Saint Abraham of Edessa

St. Abraham of Edessa (300-360 A.D.), also known as Abraham of Kidunaia, was a rich nobleman from Mesopotamia. He married according to his parents' wishes, despite his desire to give himself totally to God. After the wedding ceremony he fled to a cave and hid himself, leaving only a small window to receive food. He lived there as a hermit, and after the death of his parents gave his inheritance to the poor. The Bishop of Edessa ordained him as a priest and sent him to lead a notoriously sinful city. There Abraham was beaten and maligned for three years until his prayers prevailed and every citizen came to him for baptism. He then returned to his hermitage and lived there the rest of his life. After his brother's death his young niece was left to his care. He set her up to live as a religious in a cell next to his, which she did for twenty years until she succumbed to the seduction of a rogue hermit. She was so ashamed of her sin that she despaired of God's mercy and became a prostitute. St. Abraham prayed for his niece earnestly for two years; then, discovering her location, left his cell and came to her disguised as a suitor. When they were alone he revealed his identity to her, and, pleading with her throughout the night, prevailed upon her to return with him to her life of prayer and penance. She came back to her cell, which Abraham relocated directly behind his own for her protection, and became St. Mary of Edessa. St. Abraham's feast day is March 16th.

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