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

NOW this man Ammonius and his three brothers [i.e., Dioscorus, Eusebius, and Euthymius, who were called the “Tall Brothers” by Sozomen] and his two sisters were disciples of Rabbâ Pambô; and when they had attained unto the perfection of divine life and conversation they departed from the desert, and founded two monasteries, I mean, one for men and one for women, but they placed the monastery of the women at a sufficient distance from that of the men, for Ammonius did not greatly love the intercourse of speech. It was for this reason that a certain city desired that he should be its bishop, and the people thereof drew nigh unto the blessed man Timothy, Bishop of Alexandria, and entreated him to make the blessed Ammonius their bishop; and Timothy [who sat from 381–385] told them to bring Ammonius unto him and that he would make him their bishop. Then they took with them much people, and they went unto Ammonius to bring him, and when he saw them he tried to find means to take to flight. But when he saw that he was unable to escape from them, he tried to persuade them, with many oaths, that he would not accept it, but he was unable to make them give up their intention. And when they would not be persuaded by him, he seized a razor and cut off his left ear at the root, and said unto them, “Now I am indeed persuaded that I cannot be that which ye are urging me to be, for the Law also commandeth, ‘The man whose ear hath been cut off shall not draw nigh unto the altar’ ” (Leviticus 26:17); so they left him and went and informed the Bishop, who said unto them, “This law is observed among the Jews, but even if his nose was split and he had fine qualities I would make him Bishop.” Then the people went to Ammonius again and entreated him [to come], and when the pious man would not be persuaded by them, they wanted to take him and to make him come by force; but he said unto them, “If ye do [not] leave me I will also slit my tongue”; and when they heard this they left him and departed.

Concerning this man Ammonius so wonderful a thing as the following is said. Whenever a carnal thought entered his mind he never spared his body, but he would make a piece of iron hot on the fire and lay it upon his members, so that they might always be in a state of wounds. From his youth up his rule was as follows: whatsoever had been cooked by fire he would never eat. He could repeat the books of the Old and New Testaments by heart, and he used to read also the books [which were composed by] excellent men, by Origen, and by Didymus, and by Pierius, and by Stephen [containing] about ten thousand six hundred sayings; concerning this the great fathers who lived in the desert bear witness. It is also said that this man possessed the power of foretelling events, and living in his cell he was so great a comforter to the brethren who lived in the desert that no other man could be compared with him. Now the blessed Evagrius, who was clothed with the spirit, and was skilled in examining thoughts, used to say, “I never saw any man who had attained more closely unto impassibility than Ammonius.”

Once a certain need of those who were dwelling in the desert called the blessed man Ammonius, and Rufinus who was at that time the prefect [also] greatly persuaded him, and he went up to Constantinople. And with him there were also the holy bishops, and other monks who had come from various provinces [to be present] at the service of restoration of a certain martyrium which Rufinus had built. And Rufinus wished him to receive him after holy baptism at the service of restoration of the temple which he had built, and so the blessed man received him from the bishops who had baptized him. Thus, as was right, Rufinus paid to the blessed man Ammonius the honour which is due to a life of asceticism, and he used to listen to him in everything; and after a short time he died and was buried in the martyrium which is called the “martyrium of Rufinus,” and many helpful acts took place at his grave on behalf of those who [were worthy] of help.








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