March 27, 2018

Concerning a Nun Who Fell and Repented

By Palladius, Bishop of Helenopolis

There was a certain virgin who was a nun, and who dwelt with two other nuns, and she had led a life of abstinence and voluntary self-denial for nine or ten years. And having been beguiled and led astray by a certain chanter of Psalms, she stumbled, and fell, and conceived, and gave birth to a child.

Now she hated with the fullest hatred him that had beguiled her. And she repented within herself with a perfect repentance, and she followed after repentance with such vigor that she went beyond the bounds of what was seemly, and she continued to observe fasts with such self-denial and strictness that she well nigh died of hunger.

In her prayers she used to make supplication, saying, “O God, Who supports and sustains all creation, and Who desires not the death and destruction of those who err and commit sin, if You wish me to live before You, show me a marvelous thing in this matter, and gather in this fruit of sin which I have brought forth, lest, because I cannot again attain to chastity, I kill myself through reproach and disgrace.”

And having made supplication for this thing, she was hearkened unto, and he who had been born unto her did not remain very long alive. And from the day wherein she fell and onwards she neither saw him that had beguiled her and led her captive, nor held converse with him, but she gave herself to frequent fasting and to ministering unto the women who were sick and smitten with disease for the whole of a period of thirty years; and thus her repentance was accepted by God. And He at length revealed unto a certain holy old man concerning her, saying, “Such and such a woman is very much more pleasing unto Me by her penitence than by her virginity.”

Now I write down these things in order that, if any man be observing a correct rule of life of any kind whatsoever which is pleasing unto God, he may take heed lest he fall, and that even if he stumble in a snare and fall he may not come to despair, and remain in his fallen condition, but that by leaning upon the staff of the hope of the Divine Mercy, and by arraying himself through repentance in the apparel of simplicity and humility he may again become strong enough to stand up, for we should not despise those who truly repent.

From The Lausiac History, Ch. 27.