The great treasure of Christian literature known as the Evergetinos takes its name from the monk Paul Evergetinos, the founder of an 11th century monastery in Constantinople dedicated to the Theotokos “the Benefactress” (ἡ μονὴ τῆς Εὐεργέτιδος). Elder Paul undertook the compilation of a vast collection of the writings of the Church Fathers and the Lives of the Saints, arranging them methodically into two hundred chapters which he called “hypotheses”, which each refer to a single practical aspect of the spiritual life.
The great ascetics of the Egyptian desert feature in almost every hypothesis, with excerpts from the Apophthegmata of the Fathers, the Lausaic History of Palladius, the writings of St Cassian and the Lives of St Euthymius the Great, St Pachomius the Great and Amma Syncletica, which are complemented by extracts from the Dialogues of St Gregory the Great (the “Latin Gerontikon”). The writings of Saints Isaac and Ephraim of Syria, St Mark the Ascetic, St Basil the Great, St Diadochus of Photike, St Maximus the Confessor, St Isaiah of Scetis, St Zosima of Palestine and Saints Barsanuphius and John are combined with excerpts from the lives of many popular Saints and Martyrs in a remarkable synthesis which enriches each hypothesis with a multitude of proven, living examples of Orthodox Christian spirituality.
The Evergetinos became a much-loved practical spiritual guide for countless monastics and laypeople throughout the ages, but was in danger of falling into obscurity during the years of the Turkish occupation, until St Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain brought it to the light of publication. In his prologue to the first edition (1783), he concludes with the following words: “All of you who are partakers of the heavenly Orthodox calling, who desire to adorn your souls with every kind of virtue, put forth your arms and receive this sacred embrace with much joy. Thus, in your love for the Fathers, you might everyday seek their counsel, ordering your life according to their wise, time-tested and God-given instructions; and in becoming practitioners of virtue, you may give glory to the God of all.”
Source: Lychnos December 2017 / January 2018