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February 27, 2016

Saints Asklepios and James, Hermits of Syria

Sts. Asklepios and James (Feast Day - February 27)


All the righteous of the earth you judge O Master,
Two righteous men stood by each other.

By Bishop Theodoret of Cyrus, Syria

Of this company (Saint Polychronios, see Feb. 23) is also the wonderful Asklepios (Asclepius), who is ten stades distant (one mile) but who has keenly embraced the same way of life. He has the same food, dress, modesty of character, hospitality, brotherly love, kindness, and gentleness, intercourse with God, consummate poverty, abundance of virtue, wealth of philosophy, and all the other things we related concerning that sacred person. He is said, at the time he was numbered with the brethren who inhabit the village, to have embraced the ascetic and disciplined life, and to have derived no harm from mixing with the multitude. Therefore, for having been preeminent in each life, both the social and the eremitical, he will with good reason receive the honor of a double crowning.

Many others also have emulated his virtue; not only ours but also the neighboring cities and villages are full of this philosophy. One of these is the most divine James, a recluse in a cell at a village called Nimouza, who, though near the very end of life - for he is more than ninety years old -, is a solitary recluse, giving replies, without being seen, through a small hole dug slantwise, and neither using fire nor employing lamplight. Twice has he dug through his door and bid me come in, thereby honoring me and showing the affection he has for me.

Those who are now alive do not need my account, for they can, if they wish, become the eyewitnesses of the philosophy of these men. As for those to come, who do not share in seeing them, these particulars are sufficient for their benefit, since they show the distinctive character of their philosophy. So concluding at this point my account of these men, and asking in return for the gift of their blessing, I shall proceed to another narrative.

From The History of the Monks of Syria.