January 7, 2021

The Poisonous Viper and the Sanctified Water

St. Dorotheos of Thebes

By Palladius, Bishop of Helenopolis

One day, towards the ninth hour, Dorotheos [of Thebes] sent me to the fountain from which he drank water to fetch him some water, so that he might eat his meal, for he used to eat about this time, and when I had gone there I chanced to see a viper going down the well; and because of my fear I was unable to fill the pitcher with water, and I went back to him, and said unto him, “O father, we shall die, for I have seen a viper going down into the water.” Now when he heard these words he laughed reverently, and constrained himself, and he lifted up his face and looked at me not for a little time, and he shook his head, and said unto me, “If it were to happen that Satan had the power to show you in every fountain an asp, or again to cast into them vipers, or serpents, or tortoises, or any other kinds of venomous reptiles, would you be able to do without drinking water entirely?” And when he had said these words unto me, he went forth and departed to the fountain and drew water, and brought it back, and having made the sign of the Cross over it he straightway drank therefrom before he ate anything. And he constrained me to drink and said unto me, “Where the seal of the Cross is, the wickedness of Satan hath no power to do harm.”

From The Paradise of the Holy Fathers, Ch. 2.