Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Life of Saint George of Amastris

St. George of Amastris (Feast Day - October 25 and February 21)

The Life and Encomium of our Holy Father and Wonderworker 
George the Archbishop of Amastris

1. Those who are stripped for an athletic contest are not chosen for the pit by the trainers until they have shown fitness matching their skill in the warm-up exercises. But my spiritual judges are urging me forward toward the very pit of letters and deem me worthy of the present challenge though I am both inexperienced and have so far produced nothing. The main reason for my delay was the following: to yield to the words of those urging me is dangerous, and to practice silence is nothing less than to prolong the test. The former gives the appearance of impudence (for undertaking anything beyond the customary is the height of arrogance), and the latter suggests indifference. But since what I just said is clearly true and even in shameful things the lesser evil is to be preferred, impudence seems to produce a lesser danger than indifference (for divinely-inspired zeal sometimes causes impudence, and red-hot desire feeds it, but indifference is of a lazy soul and near to despair). Since I considered it preferable to choose the first of the two consequences, namely to speak, I am eager to proceed now to the literary struggle itself. So that the work not appear far inferior to my zeal, I put God at the forefront of my story since it is He who puts the words in my mouth.

2. So that a lengthy preamble, as is appropriate in an apology, should not become an occasion of sorrow for listeners who wish to hear the narrative more quickly, let us set the desired object at the starting-posts and briefly recall the accomplishments of the saint. Let us offer a pleasant tale to our listeners and at the same time prepare them to be more desirous for the rest of the story. For who does not know this great and truly heavenly planting, the divine field, the branch and offshoot of the true vine, whose fame has spread from one end of the earth to the other, whose miracles are many and whose deeds are more numerous still. He was a friend to emperors on account of his holy gift of prophecy, and to satraps on account of his awesome miracles, and to patriarchs as a result of the famous brilliance of his virtue before he was a priest. He was revered and beloved by everyone even before they met him. He was the model for ascetics and the ornament of the priesthood, the support of those who live the mixed life. He inspired fear in his enemies and was dear to his own, the helper to those in trouble and offering cheer to those oppressed, the doctor and cure to those suffering from any affliction whatsoever. He was the correction of sinners and the model of moderation, the yoke of righteousness, and all things to all people, so that he might win the more, if not all, according to the solemn words of Paul, steering them to the right path through his guidance. But since in these few words what I have promised has come to an end, just like you can imagine the whole robe from the mere touch of its hem, by divine grace I take up the narrative itself.

3. The parents of the saint were wellborn and noble, living more for God than relying on the flesh. The father had the name Theodosius, the mother Megethos (i.e., Greatness), either called exactly what she became, or becoming what she was called, truly the greatest temple of virtues. We ought not pass over these names without examination. For to keen observers, nothing was allotted incidentally, neither to the august parents nor to the honored child, neither name nor activity nor occupation, but everything foreknown by divine foreknowledge was foreordained. For whom he foreknew, he also foreordained, says the divine apostle. Hence, having a name befitting her deeds and the accompanying gift of God, she brought the fruit of grace to greatness. What else can we say but that she was worthy of the divine gift? They were inhabitants of Kromna, near admirable Amastris, a small town that gained distinction more on account of them than because of wealth or power. They bore fruit for God in every virtue, living together with righteousness and moderation.

4. For the longest time they remained childless, but they did not cease to petition God with fasting and prayers that a divine fruit be given to them for the succession of their family. As long as some remnant redolent of earthly concern remained in the incense of the prayer, God, who prepares everything for the best, delayed. But when those Abrahamic souls saw that a just decree was denying them for a long time and that the request remained unfulfilled, did they imagine something ignoble? Did they utter something unworthy of their own virtue? Did they imagine in their mind that just requests would be unjustly denied? Did they suspect the things here on earth are destitute of God’s providence? Did they allow themselves to believe any other thing which the Evil One is wont to sow in less sound minds? Surely not! Rather, they attributed to themselves the reason for the divine delay. For those living in accordance with God are naturally disposed to consider the divine decrees, and if they should stumble slightly, to set themselves aright as soon as possible. The one had Abraham as his model, how he became a father in old age. The wife on the other hand looked to Sarah and to Hannah; how because of the hospitality of Abraham divine providence rejuvenated the womb of the former after she was well advanced in years and renewed her nature in old age, and now the latter’s just request freed her from the bonds of many years of barrenness. Both of them became fruitful from fruitlessness. The former brought forth the model of truth, and the latter brought forth the priest and prophet. Hence gazing with pious thoughts at such archetypes they changed their request in harmony, and they no longer asked to receive a successor of the family, nor an heir of their possessions nor a support in their old age. But should a child be given to them, they would give him as a gift in the presence of the Lord and present him as a holy votive offering to God who had given the gift. Since the substance of the prayer was worthy, He who does the will of those who fear him and hearkens to their plea broke asunder the bonds of barrenness with a divine nod. So the barren woman conceived in her womb and was not disappointed in her hopes, just as Abraham was not bereft of his hopes in calling Sarah the mother of his son after the death of her fertile nature on account of barrenness.

5. Nor is it fitting to neglect the divine wonders that were worked before the birth of the saint; how he was chosen from above, and how he had his name not from men, nor on account of men, but rather was anointed and dedicated a priest before being born from the womb. When his holy mother was pregnant, like Elizabeth, she carried one like the precursor of God. Frequenting the holy precincts constantly and devoting herself to prayer (for this became her habit), it happened that she appeared to some of the city leaders, who were sitting at the entrance of the temple. Looking at her, they did not respect her any more than any other woman. So she hurried into the temple to send up her customary prayers to God, and they went home at the end of the day. The story will now show how they suffered on account of their nightmares. Each of them saw fearsome men holding clubs in their hands, looking murderous and threatening to commit all of the most fatal deeds against them. Struck by intense fear and trembling before these threats, they cowered (for there is great fear when something unusual happens while asleep, as those who have experienced dreams know). Wanting to know the reason why they were suffering these things, the men in the dream said to them, “Because you did not render appropriate respect to your high priest, you were permitted to suffer these things.” But the men did not understand this and declared on oath that they had never seen such a thing done. Still, the men in the dream persisted and began to threaten them even more vehemently. Finally, they yielded to the request of the city leaders and declared the reason for their threats, explaining that that the woman who passed through the midst of them on the previous day had in her womb a holy babe. After they had described the events in order, they disappeared. Each of the city leaders rose early the next morning, struck with fear by the things that they had seen. They earnestly seized the mother of the saint as if by common agreement, and falling at her feet they asked her pardon and tearfully confessed their sin. She asked them the reason for what was happening, and they related the events in detail. The explanation of the matter became an occasion of gladness for them, because the threats were not real and because such a gift had been given to their homeland by divine foresight; to her, on the other hand, it was an occasion of joy and amazement.

6. Nevertheless, the noble woman departed and approached a certain divinely inspired man who on account of the purity of his life could see the future. She explained in detail what had happened, and she learned from him the future as if it were the present. He told her the name of her son and the anointing of his high priesthood and how much progress in virtue he would make and of what great gifts he would be worthy on account of divine grace. Behold the inexplicable judgments of divine foreknowledge. Whenever fruit springs forth from one who is barren, it enriches life. Consider Isaac, Samuel, and John. The first was a type of the Lord and a fulfillment of the promises of God to his father. The second was a prophet and a priest who anointed kings. The third was as a lamp to the sun, the forerunner of grace and the beginning of repentance. Perhaps it is not superfluous to mention what has just occurred to me. Not all of those who are not born from barrenness are remarkable, some are and some are not. For each, as we know, attracts divine glory on account of his increase in virtue. But there is no one born from barrenness who is not famous. Why is that? Because he was born from barrenness? Not at all! Before He who knows everything before creation allows such a man to appear in the world, He prompts the request on account of the bonds of barrenness, so that the gift might be given in response to prayer, rather than by chance. I am not saying these things in order to heap more honor upon that man (for words are unable to make the brilliance of the sun brighter, nor to expose the greatness of heaven, the position of the stars or any other of those things which are frightful to see and even more frightful to comprehend). Rather, I am saying this so that you may know to what extent God chose him before the creation and how rich he was in gifts of divine grace.

7. Lest this account seem to stray from its mark, let us return to our subject. The baby was conceived, developed and was born, looking like a child, but full of divine grace. He was weaned on divine grace rather than milk, and he grew perfected in the spirit rather than in the flesh. But behold, the treachery of the murderous enemy was present right from the beginning. He kept watch for him and could not keep still. He pondered the pregnancy that had resulted from the work of prayer and the divine portents that arose in dreams about the unborn child. He was stung by all of this as he reflected on it. In his wickedness he was able to foresee, scheme, and slander the good and to attack what was beautiful. He remembered all of those born from barrenness who had tread on his power. He recalled Isaac, moved on to Samuel and remembered John. Mulling over them in his memory, he became distressed and vexed. Before the soldier became experienced, he set a trap, drew up for battle and struck from afar. Before he even saw the bearer of arms, he tried to wound him, but even more, he hastened to kill him. So he acted in this manner and did not cease from wickedness. It occurs to me at this point to utter the words of Paul, “O, the depth of the riches of the knowledge and wisdom of God. How unsearchable are his judgments and unfathomable his ways.” Why did He allow the enemy to display his own evil against the baby? Why did He who enlists the soldiers allow the enemy to gravely harm the warrior who was not yet able to take up the spear and the shield on account of his youth? But these things leave the questioner in wonder. The rival was allowed to display his nature in this mischievous scheme against the child: he pushed the unattended three year old into a fire, burning both his hands and feet. In my opinion, this was done intentionally. Even though the serpent knew that his own head would be trampled on, he plotted against the boy’s feet. And even though he knew his deeds would be destroyed, he mutilated the boy’s hands in the fire. He performed these deeds as planned, and God permitted it. Perhaps he permitted the soldier to be struck so that in the moment of battle he might take his place in line more courageously, and so that incited by the scars of the enemy’s plot he might contend against him more vigorously and direct all his wrath against the snake alone.

8. The boy was snatched from the fire and given the appropriate treatment. He proceeded to progress in wisdom beyond his years. When he was given over to teachers he was already capable of learning. He learned the entire curriculum, both ours and theirs, taking all of ours to heart and choosing what was advantageous from theirs. Taking every thought of ours captive in order to become obedient to Christ and in purity pushing away from his mind what was base of theirs, he enjoyed what was beneficial in each. On account of the good fortune of his nature and the sharpness of his mind it was possible to see that he achieved in a short time what others do not accomplish over a long period. For those who show a capacity for learning but do not reflect on the things of the flesh, the end result of their ability is somehow useless and ineffectual, completely broken off on account the immoderation of their fleshly desires. But for those to whom the reflection of carnal things accompanies the capacity for learning, it is impossible to describe how much progress is made. Young Joseph was such a one. He was the rule of moderation, free from all childish behavior, as well as from the maddening desires. He fled from mocking youths, flattery and games and, as it were, all other bad habits. In the height of his youth he displayed the qualities of his elders. Because of his preference and selection of the good when he was not yet an adult, he ran away in the face of the pleasures of youth, when nature does not display firmness towards the good but rather is easily turned towards evil. On account of this, as his body grew, he demonstrated an increase in virtue proportionate to his physical growth. He most gloriously adorned the one, his body, by means of the other, his virtue, turning away from all luxuries and attractiveness of face and body. He could not bear to hear the tongue babbling about worldly affairs, considering silence the foundation of spiritual purification. He did not incline his ear to the sounds of songs composed for pleasure, or to the words of witty and comical men, who are naturally most disposed to slacken the intensity of the soul. Thus he did not allow his mind to be dissipated in more muddied thoughts, nor to be dispersed on external things through his senses, but rather he prepared his mind to turn upon himself, and through himself to ascend to the conception of God. Being illuminated by the light of that One, he changed for the better day by day.

9. These were his achievements at the very height of his youth. When he arrived at manhood and distinguished himself in a more mature way in practical philosophy, he was adopted by a priest, his uncle, who at that time held the throne of his native city. He intended to participate in ecclesiastical rules and to be initiated in every ecclesiastical order and station. And so he loved his uncle, but he cherished even more the whole organization of the church. He reformed some by words, others by deeds; he was considered a priest before his priesthood and deemed by everyone a high priest before his anointing. For he possessed many qualities that produced this reputation: the moderation of his character, gentleness, calmness, graciousness, the soundness of purpose, kindness of word and greatness of deed. He made fasting his partner, moderation his comrade, humility his companion, love his friend, and on account of these things he bridled his passion and armed himself against sin alone. Consequently, he despised ephemeral things and excited his desire towards the truly good. In general raising himself above every brutish impulse and every earthly thought, he prepared the temple of the Holy Spirit.

10. The noble youth was not content with these things alone, but rather he contemplated the eremitic life. He desired to be far from the throng and longed to converse daily with God in a peaceful state. He reflected on Elijah, Moses and the Forerunner, that is, how the one encountered the divine manifestation on mount Horeb, how the other received the tablets written by the finger of God on Sinai, and how the last was the baptizer of the One who takes away the sin of the world (for burning with divine love his soul would often ponder such stories in order to discern their many models). Consequently he secretly departed from his homeland, without making extravagant preparations for his departure. He carried neither a pouch nor a staff nor money in his belt. He did not have a multitude of servants nor anything else of those things that are useful for a journey abroad. One servant alone and one pack animal were sufficient for his departure. Nor did he consider the old age of his parents, this well-known and blessed impediment to the better way. People find it hard to tear themselves away from other people, some out of compassion for their parents, others out of the compassion for their brothers, and still others out of compassion for their relatives. However, nearly all neglect their own salvation, remaining unmoved towards the good. But this very virtuous one did not consider any of these things for he knew that his parents would be taken care of by the creator, and his relatives would be cared for by their maker. He embraced the desert with Elijah and John so that guarding the quiet citadel of his soul he might fully receive the radiance of the Spirit.

11. As soon as he stopped at the foothills of the mountain called Agrioserike, he sent the boy home with the pack animal and withdrew from all worldly intercourse. He then drew near to God in serenity through the purity of his spirit and was led further into the deeper parts of the mountain. There a forest of various colored and kinds of trees almost completely surrounded him. In addition to other obstacles, there were steep cliffs on all sides. This mountain not only removed him from urban clamor but also discouraged every traveler. Climbing to the summit of this mountain, he stumbled upon a certain cave, a workshop of virtue, in which a man lived for God through the purity of his life after having exhausted every worldly vanity. This man had advanced to such a level of virtue that he received the anointing of prophecy and could foretell the unfolding of future events on account of his intimacy with God. The one had the same manner as Moses and Elijah, the other became like Aaron or Elisha (for according to the saying, God leads like to like). The man received him with great cheerfulness; for how could it not be destined that the old man foreknew one so virtuous? So they dwelt together, the former already accomplished in virtue and the latter being taught by him. For he decided that his retreat from the world should not be a physical retreat from it, but rather he decided to break his soul of its sympathy for the body, and to become without a city, without a home, without anything of his own, without companions, without an occupation, and he would continue along ignorant of things learned in the world, ready to receive in his heart the impressions that result from divine lessons. Having now become so great in virtue, he was tonsured by the venerable old man. He dressed like a monk and hereafter was the rule and norm of discipline for himself. He therefore became completely homeless, a companion to God and angels.

12. Not long after, the heavenly chorus sought out the old man, and the hour of his death was near. His divine soul, foreseeing his departure, summoned the noble youth and rekindled him with divine plans. He proclaimed the unfolding of future events, saying that a certain monastery was nearby, which the inhabitants call Bonyssa, a place that was very famous for its virtue and where a community of monks lived angelically on earth, set free from every earthly concern. He predicted that he would be received there free from interference and with cheerfulness. For the old man, like some Elijah riding a chariot at the end of his life, crossed over to what he desired and rejoiced twice over on account of his prediction, as Elijah rejoiced for Elisha on account of his sheepskin. Set on his way by the prayers of his spiritual guide, he left his eremitic isolation and as quickly as possible embraced the common monastic life. The unknown one was received as one who was known from long ago, and the newcomer as if he had lived with them always. For such is virtue that it remains whole in those who possess it, shines forth to those around it, orders its possessor intelligently and does not escape the notice of those who choose to see correctly. Moreover, it makes its possessor venerable before he uses it and prepares him to be recognized by appearance alone. For as a rustic recognizes a rustic and a farmer recognizes a farmer, if you will, and a soldier recognizes a soldier by appearance alone, so too is it the case among spiritual men. They perceived the inner state of his soul from his obvious joy, and they had no other thought than to receive him eagerly. The order of this community of fathers became most glorious, and he like a sun illuminated the foundation of its workings.

13. Henceforth he became a marvelous partner of that wonderful society that contended in the flesh to achieve the bodiless state. He took on the struggles of ascetic training, rejecting all the conveniences of earthly life. He did not turn his mind towards any of the necessities of life in the performance of earthly tasks but rather applied all his zeal to the acquisition of eternal benefits: how he might acquire righteousness and moderation, how he might prosper in wisdom and courage and how he might acquire all the other virtues that proceed naturally from these cardinal virtues. He studied divine scriptures unceasingly, so that the lessons of these deeds and the surviving written accounts of the lives of blessed men might be seen as living images of the way of life according to God in their imitation of good deeds. By continually reading the story of Joseph and learning from him moderate behavior he found that he was not only steadfast in the face of pleasure, but he was even habitually disposed to virtue. He imitated and emulated the lessons he obtained from him, and he was further inflamed by the Spirit. Or coming upon Job’s struggles, he learned from him courage and patience, since in his situation everything was turned to the opposite, poverty from wealth and childlessness from many children. He also learned to his profit to tolerate the occasional reproaches of his companions, even in this taking Job as his example, how sitting as a wounded man on a dung hill, he was not disturbed when his companions kicked and constantly reproached him, nor did he utter a sound that suggested an impulse toward anger. He reaped a benefit from everyone, gentleness from David, justice and prudence from Solomon. Then returning to Abraham and taking examples from him, he remained firm and steadfast in his faith in God.

14. Such was the general manner of his life, the height of his philosophy and the dignity his conduct both night and day that it surpasses the scope of this story. For just as souls freed from bodies through death are dissolved from the cares of this life, so too his soul was separated from them, removed from every earthly care and was disposed to the imitation of the conduct of angels. They have no anger, ill will, suspicion, or any other similar vice and reject the desire for impiety, for honor and glory, for vanity and notoriety, and for other such things. His luxury was self-control, his glory was not to be recognized and his wealth was both poverty and the disregard for every worldly possession as if it were dust. How could human words depict the conduct of those whose life is a boundary between human and bodiless nature?

15. So he lived with them for a long time, and his accomplishments steadily increased. Climbing up the ladder of virtues, he could no longer be concealed just as the lamp cannot hide on a mountaintop nor a pearl conceal its own brilliance. But the brightness spread throughout the entire universe, its radiance diffused, and the divine foreknowledge was confirmed. His fame reached his native city and dispelled sullenness, and transforming the former sorrow into joy, it obliterated every remnant of faintheartedness. And since the head of that church was dead, the Lord inspired zeal among the inhabitants of his homeland to determine a course of action that was pleasing to God and very fitting for that time. They decided to choose as chief priest the one who was a priest before birth and to send a delegation to him in hopes of convincing him to yield and to accept the priesthood. So a delegation of eminent citizens, ecclesiastics and magistrates of the city were sent to him.

16. The envoys approached him and said, “The city that has reared you and the church that nurtured you are distressed and complain bitterly since they have failed in their hopes of gaining great profit from you (for the city hoped to become famous for rearing him and to obtain from the other cities surpassing glory, and the church, to be well governed and to maintain its customs). Now here you are aloof, pay your debt by staying at home and return payment to those who reared you, settling things justly. Procure for the one glory by coming to it, for the other cause for boasting on account of settling there, and for both good cheer through your arrival. Imitate the saints of old, whose lives you have emulated. Imitate those before grace and those after Christ since preaching and the return of sinners was the work of all the champions of God. For the perfection of virtue is not characterized by providing for oneself, but rather the highest intention of every saint is the consideration and salvation of the many. For this reason Paul traveled from Jerusalem to Illyricum and endured constant persecutions, as well as dangers on land and on sea. For this reason Peter exchanged chains for chains, afflictions for afflictions and a thousand other woes that we need not enumerate. For this reason Christ took on the form of a servant, received blows and beatings, was spat upon, and accepted the cross, death and the descent into hell.

17. After the ambassadors related these and many other things, that great one and disciple of peace answered them in a gentle voice, “For me, oh envoys, the world and the things of the world have been crucified, while leadership of the people and the anointing of the hierarchy has been left to those who desire it and to whom providence has chosen from above.” Oh lofty thought, oh truly noble aspiration, in which the better is not overpowered by the worse but is completely unenslaved and alien to intercourse with what is inferior in its extension of good works. Attend to the only way that leads to the greatest good and turn toward nothing else at all! When the ambassadors saw the resolve of the worthy man, (oh what a wonder!), it happened that something even more daring took place (if one might presume to put it that way), but do not represent it as an act of divine influence. They resolved on a plan full of piety and audacity. They dragged the holy man by the hand forcibly and against his will. For when ardent desire takes hold of the propitious moment, it is able to dare and accomplish anything. However, the audacity was not unbecoming (may it never be!), but rather boldness was displayed with great reverence.

18. So a noble tyranny was perpetrated. As soon as the origin of hope had been taken, they rushed to the ruling city as quickly as possible, zeal shortening the length of the road, hope lightening the accompanying labors of the journey, and faith providing that everything was as easy as possible and that they encountered nothing vexatious. One could see how everything came together at that propitious moment and strained mightily toward the right end: the acceptance by the one presiding (Tarasios was the patriarch’s name) in perfect agreement with the choice of those electing, and the recognition from their first meeting. This, then, is how the recognition came about. When the great Tarasios had not yet ascended the sacred throne but was still enlisted in the office of imperial secretary, which is called a secretis in the Italian dialect, it happened that he was leading the nightlong psalmody with a hired choir. At that time the great George, still young and frequently accompanying his uncle, came to the church and took part with those celebrating the divine psalmody. When the role of the psalm singers was completed, and the moment had come to pay them, the money was distributed to each one according to his rank. When it came his George’s turn for the allotment, he did not deign to receive it, saying that it is better to receive one’s wages in the age which is to come. Such was his response. Tarasios observed what happened, and admiring the virtue of the youth, he fastened it in his mind as a divine spark, which he cherished in his memory and which now was suddenly kindled anew (for a praiseworthy deed, which has been seen through the senses with spiritual eyes, can create an unforgettable and indelible memory.) After carefully questioning the man, he understood that this was an act of divine foresight and will. So he decided quickly to declare him a priest, since he had been attested from above, and thus to offer a deed long yearned for to those seeking after it.

19. But the imperial emissary, or rather a bout of jealousy, managed to postpone for a little while the eagerness of the patriarch. The emperor himself had chosen another for the same bishop’s throne. However, the emperor’s command in no way convinced the holy chief priest to prefer a lie to the truth. His zeal in keeping the divine commandments did not allow him to respect the imperial visage, to fear his tyrannical hand or to be swayed by flattery. But summoning the entire holy hierarchy, he led the two men into their midst, like Matthias and Nicanor, and made a test and comparison of two who were incomparable. Both to those of the ecclesiastical order and to the others who were present nothing more was demonstrated than that gold is gold and even more brilliant and precious in comparison to lead. One could see the unanimity of the priests and the common vote and lot in George’s favor, as it was for Matthias. So he received the anointing of priesthood and was sent forth to his homeland, grieving on account of his departure from Constantinople. For in a short time he had become known to all, beloved and respected by emperors, rulers and subjects, masters and the poor. He was embraced as soon as he was recognized since that no one could escape a strong desire for him. So it was in Byzantium. When his countrymen possessed what they had sought and were not cheated of their hope, they seized the object of their desire and departed.

20. But here our narrative strays from its course, gets ahead of itself and dares to approach what is secret, proceeding to speak as if it had become an observer of secrets in claiming that for such an achievement there was heavenly applause and approval, praise from the citizens of the heavenly city and joy from the entire assembly of heaven. At least that is more than likely. For if what was accomplished results in the salvation of many (and indeed, as the subsequent story will show, he achieved many things: solutions to obstacles endangering the very soul, the cleansing of souls, and a swarm of a thousand other achievements), and if angels rejoice at the salvation of men since they are commanded to be the guardians of all of them, then it is likely that they delight in them and celebrate and rejoice with them. And if the souls of the saints are in the hand of God, and God rejoices in the return and salvation of sinners, it is also likely that he takes delight in the souls that witnessed the salvation of their kin on account of the virtue and foresight of this man. But enough of these things.

21. He brought great treasure to his native city, intending to make it admired and famous. He acquired many things for it and enjoyed not being ruled by anyone on account of his intimacy with the emperor. For the man governing the metropolitan see of Gangra at that time, showing his usual pompousness and insolent, or rather misanthropic manner, did not respect the gift of the Holy Spirit in him. For fear of God is an abomination to the sinful, according to the scriptures, and normally the good is accustomed to be praised and respected by the good and is by nature disposed to rise in revolt against that which does not possess it. He once refused to receive this great man and citizen of heavenly Jerusalem when out of obedience he was present for an inspection. Perhaps this was the work of divine foreknowledge, which managed everything well in the face of his hardness of heart, so that the better was not ruled by the worse. So it turned out as it should. This was the reason why the throne of his native city was not ruled by anyone, after the hand of the emperor justly arranged the matter at the request of the saint. I did not relate these things as I ordered them in the preface, but rather much later in time since the story has now come to the point that demands their elaboration.

22. But let the story conform again to the outline and follow the order of the introduction. This divine treasure was brought to his homeland as the vessel of choice, the second Paul, exhibiting simplicity and goodwill. He was blameless in life, gentle in word and pleasing in manners. When the arrival of this man into the city was announced one could see a crowd gather, which was a spectacular sight. Old people forgot their own feebleness and showed youthful zeal as they hastened towards the event. The sick grew strong and forgot the symptoms of their illnesses on account of their desire. Women rejected the weakness of their nature and took up manly virtue. Children showed a desire equal to their elders, all of them running forward towards the saint like thirsty deer to a spring. The roads and streets were full for this citywide celebration. Why should I list everything that happened if it is possible to complete the outline in a few words? The righteous one was led to the mother church and received the keys from on high, just as Peter the Head of the Church did. So the good helmsman took the tiller in hand, knowing how to navigate safely through the sea of life.

23. If the youth’s desire for his homeland was so great, could his effort have been any less? Could he have struggled fairly for the organization of church but was not at all educated? Did he act wisely but not suitably? Did he carry out all of these tasks in a manner fully consistent with reason but still leave behind some remnant of meanness of spirit or low purpose in himself? Absolutely not! Rather, he carried out all of these tasks in a zealous manner, namely, arranging the priesthood, setting the liturgy in order, and organizing the hierarchical system. Looking to him as if to an archetypical list, they impressed upon themselves the visible characteristics of the virtues, and learned what was necessary in deed rather than in word. They stamped their souls with the indelible images of virtue. From this point on, faith, hope, love, justice, temperance, and the remaining catalogue of virtues were learned, so too were equity, gentleness, humility, the support of orphans and the bereaved, the support of the poor, the canceling of debts, the yielding of fines, sympathy towards their own people, compassion for the needy, and finally and most importantly, piety towards the divine, and disdain for the lazy, eagerness for the future, and growth in every virtue.

24. There were many tokens of his care and leadership toward his homeland: intercessions with emperors, frankness towards the magistrates and those in the public hire, cancellations of taxes, turning aside of abuse, taking charge of needed matters that were both spiritual and material, as well as other matters that a truthful man and one aligned with God would carry out for his people. But his handling of the following incident was the greatest. The attack of theses enemies was the most severe assault ever remembered. The lawless ones took captives of every type and age. Those who were useful in battle and those who were aged and very young were put to death by the sword. With respect to the former, it was necessary that the more vigorous and courageous of them not be put on display. With respect to the latter, they were useless and good for nothing, some being worn out by old age, and others impeded by the inexperience of youth. As for the rest, as much as they were unfit for battle, they were not unfit for drudgery and were chosen out for honorless slavery. The land was full of blood, the countryside was full of wailing, and there were lamentations everywhere since their existence was just like the Jewish captivity among the Persians. For the host of the Argarenoi showed a recklessness that was no less than the savagery of the Persians but was even harsher since they lacked manly virtue (for whenever victory is in the offing, the slackening of resistance leads to savagery, while the continued application of force leads to respect). Dear children in the arms of their mothers suffered an untimely death by the sword. Mothers offered up their throats to the blade of the sword so that they might not see with their own eyes their wretched children being murdered at the hands of their enemies. Who could write a tragedy about the variety of this misfortune: the harshness, the cruelty, the savagery of the enemies, how the child clinging to its mother’s breast died on account of a thrust into its innards, how the wretched mother offered her breast to the mouth of the child and received its blood in her lap? It often happened that by the force of his hand an enemy pinned mother and child together with one thrust of his sword. How could anyone describe the recollections of the fathers, the wailing and final contortions of their children? Children seized from their parents arms left behind a piteous tragedy for them.


25. In such circumstances, o wonder, the saint did not despair for his soul out of cowardice, nor did he selfishly think of how he might flee captivity, nor did he think or do anything ignoble. But holding his head high, strengthening himself with the trophy of the cross and taking up the shield of faith, he ran through the neighboring villages and like the good shepherd gathered everyone together on account of the enemy’s wolf-like attack. When he had secured them in the city as if in a pen, he himself went out alone unarmed, bearing the brunt of the battle for his homeland, risking his life for his sheep in imitation of the shepherd and lord and chief priest. But why did the Lord of miracles prepare one to chase back a thousand, two to remove many thousands, and seven circling priests with an equal number of blaring trumpets to bring down Jericho’s walls, which were higher than any engine? By the circling of one priest He saved a city of ten thousand inhabitants and routed a nation full of madness that was bent on rubbing out the entire inheritance of Christ. It was struck down by prayers as if by arrows, defeated and sent homeward in shame. Thus, according to the saying, even if the enemy was unwilling to respect the virtue of the man, they were then forced since one could see them fleeing with no one in pursuit and falling with no one striking them.

26. What is more amazing than the truth of these things? What tale is more marvelous? Long ago with God’s aid Moses routed Amalek by holding up his arms, bearing the image and pattern of a greater mystery. But he did not set up the trophy without toil and blood. He needed many picked men armed for battle and those who fought for the duration of the struggle. Joshua, the son of Nun, had to still the sun over Gibeon and the moon over the valley of Aijalon. But he George did not need an armed force drawn up against the enemy, nor horsemen, nor slingers, nor any other thing suited for battle, nor men fighting in the battle line of God, nor the lengthening of day, nor any of the other innumerable things that history speaks of. But alone and unarmed, he set up only the trophy of the saints. By lifting his hands to God he saved his homeland and showed an incomparable virtue. He convinced the enemy to not even consider seizing the shepherd of Christ nor to carry off the spoils of victory but rather to regard the universe as the concession of heavenly providence which destroys and makes alive, smites and heals, and smites utterly in order to construct something great and to work spiritual salvation through correction. Even when heavenly providence once allowed Israel to be held captive and to be led away into slavery, it did so in order that Israel might not serve other gods but turn again to the truth.

27. Are these things not great? Are they not full of wonder? Do the histories of the Greeks report such a strategy? What Odysseus set up such a trophy? What Herakleides or Pelopides? Their heroic feats seem to be full of nothing more than shame. Even though these things are so great, consider the following even more marvelous deeds that our story will now relate. Once some merchants from his city were arrested in Trebizond, wrongly accused of public crimes (for sure, false accusation is terrible and the offspring of jealousy; the end of both is murder). They were seized and handed over to the public jail by the strategos and sentenced to death by sword. And one could see, as is the case with men awaiting the death handed out to criminals, their changed expressions, crestfallen faces, their appearance completely darkened, their physical strength exhausted, their spirits dissipated and neglected, their hearts broken and knees weak, their voices caught in their throats sounding like gibberish, eyes full of tears, their vision useless, lamenting the separation from their children, their families and relatives, crying out to God and invoking the saint as if he were present, saying, “Hurry to our aid; deliver us from an unjust death; free us from this distress that possesses us. Do not allow us to endure the death handed out to criminals; let not jealousy cause our own murder; may our blood shed in another land not become a reproach to our homeland. Do not allow us to become the innocent victims of a false accusation.

28. While with pained hearts the men uttered these things and others like them, rent their clothes and sprinkled ash on their heads, the Lord who is wondrously compassionate made the drama apparent to his servant so that by sympathy for his kinsmen he might be adorned with even more brilliant laurels of virtue. And what happened? He departed from his homeland, not bending to the length of the journey, nor needing much for his departure, nor pretending to have a bodily ailment, nor making an excuse of wintry weather or a stormy voyage, nor any other thing that meanness of spirit is wont to throw in the way, but as soon as he heard, he went willingly. As soon as the good shepherd and imitator of the great chief shepherd learned of the impending ruin of his sheep, he hastened to their defense. He embarked on a ship and set sail to aid those suffering injustice, and as fast as possible, for everything seemed to agree with his plan. The voyage was a fortunate one since the sea was calm as it gently soothed the motion of the waves and all but said and announced that it would serve the just (No one should disbelieve what is said here, considering the first man and his stature before his transgression, how the entire world was prepared to rush to his service, how he was established by the creator as lord and like some master of a house gave names to his servants and handmaidens that were appropriate to their nature. If this was once the case though his own stature was destroyed by his disobedience, the one who keeps the commandment will by all means acquire this again, and he will have the earth and sea as his servants. Without mentioning them all, the portentous and marvelous miracles of the prophets, apostles and martyrs bear witness to this). And so by divine influence he found everything in agreement with his plan and he sailed intending to aid those who had received the death sentence.

29. But the rival of the truth and the enemy of the just, who always slanders the good, sows evil and plans every kind of wickedness, ran out ahead and paved the way for evil. For he prepared the shield-bearer of the strategos, called a cortus in the Italian dialect, to be his co-conspirator in this deed. As soon as this man learned of the reason for the saint’s arrival, he brandished his tongue like a sharpened razor against the men. Renewing the false charges and exaggerating the crimes, he fed the jealousy with abusive talk and slanderous notions, declaring that the men were responsible for many deaths and had committed the most serious crimes. He said that their laws would be broken and their customs ignored if these men did not pay the price for what they had dared to do. He shouted on about other things as well, the kind of things that evil intentions conceive and a deceitful tongue is wont to say. And so he carried on. The strategos was persuaded, partly willingly, wed to a senseless argument, and partly unwillingly, convinced by a bad adviser. For it is not easy to lead human nature to virtue; only with difficulty is it disposed towards the better and is easily swayed to the worse.

30. But why did He smite the Pharaoh’s birthright and astound Egypt with many divine miracles? He blinded the wife of the strategos since his was disobedient to His servant so that He might soften his stubborn heart, bend the unbowed, tame the wild, stop the force of jealousy by staving off murder, dull the spear of deceit and allow him to converse freely with the truth. When the strategos saw what had happened he become utterly pitiable. Terrified, begging, crying, mournful, confessing his sin and promising repentance, he was now reckoned as kind as he once was mad (for when times are good, most men by nature swagger around excessively, but when their luck changes, they become humble and consider their circumstances unbearable; in both cases they are poorly disposed by reason of their meanness of spirit). When the disciple of Him, who taught us to forgive sins seventy times seven times, the sea of compassion, the source of love, the model of humility, saw brashness turned to humility, when he observed the bold coming to repentance as suppliants, he did not need many words but immediately healed the blindness with divine petitions. And when they had experienced such miracles with their own eyes and rather than through dubious rumor, they became afraid and trembled on seeing them. They then handed the men over to the saint and begged him to pardon their errors.

31. A pious woman, enflamed with divine love, a pious women showing the fruits of piety, asked the saint to celebrate the divine liturgy in her private oratory. Look at the miracle, equal to any ever seen. For whenever there is a woman’s faith, divine wonders are praised, just as whenever there is wrath, it always inveighs against evil. Both can be seen in one prophet. Elijah was persecuted by Jezebel and lived in the desert, so formidable a prophet, that with one word he let down fire from the sky, consumed the priests of shame in fire, closed the sky and parched the whole earth with drought. He was received by the widow Zarephath, increased the measure of wheat and multiplied the flask of oil, and although her son was dead, raised him and gave him to his mother. Elishah was guided by the woman of Sounem and performed an equal miracle. Rahab the prostitute guided the spies and was saved. So that I do not make the story bloated by saying everything, a prostitute offered precious myrrh and anointed the true myrrh, who is God and human at the same time and was saved from her odious deeds. Mary, the sister of Lazarus sat at the feet of Jesus, attentive to his salvific teaching. Indeed, a wonderful spirit of a wonderful woman. She invited her friend into her house yet did not perform the tokens of hospitality. But instead of domestic duties, she pondered higher things (for she knew Him who showered manna in the desert and brought forth water from a stone and sated five thousand people with five loaves so that no one was in need of sustenance even though in reality everyone was hungry, thirsty and tired according to the law of the body). While her sister was calling her, she listened to the Logos telling her to choose the good portion which stays with one always.

32. That wondrous woman seems to me to have possessed that much or even more zeal. Having accepted the saint in her own house, she ignored not only those things necessary for the well-being of the body, but also those made for the purpose of the liturgy, I mean, the bread and wine. In bringing her whole self to the teaching of the saint and being unmindful of all earthly concern, she forgot them. And therefore the very miracle that happened to her demonstrates that she chose the right portion, which will be not taken away from her. For when the teaching was completed, a teaching that transformed those souls who heard it from the earthly to the heavenly and prepared them to ignore the temporary as something that flows and perishes and to care for the eternal things that remain and have no successor, the time arrived to begin the mystical liturgy. Since the elements necessary for this purpose were not present, as was mentioned, the saint performed a miracle, or rather through him a miracle was performed by God, Who fed a prophet by a prophet in the pit, and Elijah by a raven, and Who after His resurrection from the dead (having already appeared three times) prepared from untouched storehouses which He himself knows that miraculous and divine supper for His disciples. He offered the bread and wine as a type of His divine body and His precious blood in order that He might both glorify his servant and proclaim more clearly in a loud voice the pious sensibility of that believing woman and in order that from this abundance it might be believed by those who saw and those who heard, those who are and those who are to come that He is the one who said not to take care of needful things, but rather the Kingdom of God, and “all these things will be added unto you.”

33. For if, as it seems, she ignored such things because of her rapt attention to divine teaching, she is not only free from guilt but is even praise-worthy since the marvel greater than logic demonstrated how many evils all men would have avoided, and how many benefits they would have deserved if they had desired to commit their care to the Lord. Would that they had never discovered commerce on land and sea, inopportune anxieties, long toils, labors, sleepless nights, these bitterest fruits of avarice, for the sake of which there are jealousies, murders and shipwrecks, robberies, thefts and pillaging, lies, oaths and perjury, and the myriad swarm of other evils. Would that they had committed their care to the Lord, Who feeds the birds of the sky, who never sow nor reap, the Lord, Who from the beginning considered the first-formed worthy of that happiness and everlasting life, even though on account of his fall of disobedience he was condemned to inhabit the thorny earth and to eat the bread of toil.

34. But lest our story proceed beyond its intention, let me return to our subject. After the woman from Trebizond had benefited from such miracles, it was necessary that the saint return to his homeland, bringing the men with him as a gift. From there he set out for the capitol. For she who held the scepter of the Romans (the empress’ name was Irene) and her son Constantine so loved him that they could not bear his absence for very long. They clearly compelled him to be with them constantly, to participate in the court and to hold firmly the reins of their dominion, even though on account of his humble bearing he abhorred the amusements of the palace and the intimacy of the rulers, considering it to be a most shameful thing.

35. Since this was the case, when he arrived at Constantinople, something strange happened, in the course of which, among his other gifts he was shown to be in full possession of the prophetic. He was a model of that best society and the best exemplar of those who merit the perception of future events, that is, to simultaneously predict and conceal with unclear references the outcome of the future, refraining from the tendency of small and rash spirits, so that the foretelling might not become the accusation of someone who disagrees, but to make the prediction obscurely, to realize the meaning of the foretelling after the outcome of events, and to give thanks to God who knows everything before it happens. The one who at that time managed the public revenues (the logothetes’ name was Nikephoros) happened to be among his best friends and acquaintances. He made the saint his advisor not only in spiritual matters but in his earthly conduct as well in order that his life, words and deeds might be well directed. He wanted to buy a house and shared the matter with him who advised him on everything. While he was delayed in this desire, he took control of the seals of the Empire, which is the same thing that happened to Saul, in so far as he clearly acquired a byproduct that was greater than the deed. For when a certain woman who owned large houses became a widow, the saint declared that in a short time he would become an heir. But he meant this about the empress, after whom Nikephoros himself received the empire. At the time, he did not understand the prediction of the matter since it was spoken so enigmatically. But when the prediction came true and he recognized the prophetic gift of the saint, the imperial diadem was nothing to him, nor the entire dominion of the Romans in comparison to living, being and associating with him, so that he overlooked the purple itself and secretly embraced the saint’s tunic and cloak, regarding them as the safeguard and strength of his empire. He despised the high bed of the palace and threw himself on the ground, sharing that lofty pallet and its sleeplessness.

36. And so these things happened. Let us recall one last thing from among the many before proceeding to the end of our story. After he had made a voyage across the Black Sea to his homeland, he arrived at a certain place, where the channel of the Sangarios river flows through the land of the Galatians and comes to an end. Here the ship entered the delta of the river, a place where the running stream struggles against the waters of the sea. The former flows rapidly over the surface, and the sea is made rough by the winds, casting its waves onto the shore. There the wind blows seaward and greatly distresses sailors, sometimes sinking them along with their ships. But at that time a particular wind was blowing especially hard in from the west, so that the current split, burst forth and created a crash. The ship slowly rowed to shore, and he disembarked and stood on the bank. Raising his hands towards heaven he rebuked the spirit and calmed the waves. That violent wind no longer blows in that place, restrained by a certain inescapable bond, the command of the saint. Other than your salvation, what miracle that was performed by the saints long ago was not exceeded by this miracle in greatness? What marvel did it not outdo? To cast out demons, to care for the sick and to accomplish a swarm of countless other miracles, of which every story and poem is full, is not difficult for saints since they maintain themselves in purity according to their model and receive the power for such miracles on account of their compassion for their fellow man. But to order the elements, to command the force of the winds, to censure the waves of the sea and as if to bridle them permanently, this, I mean, this is the work of divine nature, which stretches out the heaven like a skin and affixes the earth onto the water and bridles the sea with sand.

37. On account of his absolute self-control and purity George became like the divine nature as much as is possible and enriched the power of his miracles so that everyone appeared to share in them. To those already born he showed kindness that provoked no envy and was appropriate to their present needs by performing wondrous miracles. For those not yet born, whom a future time intended to receive, the effects of his kindness were stored up until that time came. One could confidently say that even the saints who had died long ago benefited from his miracles. For by imitating them he acquired a similar manner, and, to speak with the words of David, he ascended in his heart and transformed himself for the better so that he vied with some and surpassed others. He impressed upon himself the feats of all as a single type of virtue and honed it in himself to completeness so that these archetypes were something great for him who looked to them, but something even greater to those who had such an imitator. For a great painter and general, imitating the courage of the emperor in the battle line, naturally give renown to their prototype.

38. Having armed the full array of words and deeds as he would his own household, and having established himself in a firm position over piety, just as Lot had done, he maintained his flock in an invulnerable position. Moreover, he obtained their obedience to God, the Father of all, even to the point of shedding blood and he taught them effectively in the most emphatic manner. He sacrificed himself by his own choice every day and shone forth brilliantly as the sacrificer of the untainted sacrifice. So he wisely gave birth to them as sons and inheritors of God from the divine church that was in his charge, just as if from another Rebecca. Filling his flock not from among the unknown, but rather from the crowd of the distinguished and learned, he truly became renowned for his pastoral gift. These were the achievements of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Practicing the highest moderation by shedding earthly concerns, he easily escaped multifaceted sin, as if it were another Egypt. From his youth he was proclaimed a spiritual leader of Israel. Having torn them away from dark sins as if from Egypt, he led them spiritually to the Promised Land. He managed to purge from their memory every strange and Egyptian remnant by means of his austere teaching as if it were the water of the Red Sea. Having acquired the revered priesthood, he did not have a Moses to speak with God but rather interceded with God in direct conversation. He made holy offerings on behalf of the daily errors of his people, appearing thus to be exactly like Joseph, Moses, and Aaron. Imitating the zeal of Phineas in a moral manner, he stabbed the mixture of covetousness and lies with the sword of honesty. Moreover, cutting into this most shameful stomach, which is the destroyer of everything and the slaughter treacherously lurking in these matters, he showed himself to be like David even before his anointing as shepherd. Truly, he washed clean the lion like and extreme impulses of his passions through the power of reason. As a leader, he armed his mind with purity so that he girded himself for battle and struck the Goliath of his mind with his sling. Having experienced the solitude of Elijah and John, he went beyond them in challenging impiety. He showed the warmth of Peter and Paul in faith and magnanimity. He secured most carefully in himself the apostolate of the remaining teachers of the Gospel, unveiling for everyone the life giving and God given words of their mysterious teachings. Through his conscience he exhibited the constancy of the martyrs for truth even till death.

39. He outdid the fathers who had shone in shepherding their flocks. For who gathered the strays, sought out the wretched, restored the lame and healed the sick? He maintained their health sometimes with preventive measures, sometimes with purging cures. He did not use the rod in his speech, as the saying goes, but for the most part corrected them by deed rather than by word. Oh, how he drove out misanthropy and instead introduced philanthropy by means of deep humility. He banished ambition along with the love of money and established poverty and compassion in their stead. He bound all to righteousness, adorned them with moderation and strongly exhorted them to courage, making them accustomed to stand in battle against unseen enemies. For nothing is as effective in acquiring virtue as the active presence of a leader among his followers.

40. Since as a human being it had been his fate to serve, to cross over to the better lot after shaking off the things of nature and matter, to wear the laurels of piety and to live entirely for God, when he underwent the final terminal illness, he was in no way ignorant of the end, but rather gladly accepted it. He gave thanks to the One who bound him, had arranged the removal of mortal concerns through death, and Who would bind him again in heaven through the judgments by which he had justified him. He left his body two days before the tenth day of March. On account of the death of its fleshly desires, this same soul, taken from God, returned to God on high. It was possible to see the crowd of emperors and magistrates, their tears and the freely given laments of both rulers and those ruled. The former mourned the model of ruling well, and the latter bitterly lamented the standard of being ruled well. He was piously tended by the hands of the priests, reckoned a high priest among the high priests, a disciple among the apostles, a seer of future events among the prophets, and as one who suffered death daily among the martyrs for Christ because of his conscience.

41. He was covered by the grave as befits a man, but he was also not forgotten as befits a saint. Rather he shone forth with miracles as befits God, and in such a way as I will explain with a few examples from among the many. For I will not attempt to present all of them with words: the many troubled by unclean spirits who were freed from their demons by merely touching his coffin, those weakened in their limbs and carried in litters who returned to their homes strong and on their own feet, or those led around by others on account of their blindness who regained their sight and were delivered from the depths of night. Indeed, it would be like trying to measure the sea with a tiny bowl or to compare his virtue to a grain of sand on the beach or to measure the distance of the earth from heaven. But so that we might describe the lion by his claws, as the saying goes, and make perfectly clear his intimacy and familiarity with God even after his death, I will draw the story to its close by recalling one or two of those miracles.

42. A violent rain began to fall, worse than any other previous rain so that it resembled a second Flood. After the mountains and plains were flooded, houses and temples filled with water; partly swamped through their roofs, partly through theirs doors so that everything was filled. As a result of the influx of water from all sides, the city seemed to be bobbing on the sea, beaten by waves and on the verge of catastrophe. But divine foreknowledge, which manages everything according to the good and flashes the sword of vengeance without striking the blow in order to open the path of repentance for us, held the flow in check, arranging the city’s salvation through the saint’s intercession, as the miraculous event at his grave showed. For although the temple was flooded, the water did not approach the tomb. Rather, He who divided the Red Sea and stopped the Jordan River performed a miracle through his servant at that time. One could see wet and fluid nature transformed into solidity so that it surrounded the tomb on all sides like a solid and immovable wall. Consequently, no moisture made its way to the tomb. Surely, God is marvelous in his saints, accomplishing miracles and extraordinary things beyond all reason and power. So it was.

43. The things that happened next were even more amazing. There was an invasion of the barbarian Rus, a people, as everyone knows, who are brutal and crude and bear no remnant of love for humankind. They have savage customs and are inhuman in their deeds, displaying bloodthirstiness in their very appearance. They rejoice in slaughter more than in any other thing that people naturally enjoy. This nation, destructive both in deed and name, began their brutal outrage from the Propontis and then spread up the coast. They came as far as the native city of the saint and cut down unsparingly people of both sexes and every generation. They did not pity the old or overlook the young but rather raised their bloodthirsty hands equally against all and hastened to bring destruction with as much force as possible. Knocking over churches and desecrating relics, they set up ungodly altars in their place and performed unlawful libations and sacrifices. They renewed that ancient Tauric slaying of strangers, the slaughter of youths, men as well as women. No one provided aid, no one stood against them. Even meadows and springs and trees feared them. Perhaps divine providence allowed this so that evil would be multiplied, something that happened many times to Israel as we have learned from Scripture.

44. The good shepherd was not present in body, but rather was together in spirit with God, coming face to face with and being initiated in His incomprehensible judgments. He made no intercession for them and postponed sending aid. But he could not continue to disregard it forever but rather performed a miracle that was not less than the others performed here on earth. For when the barbarians entered the church and viewed the tomb, they suspected that the treasure truly was a treasure. And rushing forward to dig it up, their hands and feet were visibly weakened, bound by invisible fetters, and they remained completely motionless, piteous, and filled with amazement and fear. They were able to do nothing but speak.

45. Since their leader recognized the paradox of the deed he was overawed with fear and consternation. He summoned one of the prisoners and asked him why this had happen, what God has this power, what is buried here and why were his soldiers suffering. “This the power of God,” he said “Who brings everything out of non-being into being, Who creates whatever He wants and against Whom no one is able to speak, no emperor, no tyrant, no magistrate, no barbarian, nor whomever you might mention, nor an entire nation. It is on account of him that emperors rule and tyrants have power over the earth.” “What do you mean?” asked the barbarian “Do we not offer daily sacrifices to the gods, adorn our altars and perform libations?” “But these are in no way true gods to whom you offer yourselves, nor is our God pleased with these sacrifices. For he lacks nothing since he is ruler of everything.” “And what is the sacrifice,” he asked, “that your God will accept? And how does one in need of this thing lack nothing?” He answered, “He lacks nothing, but being good he accepts good deeds offered with pure intention. The one who appears pure before Him on account of his good deeds, this one is worthy of great honor from Him, both while living and when dead. “ “And what is this honor,” he asked. He responded, “To accomplish everything they desire in His name, to show kindness to those who honor them, and to avenge those who attempt to dishonor them. Therefore, as you see, since your soldiers dared to dig up the tomb, and it was hubris for them to seek out the dead with their unholy and barbaric hands, he bound their hands and feet through his intimacy with God. If you wish to learn the truth, give gifts to Him and propitiate Him by means of us Christians, and your men will be freed from their painful bonds.” He then asked, “What gifts please him and what will He accept.” He answered, “Oil and wax. For this is a customary act among Christians. And He also wants you to free the prisoners and respect the churches. If you wish to do and maintain all of these things, you will see your soldiers as strong as before.”

46. The barbarian was amazed by these things and promised to do everything as quickly as possible. He allowed the Christians to speak and move about freely and permitted their prayers to God and the saint. And so there was an all-night service and the singing of psalms with abundant light, and the barbarians were delivered from the wrath of God and became somewhat reconciled and at peace with the Christians. They no longer were insolent to holy objects or insulted divine altars. No longer were holy treasures seized with unholy hands or churches defiled with blood. One tomb was enough to refute the barbarian folly, to make them cease their excessive bloodthirstiness, to check their savagery, to lead those more wild than wolves into the gentleness of sheep, and to make those who revered groves and meadows respect holy churches.

47. Do you see the power of the tomb, which has overthrown the might of a whole nation? Do you see the power of the tomb, preparing the wolf to graze together with the lamb, in accordance with Isaiah, and the leopard to rest together with the kid? Do you see the glory of the coffin, putting forth miracles as rays of the sun? Do you see the dust stronger than a multitude of arrows and spears? Do you see the might of the remains, which softened the obstinate heart? Oh visible tomb and conscious treasure! Oh tomb, ruining tombs and protecting the lives of many! Oh coffin, whose glory has reached to the boundaries of the ocean! Oh dust that has winnowed the barbarians and crushed arms, sword and war. Oh hidden remains, more precious than gold, more brilliant than costly gems, more splendid than fine flax and purple raiment, more powerful than emperors, the strength and boast of Christians! Oh divine field, sown on earth by the tillage of the Spirit, grown up to heaven, gathered in season and put aside in the heavenly storehouses, liberally distributed in due season and yet not used up, broken into pieces yet not diminished, distributed yet not emptied out, expended yet multiplied again! Oh towering tree planted by channels of spiritual water and offering miracles in the time of harvest, whose leaf, a beauty and multitude of spiritual gifts, will never be severed or withered.

48. Oh citizen of heavenly Jerusalem, oh priest of the true temple and guardian of inexpressible beauty, may you watch over us from above and care for those who praise you, freeing us from our sins and our failures, delivering us from oppression, tragedies, worldly affairs, dangers, and every type of distressing thing. For we have visible proofs from your miracles of your intimacy with God; your grace is undoubted and your honor is unblemished. Pardon the daring of my undertaking your encomium, and approve its purpose since it is acceptable to God. For this course does not come about from recklessness, but rather my zeal arises from burning devotion and friendship for the renowned, lover of the good, Johannes who is encouraging me in this undertaking. Persuaded by his advice and not wishing to bring on a charge of disobedience, I have set out on this sea of encomia. Furthermore, having been convinced, I am delighted in so far as I am bringing the prizes of victory to others. For the inadequacy of my words makes clear the greatness of those who are the subjects of the encomium. Indeed, their greatness demonstrates the loftiness of their virtue, and my inadequacy reveals the certainty of their nearness to God. Therefore, appear as our leader, defender, and champion. Give us more opportunities for encomia through an increase in your miracles by your intimacy with God. Keep watch over this, your city, and protect your flock in Jesus Christ our Lord in whom there is glory forever and ever, Amen.

V. Vasil'evskij (ed.) Russko-vizantijskie issledovanija 2 (St. Petersburg: 1893), 1-73. Greek text available at the Dumbarton Oaks Hagiography Database. English translation by Jenkins, et al. available from the University of Notre Dame.



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