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

AND we saw also another Abbâ whose name was Apellen, and he had persevered in the sternest and most austere ascetic labours with the brethren who were by his side, from his youth up; and on several occasions he carried fire in his bosom, and stirred up the brethren to give a manifestation also of the miracles [which] they could [work], and he said unto them, “If ye are, in very truth, servants of God, makemanifest forthwith glorious miracles.” And whensoever he was by himself in the desert, and the desire to eat honey rose up in him, straightway he would find a honeycomb on a rock, and he used to say, “Get thee gone from me, O evil desire, for it is written, ‘Ye shall walk in the spirit, and ye shall not perform the lust of the flesh’ ” (Galatians 5:16); and then he would leave the honeycomb [on the rock] and depart. And again, when he had fasted for three weeks in the desert, and he found some fruit which had been blown down, he answered and said, “I will neither taste nor touch it, lest I make to offend my brother, that is to say, myself. For it is written that ‘man liveth not by bread alone’ ” (St. Matthew 4:4). Then he fasted another week also, and he slept a little, and an angel came unto him in a dream, and said unto him, “Rise up, and take as much as thou canst, and eat [it].” Then he rose up, and looked round about him, and he saw a fountain of water, and roots, which were exceedingly to be desired, were growing round it; and when he had drunk [some] water, and had eaten [some] green herbs, he said, “There is nothing so sweet and pleasant as this anywhere.” Now he found in that country a little cave, and he dwelt therein for a few days without any food, and when he began to feel an hungered, he knelt down, and prayed, and straightway he found his food placed by his side, that is to say, hot bread, and olives, and fruits of various kinds.

And from time to time he used to visit the brethren who lived near him in the desert, and he admonished them frequently. On one occasion he was very anxious to go to his own desert, and to carry there such things as were necessary for him of the blessings (i.e., gifts) which the brethren had given him, and as he was going along the way he saw some goats feeding and he said unto them, “In the Name of Jesus Christ, let one of you carry this load”; and straightway one of them came, and he placed his hands upon [its back], and bowed himself, and sat upon it, and he arrived at his cave in one day.

On another occasion the blessed man spread out his bread in the sun, and the wild animals came according to their custom to the fountain of water [where it was], and any animal which approached the bread died.

And on another occasion he went to certain monks on the first day of the week, and he saw that they were ceasing to perform the service of the Holy Mysteries, and he blamed them, saying, “Why do ye not perform your service?” And they said unto him, “Because no priest hath come unto us from over the river”; and he said unto them, “I will go after him, and call him.” Then they made answer unto him, saying, “It is impossible for any man to cross over the river, both on account of its depth, and because of the crocodiles which destroy human beings”; but he went a little distance and came to the place where the river was usually crossed, and he seated himself fearlessly upon the back of a crocodile, and passed over [to the other side]. And having gone and found the priest, he entreated him not to neglect the brethren, and when the priest saw that Apellen was dressed in old and ragged garments, he marvelled at his humility, and at the poorness of his apparel; and he clung to him, and followed him to the cave. Now when they came [to the river] and found no boat to take them over, the blessed man Apellen cried out with a loud voice to that crocodile, which straightway heard him and came to him, and it made ready its back before the holy man to sit upon; and the blessed man entreated the priest to sit with him and pass over to the other side, but when the priest saw the crocodile, he was afraid, and he returned to his own place. And the brethren, who were dwelling in the mountain on the other side of the river, feared when they saw the blessed man sitting in the water on the back of the crocodile; and as soon as he had crossed over on to dry land, and had come up [out of the water], he slew the crocodile, saying, “Death is better for thee than punishment for the souls which thou hast already slain, and wouldst slay”; and the animal died straightway.

And Apellen remained with the brethren three days, and he sat and taught them the commandments, and the thoughts which one of them had secretly he made clear and plain before them, saying, “This man is vexed by lust, and this man by love of vainglory, and this by evil dislike, and this by pride, and this by arrogance, and this by envy, and this by boasting, and this by anger, and this by greediness, and this by avarice; and this man is humble, and this man is straight, and these men are praiseworthy and good, and these are bad and rebellious.” And he admonished [them] and shewed forth [these things], and when the brethren heard them they marvelled, for in very truth it was even as [he had said].

And he also said, “Prepare for us a meal of garden herbs, for many brethren are coming to us,” and when they had prepared them, the brethren came, and they saluted each other; and one of them entreated him to let him be with him in the desert, and the blessed man said unto him, “Thou art not able to endure the temptations of devils,” and at length the brother said, “I can bear everything.” Then having received him Abbâ Apellen commanded him to dwell in a cave by the side of him. But the devils came by night and sought to strangle him. Now first of all they troubled him sorely with filthy thoughts, and that brother fled, and departed from the cave. And when he had shewn all these things to the blessed Apellen, the Abbâ set out and made for him an abode at a distance, and he commanded them to there live without fear.

And on a certain occasion when they were in the cave they lacked bread, and an angel in the form of a brother brought them food, and once, when ten of the brethren had been seeking him by another way, and had found him after they had been fasting for seven days, he commanded them to come in and to rest and refresh themselves in his cave; and when they reminded him about the food, he said unto them, “God is able to prepare for us food in the wilderness,” and immediately an angel of God in the form of a beautiful youth stood and knocked at the door whilst they were praying; and they opened the door, and [found there] a youth carrying a large basket wherein were bread and olives, and they took it from him, and ate therefrom, and gave thanks unto God, and the youth removed himself from them. These and many other wonderful things were performed by the blessed Apellen.

Here end the Triumphs of Apellen








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