Chariton the Confessor

Saint Chariton the Confessor (Greek: Αγιος Χαρίτων; mid-3rd century, Iconium, Asia Minor - ca. 350, Judaean desert) is a Christian saint. His remembrance day is September 28.[1]



We know about his vita from the 6th-century "Life of Chariton", written by an anonymous monk, which holds elements supported by modern archaeological excavations.[2]

Early life

Chariton was a native of Iconium in the Byzantine province of Lycaonia.[3] Under the reign of Emperor Aurelian (270-275) he was tortured and came close to become a martyr during a persecution against Christians.[3] Released from prison after Aurelian's death, he regretted not having died as a martyr.[3]

Pharan near Jerusalem

After his release in 275, during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and other holy places, Chariton was abducted by bandits and brought to a cave in the Wadi Qelt(Pharan Valley).[3] Tradition states that his abductors died by drinking wine that was poisoned by a snake.[3] Chariton decided to remain a hermit in the cave after this miraculous death of his abductors.[3] There he built a church and established a monastery,[4] the first one of the lavra type.[5]

Douka near Jericho

Later he moved to the Mount of Temptation near Jericho, where he established the lavra of Douka on the ruins of the Hasmonean and Herodian Dok Fortress.[5]

Souka (Old Lavra at Wadi Khureitun/Tekoa)

After that he moved on to establish a third monastery in Wadi Khureitun, named the Souka and later known as the Old Lavra.[5][3]

In all three locations his fame let Christians flock to learn from him, disturbing his solitude, which was the reason for him repeatedly moving on.[2] At Souka he eventually relocated to a cave on a cliff near the centre of the lavra, known as the "Hanging Cave of Chariton" and whose remains have been discovered by Israeli archaeologist Yizhar Hirschfeld.[2]


The importance of Chariton lays mainly in the fact that he established by his own example the rules for monastic life in the Judaean desert, in the context of lavra-type monasteries.[2][6] These rules became the main traits of monastic rule everywhere, based on asceticism and solitude: he lived in silence, only ate certain types of food and only after sundown, performed manual work, spent the night in an alternation of sleep and psalmody, prayed at fixed hours, stayed in his cell, and controlled his thoughts.[2]

According to tradition, he was the one to compile the "Office of the Monastic Tonsure".[3]

See also

  • Anthony the Great (c. 251 – 356), contemporary monk who established Christian monasticism in the Egyptian desert
  • Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers, early Christian hermits, ascetics, and monks who lived mainly in the Scetes desert of Egypt beginning around the third century AD
  • Euthymius the Great (377–473), founder of monasteries in Palestine and saint
  • Hilarion (271-371), anchorite and saint considered by some to be the founder of Palestinian monasticism
  • Pachomius the Great (c. 292–348), Egyptian saint generally recognized as the founder of Christian cenobitic monasticism
  • Paul of Thebes (c. 226/7-c. 341), known as "Paul, the First Hermit", who preceded both Anthony and Chariton
  • Sabbas the Sanctified (439–532), monk and saint, founded several monasteries in Palestine


  • Leah Di Segni: The Life of Chariton, in: Ascetic Behavior in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook (Studies in Antiquity and Christianity), Vincent L. Wimbush, Minneapolis 1990, ISBN 0-8006-3105-6, p. 393–421.
  • Shehadeh, Raja: Palestinian Walks, pp. 136–7. Profile Books (2008), ISBN 978-1-86197-899-8


  1. Sunday, September 28, 2003 Archived July 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, St. Katherine the Great-Martyr Orthodox Mission
  2. Alexander Ryrie (2011). The Desert Movement: Fresh Perspectives on the Spirituality of the Desert (1st ed.). Hymns Ancient & Modern Ltd. pp. 78–81. ISBN 9781848250949. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  3. "Saint Chariton the Confessor". official website. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  4. Encyclopaedia Judaica, Thomson Gale (2007): Dok
  5. Panayiotis Tzamalikos (2012). The Real Cassian Revisited: Monastic Life, Greek Paideia, and Origenism in the Sixth Century. Vigiliae Christianae, Supplements (Book 112). Brill. pp. 82–83. ISBN 9789004224407. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  6. Butler, Richard Urban. "Laura". The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 9. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. Via Accessed 2 Jul. 2019
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