January 3, 2022

The Abuse Suffered by Saint Thomais of Lesvos and Her Subsequent Repose

The following account of the abuse Saint Thomais suffered at the hands of her husband for living a virtuous life and her subsequent blessed repose can be found between Miracle 5 (miracles before her repose) and Miracle 6 (miracles after her repose) of her Life.

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 Thomaıs, 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 things. 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 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 extravagant this woman who labored hard for the sake of Christ. For indeed she exerted a great effort on His 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, that she might lend him money.
16. Here in this world she was repaid this a hundredfold, according to the true word of the Lord, and in the world to come a ten-thousandfold, 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 Thomaıs 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, 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. Our account has already spoken of those miracles she accomplished while alive, and I will now describe those after her death as strange and wondrous.