May 23, 2010

On the Concealment of Virtues and Mortifications

To conceal your virtues and mortifications was the custom of ascetics, both female and male, not only in the earliest times of Christianity but throughout all ages to the present time. Eudocia, wife of the glorious Prince Dimitri of Don, the liberator of Russia from the Tartars, was left a comparatively young widow in the year 1389 A.D. Imbued with devoutness, this princess built many churches, distributed alms and secretly weakened her body by fasting and long vigils. She wore an iron chain around her body. Meanwhile, she always appeared happy before the public, clothed in opulence and adorned with pearls. The public said many things about her and they began to spread rumors about her immoral life. Her sons heard about this and, insulted and embittered openly informed their mother what was being rumored about her. The mother opened her luxurious robe and the children, with great horror, viewed her body which was completely withered, dried up and drawn in by the iron chains.

- St. Nikolai Velimirovich