SAINT DIDYMUS THE BLIND
Patron Saint of Orthodox Christian Campus Ministries
OUR PATRON SAINT
Saint Didymus is a role model for college-aged young adults. He was a self-motivated youth; he was educated, notwithstanding his disability, and he used his knowledge of the Orthodox Christian Faith to defend the Faith. Saint Didymus, being blind, persevered to overcome life and academic challenges. He paved a track of education and service, and he discipled renowned scholars and historians. He held firm to the truth of the Orthodox Church through the substance of his teachings and works.
THE LIFE OF SAINT DIDYMUS THE BLIND
Saint Didymus the Blind (c. 313 – 398) was a Coptic Orthodox Church theologian of Alexandria. He was known as ‘the Blind Seer of Alexandria’ and was regarded as the foremost Christian scholar and influential leader of the 4th century. Didymus lost his eyesight at the age of four, but due to his ardent desire for learning, he invented the method of engraved writing for reading with his fingers, fifteen centuries before Braille. By this method, he learned by heart the Holy Bible and the Church doctrines and displayed such a miracle of intelligence as to learn perfectly dialectics and even geometry, sciences which especially require sight. He became dean of the Catechetical School of Alexandria at a very young age and he remained in that position for about 50 years. Among his disciples were Saint Gregory of Nazianzen, Saint Jerome, Saint Palladius, and Rufinus. During his time, the School was accessible for blind students as they could study through a system in which reading letters were engraved into the surface of wood.
Saint Athanasius highly esteemed him. Saint Jerome spoke of him not as “the blind” but as “the Seer”. The orator Libanius wrote to an official in Egypt: “You cannot surely be ignorant of Didymus unless you are ignorant of the great city wherein, he has been night and day pouring out his learning for the good of others”. In his dispute with the Arians, he conquered them. Saint Anthony said to Saint Didymus: “Do not be sad that you have no eyesight with which the animals, and even the insects, share, but remember that you have divine insight with which you can see the light of divinity”.
He was extolled by his contemporaries and by the historians of the following century. Rufinus was six years his pupil. Saint Palladius visited him four times in ten years. Saint Jerome came to him for a month in order to have his doubts resolved with regard to difficult passages of Scripture. Saint Didymus wrote many works: Commentaries on all the Psalms, the Gospel of Matthew, the Gospel of John as Against the Arians, and On the Holy Spirit, which Saint Jerome translated into Latin. He also wrote on Isaiah, Hosea, Zechariah, Job, and many other topics.
Saint Didymus stayed a layman and never became part of the clergy. He lived the life of an ascetic, although he remained in the city and did not live in the desert as other ascetics did. Saint Palladius narrates a story told by Saint Didymus: one day, while he was fasting and thinking about the persecutor of his time, called Julian, he fell asleep in his chair. In a dream, he saw white horses running in different directions, whilst the riders cried out, "Tell Didymus, today at the seventh hour Julian died! Arise and eat, and inform Athanasius the bishop, that he may also know it". Saint Didymus noted the exact time and it happened just as it was foretold in his dream.
He died at the age of 85. With his prayers, may our Lord watch over OCCM and its ministries.