Orthodox America

LIVES OF SAINTS - St. Sampson the Hospitable

Commemorated June 27

Saint Sampson, a Roman, was born of illustrious and wealthy parents, who gave him a good education and from early childhood instilled in him a love for God and a desire to follow the Lord's commandments. Loving his neighbor, as the Lord teaches us, Sampson studied medicine in order to help sick people. The Lord blessed his good intent and granted him miraculous power to cure all kinds of illness.

When his parents died, Sampson was left with a large fortune which he used for the good of his neighbor. He gave freedom to all his slaves, gave generous donations to charity, received and fed the poor and homeless. He loved solitude but his chief desire was to serve his neighbor and he therefore settled in the city of Constantinople. There he built a house where poor people, sick people and pilgrims always found welcome. He himself tended to the sick and, by the power of God, he worked many miracles. Out of humility he tried to conceal these cases of God's special mercy towards him, but nevertheless his holy life became known, and the patriarch ordained him to the priesthood.

It happened that Emperor Julian, who reigned at that time, became gravely ill. The efforts of all the best doctors could do nothing. Then Sampson, through the power of God, healed him. The grateful emperor said to him, "Ask whatever reward you wish of me; take money, land."

"I don't need wealth," answered Sampson. "I had it myself and willingly gave it away; but if you should like to repay me with a favor, then order the building of a house for the sick and poor. In this way you will please God and make me very happy as well."

The Emperor fulfilled Sampson's wish and built a spacious hospital and house for lodging pilgrims. He appointed Sampson the director. It should be noted that such institutions were unknown to the pagans. They built grandiose edifices, temples to their gods, palaces, theaters, circuses, whose ruins amaze us even today by their enormous size. They spent huge amounts of money on luxury and pleasures, but nowhere do we see that they tried to ease the lot of the sick and suffering. Christ gave us a commandment to love our neighbor; He taught us to consider each person as our brother, and to serve and help one another. In His life on earth, He Himself showed us an example of what we should do, for He was constantly doing good for people. To emulate our Divine Teacher, to be like Him as much as possible, should be our principal concern in life, if we love our Lord Jesus Christ and wish to be true Christians. And the Lord will help us. In doing good-not for money or thanks but out of love for Christ-we shall find unspeakable happiness and peace for our souls.

Saint Sampson worked untiringly until he grew quite old. He departed peacefully to the Lord in 530. Many miracles occurred at his grave and in the hospital he built.

(Translated from Selected Lives of Saints compiled by A. N. Bakhmeteva, Moscow 1872.)