I spoke recently to an Orthodox priest who had converted to Orthodoxy from Protestantism. He told me that, when he was received into the Church, the officiating priest told him: “You will never be truly Orthodox without reading the Lives of the Saints.” Later, when he himself became a priest, he found that the most pious people in the churches are those who read the Lives of the Saints, and that those who make the most progress in the spiritual life are those who read the Saints’ Lives (Hieromonk Damascene).
Whoever reads the books of the saints, seeking to know the way of righteousness, the way of righteousness will be opened to them (St Kyrillos VI)
As long as there are holy people on earth, the earth will stand. If the earth stops producing saints, then it will come to an end (St Silouan the Athonite)
Below I present to you my valuable collection of the lives of the saints in order of the most recently reposed. It includes canonized and others too who demonstrated undoubted holiness and whose lives are worthy of great contemplation and a properly deep reading of their lives. I will constantly update this collection as I find more.
I highly recommend you read this important article titled “The place of the lives of the saints in the spiritual life” before you read anything below. It will help you approach the reading of the lives of the saints in a correct and SAFE manner.
Note: The ones marked with an *** are yet to be added.
- Living saints ( – present)
- Fr Fanous El Anba Paul (- 2016)
- Fr Antonious El Sorianni (- 2016)
- Tunt Samira Doherty of California (- 2015)
- Anba Mikhial of Assiut (- 2014)
- Contemporary coptic martyrs (1960s – 2014)
- Pope Shenouda III (- 2012)
- Fr Faltaous El Sorianni (- 2010)
- Mother Erini (- 2006)
- Bishop Makarios of Qena (- 1991)
- Fr Pishoy Kamel (- 1979)
- Fr Yostos El Antoni (- 1976)
- Fr Mikhial Ibrahim (- 1975)
- St Kyrillos VI (- 1971)
- St Abdelmessih El Makary (- 1963)
- St Abraam: The bishop of Fayoum (- 1914)
- St Shenouda the Archimandrite (- 468)
- ***St Abanoub
- ***Elder Iliy ( – present)
- ***Archimandrite Adrian (Kirsanov) (1922 – 2018)
- ***Elder Zozima (1944 – 2002)
- St Philaret of New York (1903 – 1985)
- St John, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Franciso (1896 – 1966)
- St Luke the Doctor and Archbishop of Crimea (1877 – 1961)
- St Silouan the Athonite (1866 – 1938)
- St Hilarion Troitsky (1886 – 1929)
- St John of Kronstadt (1829 – 1908)
- St Seraphim of Sarov (1759 – 1833)
- Elder Ephraim of Arizona (- present)
- St Paisios of Mt Athos (1924 – 1994)
- St Iakovos (1920 – 1991)
- St Nektarios of Aegina (1846 – 1920)
- ***St. “Papa” Nicholas Planas (1851 – 1932)
- ***St Gabriel (Urgebadze) (1929 – 1995)
My two absolute favorite sources of high-quality English accounts of lives of modern-day saints, as well as, for an abundance of other highly edifying Orthodox spiritual material are these two Russian websites. They have extremely good and nourishing material. I usually read something from one of these sources daily.
All of these names I’ve heard of are supposedly very holy clergy/monastics who are still living in Egypt. I’ve also heard that a few of these people have reached such a high level of spiritual growth that some of them are miracle workers for example Fr Angelos. They are;
- Fr Angelos El Antoni – he lives in the monastery of St Thomas in Khatatba, a town 43 km north of Cairo. I met him in 2018. He doesn’t speak a word and I was intimidated by him. There are two facebook arabic fan pages for him: أبونا أنجيلوس الأنطوني has 60 k likes and ابونا انجيلوس الانطونى has 30 k likes.
- Fr Paula of St Mary’s church, Ebiar, Tanta – I believe he is a married priest and not a monk. There could be a facebook page about him.
- Fr Balamon of Suez – I believe he is also a married priest. I heard there was an arabic facebook page about him.
- Fr Lazarus El Antoni – very interestingly this man is an Australian born Coptic monk. He lives in St Anthony’s monastery as a hermit somewhere in the mountain. They say he’s really good friends with the Mother of God.
- Fr Bishoy Anba Paul – he dwells in St Paul’s monastery near the red sea. It’s a 3 hr drive from Cairo. He lives in the mountain and comes down only 2 days a month in order to meet with people who want his prayers or counsel. I’ve heard he has really strong prayers.
And I’ve heard of others. To be honest until the end of time, Egypt will never lose her monastics/clergy who struggle spiritually in the most deepest form. And this knowledge should inspire us to also struggle daily in our spiritual lives, with great wisdom and daily reading of the saint lives and their writings, taking very baby steps and struggling according to our current spiritual level.
Fr Fanous El Anba Paul (1929 – 2016)
This monk lead a highly ascetic life in the monastery of St Paul. This article contains stories of him. One story tells of a drug addicted youth who was forced on a bus to St Paul’s monastery. Fr Fanous somehow knew of his coming, evidenced by his awaiting his arrival at the entry of the monastery. The latter took him in, and through some sort of interaction of divine grace from the elder the youth was healed. Being touched by his love, he even became a monk in that very monastery!
Fr Antonios El Sorianni (1948 – 2016)
A kind, loving, cheerful and clairvoyant monk. He was a skilled spiritual father who lived in the Sorianni monastery. The author of this short account details his personal interactions with him.
Tunt Samira Doherty of California (1941 – 2015)
Towards the end of her life, this woman – one of your typical elderly ladies you see at church all the time – used to pray often till 3 am, eat simple foods and open locked church doors with her prayers. Pope Kyrillos visited her on many occasions. She is the first very holy Coptic person I’ve heard about outside Egypt and she wasn’t a monastic either.
> The life of Samira: an audio account of her life by members of her Coptic Californian parish
> Many short stories about her are found here.
Anba Mikhial of Assiut (1921 – 2014)
During times of hardship, hordes of people would rush to this blessed metropolitan seeking reassurance of Divine Providence. This article narrates, “Jesus knows, Jesus knows,” he was often heard to say “all your suffering, troubles, and needs. He answers in His way at His right time. The words might seem commonplace for a Christian cleric, but the strength and authority with which they were uttered assured people these were no ‘mere’ words.
Contemporary Coptic martyrs (1960s – 2014)
This link contains 15 very heart-felt and sometimes very descriptive accounts of contemporary Coptic martyrs. All demonstrate exemplary faith and undying love for God, to the extent they were willing to shed their blood for the sake of Christ. Many of the victim’s families emerged from the ordeal not in a fit of self-pity, but with a great spiritual victory and strong reassurance that their loved ones now reside in a beautiful place in the heavens. Find their stories in the short stories section.
Pope Shenouda III (1932 – 2012)
Listed as one of “the most attended funerals in the world”, Pope Shenouda’s funeral was attended by over one million mourners. Thus he undoubtedly won over an innumerable number of hearts of his Coptic flock. For over 40 years, this righteous patriarch tirelessly delivered love, comfort and edification through thousands of weekly sermons and over 101 book publications. Here are some great resources about him…
- Foriegner for the world: documentary: this is the best english resource I have found for Pope Shenouda. It’s a 1 hr long video. Me and my family watched it on his feast day, we loved it and it gave birth to interesting discussion about this golden man.
- Auto-biographical video interviews Part 1 and Part 2: very insightful and edifying.
- Two biographies: 1 and 2.
Fr Faltaous El Sorianni (1922 – 2010)
This monk was an anchorite living in the Sorianni monastery. A countless number of people were touched by his love, his light heartedness and his miraculous assistance.
> Find links to his movie over here.
> Miracles: contains a few accounts. The first one is one of the best miracles I’ve ever read about.
> The first book about him Fr Faltaous El Souriany: His life and miracles (Part 1)
Mother Erini – Abbess of St Abu Seifein convent (1936 – 2006)
Probably the most famous female Coptic figure of modern-times. The innumerable count of her miracles can somewhat compare to those of Pope Kyrillos VI.
One of the recipients of her grace writes, “My life has totally changed after having read the valuable life story of Tamav Erene. Beforehand, I was only interested in whatever was worldly. However, from the moment I read this book, Tamav’s life touched mine. I cried bitterly….” (Taken from book 2)
Here is a big extract from the first book about her, a story of her miraculous visit to Mt Athos and two other sources: 1 and 2. There are 6 books about her in English and you can typically find a few of them at your local Coptic Orthodox church. Otherwise check here.
Bishop Makarios of Qena (1923 – 1991)
This bishop is widely known as the bishop who passed away whilst he was praying the liturgy. It is said that at the precise moment of his death, the oblation levitated from his hand and sat itself back onto the plate. Here are some resources about him.
Here are pdf versions of his life: Life & Miracles of the late Bishop Makarios of Qena (book 1) and Miracles of the late Bishop Makarios of Qena (book 2). You can also find book 1 as a hardcopy in some local Coptic Orthodox churches.
Fr Pishoy Kamel (1931 – 1979)
Fr Pishoy was a very popular and saintly priest from Alexandria Egypt who reposed in 1979. He touched the hearts of tens of thousands of Egyptians – Muslims and Christians alike. He spent two decades of priestly service performing unbelievable acts of love, charity and kindness. His wife still lives to this very day. Here are some links to his life: 1, 2, a detailed study of his life and a collection of short stories.
Fr Yostos El Antoni (1910 – 1976)
His life story is found in the book The Garden of Abba Antony: The monastery of abba anthony at the red sea. The book tells the life story and deeds of 2 otther modern-day saints – Fr Tadros El antoni and Fr Abeshkhairon Al-Antony. All were great ascetics.
Here is also a short biography of Fr Yostos. There is also a movie of which I’ll post a link about soon.
Fr Mikhial Ibrahim (1899 – 1975)
St Kyrillos VI (1902 – 1971)
Probably the most popular Coptic figure in modern times, perhaps soon to be succeeded by his successor. “It has been said, and most probably without exaggeration, that each and every faithful Orthodox Copt that lived in the days of St Kyrillos’ Papacy, had either witnessed or experienced a personal miracle through his prayers; those miracles continue to occur by the Grace of God till the present day.”
Fr Abdelmessih El Makary (1892-1963)
St Abraam – the Bishop of Fayoum (1829-1914)
- Short biography
- Three paragraph description of him
- A list of 34 miracles pre and post-death
- 48 page biography
- 10 page biography
St Shenouda the Archimandrite (333 – 466)
More to come..
- St Macarius the Great
- Fr Mettaous El Sorianni
- freedominchristianity.com: this blogger writes often about the repose of modern-day holy monks in Egypt.
St Philaret of New York (1903 – 1985)
He was a righteous bishop who served in numerous places including Australia, later become the head of the Russian church outside of Russia particularly New York and Eastern America. An extract from his life details: “One of the places in the Sacred Scriptures that the future hierarch loved best were the words of the Lord which denounced the lukewarmness of Christians in their faith. He loved to repeat that love for God, for Christ, must come in the first place: “Deny yourself and all that is close to your heart, and follow after Christ! This is the main thing!”
St John, Archbishop of Shanghai and San Franciso (1896 – 1966)
Since the day he become a monk, he never slept in a bed. He ate once a day at 11 p.m and his nights he spent usually in prayer. Once when he came to administer Holy Communion to a dying man, he served it instead to a young recovered man who was ready to leave the hospital. With his gift of miraculous foresight, he explained “He will die tonight, but the other, who is seriously ill, will live yet many years.” And that’s exactly what happened.
- Extensive account 1
- Extensive account 2
- Sermon about him: this is part 1 of a 6 part series. Great to listen to it whilst travelling.
St Luke the Doctor and Archbishop of Crimea (1877 – 1961)
For those of you studying medicine, you’ll love this man. Apart from being a miracle-performing saint, he is considered the top surgeon of the 20th century in Russia. Whilst a bishop, he would spends hours of his day performing free surgeries for people. He conducted the world’s first animal to human kidney transplant and once operated on a patient by himself with only a bottle of alcohol and a knife.
St Silouan the Athonite (1866 – 1938)
St Hilarion Troitsky (1886 – 1929)
This holy martyr was an archbishop who lived during the time of Soviet Russia. An extract from this decent-sized biography of his life narrates, “The people around him later recalled his absolute monastic piety, true simplicity, humility and childlike kindness. He was always joyous, and even if something troubled him, he tried to cover it by that strength and cheer of spirit”.
St John of Kronstadt (1829 – 1908)
In my opinion, this man is the greatest and most unique saint that ever lived. Whilst a married priest, St John transformed the lives of millions of Russians who lived before the revolution. His countless achievements include:
- Performing tens of thousands of miracles,
- Writing countless deep and very clear spiritual contemplations which feeds hungry souls till today,
- Praying 6 hr daily masses attended by over 5000 people,
- Was unbelievably charitable such that the poor began migrating to his town to live off his charity
- And much more.
St Seraphim of Sarov (1759 – 1833)
St Seraphim is perhaps the most loved and revered hermit of the last 4 centuries. He was famous for his strong promotion of the Jesus Prayer and for his teaching “Acquire a peaceful spirit and thousands around you will be saved”.
He once undertook the truly extreme feat of spending a thousand days praying the Jesus Prayer. By the end of his life he received 2000 visitors daily, healed the sick and gave them life-changing spiritual guidance.
More to come are:
- St Jonah Atamansky
- The Optina Elders
- Fr Seraphim Rose
St Paisios of Mt Athos (1924 – 1994)
St Iakovos (1920 – 1991)
On November 27, 2017, the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Constantinople glorified Elder Iakovos (Tsalikis) as a saint. Fr. Iakovos, laboring in the Monastery of St. David of Evia, was widely known already during his lifetime among the Orthodox as a man of prayer, a clairvoyant, and a healer of spiritual and bodily ailments, and not just in Greece. With the elder’s death, the miracles by his prayers only increased, and the people revered him as a saint. And now it is certified and formal. Read an account of his life here.
St Nektarios of Aegina (1846 – 1920)
St Nektarios is a highly revered Greek saint not only because he performs of his miracle, but because he was also a prolific writer, theologian, philosopher, moralist, educator, poet, ascetic and mystic.
It is said that due to his unceasing zeal in preaching sermons, the religious revival of Greece in the early 20th century is wholly attributed to the efforts of this holy bishop.