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The Lausiac History Of Palladius by Palladius Of Galatia

[1] THERE was another monk, Sarapion, and he was surnamed the Sindonite, for apart from a sindon (loincloth) he never wore clothes. He practised great detachment from possessions and, being well educated, knew all the Scriptures by heart. And through his great detachment and his meditation on the Scriptures he was unable to remain calmly in the cell; not because he was distracted by material things, yet none the less he travelled up and down the world and perfected this type of asceticism. For he was born with this nature; for there are differences of natures, not of substances.

[2] The fathers used to relate how, taking an ascetic as his accomplice, he sold himself to some Greek actors in a certain city for twenty pieces of money. And having sealed up the money he kept it on his person. Then he stayed a long while and served as slave to the actors who had bought him, until he both made them Christians and induced them to leave the stage. All the time he took nothing except bread and water, nor did his lips rest from expounding the Scriptures. [3] After a long period, first the man was stricken with compunction, then the actress, then the whole house. But it was said that as long as they did not know him he washed the feet of them both. So both were baptized and gave up the stage, and applying themselves to an honourable and pious life they revered the man exceedingly and said to him: “Here, brother, let us free you, since you yourself have freed us from disgraceful slavery.” He said to them: “Since God has wrought this, and your soul is saved, let me tell you the mystery of my conduct. [4] I pitied your soul, being myself an ascetic, a free man, an Egyptian by race, and I sold myself for this reason, that I might save you. But since God has done this, and your soul has been saved through my humiliation, take back your money, that I may go away and help others.” But they used many entreaties and assured him: “We will have you as father and master, only stay with us.” But they could not persuade him. Then they said to him: “Give the money to the poor, for it has been our first payment for salvation; but come and see us, if only once a year.”

[5] In the course of his incessant wanderings he came to Greece, and during a three days’ stay at Athens no one thought fit to give him bread; he carried no money, no purse, no sheep-skin coat—nothing of the kind. So when the fourth day came he was very hungry; for hunger unwillingly endured is terrible, if it has an ally in the fact that no one believes you. And standing on an eminence in the city, where the authorities were collecting, he began to lament violently, clapping his hands, and to call out: “Men of Athens, help!” [6] And all ran to him, wearers of the philosopher’s cloak and labourer’s smock alike, and said to him: “What is the matter? Whence are you? What ails you?” Said he to them: “By race I am an Egyptian. After I left my real country I fell in with three usurers. And two left me having got their debt in full, with no accusation to make. But one does not leave me.” So, inquiring minutely about the usurers in order that they might satisfy them, they asked him: “Where are they? and who are they? Who is it that troubles you? Show him to us that we may help you.” [7] Then he said to them: “From my youth covetousness and gluttony and fornication have troubled me. From two am I freed, covetousness and fornication; they trouble me no longer. But I cannot get free from gluttony. For this is the fourth day that I have not eaten, and my stomach continues troubling me and seeking its habitual debt without which I cannot live.” Then certain of the philosophers, supposing it to be acting, gave him money. And having received it he put it down in a baker’s shop, and having got one loaf he resumed his journey and left the city at once and never more returned to it. [8] Then the philosophers recognized that he was truly virtuous, and giving the baker the price of the bread they took the piece of money. But having come to the country where the Spartans live, he heard that one of the first men of the city was a Manichæan with all his house, though virtuous in other respects. To him again he sold himself as he had done at first; and within two years he induced him to forsake his heresy, and brought him to the Church and his wife also. Then they loved him no longer as a servant, but treated him as a true brother or father and glorified God.

[9] One day he flung himself into a vessel as if he had a right to sail to Rome. The sailors, thinking that either he had paid his fare or had the price of it in cash, received him without trouble, each thinking that another had taken his luggage. But when they had sailed away and got 500 stades from Alexandria the passengers began to eat about sundown, the sailors having eaten first. [10] They saw that he did not eat the first day, and expected it was because of the voyage; similarly on the second, third and fourth days. On the fifth day they saw him sitting quietly while all ate and said to him: “Why are you not eating, man?” He said to them: “Because I have nothing.” So they inquired one of another: “Who received his luggage or his fare?” [11] And when they found that no one had they began to attack him and say: “How did you come on without paying? From what source can you give us the fare? Or from what source can you get fed?” He said to them: “I have nothing. Pick me up and throw me where you found me.” But they would not willingly have relinquished their voyage, even for 100 gold pieces, but they wanted to get to their destination. So he remained in the ship and found that they fed him until (they got to) Rome.

[12] So having come to Rome he inquired who was a great ascetic in the city, man or woman. Among others he met also a certain Domninus, a disciple of Origen, whose bed healed sick persons after his death. So he met him and was benefited, for he was a man of refined manners and liberal education, and learning from him what other ascetics there were, male or female, he was told of a certain virgin who cultivated solitude and would meet no one. [13] And having learned where she lived he went off and said to the old woman who attended her: “Tell the virgin, ‘I must meet you, for God has sent me,’ ” So after waiting two or three days at last he met her, and said to her: “Why do you remain stationary?” She said to him: “I do not remain stationary, I am on a journey.” He said to her: “Where are you journeying?” Said she to him: “To God.” He said to her: “Are you alive or dead?” She said to him: “I trust in God that I am dead, for no one who lives to the flesh shall make that journey.” He said to her: “Then do what I do, that you may convince me that you are dead.” She said to him: “Order me possible things, and I will do them.” [14] He answered her: “All things are possible to a dead person except impiety.” Then he said to her: “Go out and appear in public.” She answered him: “This is the twenty-fifth year that has passed without my appearing in public. And why should I appear?” “If you are dead to the world,” said he to her, “and the world to you, it is all the same to you whether you appear or appear not. So appear in public.” She did so, and after she had appeared outside and gone as far as a church, he said to her in the church: “Now then, if you wish to convince me that you are dead and no longer live pleasing men, do what I do and I shall know that you are dead. [15] Follow my example and take off all your clothes, put them on your shoulders, go through the middle of the city with me leading the way in this fashion.” She said to him: “I should scandalize many by the unseemliness of the thing and they would be able to say, ‘She is mad and possessed by a demon.’ ” He answered her: “What does it concern you if they say, ‘She is mad and possessed by a demon?’ For you are dead to them.” Then she said to him: “If you want anything else I will do it; for I do not profess to have reached this stage.” [16] Then he said to her: “See then, no longer be proud of yourself as more pious than all others and dead to the world, for I am more dead than you and show by my act that I am dead to the world; for impassively and without shame I do this thing.” Then having left her in humility and broken her pride, he departed.

There are many other marvellous acts which he did in the direction of impassivity. He died in the sixtieth year of his age, and was buried at Rome itself.








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