It is probable that St. Arsenius was born in Rome about 354, became a deacon, and later was tutor to the sons of Emperor Theodosius I of Constantinople. He lived in splendor—wearing lavish clothes, residing in sumptuous quarters, and commanding a host of servants. However, after the years of this kind of life he was surfeited and left Constantinople for Alexandria.
It is certain that (about 400) Arsenius joined the desert monks in the Wadi Natrun (Scetis) and then at Canopus and Troe. As lavishly as he had lived before se lowly did he live now—wearing the meanest of clothes, practicing the severest penances, and devoting himself to unceasing prayer. He shunned the company of his fellowmen but was filled with compassion for them.
Forty-four maxims and moral anecdotes have been left us by the Saint—each clearly demonstrating the desert father’s shrewdness about human nature. One example us the following: “I have often been sorry for having spoken, but never for having held my tongue.” He also had the gift of tears to a surprising degree. He died around the age of ninety-five about the year 449.
PRAYER: God, You called St. Arsenius to seek Your Kingdom in this world through the pursuit of perfect charity. Grand that we may be strengthen by his intercession and advance in the way of love with joyful hearts. Amen.