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May 12

St Epiphanius of Salamis - May 12

Saint Epiphanius of Salamis

Bishop, “The Oracle of Palestine”

(Around 315 – 403)

We can tell the solution of any question not through our own reasoning, but from what follows from the Scriptures.

Saint Epiphanius of Salamis

Saint’s Life Story

His Early Life 

Epiphanius was born around 315 in the small settlement of Besanduk, near Eleutheropolis, Judea (modern-day Beit Guvrin in Israel). He was a Romaniote Jew, a Greek-speaking ethnic Jewish community native to the Eastern Mediterranean. Then, after witnessing a monk giving his clothes to the poor, he converted to Christianity. Epiphanius learned Greek, Latin, Syrian, and Egyptian as well as his native Hebrew in order to study the Scriptures in the original languages. He also  studied theology and classics. 

His Life as a Monk

After a time as a monk in Palestine, Epiphanius went to Egypt and stayed at several desert communities. In 333, he returned to Palestine was ordained as a priest.  Epiphanius founded and built a monastery at Eleutheropolis (Beth-Saddouk). He lived there for 30 years and became the abbot at the monastery.  For 20 years until 356, Epiphanius was a disciple and close companion of Saint Hilarion and first lived in his monastery. Epiphanius established a strong friendship and learned to lead an ascetic life of prayer and study from Saint Hilarion. 

However, when Epiphanius went into the desert he was held captive by a group of robbers. The robbers held him for several months, and during this time, Epiphanius brought one of the robbers to the Christian faith. When Epiphanius was released, the convert left with him and became a disciple. This robber-convert apparently became the man who recorded the details of Epiphanius’ life.

Bishop of Salamis

Epiphanius achieved a widespread reputation for his scholarship, austerities, mortifications, spiritual wisdom and advice. He became called “The Oracle of Palestine”. In 367, Epiphanius became the Bishop of Constantia (Salamaris), Cyprus. He continued to live as a monk taking special care of the poor. Epiphanius was revered by all around him as a holy man. 

Soon, he distinguished himself as a dedicated foe of the Arians. However, his reputation was such that he was one of the few orthodox bishops not harresed by Emperor Valens, though he preached vigorously against Arianism.

Epiphanius supported Bishop Paulinus in 376 at Antioch against the claims of Metetius and the Eastern bishops. In 382, he attended a council in Rome, Italy summoned by Pope Damasus.

Panarion and other works

After a series of disputes involving the heretics and other ecclesiastical matters, Epiphanius concentrated his efforts on writing. He wrote numerous theological treatises. Ancoratus (the well anchored man) is written on the Trinity and Resurrection with arguments against Arianism and the teachings of Origen. He also wrote De mensuribus et ponderibus on ancient Jewish customs.

His best known book is Panarion, also known as Adversus Haereses, “Against Heresies”, This book was written between 374 and 377. It forms a handbook for dealing with the arguments of some eighty heresies and their refutations. One unique feature of the Panarion is in the way that Epiphanius compares the various heretics to different poisonous beasts, going so far as to describe in detail the animal’s characteristics, how it produces its poison, and how to protect oneself from the animal’s bite or poison. The Panarion is a valuable source of information on the Christian Church of the fourth century. 


At nearly 80, Epiphanius was summoned by the Bishop of Alexandria, Theophilus, to meet in Constantinople. He began the journey to Constantinople, but  realized he was being used by Theophilus against John Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople. Bishop Chrysostom had given refuge to the monks persecuted by Bishop Theophilus and were appealing to the emperor. Epiphanius started back to Salamis, only to die at sea on the way home on May 12, 403.

Epiphanius was an authority on devotions to Mary, He also taught the primacy of Peter among the Apostles. Epiphanius is honored as one of the most dedicated defenders on the authentic Church in the fourth century. 

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         May 12

Patron Saint:



Saint Epiphanius of Salamis was a brilliant speaker, However, he sometimes let his ability go to his head. His confrontational approach got in the way of persuading his opponents. These flaws of Saint Epiphanius of Salamis did not stop God from using his talents to defend and grow the Church. Saint Epiphanius of Salamis reminds us today that we have the capacity for holiness and becoming a saint, as he did, in spite of our many vices.

What are your vices? Are you praying to God to overcome these vices and leverage your talents to defend and grow the Church? How can you become holy and saintly?


Saint Epiphanius of Salamis, you may not have made many friends along your journey, but no one could dispute your love of God and the Church. May we seek your intercessions that we may also serve God faithfully in his Church.

Saint Epiphanius of Salamis, pray for us. Amen.

Saint Links 

Anastpaul – Saint of the Day – Saint Epiphanius (c 315 – 403) – “The Oracle of Palestine” – Rev. Alban Butler Volume V: May. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. May 12 St. Epiphanius, Archbishop of Salamis, Confessor

Catholic News Agency – St. Epiphanius of Salamis Feast Day: May 12

Catholic Online – St. Epiphanius of Salamis – Saint Epiphanius of Salamis

New Advent – Saltet, L. Epiphanius of Salamis. In The Catholic Encyclopedia

Newman Ministry – Saint Epiphanius

St Gregory Orthodox Church – St. Epiphanius of Salamis

Saint Mary’s Press – Saint Epiphanius of Salamis (c.310-403)

Wikipedia – Epiphanius of Salamis

Video Link

May 12 – Saint Epiphanius – Bishop of Salamis – 0403 – Cyprus – YouTube Video (cybrotius)