St. Dorotheos of Gaza

St. Dorotheos (ca. 505 – 565 or 620), an Egyptian hermit, was a native of the Thebaid region in Egypt and labored in asceticism for 60 years in the desert, on the Western side of the River Nile. He was born in Antioch, Syria, in the year 506 or 508 A.D. He began his education very early in life and profited from the social statusof his parents. He received a classical education in the Greco-Roman world, which included medical studies, thus allowing him to work as a physician. Despite his great mind, Dorotheos yearned for a life of seclusion in the monastery. He inquired through letters with the holy men Barsanuphius and John, who were well know desert hermits and ascetics of the Egypt/Palestine, as how to begin the process towards monasticism. Dorotheos entered the monastery of Thawatha where Barsanuphius and John lived. His quick mind and advanced education made life in the monastery difficult as he struggled with social encounters and even challenged his abbot when he knew of better ways to run the monastery. This struggle against pride lasted a great while and served as an ongoing lesson for Dorotheos. As he progressed in the spiritual life, Dorotheos was given spiritual charge over younger monks to which he was hesitant to accept as he struggled with interactions with others. Eventually Dorotheos left the monastery of Thawatha and founded his own monastery where he took charge of many young monks, training them in the spiritual art. By night he would weave baskets, in exchange for which he received the supplies he needed in order to live. As an ascetic, his food consisted of bread and the grass of the wilderness and he would eat only once a day and drank a little water. He barely slept, but only dozed off sometimes at work, or after eating. His work, Discourses and Sayings, is one of the great ascetical classics. His feast day in the Orthodox Church is celebrated on August 13.