Thursday, September 6, 2018

Saint Eleutherius, Abbot of Saint Mark's Abbey in Spoleto (+ 585)

St. Eleutherius of Spoleto (Feast Day - September 6)

A wonderful simplicity and spirit of compunction were the distinguishing virtues of this holy man. He was chosen abbot of Saint Mark’s, near Spoleto, and favored by God with the gift of miracles. A child who was possessed by the devil, being delivered by being educated in his monastery, the abbot said one day: “Since the child is among the servants of God, the devil dares not approach him.” These words seemed to savor of vanity, and thereupon the devil again entered and tormented the child. The abbot humbly confessed his fault, and fasted and prayed with his whole community till the child was again freed from the tyranny of the fiend. Saint Gregory the Great not being able to fast on Easter-eve, on account of the extreme weakness of his stomach, engaged this saint to go with him to the Church of Saint Andrew’s and put up his prayers to God for his health, that he might join the faithful in that solemn practice of penance. Eleutherius prayed with many tears, and the Pope coming out of the church, found his stomach suddenly strengthened so that he was enabled to perform the fast as he desired. St. Eleutherius raised a dead man to life. Resigning his abbacy, he died in Saint Andrew’s Monastery in Rome about the year 585. His body was afterwards translated to Spoleto.

Dialogues

By St. Gregory the Dialogos,
otherwise known as Pope Gregory the Great

Book 3, Chapter 33

GREGORY: Eleutherius, of whom I made mention before, father of the Abbey of the Evangelist Saint Mark, which is in the suburbs of the city of Spoleto, lived a long time together with me in this city in my monastery, and there ended his days. Of whom his monks do report that by his tears he raised up one that was dead: for he was a man of such simplicity and compunction, that no doubt but those tears, coming from his humble and simple soul, were of force to obtain many things from almighty God.

One miracle of his I will now tell you, which he himself, being demanded by me, did with great simplicity confess. As he was traveling on a certain day, and not finding at night any other place to lodge in, he went to a Convent, wherein there was a little boy which the wicked spirit did usually every night torment. The nuns, giving hospitality to the man of God, desiredof him that the said little boy might remain with him all night, wherewith he was well content. In the morning, the nuns diligently inquired of the father, if the child had been troubled and tormented that night. Marvelling why they asked that question, he answered that he perceived no such thing. Then they told him how a wicked spirit pitifully afflicted the child every night, and earnestly desired of him that he would take him home to his own Abbey, because their hearts could not endure to behold any such misery. The old man yielded to their request, and so carried away the boy home to his own monastery, where he remained a long time safe and sound, the devil not presuming to touch him. Whereupon the old man, seeing him continue to be well, was immoderately glad, and therefore, in the presence of the monks, he spake thus: "The devil did dally with those sisters, but now that he is among the servants of God, he dares not come near this boy." He had scarce uttered these words, when as in that very instant the poor child was, in the presence of them all, possessed, and pitifully tormented, which the old man beholding, straightway lamented and fell weeping, and persevering in this a long time, the monks came to comfort him; but he answered them, saying: "Believe me," he said, "none of you shall this day eat any bread, unless this boy be dispossessed." Then, with the rest of the brethren, he fell prostrate to his prayers, and there they continued so long, until the boy was delivered from his former torments, and besides so perfectly cured, that the wicked spirit never after presumed to touch him any more.

PETER: I suppose that he sinned a little in vain glory, and that God's pleasure was, that the other monks should cooperate to the dispossessing of the devil.

GREGORY: It is even so as you say, for seeing he could not alone bear the burthed of that miracle, it was divided among the rest of his brethren. Of what force and efficacy this man's prayers were, I have found by experience in myself, for being at one time, when I lived in the Abbey, so sick that I often fainted, and was by means thereof, often with pain, continually at death's door, and in such case that, unless I did continually eat something, my vital spirit was going away. Easter day was at hand, and therefore when I saw that upon so sacred a vigil I could not refrain from often eating, in which not only old persons, but even children use to fast, I was more afflicted with grief, than grieved with mine infirmity, yet at length my sorrowful soul quickly found out a device, and that was, to carry the man of God secretly into the oratory, and there to entreat him that he would by his prayer obtain for me of God so much strength and ability as to fast that day. As soon as we came into the oratory, with humility and tears he fell to his prayers, and after a while (having made an end) he came forth, and upon the words of his blessed prayers, my stomach grew so strong, that I did not so much as think of any meat, nor feel any grief at all. Then I began to marvel at myself, and to think in what case I was before, and how I felt myself now. And when I thought upon my former sickness, I found none of those pangs with which before I was troubled. And when my mind was busied about the affairs of the Abbey, my sickness was quite out of my memory; yea, and as I said, if I did think thereof, yet feeling myself so well and strong, I began to doubt whether I had eaten or no. When evening was come, I found myself so strong that I could very well have fasted until the next day. And by this means, having experience of his prayers in myself, I made no doubt but those things also were true which in other places he did, though myself was not then present.

Book 3, Chapter 24

GREGORY: For the holy man, old father Eleutherius, of whom I spake before, told me that which I will now tell you, and he was himself a witness of the truth thereof. This it was. In the city of Spoleto, there was a certain venerable man's daughter, for years marriageable, which had a great desire to lead another kind of life, whose purpose her father endeavored to hinder, but she, not respecting her father's pleasure, took upon her the habit of holy monasticism, for which cause her father did disinherit her, and left her nothing else but six little pieces of ground. By her example many noble young maidens began under her to be converted, to dedicate their virginity to almighty God, and to serve him. One day the virtuous Abbot Eleutherius went to bestow upon her some good exhortation, and as he was sitting with her, discoursing of spiritual matters, a country man came from that piece of ground which her father had left her, bringing a certain present. As he was standing before them, suddenly a wicked spirit possessed his body, so that straightway he fell down before them, and began pitifully to cry and roar out. At this the nun rose up, and with angry countenance and loud voice, commanded him to go forth, saying: "Depart from him, you vile wretch, depart." "If I depart," said the devil, speaking by the mouth of the possessed man, "into whom shall I go?" By chance there was at that time a little hog nearby, into which he gave him leave to enter, which he did, and so, killing it, went his way.


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