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Johannes Moschus

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( ho tou Moschou , son of Moschus)

A monk and ascetical writer, b. about 550 probably at Damascus ; d. at Rome, 619. He was surnamed The Abstemious ( ho eukratas ). He lived successively with the monks at the monastery of St. Theodosius (now Deir Dosi) in Jerusalem, among the hermits in the Jordan valley, and in the New Laura of St. Sabas south-east of Bethlehem. About the year 578 he went to Egypt with Sophronius (afterwards Patriarch of Jerusalem ) and came as far as the Great Oasis. After 583 he came to Mt. Sinai and spent about ten years in the Laura of Aeliatae; he then visited the monasteries, near Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. In 604 he went to Antioch but returned to Egypt in 607. Later he came to Cyprus and in 614-615 to Rome. On his deathbed he requested Sophronius to bury him, if possible, on Mt. Sinai or else at the monastery of St. Theodosius in Jerusalem. Mt. Sinai being then invaded by the Arabs, Sophronius buried him in the monastery of St. Theodosius. He is the author of one of the earliest hagiological works entitled "Leimon" (Pratum spirituale, Spiritual Meadow). In it he narrates his personal experiences with many great ascetics whom he met during his extensive travels, and repeats the edifying stories which these ascetics related to him. Though the work is devoid of critical discrimination and teems with miracles and ecstatic visions, it gives a clear insight into the practices of Eastern monasticism , contains important data on the religious cult and ceremonies, and acquaints us with the numerous heresies that threatened to disrupt the Church in the East. It was first edited by Fronton du Duc in "Auctarium biblioth. patrum," II (Paris, 1624), 1057-1159. A better edition was brought out by Cotelier in "Ecclesiae Graecae Monumenta," II (Paris, 1681), which is reprinted in Migne, P.G.. LXXXVII, III, 2851-3112. A Latin translation, by Bl. Ambrose Traversari, is printed in Migne, P.L., LXXIV, 121-240, and an Italian version made from the Latin of Traversari (Venice, 1475; Vicenzo, 1479). Conjointly with Sophronius, Moschus wrote a life of John the Almoner, a fragment of which is preserved in the first chapter of the "Vita S. Joanni Eleemosynarii" by Leontius, under the name of "Simeon Metaphrastes" (P.G., CXIV, 895-966).

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