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The Lausiac History Of Palladius by Palladius Of Galatia

[1] THERE was a certain John in Lycopolis, who in his childhood learned the trade of carpentering—he had a brother a dyer. Later, when he was about twenty-five years old, he renounced the world. And having lived in various monasteries for five years he retired by himself to the mountain of Lyco, where he made himself three cells on the actual summit and went in and immured himself. One chamber was for his bodily needs, and another where he worked and ate, and the third where he prayed. [2] Having completed thirty years thus immured, and receiving the necessaries of life through a window from one who ministered to him, he was counted worthy of the gift of predictions. Among other instances he sent various predictions to he blessed emperor Theodosius, one concerning Maximus the tyrant, that he would conquer him and return from the Gauls; similarly also he gave him good news about the tyrant Eugenius. His reputation as a virtuous man was widespread.

[3] When we were in the desert of Nitria—by we I mean myself and the blessed Evagrius and his companions—we were anxious to find out accurately, in what his virtue consisted. Then said the blessed Evagrius: “Gladly would I be learning what kind of man he is, from some one who knows how to test character and speech. For if I am unable to see him myself, but can hear accurately from another’s description the details of his manner of life, then I will not go so far as the mountain.” I heard, and saying nothing to anyone kept silence for one day; but the next day, having closed my cell and committed myself and it to God, I hastened away to the Thebaid. [4] And I arrived after eighteen days, having gone partly on foot, and partly by boat on the river. But it was the time of the flood, when many are ill; which was also my experience. Well, I went and found the vestibule of his cell closed; for the brethren built on later a very large vestibule holding about 100 men, and shutting it with a key they opened it on Saturday and Sunday. So, having learned the reason why it was closed, I waited quietly till the Saturday. And having come at the second hour for an interview I found him sitting by the window, through which he seemed to be exhorting his visitors. [5] So, after greeting me, he said through an interpreter: “Whence are you? and why have you come? For I conjecture that you belong to the convent of Evagrius.” I said: “I am a stranger who started out from Galatia.” And I confessed that I belonged to Evagrius’ society. Meanwhile, as we talked, the ruler of the district came up, Alypius by name. He turned to him and left off talking with me. So I retired a little and gave way to them, standing some way off. As their conversation lasted a long time, I became disgusted, and in my disgust I murmured against the good old man, since he despised me and honoured him. [6] And annoyed in mind at this, I formed the plan of going away, disdaining him. But having called his interpreter, named Theodore, he said to him: “Go, tell that brother, ‘Do not be petty-minded. I am just going to dismiss the ruler and talk to you.’ ” So I resolved to wait patiently, attending to him as a spiritual man. And when the ruler had gone, he called me and said to me: “Why are you vexed with me? What did you find worthy of blame, that you thought those things that neither applied to me nor befitted you? Or do you not know that it is written: ‘They that are whole need not a physician, but they that are sick’? I find you when I want you, and you me. And if I do not console you, there are other brethren to console you and other fathers. But this man is delivered up to the devil through his worldly affairs and, having respite for a brief hour, like a servant run away from his master, he has come to receive benefit. It would have been absurd that we should leave him and attend to you, when you have uninterrupted leisure to attend to your salvation.” So I exhorted him to pray for me and was fully convinced that he was a spiritual man. [8] Then, having affectionately slapped my left cheek gently with his right hand, he said to me: “Many afflictions are in store for you, and many times have you been tempted to leave the desert. And you have been timid and have deferred (a decision). But the demon by providing you with pious and specious excuses unsettles you. For he suggested to you both a longing to see your father, and the instruction of your brother and sister with a view to the monastic life. [9] Behold then, I give you good news: both are saved, for both have renounced the world. And as regards your father, at this very moment he still has other years to live. So continue in the desert and do not wish on their account to go home to your native land, for it is written: ‘No man having put his hand to the plough and turning back is fit for the kingdom of heaven.’ ” So, benefited by these words and sufficiently corrected, I thanked God, having learned that the pretexts which were driving me were finished with.

[10] Then again he said to me graciously: “Do you want to become a bishop?” I said to him: “I am one.” He said to me: “Where?” I said: “(I am bishop) over the kitchens, the shops, the tables and the pots. I am their bishop, and if there is any sharp wine I excommunicate it, but I drink the good. Similarly, I am bishop over the pot too; and if salt or any seasoning is lacking, I throw it in and season (the pot) and then I eat it. This is my bishopric, for gluttony ordained me.” [11] He said to me with a smile: “Stop your jokes. You have to be ordained bishop, and toil much and be afflicted. If then you would escape afflictions, depart not from the desert. For in the desert no man can ordain you bishop.”

So I left him and went into the desert to my accustomed place, and told these things to the blessed fathers, who after two months went by boat and met him. But I forgot his words, for after three years I fell ill with an illness of the spleen and stomach. [12] I was sent by the brethren from the monastery to Alexandria, under treatment for dropsy. The doctors advised me to betake myself from Alexandria to Palestine for the sake of the air. For (Palestine) has light airs, such as befit our constitution. From Palestine I came to Bithynia, and there—I know not how, whether from human zeal or from the good pleasure of Him Who is more powerful, God would know—I was counted worthy of the laying-on of hands, so much above my deserts, having become embroiled in the disturbance connected with the blessed John. [13] And for eleven months hidden in a gloomy cell I remembered that blessed man, that he had foretold these things which I endured. And indeed he told me this, designing by his tale to lead me to endure the desert. “Forty years have I spent in the cell. I have not seen the face of woman nor the appearance of money. I have seen no one chewing, nor has any one seen me eating or drinking.”

[14] When Pœmenia the servant of God came to interview him, he did not meet her, but he had a number of secret matters told to her. And he enjoined her, when she went down from the Thebaid not to turn aside to Alexandria, “for you will fall into temptation.” But she, thinking differently, or forgetting, turned aside to Alexandria to see the city. But on the way she moored her boats near Niciopolis to rest. [15] So her servants went on shore and after some disorderly behaviour had a fight with the people of the place, who were desperate characters. They cut off the finger of one eunuch and murdered another, and even threw Dionysius the most holy bishop into the river, not recognizing him, and after wounding all the other servants, loaded the lady herself with insults and threats.








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