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Ammon, Saint

Egyptian hermit in the desert of Nitria ( b. about 350)

Ammon, Saint sometimes called AMUN or Amus, b. about 350; an Egyptian who, forced into marriage when twenty-two years old, persuaded his wife on the bridal night to pronounce a vow of chastity, which they kept faithfully, though living together for eighteen years; at the end of this time he became a hermit in the desert of Nitria, and she formed a congregation of religious women in her own house. Nitria, to which Ammon betook himself, is a mountain surmounted by a desolate region, seventy miles south of Alexandria, beyond Lake Mareotis (which Palladius calls Maria). At the end of the fourth century there were fifty monasteries there inhabited by 5,000 monks. St. Jerome called the place “The City of God”. As to whether Ammon was the first to build a monastery there, authorities disagree, but it is certain that the fame of his sanctity drew many anchorites around him, who erected cells not only on the mountain but in the adjacent desert. St. Anthony came to visit him and induced him to gather his scattered solitaries into monasteries. When Ammon died at about the age of 62 Anthony, though thirteen days’ journey distant, saw his soul entering heaven. He is honored on October 4.

T. J. CAMPBELL


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