For this week’s saint we are again digging deep into the history of the church. Also, we’re crossing the lines of tradition and looking at a man who is honored across almost all of the oldest Church traditions. I think he provides a great example for many of us who typically are well educated and have many resources at our disposal when compared with the rest of the world.
Today’s saint is Sampson the Hospitable of Constantinople. He is remembered on June 27th.
Sampson was born in Rome to a wealthy and notable family. Because of that wealth, Sampson was well educated by the ancient Roman standards of the time. He mainly focused on medicine and often would take care of the sick without any charge. When Sampson’s parents died he inherited all their wealth which included some slaves and probably a fair amount of property. Rather than settling down in a comfortable lifestyle, Sampson sold everything, freed the slaves and began to plan for heading off into the wilderness to become a hermit. Sampson set out towards the east from Rome and somewhere along the way his plans changed. Apparently, God had different plans and while Sampson was traveling towards Constantinople he felt impressed by God to head into the city and continue his work caring for the sick.
In Constantinople, Sampson bought a house and set up a clinic where he cared for the sick and housed many homeless and poor travelers. News about the hospitality of Sampson spread fast and because of his work the Patriarch of Constantinople ordained him a priest. However, we are never told that Sampson ever led services in a church or performed other duties typically associated with the priesthood. Apparently he just continued serving the poor and sick even after his ordination.
Because of his notoriety, when the emperor Justinian fell ill he sought the assistance of Sampson. Reportedly, none of the other doctors or physician’s had be able to help Justinian. Sampson attended to the emperor, prayed for him and laid hands on him. Justinian was miraculously healed and was very grateful for Sampson’s help. The emperor offered Sampson gold and wealth but Sampson instead asked for help to build a new home where he could continue and expand his work caring for the poor and sick. Justinian agreed and helped Sampson build one of the largest free hospitals in the empire.
Sampson continued working at the hospital that Justinian helped build for the rest of his long life. Late in life he caught some kind of illness that led to his death around 530 AD. The hospital Sampson founded with the assistance of the emperor would continue to treat the sick for nearly 600 years.
I pray that, like Sampson, we would see the value in serving our poor and sick neighbors. I pray that we would see our wealth as a greater opportunity to serve others . May we realize that some are called to notable positions and some are called to solitude, yet most of us are called to remain faithful servants in our homes and to our neighbors. I pray that we would always seek to be a free blessing to our communities. May we be willing to touch and heal those burdened by sickness or any of the other numerous and heavy weights of this life.
Wikipedia – Sampson the Hospitable
Orthodox Church in America – St Sampson the Hospitable of Constantinople
The Onion Dome – June 27 Saints of the Day – Sampson the Hospitable and Cyril of Alexandria
Mystagogy – St. Sampson the Hospitable