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The Lausiac History Of Palladius by Palladius Of Galatia

[1] I HESITATE either to speak or write the many great and incredible events that happened in connection with those famous men, the two Macarii, lest I should incur the suspicion of being a liar; indeed the Holy Spirit has declared that “the Lord destroys all them that speak falsehood.” So do not disbelieve me, most believing one, for I am not lying. Of these Macarii the one was an Egyptian by race, the other an Alexandrian, a seller of sweetmeats.

[2] First of all I will tell of the Egyptian, who lived a full ninety years. Of these he spent sixty in the desert, having retired there as a young man of thirty. And he was counted worthy to possess such great discernment that he was called the “aged youth.” Because of this also he made the quicker progress. For when he was forty years old he received grace to contend against the evil spirits both by healing and forecasting the future. Also he was counted worthy of the priesthood.

[3] He had two disciples with him in the inner desert called Scete. There was always one of them at his service near at hand because of those that came to be healed, while the other rested in an adjoining cell. After some time had elapsed, having seen into the future with prophetic eye, he said to the man who waited on him, named John, who afterwards became a priest in the place of Macarius himself: “Listen to me, brother John, and bear with my warning; for you are being tempted and the spirit of covetousness is tempting you. [4] I have seen this, and I know that if you will bear with me you will be perfected in this place and glorified, ‘neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling’; but if you will not listen to me, the end of Gehazi shall come upon you, of whose illness you are even now sick.” Now it came to pass when fifteen or twenty years had elapsed after the death of Macarius that he disobeyed, and accordingly after robbing the poor fund contracted elephantiasis, so that there was not found on his body a whole part, on which one could put his finger. So this is what the holy Macarius prophesied. [5] Now concerning eating and drinking it is superfluous to relate, seeing that not even among the indolent is it possible to find gluttony or carelessness in these regions, owing both to the scarcity of necessaries and the zeal of the inhabitants. But concerning the rest of his asceticism I do speak, for he was said to be in a continual ecstasy and to spend a far longer time with God than with things sublunary. The following marvels are told of him.

[6] A certain Egyptian, enamoured of a lady married to a husband, and being unable to seduce her, consulted a magician, saying: “Lead her to love me, or contrive that her husband reject her.” And the magician having received a sufficient sum, used magic spells and arranged for her to take the form of a mare. The husband having come in and seen her was surprised that a mare lay on his bed. He weeps and laments; he talks to the animal, but gets no reply. He calls in the priests of the village. [7] He brings them in, shows her to them, but does not discover what has happened. During three days she neither took fodder as a mare nor bread as a human being, thus deprived of both forms of nourishment. Finally, that God might be glorified and the virtue of the holy Macarius appear, it entered into her husband’s heart to take her into the desert. And having put a halter on her as upon a horse, he led her into the desert. When they came near, the brethren stood by the cell of Macarius, struggling with the woman’s husband and saying: [8] “Why did you bring this mare here?” He said to them: “That she may receive mercy.” They said to him: “What is the matter?” The husband answered them: “She was my wife and was turned into a mare, and to-day is the third day that she has tasted nothing.” They referred the matter to the saint, who was praying within. For God had revealed the matter to him and he was praying for her. The holy Macarius therefore answered the brethren and said to them: “You are horses, since you have the eyes of horses. [9] For she is a woman and has not been transformed, except in the eyes of deluded men.” And he blessed water, and pouring it from the head downwards on to her bare skin he prayed. And immediately he made her appear to all as a woman. Then giving her food he made her eat and sent her away with her husband thanking the Lord. And he advised her thus: “Never give up the church, never stay away from the Communion. For these things happened to you because you did not attend the mysteries for five weeks.”

[10] Here is another example of his asceticism. He made in the course of time a tunnel running under the ground from his cell for half a stade and finished it off at the end with a cave. And if ever a crowd of people troubled him, he would leave his cell secretly and go away to the cave and no one would find him. Now one of his zealous disciples told us this, and said that he used to say twenty-four prayers on his way to the cave and twenty-four as he returned.

[11] A report was prevalent concerning him that he raised a dead man, in order to persuade a heretic who did not acknowledge that there was a bodily resurrection. And this report was current in the desert.

Once a young man possessed with a devil was brought to him by his lamenting mother, bound to two young men. And the devil had this method of working. After eating three bushels of bread and drinking a beaker of water, he would belch out the food and dissolve it into vapour, for in this way what had been eaten and drunk was dissolved as it were by fire. [12] For there is a class (of demons) called fiery. Since there are differences among demons, as also among men, not of nature but of character. This young man then, not receiving enough food from his mother, often ate his own dirt and drank his own water. As then his mother wept and implored the saint, he took the lad and prayed over him beseeching God. And after a day or two, the malady having eased a little, the holy Macarius said to her: [13] “How much do you want him to eat?” She replied: “Ten pounds of bread.” So having rebuked her, saying this was too much, and having prayed over him with fasting for seven days, he put him on to (a regime) of three pounds, with obligation to work. And so having cured him he restored him to his mother. And this wonder God wrought through Macarius. I never met him, for he had fallen asleep a year before my entry into the desert.








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