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Icon nb 40
Size : 42 x 18 cm.
Egg tempera. Gilded halo.
We know of the life of St. Onuphrius from the testimony of the monk Paphnutius. The saintly hermit had lived in the desert for sixty years when Paphnutius visited him. His hair and beard reached to the ground. This does not normally happen – the beard reaches a certain length and grows no further. His beard, related the Saint, grew to his feet in one day to cover his nakedness when the clothes with whish he had come to the desert fell away. All the hairs on him were as white as snow and his entire appearance glistened, sublime and awesome.
As soon as he saw Paphnutius, Onuphrius called him by name and related to him his life in the wilderness. He said that it was his guardian angel who had brought him to this desolate place. For a long time he fed only on vegetables which could rarely be found in the wilderness and after that, when he had overcome by patience and faith violent attacks of temptations by demons and when his heart was fortified and centred upon the love of God, an angel of God brought him bread for nourishment. Besides that, by the good Providence of God, a palm tree grew next to his cell which brought forth dates in abundance and a spring of water began to flow there.
However, Onuphrius said, his face shining: "I mostly feed and quench my thirst on the sweet words of God." To Paphnutius' question: "How do you receive Communion?" the hermit replied that an angel of God brings him Holy Communion every Saturday. The next day, the elder said to Paphnutius that this would be the day of his departure from this world. He knelt in prayer and quietly gave up his spirit to God. At that moment, Paphnutius saw a heavenly light as it illumined the body of the reposed saint and heard the singing of angelic hosts.
Having buried the body of Onuphrius, Paphnutius returned to his monastery and related to others the wondrous life of this man and the greatness of God's Providence which always nourishes and protects those who have completely given themselves over to the service of God. Onuphrius died in the year 400 A.D.