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The Paradise Of The Holy Fathers Volumes 1 and 2 by Saint Athanasius Of Alexandria

AND we saw also another wonderful man whose name was Abbâ Hôr, now he was the Abbâ of one thousand monks, and he had an angelic form and was about ninety years of age; his beard flowed down over his breast, and it was white and beautiful, and his countenance was so glorious that those that saw him were reproved by the sight thereof only. And this blessed man had for a very long time lived a life of the utmost austerity at a remote place in the desert, but subsequently he took certain monasteries in the desert which was near Shainâ, and gathered together a brotherhood, and he planted so many wild trees at that spot that they formed a dense wood in the wilderness. For the fathers who lived with him there said that before this man came there from the desert there was not even a shrub in the place; now he planted these trees in order to fill a want, and to prevent the brethren who were gathered together to him from being troubled by searching for wood. And in his prayer to God he took the same pains and strove that all the needs of the brethren might be supplied, so that they would only have to be anxious about their redemption, and that nothing which they used might be wanting for them, [so that they might have no excuse for negligence]. When formerly the blessed man lived in the desert of Dalgâw he used to eat roots and herbs, and to drink water when he was able, and he passed the whole time of his life in prayer and praise; but when he arrived at complete old age, an angel appeared unto him in a dream, in the desert, and said, “Thou shall become a great race, and shalt be set in authority over a numerous people, and those who shall be saved through thee shall be ten myriads [in number], and thou shalt be a governor in the new world, and above every one else in the world thou shalt have life. And,” said the angel unto him, “fear not, for thou shalt never be in want of food, whensoever thou criest unto thy God, until the day of thy departure from this world.”

And having heard these things the blessed Abbâ Hôr journeyed on his way diligently and came to the desert which is nigh unto Shainâ, and first of all he lived there by himself in a little tabernacle (or booth), which he made, and he fed upon garden herbs soaked in vinegar, and on several occasions he ate only once a week. And because originally he had no knowledge of letters, when he rose up to go forth from the desert into Shainâ, the knowledge of the Holy Books was given unto him by Divine Grace so fully that he was able to repeat all the Scriptures by heart; and when he had come [to Shainâ] and a book was given unto him by the brethren to read, he read it forthwith as if he were a man who had been always acquainted with books. And there was added unto him also the gracious gift of being able to cast out devils, and many of them came to him by the constraint [of this gift], against their wills, and would shriek out through his acts. And he wrought so many other cures so often that from all sides there were gathered together unto him brethren who lived in monasteries, one thousand in number.

And when the man of God saw us, he rejoiced in us, and saluted us, and straightway he offered up a prayer; and he washed our feet with his own hands, and began to teach us, for he was exceedingly well acquainted with the Scriptures, even as a man who had received the gift from God, and he expounded to us many chapters of the Scriptures, and delivered to us the orthodox faith; moreover, he urged us to prayer, and to partake of the Mysteries. For it was the habit of all the great monks not to give food to their bodies until they had offered spiritual sustenance to their souls, that is to say, the participation in the Body and Blood of Christ. And having partaken of the Mysteries we gave thanks unto God, and he urged us [to come] to the table of food, and he called to our recollection the ascetic lives of noble men, and said, “I know a certain man in this desert who for three years past hath not eaten anything which is of this earth, but an angel cometh to him once in three days, and bringeth him heavenly food and placeth it in his mouth, and this sufficeth him instead of meat and drink. And I know that there came to this man in a lying vision devils who were in the forms of horses and chariots of fire and numerous horsemen, as if they had come from a king, and they said unto him, ‘Thou hast become perfect in everything, O man, but now, bow down and worship me, and I will take thee up [to heaven] like Elijah.’ Then the monk said in his mind, ‘I worship the King and Redeemer every day, and if this creature were [a king] he would not ask me to worship him now.’ And when he had said unto him that which was in his mind, ‘I have a King, and I worship Him always, and thou art not a king,’ immediately the Devil removed himself and was no more found.” Now Abbâ Hôr told us these things because he wished to conceal his own rules and manner of life, and to tell us stories about those of other monks, but the fathers who were always with him told us that it was Abbâ Hôr himself who had seen these things.

Now this man was more glorious in his life than very many of the fathers. And because of the multitude of the monks who came to him he used to call the brethren who were with him, to come to make houses for the new comers each day; some of the brethren spread the mud, and others brought the bricks, and others cut down the wood, and when their building was finished, he would supply the needs of those who came. On one occasion a lying brother who had hidden his clothes came to him, but the blessed man rebuked him before every man, and brought his clothes into the light, so that as a result of this [exposure] no man might in future dare to tell a lie in his presence. Now the beauty of his life and deeds made him so glorious that he was able to gather together very many monks to him, and one saw the congregation of the monks with him in the church like a band of righteous men who were splendid in their garb, and they glorified God with praises continually.

Here end the Triumphs of Abba Hor








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