palm tree withered, and the spring of water dried up. Realising that he had not been given a blessing to remain, St Paphnutius set out on his return journey.