Lazaros of Mt. Galesion was widely recognized as a star of contemporary Byzantine monasticism by the time he died in 1053. His reputation for sanctity rested primarily on his extraordinary perseverance as a pillar ascetic, as he spent the last forty or so years of his life on top of a column on the barren mountain of Galesion.
The vita of Lazaros, here translated into English for the first time, was written shortly after his death by a disciple, Gregory the Cellarer. The vita makes it clear that Lazaros’s reputation was questioned during his lifetime and reveals the existence of a sometimes startling hostility toward him on the part of local church officials, neighboring monasteries, and even his own monks. It is a refreshing piece of hagiography that provides a fascinating and unusual glimpse into the dynamics of the making, or breaking, of a holy man’s reputation.