Sunday, January 3, 2021

Life and Conduct of Saint Thomais the Wonderworker of Lesvos

St. Thomais of Lesvos (Feast Day - January 3)
 
1. Since the Holy Scriptures say that the memory of the righteous is praised, should we not praise one who is an adornment to the female sex? I exclude from this discussion the Mother of God, She Who has been lifted above the cherubim, since She is beyond all created beings. As I said then, we should praise one who was more righteous than all the righteous women, the admirable Thomais, for whom we keep the present festival. By her family and life she was well known to all, she who was adorned by all forms of virtue and sparkled like a light. By her holy habits, modest character, still more modest lifestyle, as well as her asceticism, Thomais adorned her family by her ways, rather than being one who was adorned by her family’s glory, renown, and brilliance.
 
2. It was Lesvos, virtually another island of the blessed, that was her homeland, having given birth to the blessed one and brought her forth into the present life as a great good, praised and beloved, a woman who exceedingly surpassed all Lesvian women in her beauty and greatness. She was a woman adorned with bodily graces, whom all the virtues bedecked. The nature of her body was equal to that of the incorporeal powers. She lived an angelic life, and trampled down the powers of darkness, indeed she drove away pleasure like so much refuse. She raised the cross upon her shoulders and walked in the divine steps of the Lord. She was totally devoted to Christ, so as to reflect Him in all ways and be completely overpowered by His beauty. She crucified herself to the world, or rather was outside of the world, devoting her whole mind to the first and brightest light, and so became a second light, receiving reflections from such light. She was the nobler offspring of a noble root for, as is said, the fruit is of the same quality as the tree.

3. Her father, a man who lived in a way pleasing to God and maintained an angelic lifestyle, was named Michael. He was upright in character, holy in his way of life, firm of purpose, prematurely gray-haired, possessed of a perfect and advanced understanding because of his mature age. So that, to tell the truth, there is no virtue at all worthy of words and praise, neither innate nor attained by practice, which did not accrue to him; frequently reading the holy books in which the divine revelations have been recorded; searching out the assemblies in the divine churches when the Divine is warmly praised; paying attention to his manner of speech; examining his mind; humbling the spirit of his flesh; adorning his character; dignifying his life; covering his head in the most pure faith of Christ. And he was an intelligent man as well, making use of a good four-horse chariot, I mean the quartet of the virtues, as a result of which he very often spoke with God.

His wife and life companion was Kale, who was most beautiful in character, and more beautiful in soul. She was quite temperate, and, to speak truly, was of one mind with her husband. She was praiseworthy in conduct, intelligent in her mind, and good in her disposition. This then [“Beautiful”] was the woman’s personal name and it found such an appellation from her exceedingly good disposition, because her character was indeed revealed to be appropriate to her name. And so Kale was given in marriage to be a companion for the aforementioned man, and they were revealed to be a golden team, a team thrice happy and blessed, vigorously bearing the evangelical yoke and observing the divine precepts. Thus both were blessed like that prophet [Isaiah], on whose lips shone a seraphic and purging coal, because they had "seed in Sion and household friends in Jerusalem." But, to return to my subject, Kale, who was God-pleasing in her lifestyle, was lawfully united with a man of the same habits. And one could often see both of these wise individuals holding in contempt the fine things of life, since they were of one mind and accord. They had enough wealth and money that they were neither enslaved by poverty, nor were they swollen by the weight of money, but they proceeded along in a middle path, which is a clear sign, I think, of their virtue.

4. The fetter of sterility strongly grieved this couple, as of old the shackle of childlessness had bound the forefathers of the Lord. It agitated them mightily, upset them deeply, and tore apart their soul. They constantly went to the holy churches, remaining all night singing hymns, indeed singing to the Lord both night and day. For they had not turned to marriage for the sake of bodily pleasure, quite the contrary, but out of desire for a good child; I speak of the wondrous Thomais, toward whom this account is hastening. But let it pause a little, so as to tell its tale as clearly as possible.

This good couple suffered then, being troubled by their desire for a child, as had the ancestors of my Lord Christ. You surely know who they are; my account has alluded to some of them. They were afflicted with despondency and composed words of lamentation. They entreated God unceasingly; they kept falling down on their knees in supplication, and were mourning and of sad countenance all day long. They did not know what they could do. Since they had no consolation of their own, they used to sing frequently the song of David: “Many are the scourges of the sinner, but him that hopes in the Lord mercy shall compass about.” And indeed mercy did encompass them, nor did it wholly reject those who were entreating: “Hearken to us, O God our savior; the hope of all the ends of the earth and of them that are on the sea afar off.”

Thus the Lord looked down from heaven and hearkened to the lamentation of this couple which was bound in sterility, and He loosed the fetters of childlessness, which were like iron collars laid upon them and binding them all around, and removed from them their disgrace, I mean the heavy collar of childlessness that was laid on them. And in accord with His promise the aforementioned couple obtained a fruit beautiful in appearance and in character. The fruit was beautiful to see, but even more beautiful in soul. But my previous account has already explained how much and in what ways the parents of the blessed Thomais suffered in being deprived of a child.

5. As so often when God is entreated greatly, He gave ear to those who call on Him, and healed them at the right season, testing their endurance by this, to see whether they would be fainthearted in the face of temptations, whether they would forsake Him, to see if they would dedicate everything to God, even as surely they had been doing. And, indeed, frequenting often the divine churches, they praised the Lord seven times in a day. And continually reading the divine Scriptures, and devoting themselves to all-night prayer and fasting, they entreated the Lord that a child be given to them. They emulated the supplications of the righteous Anna and Joachim, the parents of the Mother of God; they frequently beat their breasts, and bathed their beds with tears. And from the Lord they heard “Why criest thou to me?,” for indeed they were crying to the Lord with cries of woe and lamentations, “Hearken to us, O God our savior; the hope of all the ends of the earth and of them that are on the sea afar off. Be the defender of those that call upon Thee. Reveal Thyself as helpmate to our intention. Grant a fruit of the womb to Thy servants who petition Thee. Do not drive away emptyhanded Thy pitiable servants who prostrate themselves before Thee.” They continually uttered these and similar words to the Lord, “Let not our adversaries rejoice against us. Let them not say ‘where is their God? But our God has done in heaven and in earth whatsoever He has pleased.’”

What then did the God of wonders bring about in this situation? He did not overlook their entreaty, nor disregard their lamentations. But one night the all-immaculate and ever-virginal Virgin was seen in a dream by the wondrous woman Kale, truly beautiful in character and manner, and said these very words: “Do not be of sad countenance about these things, O woman, and do not be upset on account of your childlessness. In a short while you shall bear a female child, who will chase as far as possible from you all despondency, O good woman.” While nearly awake, she heard these things from the Mother of God, and waking from her sleep she said words of this sort to her husband: “While I was asleep a divine dream came; therefore I awaked and beheld and my sleep was sweet to me.” And she narrated everything that she had seen. Indeed shortly thereafter, having conceived, she brought forth a child in fulfillment of the promise of the ever-virgin Maiden and Mother of God. The name “Thomais” was given to her, a child who was born in accord with a promise, who by nature was female, but by virtue and ascetic discipline much more male than men.

6. After these events, then, the parents of the blessed Thomais departed from Lesvos and settled in the area of the Bosporus where they lived for a long time. They devoted themselves to fasting and all-night prayer, rejoicing in the Lord in the words of the apostle, giving thanks in all things, and living their lives in a way pleasing to God.
 
As Thomaıs grew up, she continued to be strengthened in the virtues, devoted to the worship of God, and adorned by all forms of goodness. She disclosed her hidden beauty by its external manifestation and revealed the grace of her soul by her bodily features; revealing her invisible virtues by the visible, her internal virtues by her external beauty. One could see in her a perfect bodily harmony, which suggested the spiritual beauty of her soul. She was not raised in an ignoble manner by her parents, but with discipline, understanding, and frequent admonition.
 
After Thomais was thus reared and trained and reached the age of about twenty-four years, she was forced by her parents to take a husband even though she preferred to remain a virgin; she wished to remain ignorant of bodily pleasure and to trample on fleshly desires so as to present herself as a pure and undefiled temple to the pure God. But she had both to guard her virginity and to respect marriage, since these things are appreciated and revered by all.

And so she obeyed her parents. Agreeing to marriage, she bowed her head to the marriage crown and took a lawful husband. But he, who was Stephen by name, but not by his lifestyle, did not devote himself to her as companion but as an opponent, not as a helpmate but rather as an enemy. For, as the saying goes, “It was necessary for evil to be fixed next to virtue and for her to live side by side” with it somehow.
 
But what a noble mind she had, what a staunch spirit, what praiseworthy judgment again of her way of life! She did not cease to give thanks continually to God, to spend her free time in the divine churches, to take care of the poor, to pour out her wealth, and to give back her own property to God. She used to sing constantly these verses of the odes of David, “He has scattered abroad, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forevermore,” and again “The good man is he that pities and lends.” For she fixed her whole mind on readings from the divine scriptures, and did not cease to chant these psalms, indeed she did not weary in putting into practice these injunctions. She put her whole hand to the spindle. She worked skillfully and artfully to weave on the loom fabrics of various colors. Her hands made cloth and the bellies of the poor ate to their content. Her hands labored for the sake of the poor and wove tunics for the naked. Her feet walked eagerly to the divine churches and kept vigil there all the night, her feet stood always in an even place. O feet which frequently moved toward acts of generosity, and always preferred to walk in paradise, O truly blessed feet!

7. After departing from Lesvos then, the parents of the blessed Thomais moved from there and took up residence in the region of the Bosporus. But since it was indeed necessary that God, Who arranges everything for the best, Who originally yoked them together in marriage, should separate them again by death in ways known only to Himself, the father of the blessed Thomais passed on to his blessed end.

Her mother then had her hair cut off and cut off along with it the distractions of daily life. She embraced the monastic life and entered a convent, there to be enclosed in a stifling cell. She added virtues to her virtues; she began to communicate with God; every night she washed her bed with tears; she dedicated herself to sleepless prayer; she persevered in continuous fasting; and praised the Lord seven times in a day. In this way she put a good roof on a strong foundation. Since she wanted to live in an angelic manner, she engaged in ascetic conduct and did not cease to undertake these and other kinds of activities both night and day.

But as for her daughter who was of a tender age at which it was more customary to occupy herself with childish playthings, who discerned the tumult of life, and who was married to a husband, was she unmindful of virtue, or did she neglect the zealous and God-pleasing life, or have a lazy disposition? By no means! She continued to hold more readily to her aforementioned virtues.66 And one could see in this situation an unusual married couple; for the wife was manly and masculine in virtue, and strove to surpass her own nature by works of zeal done for virtue’s sake. (For it is not ignoble thus to outstrip parents who have struggled with works of zeal on behalf of virtue.) Thomaıs was always stretching her hands up to heaven, kneeling, weeping, conversing with God, and kindling the divine love without interruption. And in doing the things pleasing to God — clothing the naked, raising up and encouraging those who had fallen — in this way she used every effort, she sought out every method, she devised every purpose through which she might bring to fruition the teachings of the Lord, even though she might be hindered by Stephen, to whom she was married, as our account has related above. For he opposed completely the wondrous intentions of Thomais, and while she was hastening to give away her wealth to the poor, he was opposing her like a Satan. How many times he heard from her, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men,” the words which the Savior addressed to Peter, the chief of the apostles (who did not yet know the mystery of the salvific passion), instructing him most clearly to walk behind him.

And he [Stephen] used to strike the noble Thomaıs frequently, mocking greatly and sneering at her. But she remained steadfast, like an iron tower that is not at all shaken even when being savagely attacked, meditating constantly on the words of the Gospel, “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely.” Who then could separate her from the love of Christ? Not fire, not sword, not peril, nor the foolish chatter of the foolish-minded Stephen.

8. But lift up your ears to me and turn your mind to the divine life of the blessed martyr. For our account has no intention of separating her from the company of martyrs, since she also received many beatings, and was scourged unbearably for the sake of the divine revelations of our Lord. She was not wantonly outraged by a tyrant, nor punished terribly by instruments of torture, nor scourged horribly by foreigners (for truly such would be bearable), but by her aforementioned husband who tyrannically oppressed her and violently prevented her from living in a God-pleasing manner. For she used to visit the divine churches constantly and exerted not a little but the greatest effort to do this each day. Once, as she was going to a holy church, she encountered a poor and naked man who was pierced with the greatest poverty. But look at what she did about it. She stripped off her own garments, and went naked for the sake of Christ; indeed, she suffered for the sake of Christ. And as a result she was beaten by Stephen so that she might obtain from Christ the lordly crown, for this act of charity was made known to her husband, and consequently the wondrous Thomais endured many blows. She was flogged by that wretched husband of hers, a man of wicked thoughts, a man who did not desire Christ but loved the world and held to the things of the world, a man who was altogether unloving of the Good, and, in short, did not receive the things of the Spirit as a spiritual person, but he was rather a worldly man similar to senseless beasts. The abominable man loathed her and considered her most wicked even though she did no evil. He who was worthy of aversion rejected her, while she, although suffering, had much concern not to lose heart nor indeed to give up and neglect her praiseworthy works, her good intentions, but she bore the blows with good grace, like a martyr rejoicing in Christ, and clung to them to an even greater degree. She struck her husband spiritually when she was struck for the sake of Christ. When she was hit for the sake of the poor, she hit him. She exulted and she rejoiced, “My soul rejoicing shall exult in the Lord, for He hath clothed me in the garment of salvation and the tunic of gladness.” For she clothed herselfall over with the blows from the aforesaid Stephen as with a garment of salvation.

9. Our account now hastens to take a bold step, by comparing her husband to the odious coppersmith, and the blessed Thomais to the blessed Paul, the divine herald; for she is indeed equal to the apostles, and one could indeed see that her struggle here was a struggle equal to that of the aforementioned Paul and the coppersmith Alexander. For the most wicked coppersmith did not stop beating Paul, but neither did he [Paul] stop preaching the gospel. And he entreated the Lord earnestly on his [Alexander’s] behalf, even if his goal for him was not accomplished. Indeed Stephen, too, did not stop striking with unbearable blows his good helpmate, the noble worker of virtue, rather he strove to push her upstream, while she was being carried toward the good by stronger currents. She was distressed to be restrained frequently from her good work (and why not?). Since she had such good purpose, she devoted herself to God, broke away from the world, and attached her entire self to God. But she did not entreat the Lord, as did Paul, to be saved from her tormentor, rather she applied herself even more readily to the God-pleasing and virtuous life, lying like a razor to the whetstone of her aforesaid husband, receiving blows that can neither be expressed in words nor were bearable in reality. Rather she bore them for the sake of Christ, having Christ before her eyes. She adorned herself with wounds as with pearls, with hurts as with most precious stones; she was embellished by thrashings as with golden coins, and henceforth presented herself as a queen clothed and arrayed in divers colors before the Ruler of all. She was adorned by insults as with expensive earrings, her beauty was enhanced by the beatings, and she was cheered by the mockeries.
 
This then was the situation of the wondrous Thomais; thus she was prevented by her husband from attendance at the divine churches and was restrained in her charity to the poor. She had as an obstacle to all virtuous behavior the one whom our story earlier compared to the coppersmith, and so she sang the ode of David, saying “I would rather be abject in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of sinners,” because mercy and truth went before her and she continued to take care of the poor and to engage in hymnody to God. And indeed, though suffering, she did not relax her zeal, rather she enlarged her purpose. And one could see a new struggle over this. He [Stephen] did not cease restraining the blessed woman from her blessed and customary purpose and activity, while she, on the other hand, increased her charitable purpose and disposition, showing manly courage for the superior and better course.

But let us move our tale on to the narration of the miracles of the most blessed Thomais, one by one, and I will try to recount her wondrous deeds to the best of my ability.

10. Miracle 1:

My narrative has shown us that Thomais constantly visited the divine churches, and most frequently attended services at churches where all-night hymnody to God was being performed. She used to go regularly to the most divine church at Blachernae, and would walk the whole way at night sending forth hymns of supplication to God and entreating His all-pure Mother. Then she would prostrate herself before Her all-honored and all-holy shrine, entreating Her with tears and begging grace for the whole world, that is, to intercede with Her Son to postpone and delay His punishment and to grant a respite from the wickedness that afflicts the world because of our sins. For she did not petition and entreat the Lord on her own behalf, but for the salvation and redemption of the community and the world. In the words of the apostle she strove not for her own but for another, and indeed she carried out this saying by her very deeds.

For when in the course of the procession the most sacred images of the all-pure Mother of God arrived at that place which is usually called Zeugma by the locals, a man tormented by a demon suddenly sprang out and rolled in front of the feet of the blessed Thomais, calling out loudly, and revealing the power of the virtue which she had kept hidden for a long time: “How long will you hide yourself, O servant of God, and be unwilling to proclaim these works clearly? Let God’s name be magnified through you. Reveal to me as wondrous, Thomais, the mercy of God. Let my repentance be proclaimed through you and immediate forgiveness for my sins, because of which I am now punished by God’s will. And I beg you, while rolling at your holy feet, make yourself manifest. Show that the God of wonders works great wonders through you. Let the demon who overpowers me be crushed by your hand. Let the Adversary be crushed by the might of your power. 'The pangs of death compassed me; the dangers of hell found me.' How long might the demon move the hand of Briareos against me?” These things he called out to the Lord through Thomais.

The Saint was then inclined to mercy and spread out her arms to God, from Whom "every perfect gift" is sent down. And after she rubbed her hands with oil from the utterly pure Mother of the Word and anointed the aforementioned demoniac, one could immediately see the demoniac being completely cured and magnifying God, Who works great wonders, makes the dead live, and drives out demons. And as a result those who happened to be present, and saw the swift cure of that demon-possessed man, sent up loudly a hymn to God, because He has been made wholly wondrous in His saints and His name is both proclaimed and magnified through His blessed servants, who work the same miracles, banish demons, heal every sickness, and glorify the Lord.

11. Miracle 2:

I should add to my narrative another more wondrous miracle of the blessed Thomais. A certain man once lived in the monastery named after Ankourios. He was a eunuch, and his name was Constantine. For many years the fetters of paralysis bound him, so to speak, and made him suffer like the man in the Gospels who was paralyzed for thirty-eight years. Later the most dreadful disease of quinsy afflicted him and for a long time constricted his throat, so that he kept seeing the danger of death before his eyes. One night, while he was sleeping, someone appeared and spoke to him. He added and interjected advice about how he should find quick deliverance from his illnesses, saying thus: “If you wish to be freed speedily from your present danger, send quickly without any delay to the blessed Thomais,” (in this way he added her name), “and, taking the water with which she has washed her holy hands, anoint that part of your body which threatens you with mortal danger and you will thereby obtain a swift cure.” Such were the instructions of that wondrous and divine dream. The sick man was persuaded and, upon awaking from his sleep, carried out all the instructions from his dream. He sent to the holy woman, anointed the whole of his body with the washwater from her hands, and was cured immediately of his suffering. He then loudly proclaimed this miracle everywhere, praising the God of all, and magnifying the One Who magnifies His saints.

12. Miracle 3:

And still I shall add to the previous miracles this even more unusual and more divine one, which prompts every ear and mind to a hymn in praise of God.

Thomais, who was accustomed to frequent the divine churches and rejoice in the all-night hymnody, went once to the holy church of the Hodegoi (which is now called the Hodegetria). And here she stood near one of the all-holy icons of the Mother of God and made her customary prayers. And while she was visiting, as was her wont, the aforementioned holy church, from which the all-holy icon of the completely immaculate Virgin is carried in procession every Tuesday very early in the morning, revered and venerated by all according to custom, a certain woman, who had been afflicted for a long time by a demon, leapt out and fell down at the feet of the holy woman, who was standing and devoting herself to prayer, and called out words like this to her: “Have mercy on me your servant, O servant of God, and let not this demon maltreat me to such an extent and lead me around here and there like a prisoner of war. My affliction has lasted long enough; will the day of salvation never come, but the night of despair crush me? And will the demon continue to harass me in the future, and is there no one to help?” The aforementioned woman did not cease to utter this sort of lament, wailing inconsolably and crying beyond all measure. The woman was indeed an object of great pity. And Thomais was quickly inclined to mercy by the wailing and lamentation of the woman, and so she anointed the woman with holy oil. And immediately the demon fled and disappeared, and all the crowd that happened to be present was seen to be full of amazement at the sudden cure of the aforementioned woman, for she reached out to the holy woman and entreated her that she be delivered from the tormenting demon, which indeed had happened.

13 . Miracle 4:

Let my story hasten then, with all possible zeal, to other miraculous deeds of the wondrous Thomais.

A woman who lived wantonly and licentiously in every way suffered from hemorrhaging for more than six years and was terribly afflicted by this sickness. But the holy woman [Thomais], realizing that the woman's illness came from God, spoke to her as follows: "If you, woman, desire to be released from this illness which afflicts, abandon all intercourse with men during the divine and great feasts, and abandon also the prohibited activities you habitually perform. Cast as far away as possible your wallowing in the mud of passions." When the woman then promised to abstain from these activities and rejected with loathing her filthy acts, the holy Thomais healed the woman, anointing her with the usual oil. So the words and counsels of the Saint released the long-suffering woman from her serious affliction. And after having been sick for so many years, she was restored to health and promised to sin no longer. For indeed she had heard from the Saint that which was truly said by Christ: "Behold, you are made well! Sin no more." For she realized it was indecent to engage in sexual pleasure and intercourse.

14. Miracle 5:

Another woman who had followed a similar career and way of life did the same things; and she was of the same mind as courtesans, indeed she performed worse and soul-destroying actions, squandering her livelihood for the most part and spending large sums of money inappropriately. And performing every abominable and unseemly act, she rolled about in the slime of passions, engaging in frenzied fornication and illicit sex.

This woman, having fresh in her ears the cure of the previous woman, fell down before the feet of the Saint and shed warm tears. She rushed toward the aforementioned servant of Christ, and showed her affliction. For she had a cancer in her breast, which terribly troubled and distressed her. At any rate, she made a confession with all her soul and begged for mercy with warm tears. She then heard from Thomais words such as these: "If you wish to regain your health, avoid abnormal and filthy fornication. Do away with your passion for this and take a lawful husband, and you will quickly obtain a cure." She promised the Saint to do these things and, vowing with great reverence to do them, attained her goal.

These and similar miracles the truly divine Thomais accomplished during the course of her life, while those that follow occurred after her departure to Christ, as marvelous and extraordinary deeds.

By the time forty days had passed after her departure to the Lord, many miracles had already occurred, since her holy remains provided cures readily to those approaching them, and wrought extraordinary wonders. 

15. But let our account pause a little and recount in detail her husband’s treatment of her. Her husband used to lie in wait then, like a violent tyrant with beetled brows, grimly regarding the blessed Thomais, and with furrowed brows displaying a wild-looking glance and the coarse nature of his face. She suffered terrible beatings, she bore unmerciful torments, she endured chastisements by virtue of her noble thoughts, maintaining continually a conduct in accordance with God. Although she was restrained by her aforesaid husband, she continued to devote herself constantly to prayers, and continued to abide in the God-pleasing life. She meditated constantly on all the works of God, as was her wont, even though the blessed woman’s pain was renewed, since she was wickedly attacked by her husband, who prevented her from doing such works of mercy. Even though she lived with a lame man and was taught by him to limp, she never ceased to walk in a straight path. For her husband viewed her actions in a contrary fashion and reckoned them extravagant, and he condemned her for living in a prodigal fashion and criticized and scorned her for squandering their livelihood. But her actions were rather charity, carrying out mercy in accordance with the divine and holy scriptures, concerning which mercy indeed God Himself said: “I will have mercy and not sacrifice; if you bring incense before me, it is an abomination to me.”
 
He considered such charitable work to be in vain, but the person who does not do evil is viewed as evil by evil people; the prudent person is viewed as foolish by the licentious; the brave person is reviled by the craven as over bold; and charity to the poor is suspiciously viewed as prodigality. For evil deeds are affixed beside virtues and are very close to them. For while her aforementioned husband lived in a rustic manner, earned their daily bread by going to sea, and enjoyed a modest standard of living, the following occurred: whenever he returned home, he made inquiry about the expenditure of his assets and, calculating on a daily basis, he reckoned up how much of their livelihood she was spending. And he constantly tried to prevent her from carrying out the charitable activity I have frequently described above. For one could see her each day abundantly supplying gifts to the poor: clothing the naked and giving those in rags splendid clothes; distributing food to orphans; and furnishing the necessities of life to the destitute. Making her gifts more splendid, she wanted to go naked for Christ’s sake rather than to clothe this burdensome appendage of earth and clay; she wanted instead to perform every deed in the service of Christ. But her lawless husband did not stop his cruel beating of this woman who was so disposed, calling extrava-gant this woman who labored hard for the sake of Christ. For indeed she exerted a great effort on His [Christ’s] behalf: through her work for the poor she clothed Him when He was clad in rags and going naked, when He was homeless, hungry, thirsty, and in need of medical attention. She used to go all round the marketplace, searching the shadows, groping around in the darkness, in case she might find on occasion a poor man (or better to call him “Christ”) sleeping outside, that she might lend him the money to pay his debts.

16. Here in this world she was repaid this debt a hundredfold, according to the true word of the Lord, and in the world to come she will receive a ten-thousandfold reward, and in addition the kingdom of Heaven, the greatest and most perfect reward, toward which she was hastening with all fervor, toward which she lifted up her whole mind, which she yearned after and strove with all haste to attain, for the sake of which she had been beaten, endured unbearable blows, and carried wounds.
 
She used to provoke her tormentor, saying, “Strike this body that will soon perish and return again to the earth from which it came.” And at the same time she expressed prophetic words which foretold her death, for the wondrous Thomais was already all but at the point of departing to the Lord. She had adorned her life by God-pleasing works; she had found her support in the words of the Gospel; she had adorned her inner person with spiritual graces; she had delighted in the Lord frequently; she had very wisely blended and combined contemplation with activity; she had scorned the present life; she had preferred the ornament of virtues and despised the flux of this world here; she had loathed her worldly husband, but was given in marriage to Christ as a most beautiful bride and fair virgin who preferred the adornment of virtues to the vanity of silken clothes.
 
Thus after the saint had endured her many afflictions for a considerable time (for she had already borne for thirteen years that violent abuse, painful wounds, those immoderate bruises and blows), she received her blessed end and was transported to the ageless life without end, having lived in all thirty-eight years of the present life, it being the first day of January, when she departed to the Lord.
 
While still alive she had commanded those she lived with not to place her body inside the holy church, but outside in the forecourts until the all-compassionate God might desire to work miracles through His grace and show where she should be laid. She foretold these events while speaking, humbling herself or rather displaying to her listeners an example and model of humility. And one could see a certain prophetic gift and humility both observed and understood in these words of the blessed one. For she spoke as follows: “When my spirit departs from its present dwelling, I command all of you not to bury this earthly body inside the divine church, but in the forecourt,” as has already been said “until divine providence should work miracles about me.”

And this is what happened: by the time forty days had passed after her departure to the Lord, many miracles had already occurred, since her holy remains provided cures readily to those approaching them, and wrought extraordinary wonders. 


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