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

AND we also saw another holy man in the region of ‘Or (or Akûr, i.e., Acre), whose name was also Apollo, who was a righteous man; his handicraft was originally that of a blacksmith, but he had been converted to the way of truth, and he laboured afterwards in the service of the brethren, and supplied their needs. And on one occasion Satan came unto him in the form of a woman, who appeared to be anxious to work in the service of the brethren, and the blessed man happened at the time to be working at his trade, and he took up the red-hot iron and thrust it into the woman’s face, and burned it so severely that she shrieked out, and the brethren who were in the chambers heard her cries. And from that time forward the blessed man was able to hold red-hot iron in his hands without being hurt. And this man also received us, and gave us refreshment, and he related unto us the histories of the men who had lived with him in that country, and of those who still lived there, and said:—

There is in this desert one of our brethren whose name is John, who is now exceedingly old, and whose works of ascetic excellence are superior to those of all the other monks in the country. No man can find him at once, because he wandereth about from place to place in the desert. During the early period [of his life] he stood for three whole years praying, and he never sat down or went to sleep, but he was in the habit of snatching a little sleep as he stood. A certain priest used to bring him the Offering (i.e., sacramental bread) from Sunday to Sunday, and besides that he ate nothing. And one day the devil stood up in the form of a priest, and was exceedingly anxious to bring him a woman, but as soon as the blessed John had recognized him, he said unto him, “Out upon thee, O thou who art full of guile, thou father of all falsehood, thou enemy of all righteousness! Wilt thou never cease to lead astray the souls of Christians? And dost thou dare to trample underfoot even the Holy Mysteries?” Then the Devil said unto him, “A very little more, and I should have been master over thee in thy fall, for thus have I led many a man astray, and I have driven him out of his mind and made him mad, but when many holy men made supplication to God on his behalf in their prayers, he came back to his senses.” And having said these things unto him the Devil departed from him. Now the legs of the blessed man burst open because of standing over much upon them, and a discharge of water and pus ran from them; but the angel [of the Lord] drew nigh unto him and said, “The Lord shall be thy meat and the Holy Spirit thy drink, and thou mayest be certain that this spiritual food shall suffice for thee.” And having healed his wounds he made him to pass from that place. Then the blessed man went about in the desert and fed himself upon roots, and he used to come Sunday by Sunday to his place and partake of the Holy [Offering].

Now a certain man who was paralysed wished to go to him and be healed, and immediately his legs touched the back of the ass which he was going to ride, through his faith only they were healed, before the holy man had offered up even a prayer on his behalf. On one occasion the holy man John begged the priest who ministered unto him to bring him a few palm leaves, as it were for pleasure, and he brought them to him, and the blessed man plaited them together; and the priest took some of the plaits and made a girth of them for his ass. Now there was a certain paralytic who wished to go to the blessed man and be healed, and he entreated the priest to carry him to him; and the priest took him and set him upon the ass, and immediately his legs touched the back of the ass which he was going to ride and the girth which the blessed man John had plaited, through his faith only they were healed, before the holy man had offered up even a prayer on his behalf. (Such is the story as told in another manuscript.) On another occasion he sent a gift (or blessing) to those who were ill, and immediately they had tasted it they were healed of their sicknesses.

And on another occasion it was revealed to him that some of the brethren of his monasteries were not upright in their lives and works; and he wrote an epistle to them all, and accused the elders of being negligent, and the brethren of running after adulation, and it was known that this really was so. And he wrote also to the fathers who were neglectful, and who held lightly the salvation of the brethren who were with them, and he told the others to amend their lives, and to make their deeds better, and he revealed [to them] also how that a reward (or penalty) was laid up for both groups of them. And he called the others to perfection in the spiritual life and its works, and he reminded them that they must neglect the things which are visible, and follow after those which are invisible. “For it is time that we shewed forth the manner of our life and the works thereof, and it is meet that we should not pass the whole period of our lives [as] children and youths, but we must draw nigh unto the perfection of knowledge, and take up our stand upon the majesty of [its] glory.” These and many other things did our father, the holy man Apollo, relate to us concerning the blessed John, and we marvelled at the greatness thereof. Now we have not written them all down, not because they were not true, but because of the want of faith of various men; but we ourselves believe them to be true, and we are fully persuaded that they are so, because those who related unto us the wonderful things of his life and deeds had certainly seen them with their own eyes, and these men were both numerous and great.

Here end the Triumphs of Abba John and of Apollo who dwelt in the Desert








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