Thursday, January 24, 2008

About the Wife of a Dignitary

Another of my translations from the Slavonic Lausiac History:
I remember yet another story that is beneficial to relate. It is said that the persecutor Magnentin had debaucherous relations with many pagan women – and tried to have the same with Christian women. The latter, however, preferred death to giving up their chastity. When Magnentin visited a certain city he took a liking to the wife of a dignitary at the town governor’s office. Her frightened husband said to Magnentin: “Go ahead, take her!” Soldiers were sent to her, but she told them: “Wait a little while, until I change out of my regular clothes.” She went into her bedroom and, taking a sword, she ran it through her belly. Listen and marvel, you virgins who deem yourselves brides of Christ, but who betray Him by your impure lusts. May the Lord grant that each one of us preserve our chastity and cry out with the Psalmist: Nail down my flesh with the fear of Thee, for of Thy judgments am I afraid (Psalm 118: 120); and with the Apostle say: Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (Galatians 2:20). May it be given to you to say chastely: I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine (Song of Songs 6:3).

We also saw other fathers and monks throughout Egypt who performed many signs and miracles. We have not mentioned them due to their great multitude, and we have said a little rather than much. For what can one say about the upper Thebaid, where there are honored men, where there is an innumerable multitude of monks whose is life is different and hard to believe, who surpass the normal image of human life? They even now raise the dead and walk on water, like Peter. Everything that the Saviour did through His holy Apostles they perform at the present time. But we decided not to meet with these holy men because crossing the Lykos would put us in the danger of robbers. Even those fathers about whom we spoke were visited not without danger; we could not even see the holy women without labor, but we had to endure much and even exposed ourselves to many mortal dangers in advance in order to see them. Seven times we nearly lost our lives, and the eighth time God alone saved us from death. Once we walked five days in the desert and nearly died of hunger and thirst.

Another time we fell in a putrid mire full of sharp rocks and injured our legs so that the pain was unendurable and we nearly died of cold. A third time we got bogged down in mud to our hips and there was no one to pull us out. Then we sang out with the blessed David: Save me, O God, for the waters are come in to my soul. I am stuck fast in the mire of the deep, and there is no sure standing… Save me from the mire, that I may not be stuck therein (Psalm 68: 1-2, 18). The fourth time we walked for four days over water when a great quantity of it remained after the flooding of the Nile, so that its mouth was completely flooded. Then we cried out: Let not the tempest of water overwhelm me, nor let the depths swallow me up (Psalm 68: 19). The fifth time we came upon robbers along the banks of the river when we were going to Diolkos; they wanted to overtake us and chased us until, finally, we could barely catch our breath, for they chased after us for ten thousand paces. The sixth time, during the flooding of the Nile, we nearly drowned. The seventh time, when we were on the Mediterranean Sea, on the banks of which grow cotton-plant, we were cast onto a small deserted island; here we remained for three days under an open sky, and suffered much from severe frost and rain, as this was around the Theophany. It would be superfluous to relate the eighth affliction, although it would not be without benefit. When we were crossing a certain place on our way to Mount Nitria there was on this side a great pit in which many crocodiles remained after the water had receded from the plain. Approaching this pit we saw three crocodiles on the brink that we thought were dead – but the crocodiles suddenly threw themselves on us! We cried out loudly: “O Christ, help us!” – and that very moment it was as if an angel stopped the beasts, and they jumped into the water. We quickly ran to Mount Nitria remembering the words of Job: He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee (Job 5:19). We give thanks to the Lord who saved us from so many dangers and granted us to see such great things.

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