SAINT ABRAHAM of EDESSA (c.296-c.360), priest, missionary and hermit
Today, the Church honors Saint Abraham of Edessa, also known as Kidunaia, a man of God who was deeply devoted to prayer and the solitary way of life.
Abraham was a rich nobleman in Edessa, Syria, born around the year 296. Conceding to his parents’ wishes, he was married while still very young. But as soon as the festivities were over, he told his bride of his wishes to remain celibate and dedicate his life to God. She accepted this resolution, and Abraham left her and retired to a hermitage near Edessa.
Ten years after he retreated from the world, his parents died and left a great amount of wealth to their son. As soon as he was aware of this, Abraham asked a friend to distribute it to charitable causes. Through actions like this and his deep prayer life, Abraham became known throughout the region as a holy man and many came to him for guidance.
His reputation even came to the ears of the bishop of Edessa. He ordered Abraham to leave his hermitage, and, against Abraham’s wishes, the bishop ordained him and sent him as a missionary priest to the pagan village of Beth-Kiduna.
Upon his arrival, Father Abraham built a church, smashed idols and suffered abuse and violence from the village residents. With perseverance in prayer and continuously setting a good example, he eventually succeeded in converting the entire village. It is from his success in Beth-Kiduna that he became known as Kidunaia. After a few years, and leaving the village in the care of others, Father Abraham returned to his hermitage to continue his life of solitary prayer.
He left his place of solitude only twice more. The first time was when he was informed that his niece, Mary of Edessa, was living a wild and immoral life. For two years, Father Abraham and his friend, Saint Ephrem of Syria, prayed earnestly for her. Abraham then left and disguised himself as a soldier, which he knew would get her attention, and went to her home. Over supper, he convinced her of the error of her ways.
As a result of her heart being deeply moved, she converted and spent the remainder of her life in the same hermitage as her uncle. He then returned to continue a life of prayer until the end of his days.
Father Abraham died in the hermitage about the year 360. His final trip outside of his cell was his funeral, which was attended by a large, loving crowd of mourners. His biography was written by his friend, Saint Ephrem.
We commemorate the feastday of Saint Abraham of Edessa on March 16.
(From catholicnewsagency.com, saints.sqpn.com, traditioninaction.org and magnificat.ca)
(The following prayer is from the Roman Breviary from the Commons for Pastors ~ missionary)
“God of Mercy, You gave us Saint Abraham to proclaim the riches of Christ. By the help of his prayers, may we grow in knowledge of You, be eager to do good, and learn to walk before You by living the truth of the Gospel.
“Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”