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

IN the ancient book which was ascribed to Hippolytus, who knew the Apostles, I have found the following history written:—There was a certain woman who was of noble birth and beautiful in her face, and who came from the city of the Corinthians, and who continued to live in a state of virginity, and certain people laid an accusation against her before the governor, who was a heathen, at the time of the persecution [of the Christians], and calumniated her, saying, “She hath abused the Government and the Emperors, she hath uttered blasphemies against the gods (i.e., the idols), she hath treated the sacrifices with contempt”; such were the lying words which the wicked men concocted [about her], because they had been led captive by her beauty. Now because the governor was more addicted than they all to lasciviousness, he accepted such calumnies as those, and he became mad with desire like lustful stallions, even as it is written, “He was inflamed by lust” (Jeremiah 5:8).

And having tried to seduce her by means of cunning schemes of every kind, and being unable to do so, he became furious with her and handed her over to be punished, not by means of stripes and scourgings, but he wanted to make her earn her living by fornication. And he commanded the man unto whom he had delivered her to collect daily from the money which should be paid to her for hire three darics and to bring them to him; and this man, in order that he might not make use of the command in any sluggish manner, and that he might not lose money and also make the governor exceedingly angry, set her up as a gift before all those who wished [to have her]. Now, therefore, when those who were as keen in their lust for the maiden as are hawks for a snared sparrow perceived those things, they thronged into the tavern of destruction (i.e., brothel), and having given money unto the man to whom the virgin had been delivered, they drew nigh unto her and spoke unto her such things as [they thought] would be helpful to their intentions. But the virgin, who was wise among women, urged them on with blandishments in a gladsome manner, and strengthened her mind in the hope of Him for whom she had guarded her virginity, and she made petitions unto them, saying, “I have a hidden sore in a certain place, and the smell of its running is exceedingly strong; and I am afraid that after ye have embraced me it will bring you to hate me and that your souls will loathe me. I therefore beseech you to wait a few days until I am well again, and [then] ye shall have the power to do whatsoever ye like with me for nothing.”

And having with suchlike words dismissed them, she offered up unto God during those days with her whole heart prayers, and supplications, and bowings to the ground that He would help her, and that she might be saved and delivered from such hateful destruction as this, and that she might be kept in a state of unsullied virginity. Then God seeing her chastity sent a fervent longing [for her] into a certain young man [called] Magistrianus, who was wholly excellent, both in mind and in body, and it burned like fire even unto death. And he went as it were in a lustful passion, and at the time of evening he entered the house of the man who had been commanded to receive the money, and he gave him five darics, and said unto him, “Let me be with the virgin this night”; and he permitted him to be with her. Then having gone into the place which was her sleeping room, he said unto her, “Rise up and save thyself.” And having stripped off her apparel, and dressed her in his own clothes, and covered her with his cloak, and completed her attire after the manner of that of a man, he said unto her, “Muffle up thy head in the hood of the cloak, and go forth,” and having done this she signed herself with the sign of the Cross, and went forth. And at the turn of the day the fraud became known, and Magistrianus was delivered up and was cast to the beasts. Thus was the evil Devil put to shame because that martyr, who is worthy of admiration, was able to crown himself with the two crowns of a double martyrdom, one on behalf of himself, and one on behalf of that blessed woman.








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