Cured from Spiritual Delusion through Illness

Bishop Palladius. "The Lausiac History".

Chapter XXVI. Heron

There was a certain Heron, a neighbour of mine, an Alexandrian by race, an excellent young man, of good natural ability and pure in his life. He also after many toils was attacked by pride and flung off all restraints and cherished presumptuous sentiments against the fathers, insulting even the blessed Evagrius by saying: "Those who obey your teaching are dupes; for one should not pay heed to any teachers except Christ." He even abused Scripture to serve the purpose of his folly and would say: "The Saviour Himself said, 'Call no man teacher upon the earth.'" His mind became so darkened that he too was afterwards put in irons, since he was unwilling even to attend the mysteries - truth is dear.

He was excessively abstemious in his mode of life, so that many who knew him intimately declared that he frequently went three months without eating, being content with the communion of the mysteries and any wild herbs that might be found. And I too had an experience of him when I went to Scete with the blessed Albanius. Scete was forty miles away from us. In the course of those forty miles we ate twice and drank water three times, but he without eating anything went on foot and said by heart fifteen psalms, then the long psalm, then the Epistle to the Hebrews, then Isaiah and part of Jeremiah, then Luke the Evangelist, then the Proverbs. And things being so, yet we could not keep up with him as he walked. Finally, driven as it were by fire, he could not remain in his cell, but went off to Alexandria, by (divine) dispensation, and, as the saying goes, "knocked out one nail with another." For of his own free will he fell into indifference, but afterwards found salvation involuntarily. For he frequented the theatre and circuses and enjoyed the diversions of the taverns. And thus, eating and drinking immoderately, he fell into a mire of concupiscence. And when he was resolving to sin he met an actress and had converse with her. In consequence a carbuncle developed on his private parts, and for six months he was so ill that the parts rotted away and fell off. Later, restored to health without those parts and returned to a religious frame of mind, he came and confessed all these things to the fathers. A few days after he fell asleep before he had returned to work.

Related articles