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The Lausiac History Of Palladius by Palladius Of Galatia

[1] SO then, after my visit to the monasteries round Alexandria with their 2000 or so most noble and zealous members and my three years sojourn there, I left them and went to the mountain of Nitria. Between this mountain and Alexandria lies the lake called Maria seventy miles in extent. Having sailed across this I came to the mountain on its south side in a day and a half. [2] Next to this mountain lies the great desert which stretches as far as Ethiopia and the Mazicæ and Mauretania. On the mountain live some 5000 men with different modes of life, each living in accordance with his own powers and wishes, so that it is allowed to live alone, or with another, or with a number of others. There are seven bakeries in the mountain, which serve the needs both of these men and also of the anchorites of the great desert, 600 in all. [3] So, having dwelt on the mountain for a year and having received much benefit from the blessed fathers Arsisius the Great and Poutoubastes and Asion and Cronius and Sarapion, and having been spurred on by hearing their many tales about the fathers, I penetrated into the innermost desert. In this mountain of Nitria there is a great church, by which stand three palm-trees, each with a whip suspended from it. One is intended for the solitaries who transgress, one for robbers if any pass that way, and one for chance comers; so that all who transgress and are judged worthy of blows are tied to the palm-tree and receive on the back the appointed (number of stripes) and are then released. [4] Next to the church is a guest-house, where they receive the stranger who has arrived, until he goes away of his own accord, without limit of time, even if he remains two or three years. Having allowed him to spend one week in idleness, the rest of his stay they occupy with work either in the garden, or bakery, or kitchen. If he should be an important person, they give him a book, not allowing him to talk to any one before the hour. In this mountain there also live doctors and confectioners. And they use wine and wine is on sale. [5] All these men work with their hands at linen-manufacture, so that all are self-supporting. And indeed at the ninth hour it is possible to stand and hear how the strains of psalmody rise from each habitation so that one believes that one is high above the world in Paradise. They occupy the church only on Saturday and Sunday. There are eight priests who serve the church, in which, so long as the senior priest lives, no one else celebrates, or preaches, or gives decisions, but they all just sit quietly by his side.

[6] This Arsisius and many other old men with him whom we saw were contemporaries of the blessed Antony. Some among them, they told me, had also known Amoun of Nitria, whose soul Antony saw being taken up and conducted to heaven hy angels. Arsisius used to say that he also knew Pachomius of Tabennisi, a prophet and archimandrite over 3000 men, of whom I shall speak later.








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