Samuel the Confessor

Saint Samuel
Born 597
Daklube, Egypt
Died 695
Mount Qalamoun, Egypt
Venerated in Coptic Orthodox Church
Oriental Orthodox Churches
Major shrine Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor, Egypt
Feast 8 Kiahk
Attributes Monk with one Eye

Saint Samuel the Confessor (referred to in academic literature as Samuel of Kalamoun or Samuel of Qalamun) is a Coptic Orthodox saint, venerated in all Oriental Orthodox Churches. He is most famous for his torture at the hands of the Chalcedonian but Monothelite Byzantines, for his witness of the Arab invasion of Egypt, and for having built the monastery that carries his name in Mount Qalamoun. He carries the label "confessor" because he endured torture for his Christian faith, but was not a martyr.

The manuscripts of the Coptic text known as the Apocalypse of Samuel of Kalamoun give his name as the author, but the work is in reality a much later composition.


The Arabic life of the saint gives the following details.

Samuel was born in AD 597 in the city of Daklube, Egypt, to a non-Chalcedonian priest called Arselaos. He spent most of his early years as a disciple of Saint Agathon at the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great in Scetes, Egypt, where he was ordained a priest. Samuel became known for his great ascetism, and for abstaining from food and drink a week at a time. While at the Monastery of Saint Macarius, a Byzantine imperial envoy attempted to convince the desert monks to confess the Chalcedonian faith. Samuel became zealous and seized the imperial letter and rent it into pieces saying "Excommunicated is this tome and everyone who believes in it and cursed is everyone who might change the Orthodox faith of our Holy Fathers." Seized with anger, the envoy ordered Samuel to be beaten with pins and to be hanged up by his arms, and that his face be smitten. One of the strikes enucleated one of his eyes. Samuel was also beaten by Cyrus, the Chalcedonian patriarch of Alexandria. The latter also ordered Samuel to be driven away from the Nitrian Desert.

After leaving Scetes, Samuel dwelt in Mount Qalamoun, currently in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Al Minya. At Mount Qalamoun, Samuel founded a monastery that carries his name, and still exists to this day.

Samuel also suffered at the hands of sun-worshiping Berbers who took him captive for some time. In his captivity, he met and befriended Youannis the Archpriest of Scetes, who was also captured by the Berbers. When the Berbers failed to convince Samuel to worship the sun, they tied his leg with an iron chain to that of a maiden, and sent them to attend the camels, hoping that the maiden would seduce Samuel and win him as a sun-worshipper. Yet, Samuel did not deny his faith and remained strong in his Christian faith. Eventually, after healing his master's son who was on the verge of death, he was released and permitted to return to Mount Qalamoun. After his return, he prophesized about and witnessed the Arab invasion of Egypt in 641.

Samuel the Confessor departed on 8 Kiahk 695 (17 December).

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