- Eustratios was born to Christian parents in Tarsia. At the age of twenty he entered monastic life at the Monastery of Agaures near his home. There he became a model of prayer, and holiness. He was ordained to the priesthood, and in time was made abbot of the community. But just at that time, Leo the Armenian became Emperor and revived the iconoclast heresy. The monks of Agaures, who held to the Orthodox Faith, scattered to caves and forests to escape persecution. Eustratios himself was imprisoned for a time, and was only able to re-gather the community and resume its direction when Leo died and Orthodoxy was restored in 842.
As abbot, Eustratios continued to live as the humblest of the brethren, spending the day sharing in their manual labour, and most of the night in prayer and prostrations. He often travelled among the dependencies of his large monastery to offer counsel and encouragement to the brethren. While travelling he would often give his coat or even his horse to anyone in need whom he met on the way. Once he gave the monastery’s only ox to a peasant who had lost his own. Another time, on a visit to Constantinople, he was given a large sum of money by the Emperor for the monastery; on the way back he distributed all of it to the poor. On yet another occasion, on the road, he met a man who had despaired because of his sins and was about to hang himself. Eustratios took the man’s hand and said ‘My child, may the weight of your sins lie on me from now on. On the day of Judgment, I will answer for them instead of you. Only throw away this rope and hope in God.’
On this day lift before God:
- all who are faithful in prayer.
- all who are generous and all in need.
- all who take no pleasure in material wealth.
- all who know how to speak to those in despair and all who are despairing.