A REPERTOIRE OF BYZANTINE

 

"BENEFICIAL TALES"

[διηγήσεις ψυχωφελε_ς]


 Table of Contents ] 1-99 ] 100-199 ] 200-299 ] 300-399 ] 400-499 ] 500-599 ] 600-699 ] 700-799 ] [ 800-899 ] 900-999 ]

 

NARRATIONES ANIMAE UTILES

précis 800-899

 

W800

Pl.19

W800

 

The "office" of Peter the Iberian

 

Forseeing the "treachery" of Juvenal, Patriarch of Jerusalem, Peter the Iberian closed himself in his cell and went into a state of being filled with the person of God, so that he spoke as though he were God, [much as in the improperia of Good Friday:] "I gave my son who died for you . . . and in return you tread my law underfoot and transgress my faith. . ." He repeated this "office" every day until the eve of the "transgression" of Chalcedon.

 
 

W801

Pl.20

W801

 

The two visions of Paul of Ganta

 

Abba Paul, priest of Ganta in Jerusalem, a property of [the Empress Athenaïs-] Eudocia, had two visions: first of a great plain in which there was an altar on a hill surrounded by a great light, and where a voice condemned dyophysitism; secondly, of Juvenal, all blackened.

 
 

W802

Pl.21

W802

 

The vision of Pamprepios of Titopolis

 

As he was leaving the Council of Chalcedon [in 451,] Pamprepios, Bishop of Titopolis, had a vision of a great strip of paper stretching from heaven to earth, inscribed on both sides in great letters: "Anathema to this council; they have denied me." He and his diocese remained faithful to the "old" faith.

 
 

W803

Pl.26

W803

 

The ulcer of the Patriarch Timothy

 

When he was in exile, the Patriarch Timothy had a bad ulcer on his foot which he refused to have treated. When he was pressed, he would draw attention to a scar on his eye and explain: One day he had seen a frightening person, all black ("like the prophet Job describes Satan") threatening him with a great book, which he demanded that Timothy sign. When he refused, the apparition dealt him a great blow on the eye, badly damaging it. Timothy refused treatment, having recourse to prayer. Jesus appeared to him, applied his hands and healed the eye, all but for a scar which was left as a reminder. Timothy believed that Christ had permitted the ulcer and that he would cure it when the right time came.

cf W025 W528; also Vita Antonii 1.38

 
 

W804

Pl.27

W804

 

The vision of Peter the scholarios

 

Peter, a member of the Imperial Guard [σχoλάριoς] was formerly pro-Chalcedon, then he had a vision. First he saw the Emperor Theodosios II [408-450] in a place filled with inaccessible light, but then he saw him in a place of smoke, obscurity and shadows. Nothing could be seen until "the men" prayed for the gloom to lift a little; then, there was the Emperor Marcian hanging on hooks of fire in the midst of the flames, prey to suffering. Thus Peter became a monophysite.

 
 

W805

Pl.28

W805

 

A martyr who rejected Chalcedon

 

There was a martyr's shrine in Cyprus whose name the writer has forgotten*. When one promised that martyr a sheep, a dove or whatever one usually does offer, he would make the animal come of its own volition to the temple. When the bishops returned from Chalcedon, he would appear publicly in the roads warning the people not to be taken in by them and saying that it was because of them that he had fled his shrine.

[* One MS supplies the name of Spyridon; cf Socrates, HE 1.12, PG 67:104. Another names the martyr Marcellus; PO 8:161.]

 
 

W806

Pl.29

W806

 

Constantine's vision of John the Baptist

 

Constantine was priest-custodian [παραμovάριoς] at the shrine of John the Baptist and Elisha at Sebasteia in Palestine. In a chapel apart were the two caskets [γλωσσόκoμoι] with a throne between them on which no man ever sat, but of which Constantine took particular care. For, he said, he often saw John the Baptist sitting there. He had to choose between apostatising [i.e. accepting Chalcedon] and leaving Saint John. The latter appeared to him and said, in effect, that he could take care of himself; so off went Constantine into exile.

 
 

W807

Pl.30

W807

 

Zosimos and the Patriarch Jacob

 

When Zosimos was staying at Jerusalem he was tempted to accept

Chalcedon and stay there. But the Patriarch Jacob appeared to him and warned him not to compromise, assuring him of all the necessities of life.

 

W808

Pl.33

W808

 

The death of Nestorios

 

Nestorios was living as an exile in the Thebaid when a messenger came to say he was recalled. He said: "So I was not mistaken to say Christ is not God and that Mary did not give birth to God," at which his tongue protruded and hung down from his mouth; and thus he died, one day before his recall.

[Editor notes that here is the origin of the legend that Nestorios died of cancer of the tongue, which is fully reported in Pl.36, extracted from Timothy of Alexandria: the tribune waits for Nestorios, too sick to travel, until death overtakes him.]

See also Evagrius, Theophanes &c.

cf W480

 

W809

Pl.35

W809

 

Basil the deacon and the Council of Ephesos

 

Basil the deacon came to Constantinople and publicly reproved Nestorios. He then called upon the Emperor Theodosios II to confess the Trinity in which he was baptised. For this he was severely beaten by Flavian the Thracian who was then the Governor. After that, he was at the Church of Saint Euphemia for a time: a brick fell on the head of Theodosios II and nearly killed him. In the night he saw one who told him it was only because of Basil that he had survived. Basil was summoned and, at his request, the Council of Ephesos [431] was called, at which Nestorios was deposed.

 
 

W810

Pl.810

W810

 

A vision of Peter the Iberian

 

Peter the Iberian [d. 491] said he had a vision when he lived in the palace at Constantinople as a child. Saint Peter took him to a high place and showed him a great light in the heaven which resembled the sun in shape (the Father,) then a second with the traits of a Nazarene (the Son) and thirdly, the Holy Spirit. Thus was explained to him the Divinity in three persons [hypostaseis.] He emphasised that it was only the second one of the three, the one that had human features, that was crucified.

 
 

W811

Pl.38

W811

 

Anianos' wife returned to life

 

Anianos the scholasticos [educated man or lawyer] had a good but dyophysite wife. She fell gravely ill. In a vision, angels led her into a dark, stinking place of tears where there was much weeping. Then they took her into a place of light and glory where the saints were singing praises. "These are of your husband's faith: the others are of yours," she was told. "If you want to be of the former, we will pray for a one-year extension of life for you." She accepted; the husband, already in black, joyfully welcomed her back to life and gave her some of his communion (which he kept by him.) She recovered -- and died one year later.

cf W713

 

W812

Pl.39

W812

 

Claudius the bursar [oikonomos]

 

Claudius, the bursar [oikonomos or epitropos] of the Church of Eleutheropolis, accepted the decisions of the Council of Chalcedon [451,] but remained good friends with abba Romanos, who did not. He fell gravely ill and was warned by a similar vision to the one in the former story (Pl.38 / W811, to which the writer merely refers) he had himself carried to the monastery of Romanos where he received monophysite communion. He lived only three days more.

 
 

W813

Pl.40

W813

 

Boniface and the reviving corpse

 

The Roman priest, Boniface, was strongly opposed to Chalcedon. Once he had a vision of stinking corpse before the Holy Sepulchre. Suddenly it was alive and ready to go. It handed a book to Boniface: a magnificent book, well decorated and so forth. But inside Boniface found it was full of obscenities. Interpretation: Juvenal was Nestorios returned to life.

 
 

W814

Pl.41

W814

 

The shameless deacon

 

After his day of duty at the Holy Sepulchre and the Holy Martyrion, a shameless deacon had a woman, then slept in a high chamber at Golgotha, as usual. The bed was covered with a carpet as it was summer. A voice came saying: "With what impurity has Juvenal filled my house. Throw out this corrupt creature !" Next morning, in spite of the fact that all the doors were closed, the deacon was found asleep in his bed before the holy Martyrion. When he was wakened, he confessed his sin to all and repented in tears. But Juvenal forbade him to serve at the Holy Sepulchre.

 
 

W815

Pl.42

W815

 

The resistence of Peter the Iberian

 

Peter the Iberian resisted Juvenal's attempts to ordain him, even to leaping down from the roof of the Tower of David [at Jerusalem.] But the Lord kept him safe: he landed on his feet.

 
 

W816

Pl.43

W816

 

Amma Miqa

 

Miqa was a great ascetic and she was a centenarian. She was strongly opposed to Chalcedon, for which she was reproved by Satan. He made her fall from her chair and scattered its planks. This went on until she took dust and cast it at Satan in the name of the Lord; that put him to flight.

 
 

W817

Pl.46-47

W817

 

Two trials by fire

 

Some monphysite and some dyophysite monks fell to disputing whilst they were out cutting wood in a forest. They agreed to a trial by fire. The Tome of Leo and the Confession of Chalcedon were immediately reduced to ashes, whereas the encyclical of the [monophysite] faith [encyclical of the usurper Basiliscos ?] rested unharmed in the flames. A dyophysite priest challenged a monophysite layman to trial by fire. Their hands were tied together and thrust into the flames. The priest's hand was destroyed, the latter's undammaged.

 
 

W818

Pl.49

W818

 

Peter the Iberian and Abba Pior

 

When Peter the Iberian was in hiding at Alexandria, a voice commanded Abba Pior to go to him, promising guidance. A pillar of flame led him to the block, then to the very door of Peter's retreat. The building superintendent had a child he wanted to have baptised; Peter finally acceeded to his request, calling upon a very reluctant Abba Pior to assist by holding the child over the basin. At that time Peter saw the priestly grace round about Peter -- who was of lay status, but a highly respected abba.

 
 

W819

Pl. 50, 51

W819

 

Visions of Pior and Urbica

 

Pior had a vision of monks carrying a large cross by its extremities, but they were all pulling in different directions [i.e. schism.] Urbica saw, in the porch of the Ascension Church, a woman dressed in purple and bathed in brilliance. It was the Mother of God; she bade Urbica not to fear and asked her how she saw the mountain-side. "Strewn with wood" came the reply. "So will the church of God be strewn with schism from now to the end of time."

 
 

W820

Pl. 52

W820

 

The charioteer's episcopal funeral

 

Zeno the hermit prophesied that Leontios would be Bishop of Ascalon but that he would not die as bishop there. Bishop he became, and he was instrumental in persuading Juvenal to accept Chalcedon. This so incensed the city of Ascalon that he dared not return. He took refuge in Cyprus and died there. His corpse was put on a ship for Ascalon. Also on board was the corpse of a celebrated charioteer, returning from Constantinople. When the ship ran into heavy seas, the sailors threw the bishop's body overboard by mistake. At Ascalon they handed over the other coffin to the bishop's familia. When they opened it up, they found the charioteer, whip and all; but they concealed the fact and gave him an episcopal funeral, eulogy included.

 
 

W821

Pl. 60

W821

 

A vision of Saint Paul with the bishops

 

A holy man saw a vision of Saint Paul with all the bishops, whom he required to wash their faces in an urn of water. When they had done so, all their faces were covered with leprosy. The apostle said: "Not one of you has been found pure."

 
 

W822

Pl. 61

W822

 

A vision of Christ not having two natures

 

A certain person spoke very freely with the Emperor Marcian [450-457;] he said he had been with Christ when he . . .[there follows a list of acta of Christ] . . . but he never saw two in him, one or the other. The emperor was impressed; he allowed the man to live in peace and honour.

cf W832

 

W823

Pl. 64

W823

 

Marcian the layman

 

Marcian the layman in Pamphylia was severely beaten by the governor on his back and his front, for criticising in public the dyophysite bishop. Next morning he was as though nothing had befallen him. He said that after three blows there was a man in white who stood by him and "they [the blows] touched me like paper." A long-time leper was healed with a drop of Marcian's blood.

cf W912

 

W824

Pl. 65

W824

 

Isaiah's vision of a heap of garbage

 

Isaiah the solitary had a vision of a great pile of garbage covering the earth, and of an angel who offered him a spade, saying: "Clear this mess away," for many were leaving on account of the stench. Isaiah declined as the task was beyond him but, as the angel persisted, he finally accepted the commission.Then he went to Peter the Iberian, now Bishop of Maïouma, nearby. Only God knows what will happen as a result of this.

 
 

W825

Pl. 65 bis

W825

 

Bad bread and sour wine

 

At the time of the Council of Chalcedon, in a vision, Bishop [i.e. Patriarch] Timothy [II Elure, 457-460 & 475-477] of Alexandria saw them celebrating the mysteries in the church of Alexandria. When he went to receive communion (he said,) the bread was bad and the wine was become vinegar. This showed that grace was being withdrawn from the churches.

 
 

W826

Pl. 66

W826

 

A vision of Dioscoros' farewell liturgy

 

Timothy of Alexandria [see W825] said that when Dioscoros (then Patriarch of Alexandria [444-451]) was going to the Council of Chalcedon, he had a vision of him going to the Church of Saint John the Baptist for a farewell. "As he took his seat, all the clergy left but me. Then a great fierce wolf came and seized Dioscoros from behind, but it did him no harm as it had no teeth. Then a soldier appeared, viz. Proterius, and killed the wolf."

 
 

W827

Pl. 67

W827

 

Timothy's vision of the Emperor Marcian

 

Timothy [Patriarch, see W825] of Alexandria said of the time of the Council of Chalcedon: "I saw a wild horse which greatly troubled the world and put the people to flight. I alone (with the help of God) was able to master it and to shut it in a cell, whence it never appeared again." This was a reference to the Emperor Marcian and to his death

 
 

W828

Pl. 68

W828

 

Another of Timothy's visions

 

Timothy of Alexandria also had a vision of a tyrant who entered the church and struck out left and right. "In my indignation I chased him out." Proterius said: "After Dioscoros, a heretic will become director of the churches. It will be up to you to get after him and you will be bishop in his stead."

 
 

W829

Pl. 70

W829

 

A vision of a man with a putrid tongue

 

Evagrios, the brother of John of Maïouma, was about to transfer his allegiance from the monophysites to the Chalcedonians. He had a vision of a man whose tongue was putrescent, infected with an old, fetid ulcer. He spat it out and was cured. The putrescence is the poison of the two natures. [but cf W808, note]

 
 

W830

Pl. 74, 75

W830

 

How Themision left Rhinocoroura

 

Themision the priest was formerly deacon at Rhinocoroura (a dependency of Pelusion) where he was in charge of the sanctuary -- in which he slept. The dyophysite bishop had been chased out, but was about to be restored; which meant that Themision was about to leave, once he had handed over his charge [τ_ _έρα σκευή.] As he was sleeping in the sacristy he saw many saints in white, and the Mother of God in the midst of them, making haste to leave, a white she-donkey having been brought for her. She dignalled to Themision not to delay long before following her. That is how and why he came to Alexandria. And they baptised a child just before the dyophisite bishop returned. The child cried out: "Stop that dove which is flying up and away," i.e. the grace of God was abandonning the churches.

 
 

W831

Pl. 76

W831

 

The grand bursar of Alexandria

 

Our father [Peter the Iberian ?] said that a former friend who had become grand bursar [o_κόvoμoς] of Alexandria with Proterius the dyophysite, once met him in the road and greeted him kindly -- but was spurned. When he asked why, he was told: "You know what you have done." In the night he had a vision of a great plain with many saints in light and glory. The Lord was in the midst of them, but he turned his face away when the [above-mentioned] man ran forward to adore, much to the surprise of the saints. He excused himself for the deed [of speaking with a heretic ? speaking unkindly ? -- meaning not clear] and at the intercession of the saints, he was quickly forgiven.

 
 

W832

Pl. 77

W832

 

Serapion miraculously receives the eucharist

 

Serapion, "the first of the scholars / lawyers [σχoλαστικoί] of Alexandria," was deeply distressed that it was no longer possible to celebrate the orthodox [sc. monophysite] mysteries. When Easter came, at the time of the eucharist, he went outside and knelt in prayer: he found a portion of the eucharist in his hands. Strengthened by this, he held up when he was arrested by Proterius and sent to Constantinople. There the Emperor Marcian [450-457] was so impressed with him that he allowed him to live in dignity and honour.

 
 

W833

Pl. 78

W833

 

Communion by reservation discouraged

 

Certain scholastics of Alexandria were reproved by a stylite at Beirut (where they were then studying) for receiving the communion at their own hands from what their fathers at home had sent them. The following Sunday, one of them hesitated: then went forward and received. He found that the particle left a little blood on his hand.

[Editor's note PO 8:135 n.3: this seems to indicate the beginning of the end of the practice of reserving the eucharist for a long time and receiving from it. Severus of Antioch opposed the practice: see E.W. Brooks, Select Letters pp.261-282.]

 
 

W834

Pl. 87

W834

 

Timothy the monk returns to life

 

Of two brothers at the monastery of Abba Romanos, Timothy fell ill and died. They prepared him for burial and laid him out. Then he suddenly sat up. Yes, he really had been dead; he had been brought to judgement. Though he had been an unsatisfactory monk in many ways, he had always taken care not to scandalise any brother. But it was for having avoided the company of the renegade Chalcedonians that he was premitted to escape torment.

 
 

W835

Pl. 88

W835

 

An urban hermit

 

By the door of a great closed-up palace of Antioch a common man in ordinary clothes (he had only one tunic) established himself in a little tent. He never said a word; he was there for many years, praying and groaning. He accepted no money, but a local dyer provided him with food, which he shared with the poor. John of Maïouma tried in vain to get him to speak. It was learned that he was eventually beaten up by the Nestorians for his opposition to them, and died.

cf 836

 

W836

Pl. 89

W836

 

The hermit detects a compromiser

 

Nonnus, Bishop of Qennesrin was taken at his own request to see the old man at the palace gate in Antioch [W835] by John of Maïouma. The hermit received him by repeatedly blowing in his face, menacing him and generally manifesting antipathy, saying: "That one, that one !" Later, under the Patriarch Calendion [Antioch, 481-485] Nonnus compromised [with the Chalcedonians ?]

cf W835

 
 

-- V A R I A --

 
 

W841

BHG 1448e Huber 20

W841

 

de scholastico Ascalonita

 

There was an educated man and / or lawyer [σχoλαστικός] at Ascalon who was greatly given to hospitality. Running short of resources, first he was visited by a priest who gave him three hundred pieces of gold and then vanished. Then he met two monks who gave him a quantity of gold -- and vanished. Also his failing oil-vessel was several times replenished miraculously.

cf W378

e Cod Paris graec. 1596, pp. 370-371

 
 

W842

BHG 1448f

W842

 

de invidioso monacho

 

A monk who was very jelous of his younger (and more popular) neighbour, repeatedly sent his disciple to eject him, but the disciple delivered only smooth words and, of course, brought back only gentle replies. Finally the elder took his staff to go and eject the brother, but he was met by him en route, falling down before him and doing him every sign of respect. The elder recognised the work of the devil in himself, but of God in the brother and in his own disciple. So he proposed to change roles with the latter.

 
 

W843

BHG 1450q

W843

 

de anachoreta et latrone

 

An elder lived for seventy years in the desert in great asceticism but without any sign from or vision of God. He prayed about this and a voice from heaven came telling him to go to the inner desert -- where he was seized by a brigand who was delighted, because this would be his hundredth kill, which meant he would be assured of a place in paradise. The elder asked for (and was granted) a final drink of water, but as the brigand stooped to take the water from the river, he died. When the elder realised this, the voice came again telling him to give the brigand a decent burial, on account of his obedience.

 
 

W844

BHG 1445nb

W844

 

responsum Nili scetiotae

 

Abba Theodore the Byzantine said that when he was twenty he became a monk and was at Constantinople for three years. Then he set off for Jerusalem, but after six days of plain sailing, the boat (which was heading for Joppa) ran into heavy seas and finally put ashore near Alexandria. As it was January he decided to winter in the desert of Scêtê with Abba Nil. When Lent started he asked the abba for a rule, and was strongly reproved for not having asked earlier. There were no "highs" and "lows" in the monk's life; he must continually watch, fast and pray.

 
 

W845

BHG 1445n

W845

 

de responso Nitriotae hegumeni

 

Abba Paul the Cappadocian said that after fleeing from the Persians [poss. in 613] to Constantinople, then to Alexandria and on to Nitria, after one year and three months in a monastery, they asked their higoumen to allow them to go out alone [_συχάζειv] because their elder did not keep the rules. He fasted irregularly and ignored the canonical offices. The higoumen pointed out at great length that rules are for seculars, and may even be harmful for monks. "As the fisherman takes his catch with hook and line, so the devil takes the monk with troparia and song." Baths are also condemned (in Possinus, pp. 265-267, but not in PE 2.19.1.5.)

 

See also Theodore of Byzantium, BHG 1445nb

 

W846

BHG 1445m

W846

 

de diaboli pænitentia

 

There was an elder who could see angels and demons. The demons sent Zerepher to him to ask God if demons could be received. God replied by means of an angel: yes, demons could be received -- if they stayed in one place, crying all day long: "Have mercy on me, the ancient evil, darkened deceit." The demon scoffed at this and took off: the monk fell to his prayers, saying: "An ancient evil does not become a new good" [_ρχε_ov κακ_v vέov καλ_v o_ γίvεται.]

 
 

W847

BHG 1450w

W847

 

de non desperando ab Amphilochio

 

A monk committed πoρvεία daily for ten years, but also immediately afterwards flung himself down in penitence before the icon of the Saviour. One day the demon appeared visibly and reproached the Saviour (through his icon) with being unjust, for he had thrown him (the demon) out of heaven for a little pride, whereas he allowed this monk to sin over and over again without burning him. The Saviour replied that as long as there is penitence, there is mercy and forgiveness. The monk heard this and promptly died; meanwhile, a great fire fell on Satan and consumed him.

 
 

W848

BHG 1448mb

W848

 

de morte duorum anachoretarum

 

An elder sold baskets at the door of Saint Mary's Church in Egypt for whatever price was offered, ten noumia or only one. Some people, recognising his piety, went to his cell with him and offered to make a meal. He wanted them first to go to to [Saint] Theodosios' [Church ?] and invite the man who was selling seed-boxes [? σπειρoκόθρια] there to join them. When he was approached, the seller in question recognised this as the other's signal that he was dying; indeed, he was dead by the time he and those come to fetch him returned. The other seller said that he too would be dead within seven days (which he was,) for they had a contract that the first to die would ask the Lord to take the other.

cf W016

 

W849

BHG 1442p

W849

 

de Paulo abbate Alexandrino

 

Abba Paul told why he became a monk: his daughter fell ill and he promised that she should be wedded to Christ if she recovered, which she did; but at the mother's insistence, she was married to a man of the world. An eleven-year-old virgin slave was bought for twenty pieces of gold and placed in a convent at Paul's expense in her stead. But on the eighth day of his daughter's marriage he had a dream: he was on his way to Emesa with one radiant of light. He saw a glorious city (which his daughter had missed) and then a city full of black-faced-ones, many and lascivious ones. That was the city she was in. As his wife had a similar dream (but with female black-faced-ones) they both resolved on the monastic life.

n.b. PS69 has identical beginning

 
 

W850

BHG 1448k

W850

 

de miraculo Marciani vel Theodosii

 

Marcian of Bethlehem who was very devoted to hospitality once received Theodosios the Coenobiarch; there was no bread. He told his disciple: search the ________ ? [τ_ δισάκια, τ_ δικάκια] and bread was found [cf W574, end] Then Theodosios found a grain in Marcian's beard and told the cellarer to put it in the granary. Some days later the granary was so full of grain that they could not open the door. Both Marcian and Theodosios disclaimed the credit for this wonder.

cf W270

 

W851

BHG 1450xe

W851

 

de monachorum duorum dissimili sorte

 

Two men became monks, and good ones too. One of them became a coenobiarch, the other a famous anchorite who could expel demons, prophesy and heal the sick. The coenobiarch fasted and prayed for three weeks to know why he did not have the charismata of the other. An angel told him: the other lives unto God, hungering and thirsting for the Lord; but you have many cares, and the comfort of the presence of men is enough for you.

e Cod. Sinait. 467 ff 262v-263

 
 

W852

BHG 1322ib

W852

 

visio monialis cuiusdam

 

The virgin sister of a priest fell into an ecstasy in which she was conducted by two elderly persons in white, first before the heavenly throne, then to a place of punishment where, in a river of fire, she saw many sisters she knew. They begged her to pray for their release from their (just) punishment; which she did, but in vain. Whereupon the suffering sisters prayed her to return and warn the other sisters what awaited them if they did not ammend their (shockingly) sinful lives.

This is a long story; cf W064

 
 

W854

BHG 1444v bis

W854

 

de presbytero mago

 

A deacon of the Constantinopolitan church denied Christ and took to magic and wizardry [φαρμακεία κα_ γoητείαι.] When he was discovered and asked how he dared to stand at the altar fanning the holy oblation with the other deacons, he claimed that an angel of the Lord used to come and take his fan. The angel would also partake of the mysteries in his stead, having sent him out, and the people knew no difference. He was burned to death.

 

cf W117 for an almost identical story of a Cypriote priest and W953 for what might be a conflation of the other two.

 
 

W855

BHG 1450b

W855

 

de Paulo viro illustri

 

Paul the illustrious wishing to become a monk, his wife and children agreed to be sold into slavery. In fact the wife was "sold" into a monastery for women [although it seems rather that Paul bought her a kind of "prebend," for he gave the abbess "the property," τ_ πράγματα.] He appears to have installed the children similarly in another monastery, then himself in a third one. He became an exemplary monk in humility, and after his death there were miracles at his tomb, from which myrrh issued forth.

 
 

W856

BHG 1448w

W856

 

de anachoreta Ioanne a Persis occiso

 

When the Persians were menacing Jerusalem [613,] an anchorite had a vision of people praying the Crucified One and his Mother for the city, but in vain: "because they have profaned my altar." He saw much mud around the place of the True Cross. Two venerable persons explained that the mud came from the iniquitous clergy of the sanctuary, and that the place could only be cleansed by fire: the elder was doomed to decapitation. When a disciple returned after the Persian onslaught, he found the elder dead.

 
 
 

W857

PE 2.46.6

W857

 

A deacon falsely accused of theft

 

Isidore the priest of Scêtê wanted to make a virtuous deacon a priest so he could succeed him, but the deacon was unwilling. A brother became jelous of him; he put one of his books in the deacon's cell and then accused him of theft. When it was found, the deacon merely said: "I have sinned; give me a penance [_πιτίμιov.]" He was given three weeks without communion. At the end of that time, the elder who had brought a false charge against him became possessed of a demon and confessed all. Everybody prayed for him and he was made whole again.

cf W462, W489

 
 

W858

Bu I.104

W858

 

A monk and a shepherd of great piety

 

A monk lived many years as a good member in a community, and then in the desert on herbs. When he asked what his [heavenly] reward would be, he was told to meet a certain shepherd. This man had eaten nothing but vegetables and drunk only a little water once a day for thirty years. His wages were given to the poor. The monk, who ate every green thing that came his way, was much impressed by this. He added to his labours and thus became perfect.

 
 

W859

Bu I.395

W859

 

One brother is protected by another

 

Two brothers went to town to sell their wares. One of them was seduced by a rich woman; he cast off his habit and married her, sending a message to his brother to return. But the other brother remained in the town, praying. The clergy, the monks and the governor begged him to return, but there he sat, in heat and cold, for seven long years, waiting for his brother to return. Then the woman died and the widowed monk resumed his habit. He was embraced by his waiting brother and together they went back to the monastery. cit. Proverbs 18.19: "A brother is protected by his brother . . ."

 
 

W860

Bu I.602

W860

 

There are worse sins than πoρvεία

 

A famous thaumaturge fell into πoρvεία and went off weeping into the desert. When he confessed his sin to an elder, that elder was much relieved: he might have confessed to being dishonest, or an incompetent bursar [o_κόvoμoς] of his community. A sinner can repent and be restored, but Ananias and Saphira were destroyed on the spot for misappropriating community funds. Thus encouraged, the man repented and regained his former stature in the monastic profession.

 
 

W861

BHG 1450kb

W861

 

de latrone converso

 

A brigand chief of a band of twelve disguised himself as a monk to gain entrance to a ladies' monastery outside Antioch, intending to admit his colleagues by night. But the sisters revered him as a holy man; they washed his feet and a paralysed sister was healed when she washed in the same water. Sisters pressed the "monk" for his blessing and would only believe his real character when he revealed his un-shorn head and his sword. Overcome, he told the twelve he was going to become a monk, and they said they would follow him into a monastery, which they did.

 

note: BHG 1450ka [Cod. Londin. Harl. 5639 ff.135-136 s. xiv] is the same story, beginning: A ταξεώτης told how there was a convent in the suburbs of Antioch with one hundred and sixty sisters. . . It ends with the affirmation that the story came from one who had it directly from the sisters of that convent. Cod. Vatic. grec. 2592 ff.165v - 166v shows even further expansion at beginning ("a ταξεώτης who lived in Tyre") and at the end.

 
 

W862

Zosimus, Alloquia 13 PG 78:1700C

W862

 

A monk who was buying himself a new garment felt it being stolen even as he was counting out the small change (in addition to the one gold piece he had paid.) He protracted the buying-process in order to allow the thief to get away with the garment.

 
 

W863

BHG 1450m de latrone converso [bis] Anastasios the Sinaïte, D02 In Ps. vi PG 89:1112A-1116B

W863

 

There was a dangerous arch-brigand in Thrace. The Emperor Maurice [582-602] brought him to heel with an imperial mandate [? τ_ _δια φυλακτά], but he fell ill within days of his reform. He lay in the hospital known as Sampson [Σαμψ¢ ] where he wept, asking God to receive his tears, which he wiped on a kerchief. The doctor had a vision of black-faced-ones who cast accusations in one side of a pair of scales whilst two angels cast his tear-soaked kerchief in the other scale, and thus gained his soul. Next morning the doctor found the patient dead but, hearing of his good confession from the other patients, he took the kerchief to the emperor and told him of the matter.

 
 

W864

BHG 1322g

W864

 

de Zacharia coriario et Ioanne

 

John the aristocrat [τ¢ v περιφαv¢ v,] a very pious man, arrived one night before the closed doors of the Great Church. A man came, all bathed in light, who opened the three sets of doors with the sign of the cross and then exited again. He went to a nearby house into which he was let by his wife; he started work at once. John followed, gained access and learned all. The couple had a mariage blanc; they divided their goods and so forth.

cf W035 W638 W705

 
 

W865

Theodoret, HR 6, 2-4:

W865

 

Symeon and the lion cubs

 

Symeon the elder [_ παλαιός, i.e. not Stylites: ob. ca 375-380] once when some Jews got lost in torrential rain and stumbled accidentally on his grotto, brought in two friendly lion cubs which caressed him, and then led them safely home. The news of this event brought many barbarians, sons of Ishmael, to the faith.

cf PS02

 
 

W866

Theodoret, HR 7, 1-3:

W866

 

Palladios revives a corpse

 

At a populous town called Imma [now Yeni Sebir, 41 kms east of Antioch] a fair was held. One merchant made a lot of money and left during the night. A bandit lay in wait for him, slew him and threw the corpse at the door of Palladios' cell. In the morning all ran there asking Palladios to explain. He urged the dead young man to explain, whereupon the corpse sat up, looked around, and poited to the murderer, who was found to have a bloody dagger in his possession.

 
 

W867

Theodoret, HR 9, 12:

W867

 

A wicked man struck blind

 

There was a debauché, a former general and/or governor [στρατηγός,] who had an unmarried girl (of age) in his service. She left her family for a community of women. The fellow beat and hung up the girl's mother until she revealed in which community her daughter was living, then he dragged her back. But the Lord struck him blind and the girl was able to escape back to her convent and he could seek her no more.

 
 

W868

BHG 1440pb Anastasios the Sinaïte, D03

Orat. de Synax. PG 89:849

W868

 

de morte monachi qui fratres non iudicavit

 

A monk, whose career had been careless and slack, sickened and was about to die; but he was not in the least afraid. When they questioned him, he said that he saw angels who brought the list of his sins, to which he agreed. "But, since I became a monk, I never judged any man, nor did I ever carry a grudge, keeping the Lord's command not to judge." The angels had torn up the charge-sheet, and thus he could die happily.

 
 

W869

BHG 1440kh John Climacus, Scala VII, PG 88:812A - 813A

W869

 

Stephani monachi morientis visio

 

Stephan, a long-serving and diligent monk and anchorite, returned to his original cell in his old age with two disciples. He sickened and was dying. Two days before he died, he returned to his senses. He turned from left to right, saying: "Yes, I did that; and I fasted years for it." No, that I did not do; you are certainly lying; no . . . you are accusing me falsely." [_vτως ψεύδεσθε,τo_τo o_κ _πoίησα . . .o_χ_ _λως κατηγoρείτέ μoυ.]

cf W702

nb this appears to be the same story as W899

 
 

W870

Antoninus in Itinera Hierosolymitana 1

(Geneva, 1879) 110

W870

 

Maria who founded a convent

 

It is said that the husband of a noble woman named Maria died on their wedding night. She gave away everything she possessed and on the seventh day fled over the Jordan to a place where visitors now found a convent of fifteen to eighteen virgins. They had an ass which brought them food and which nourished a terrible lion.

cf 701

 

W871

BHG 1440kb

W871

 

de monachis litigantibus

 

A perceptive father saw some monks eating honey, some bread, some excrement. He prayed for an explanation. A heavenly voice said that the honey eaters were those who were always praying. The bread eaters were those who grumble and make invidious comparisons. One should do whatever he does for God. [There is no explanation of the third group.]

 
 

W872

BHG 1440kw

W872

 

calligraphi manus sanatur

 

An ascetic fell in love with money. He gained (and kept) one, two and then five pieces of gold. Then his hand became infected, which was very grave because he was a calligrapher. He spent all his money on doctors, to no avail: finally they said the hand would have to come off. In the night the man cried and prayed. An angel came and asked him: "Where are the five pieces of gold ?" He took the hand and healed it. When the doctor arrived next morning, he found the patient recovered. When he learned how the healing had come about, he forsook hellenism and became a Christian.

cf W025, an almost identical story about a gardener's foot

 
 

W874

BHG 1450zi

W874

 

de laicorum et monachorum vita

 

Cod Paris supp. grec. 1329 s. xiii, ff 112v-114v

 
 

W875

BHG 1322zm Geo. Mon., ed de Boor 438,5-440,24

W875

 

de Vesuvio

 

[An explanation of eruptions. There is a fire below the earth and that is the fire of hell (gehenna) and below that is the icy cold region of Tartarus. Plato is cited in support of these ideas. Not a narratio.]

 
 

W876

BHG 1440ka N146

W876

 

de attenta oratione

 

An abba only slept in the chair where he worked. He ate rarely and always kept one hand extended in prayer; he kept the last judgement ever before his eyes. Once when his disciple made a mistake in the psalms he said he always imagined he had a fire beneath him at the office. Once he wept over the disciple when he found him stretched out, asleep.

 
 

W877

BHG 1440kg PS194

W877

 

de iuniore monacho in caupona

«The exhortation of an elder who lived at Scêtê to a monk,

not to enter taverns»

 

An elder of Scêtê saw a brother enter a tavern in Alexandria. He warned him of the dangers of temptation by sight and by hearing. The young man replied that God required no more than a pure heart. The elder lamented that in fifty years at Scêtê he had not acquired a pure heart. "May God save you, and not disappoint me in my hope," he said.

 
 

W878

BHG 1448zb

W878

 

de abbate Petro et angelo

 

[This is almost identical with W628, except that here the elder is given a name: Peter.]

 
 

W879

BHG 1322fa

W879

 

de moniali tentata

 

Some secular brothers met an anchorite who was female and a virgin. "The Lord sent you to bury me," she said. "I am a virgin in body, but I wage perpetual and inhuman warfare against πoρvεία. I see angels coming for my soul, and I see Satan thrusting lascivious thoughts upon me." Then she died; and they found that she was indeed a virgin.

cf W009 W348 W886

 

W880

BHG 1322zi

W880

 

de sorte animarum visio presbyteri Patmensis

 

Abba John of Patmos tells the long story of one who related how he came to be a monk. He was a priest, not sinful, but slack. He fell sick and was twenty days without food. Two men dressed in white came and took him before the court of the twelve apostles, Peter presiding. He was ordered to witness the sufferings of the damned. There were naked men and women in a river of fire: emperors and empresses who ruled badly and sinfully. This was followed by a vision of the saints; there was the Mother of God praying to God (a pillar of flame) to have mercy on the world, and also many angels. His companion told him that he could be with the blessed if he followed the directions of Abba Philip and became a monk, which he did.

 
 

W882

BHG ???

W882

 

De monacho tentato

 

(ed. Munitiz together with the following)

 

A brother living at Monidia often fell into porneia. He called upon God to save him every day, whether he fell or not. On one occasion he fell into the usual sin at night. At once he arose and began the canon. The devil appeared visibly to him and repraoched him. The brother said to him: "This cell is copper [a copper vessel?]; you give it a blow, you get one. I will cary on wrestling with you until death and until I finally arrive at the last day. And I assure you I will not cease praying to God against you until you desist from fighting against me. Let us see who will be victorious: you or God." When the devil heard this he said to him: "Very well then, I really will no longer fight against you, lest I procure a crown for you by your patient endurance [_πoμovή]." And from that day the demon withdrew from him. Behold how good is patient endurance and perseverence [τ_ μ_ _πoγιγvώσκειv _αυτόv].

 

Monidia: see W232 (PS 178) and W883

 
 

W883

BHG 1450wb

W883

 

de monacho spe orbato quem Christus solatur

 

A brother at the Monastery τ¢ v Μovηδίωv prayed for a thunderbolt, a difficulty or some illness to make him fear God all the time. He could not believe he would ever be pardoned. In great fear, he wanted his share (Luke 15.12) of punishment here. He denied himself any rest, always lamenting (Mtt. 5.4.) Then he had a vision of a smiling Christ who raised him up and put his hand on his head / breast [2 mss] and assured him of forgiveness. "Would I who gave my blood for you not give you mercy ?" The monk returned to himself with great joy in his heart, which led to great humility and thanksgiving.

 
 

W885

BHG 1318i Barlaam and Joasaph 13.114-118

(Loeb pp.192-6)

W885

 

de tribus amicis

 

A man had three friends, two of whom he greatly honoured, the third hardly at all. In his hour of need, when he was arraigned before the king for debt, the first and second friends were no help; but the third was a great help. Interpretation: the first friend is riches; the second is wife and children, which only go as far as the grave. The third is such things as hope, love, mercy, philanthropy and so forth. These go before us when we leave the body and plead before the Lord on our account.

 
 

W886

BHG 1322eb

W886

 

de vetula in spelunca

 

Two great elders were travelling in the desert of Scêtê when they heard someone groaning from the ground. They found a cave-entrance, went in, and found an old woman, a holy virgin, lying there. They said to her: "When did you come here, old woman [γρα_] and who serves you [διακov¢ v]?" -- for they found nothing in the cave but her, lying there, ill. She said: "I have been in this cave thirty-eight years. Plants have sufficed and I served the Lord. And I never saw a man until today. God sent you to bury my remains." She said this -- and died. The elders glorified God; they buried the body and went their way. [This is a translation, not a précis.]

cf W348 W879 W600

BHG 1322ed is almost identical, Cod. Lond. Harl.5639 ff.134v-135

 
 

W887

BHG1444m

W887

 

de sepulcro consulis nepotis Diocletiani

 

As a young man, Abba Paphnutios lived close by Abba Apollo who was much troubled by temptation to πoρvεία, so much so that he asked to move in with Paphnutios, who wouldn not allow it. Six hours later Apollo met Paphnutios' διακovίτης literally tearing his hair out: he and his brother had travelled near the consul's tomb (not knowing the danger) and his brother had been taken. The two abbas travelled through the night and arrived at cock-crow. They were assailed by terrible visions which they put to flight by the sign of the cross and Psalm 67.1. They came to the tomb fighting their way through horrendous apparitions, including dragons, found the brother and restored him. The larnax was inscribed: σωματoθήκη _πάτoυ τo_ _vεψίoυ Διoκλητιαvo_ τo_ βασιλέως τo_ κατ_ παvτ_ς τόπoυ τo_ σταυρo_ _σταυρωμέvoυ _πασπιστ_ς βασκαvίζovτoς.

 
 

W888

BHG 1444k

W888

 

de visione Apollonis monachi

 

Abba Apollo, disciple of Abba Sison, said he was much concerned about the question of ordination; he had a vision of himself being consecrated bishop. At Sison's urging he finally went to his relations in Alexandria to be ordained priest. On the way there he had a vision of a huge, naked, black creature with a fish head, a woman's body and hinder parts but male genitals. This monstrosity kissed and embraced him. So foul was the stench that Apollo requested to be rid of it, by the prayers of Sison. The monster then turned into a beautiful, naked woman, but as she could not bear the mention of the name of Sison, she withdrew. Apollo remained with Sison.

 
 

W889

BHG 1444j

W889

 

de episcopo et communicantibus

 

A bishop heard that two women of good standing [_λευθερα_] were living unseemly lives. It was given to him to see the spiritual condition of each communicant during the liturgy. These women arrived white and left shining. The bishop asked the angel if the charge was true and he was told that it was. Bishop: Then why do they leave shining like that after communion ? Angel: On account of their repentance. Bishop: But is that fair ? Angel: No, not by man's standards, but it is by God's; cf John 3.16. The angel continued to speak of the philanthropy of God and of the lengths to which he would go to save a soul.

 
 

W890

BHG 1444t

W890

 

de episcopo qui diis sacrificaverat

 

A récit autobiographique masqué told by a [former ?] Bishop of Oxyrynchos: after a wondrous journey of fifteen days to the innermost desert near Oasis he found a hermit with a fig-tree, a cabin and water; a former bishop who had sacrificed in the persecutions forty-nine years ago and been here ever since in atonement. He had recently received the absolution he craved and was now ready to die - the visitor having been sent to bury him. As he died, the tree withered and the cabin collapsed. The visitor wrapped him in half his λεβήτωv = levite, "monastic garment," and buried him. Miraculously sustained on his return journey, he urged his brothers not to give up hope, but to find God through patient endurance [_λλ_ τ_ _πoμov_ ε_ρίσκειv τ_v Θεόv.]

 
 

W891

BHG 2366

W891

 

Peter the tax-gatherer in the Thebaid in the time of Justinian

 

Peter was an immensely rich tax-gatherer in the Thebaid who gave nothing either to God or to the poor. The brothers brought a blind man to his door who charged Peter to give thanks to God for his good fortune; all he received was a pittance and a dismissal. But by night Peter had a vision of Christ carrying the pittance he had given the blind man and he realised that whatever a man does for the poor, he does it for God [_τι δ__v πoιήσ_ _vθρωπoς ε_ς πτωχ_v, ε_ς Θε_v πoιε_.] Going to the tax-house he saw one about to be choked for a debt of forty pieces of gold, which he supplied. Then, newly widowed, he went out into the square and saw a naked man. Taking off his under-garment (valued at one hundred pieces of gold) he gave it to him, and in his sleep he saw Christ wearing it. Now he resigned his post, giving many gifts to charitable causes and freeing all but his chief slave. With him he went to Jerusalem where he charged the slave to sell him into slavery. This he did, for forty pieces of gold - which were then given to him, together with his liberty. The former tax-gatherer served his new master, an _ργυρoπράτης, as a faithful slave for about eighteen years, as his major-domo. Then some guests from [Egyptian] Thebes came to the house who recognised him. He rewarded the dumb gate-keeper with the gift of speech for letting him slip away -- to become a monk, in which capacity he attained a high standard both as ascetic and as healer.

 
 

W892

 

W892

 

A rich sinner's corpse rejected

 

ed. and trans. Zanetti from Armenian, AB 105 (1987) 192-197

 

Valerian the patrician, prince of the city of Porto [Pontus ?] was a great fornicator and he died unrepentant. Nevertheless his wife was able to bribe the bishop to bury him in Saint Faustin's Church. Saint Faustin appeared to the beadle and told him to tell the bishop to get that corpse out of the church or he (the bishop) would die in thirty days' time. This happened three times, but the beadle was too timid to mention it to the bishop and, thirty days later, the latter suddenly died. Then the beadle heard a voice from the sinner's tomb crying: "I am burning !" They opened up the tomb but it contained only the grave-clothes; the corpse was found lying naked outside the church. The grave-clothes were left hanging in the church as a warning against burying sinners there.

cf W040 W393

 
 

TALES FROM THE LADDER [JOHN CLIMACUS c560-649]

 

W893

Ladder 4.13-14 PG 88:681C -284D

W893

 

The penitent robber.

 

A vicious robber repented of his sins and came to be a monk. The higoumen made him confess his sins publicly, then again before the two hundred and thirty brethren at the Sunday mass, at which time he made confession of things which should neither be heard nor written about [_v o_ θέμις _κo_σαι _ γραφ_ παραδo_vαι] after which he was tonsured and received. As he confessed his sins, one of the brothers saw a man of terrible aspect standing by with a tablet and pen, erasing the crimes as they were confessed.

cf W703

 
 

W894

Ladder 4.26-27 PG 88:689 A-D

W894

 

The story of Isidore

 

As archôn in Alexandria Isidore was very strict, hard and cruel. Then he became a monk. His abba demanded utter obedience of him. "I will be as iron is to the hammer" he replied. The abba bade him stand at the entrance to the monastery where he had to kneel down to each person who came in or out, saying: "Pray for me, for I am epileptic." This he did for seven years and then (ε_ς βαθυτάτηv ταπείvωσιv κα_ κατάvυξιv _ληλακότoς) the abba admitted him to the brotherhood. He would also have made him priest, but Isidore asked to remain in his accustomed station as his end was nigh. Six days later, he died; and seven days after that the porter also died Isidore had said that if he found credit with Christ, the porter would soon join him there. He told John that when he was at the monastery door he used to think of himself as having been sold into slavery.

 
 

W895

Ladder 4.28-29 PG 88:692A-693A

W895

 

The story of Laurence

 

The octogenarian monk Laurence, second priest of the monastery, was made to stand before the higoumen's table throughout dinner for no fault, but to demonstrate obedience. He told John that during his stand he thought of himself as standing before the altar and in the presence of Christ.

 
 

W896

Ladder 4.34 PG 88:696B-D

W896

 

The story of Macedonios

 

Macedonios was the chief deacon of the monastery; he asked permission to go into Alexandria and received it, provided he return for the Feast of Theophany -- which he failed to do. For this he was reduced to the rank of novice for forty days. At the end of that time he asked to be left in that lowly estate, confessing (falsely) to πoρvεία in Alexandria. The abba acceded to his request although he knew of the lie. Macedonios told John that he made the request because it was in the humility of the low degree that the combat was eased and that he saw divine light (o_δέπoτε γ_ρ κoυφισμ_v o_τως πoλέμoυ παvτ_ς κα_ φωτ_ς θείoυ γλυκαμ_v _v _αυτ_ τεθέαμαι.)

 
 

W897

Ladder 4.120 PG 88:720B-721A

W897

 

The story of Acacios

 

John the Sabaïte said that in his monastery in Asia there was a negligent and disorderly monk who had a disciple named Acacios, whom he abused fearfully. John often saw him battered and bruised, but there were no complaints. After nine years the disciple died and the monk came to bring the news to a great elder in the desert -- who simply refused to believe that Acacios was dead. So he came to the tomb and called out: "Are you dead ?" "How could one be dead who worked so hard at obedience ?" came the answer from the tomb. The monk was reduced to great sorrow. He had his cell moved near to Acacios' grave and completely reformed his way of life. "I have done murder" he used to say. The narrator says: "I think it was "Father John" who spoke to the dead man," possibly to conceal the fact that it was himself. [But would he have called himself "a great elder of the desert ?]

 
 

W898

Ladder 6.20 PG 88: 796D-797B

W898

 

The story of Hesychios, the solitary of Horeb.

 

This monk formerly lived very negligently, but then he fell seriously ill and, for about an hour, his soul was absent from his body. When he recovered, he walled himself up in his cell where he sat silently weeping all the time, living on bread and water. When he was near death the brothers broke in; all he would say was: "Forgive me; he who keeps death in mind will never sin." They buried him nearby. Some days later the tomb was found to be empty, a sign that his penitence had been accepted.

 
 

W899

Ladder 7.55 PG 88: 812A-D

W899

 

[note beginning: πρ_ς δ_ _vτως πέvθoυς _vεργεστάτoυ κα_ _δύvης _vησιφόρoυ _πόθεσιv _κoύσωμεv ψυχωφελo_ς κα_ _λεειvoτάτoυ διηγήματoς]

 

The story of Stephen

 

This man was for many years a hermit and a hesychast on Mount Sinaï, then he moved to Side, a location of utter desolation some sixty miles from the fortress, for greater rigour. At the end of his life he returned to his cell with two Palestinian disciples and then fell seriously ill. On the eve of his death he came to his senses and, looking to right and to left, he would say: "Yes, that is so; and for that reason I fasted all those years." "No, you are lying; I did not do that." Yes, that is true; I do not know how to answer," and so forth. In other words, he was falsely accused and answered nothing. He was a monk of forty years' experience, with the gift of tears, who even fed a leopard by hand in the desert. What of Ezechiel 33. 13-20: "I will judge you in the state in which I find you" ? Only God knows. [The reader is left uncertain of the ultimate fate of the monk.]

cf W702

nb this appears to be the same story as W869, qv.

 

 

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