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The Lausiac History Of Palladius by Palladius Of Galatia

[1] BUT I must not omit from my story those also whose life has been characterized by pride, that I may praise those who have remained true and ensure the safety of my readers. There was a virgin at Alexandria of humble exterior but haughty inward disposition, exceedingly wealthy, but never giving an obol either to a stranger or a virgin or a church or a poor man. In spite of the frequent exhortations of the fathers she was not weaning herself from material things. [2] Now she had relations living, one of whom, her sister’s daughter, she adopted, and night and day she kept promising the girl should have her money, having fallen away from her aspirations after heaven. For this is a form of the deceit of the devil, who afflicts us with pangs of avarice under the pretext of family affection. For it is common knowledge that he cares nothing about family ties, since he teaches men to murder brothers and mothers and fathers. [3] But even if he seems to inspire anxiety for relations, he does not do so from benevolent feelings towards them, but to practise the soul in unrighteousness, knowing the decree: “The unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” Now it is quite possible for a man without neglecting his own soul to be influenced by a godly consideration and give assistance to his kinsfolk if they are in want. But when a man subordinates his whole soul to the interests of his relations, he comes under this law, reckoning his soul “unto vanity.” [4] But the sacred psalmist sings thus concerning those who care for their soul with fear: “Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?”—meaning (it is) rarely (any one does)—“or who shall stand up in his holy place? He that has clean hands and is pure in heart, who did not lift up his soul unto vanity.” For as many as neglect the virtues, these lift up the soul unto vanity, believing that it is dissolved with the body.

[5] Wishing to bleed this virgin, so the story goes, and thus relieve her of her avarice, the most holy Macarius, the priest and superintendent of the hospital for cripples, devises this expedient. In his youth he had been a worker in precious stones—what they call a lapidary. So he goes and says to her: “Some precious stones, emeralds and sapphires, have fallen by fate into my hands, and I cannot say whether they are treasuretrove or stolen property. They have not been valued, since they are beyond price, but any one who has the money can buy them for five hundred pounds. [6] If you decide to take them, you can get back your five hundred pounds from one stone and use the rest for the adornment of your niece.” Excited (by his words) the virgin is caught by the bait and falls at his feet. “By your feet,” she says, “let no one else get them.” Then he invites her: “Come to my house and look at them.” But she had not the patience (for this), but flings down the five hundred pounds before him, saying: “You want them, take them. For I do not want to see the man who sells them.” [7] But he takes the five hundred pounds and gives them for the needs of the hospital. Time sped along and she was shy of reminding him (of the matter), for Macarius clearly had a great reputation in Alexandria, being a lover of God and charitable—he remained vigorous until he was a hundred, and we too passed some time with him. Finally, having found him in the church, she says to him: “I beg you, what decision have you come to about those stones for which I gave the five hundred pounds?” [8] But he answered thus: “The moment you gave me the money, I deposited it for the price of the stones. And if you would like to come and see them in the hospital—for there they are—come and look if they please you. If not, take back your money.” So she came, very willingly. Now the hospital had women on the first floor and men on the ground floor. And having taken her there he brings her into the porch and says to her: “Which do you want to see first, the sapphires or the emeralds?” She says to him: “As you please.” [9] He takes her to the upper floor and shows her the women disabled in hand or feet with their disfigured faces and says to her: “Behold your sapphires!” Then he takes her down again and says to her, showing her the men: “Behold your emeralds! Do they please you? If not, take back your money.” So she turned and went out, and returning home fell ill from excess of grief, because she had not done this thing in a godly fashion. Afterwards she thanked the priest, when the maid for whom she was planning died childless after marriage.








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