THE FOURTH MONTH
IN THE NAME
OF THE FATHER AND THE SON AND THE HOLY SPIRIT,
On this day is celebrated the festival of the glorious angel,
Michael the Archangel. On
this day God sent him to the city of Babylon, and he was the fourth person
with the Three Children, Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, in the fiery
furnace, when Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon, threw them into it.
And the flames rose up to a height of nine and forty cubits and
consumed those who attended to the fire.
And Michael beat out the fire with his staff, and extinguished it
round about the Three Children and delivered them, and [the fire] did not
touch them. And he made the
inside of the furnace to be as cool as the dew at the dawn of day, and in
it they praised God, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of our fathers!
Praised and exalted is He for ever.”
And Michael prophesied seven times that after seven hundred years
Christ should be born; and after this the Three Children praised God,
saying, “Let every servant of God praise God.”
And he prophesied seven and thirty times that Christ should live
upon the earth three and thirty years, and for this reason our Fathers the
Apostles ordained that people should celebrate the festival of Michael the
Archangel. Salutation to
And on this day also died Abba Samuel of Waldebba.
Then name of the father of this holy man was Stephen, and the name
of his mother was ‘Ammata Maryam; they were people of good family and
they took this holy man to the country of ‘Aksum, and when he grew up
they taught him the Books of the Church. Then when his father and mother died he went to Dabra Bankol,
to Abba Madhanina Egzi’e, and he put on the garb of the monastic life,
and he dwelt there and fought the fight with fasting and with prayer.
He ate nothing except withered and decayed herbs, and his drink was
water, and he became the servant of the monks, in the grinding of corn,
and the drawing of water. And
as he found it irksome when his kinfolk came to visit him, he departed to
another place. And he devoted
himself to fasting, and to standing up, and to prostrating himself so
strenuously that at length he crushed his feet (i.e. became flat-footed).
Thence he departed to the desert, and he ate no food whatsoever for
forty days and forty nights. And the lions, and the leopards, and all kinds of terrifying
wild beasts came to him, and bowed down before him, and licked the dust at
his feet. One day as he was
going along the road he arrived at a valley (or river), which was full of
water. Now he had with him a
book and some fire, and making a prayer he entered the water, and although
it engulfed him and the current dragged him down, yet by the power of God
having forced himself across to the opposite bank, he found that the fire
was not extinguished, and the book uninjured.
And Satan used to try him with phantoms of every kind of wild
beast, but he was not frightened because his mind was bound up with
confidence in his God. And as Abba Samuel was praying our Lord Jesus Christ came to
him, and sealed his whole body and each limb thereof with His spittle, and
he became filled with power. And
from that day he bound his feet with fetters, and wore sackcloth. And he thrust all his limbs into water, and he recited the
Psalms of David five times [each day], and he scourged his back with
strips innumerable. And the
lions used to peer into his cave like sheep, and of some he used to stroke
their bodies, and of others he used to dress their wounds, and pluck out
the thorns from [their paws]. And
then many disciples attached themselves to him, and of these the first was
Abba Zarufael. One day Abba Samuel met Abba Gabra Maskal, of Dabra Laggaso,
(now they had never seen each other before,) and they passed the day in
describing the great works of God. And
at the time for supper, when they were making their prayers, a table came
down to them from heaven, and they ate and gave thanks to God.
Then one day he met a certain monk from the desert, and when they
began to talk about the Mysteries which God had made for them, Abuna
Samuel said, “Behold, for twelve years I have been standing in the
heights and censing the throne of God with the Four and Twenty Priests of
Heaven.” And when he went
in and was consecrating the Offering, there came down to him bread and a
chalice from heaven; and when he was reading the Praises of our Lady
Maryam, he was lifted up off the ground to the height of a cubit, and our
Holy Lady, the Virgin Maryam, came and gave him a precious stone which
shot out light from it, and some pure incense.
And when the time of his departure drew nigh Michael the Archangel
came unto him, and he caught him up on his wings and showed him all the
delights of the heavenly Jerusalem. And he brought him before the throne of God, and Abba Samuel
received from him the promise concerning the man who should invoke his
name or celebrate his commemoration.
And when he returned to his bed he told his disciples everything,
which he had seen, and then he died in peace.
Salutation to Abba Samuel.
Salutation to the gathering together in one place of the Sixty
Bishops who were against Benates (or Betnas).
And on this day also are commemorated Abba Khadre (Hydra) of
Dabra ‘Aswan, and Saint John the Confessor.
Salutation to Khadre.
And on this day also took place the assembling of the General
Council of the Holy Bishops, and priests, and deacons in the city of Rome
in the first year of the reign of Decius, the infidel, when Cornelius held
the office of Archbishop of the city of Rome, and Dionysius was Archbishop
of Alexandria, and Bandeyos (Flavianus) was Archbishop of Antioch, and
Germanus was Archbishop of Jerusalem.
And this Council was assembled because of Benates (or Betnas,
Novatus), a priest of Sehet (Scete) who said, “He Who denies Christ in
the time of persecution shall not be accepted when he repents; and he who
hath fallen into fornication shall not be accepted when he repents.”
And Cornelius rebuked him for this, once, and a second time, and a
third time, but he would not accept the rebuke.
And there gathered together against him sixty bishops, and eighteen
learned priests, and scribes, and forty learned deacons of the city of
Rome, and they disputed with Benates (Novatus?) concerning this matter.
And the pretext which he put forward for his views were the words
of Paul the Apostle in his Epistle to the Hebrews (vi, 4-6), “If they
have received the light, and have tasted heavenly grace, and have received
the grace of the Holy Spirit, and if they have fallen into sin they cannot
be renewed by repentance a second time.” And the Fathers replied to him, and explained the matter to
him, saying, “Paul the Apostle doth not say this concerning the man who
repented, but concerning the man who is baptized with Christian baptism
each time he falls into sin. And
concerning such a man the apostle goes on to say, ‘Shall their head, the
Son of God, be crucified a second time, and put to shame by them?’
The apostle makes known that the Cross could only be [found] once,
but that repentance can be found at all times.
And if a men hath fallen through denying Christ, or through sin, is
he not to be accepted through repentance? --As thou sayest, was not the
repentance of David accepted? And
was not the repentance of Peter, who denied our Lord Jesus Christ,
accepted? And did not God
give him the grace of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete?
And did He not set him over His rational flock?
And shall everyone who hath been baptized by his hand be not
baptized again, but, according to what thou sayest, perish? This is great folly. Our
Lord Jesus Christ hath placed repentance so that it may be found by
everyone who hath denied the Faith, or who hath fallen into sin.
Depart from this unclean opinion, O Benates (Novatus?), and repent
of it, and be not the enemy of God and of thyself, and the enemy of all
mankind.” But he would not
turn from his evil opinion, and he would not accept the words of the whole
Council of holy Bishops; and the bishops anathematized and excommunicated
all those who believed in his words.
Salutation to Anicetus and his company who finished their
martyrdom by fire.
And on this day also Saint Anicetus became a martyr in the days
of Diocletian, the infidel emperor. When
this martyr Anicetus saw the tortures, which the emperor inflicted on the
believers in order to terrify them, he rose up from among them with a bold
heart, and reviled the emperor. When
the emperor heard him, he commanded his soldiers to bind him with fetters,
and to keep him under guard in the theatre, and to let loose a fierce lion
upon him; and when the lion came up to him he stretched out his right
hand, and the lion licked the face and cheeks of Saint Anicetus.
When Diocletian saw this he commanded them to cut off his head with
the sword, but when the executioner had drawn his sword, he trembled and
was unable to wield it. And
they threw Anicetus on to the wheel under which was spread out a layer of
red-hot coals, and they placed him under the wheel so that his soul might
be broken quickly; but God delivered him from these tortures uninjured.
And then they threw him into a cauldron in which lead was boiling,
and whilst the people were looking on, the angel of the Lord came and
plucked him out of the cauldron, and set him before Diocletian.
And when Photinus saw this miracle, he rose up naked and embraced
his brother Anicetus, and he cursed the tyrant, saying, “O disgraceful
one, how wilt thou conquer my brother?”
When Diocletian heard this he commanded his soldiers to put collars
of iron on their necks, and fetters on their feet and to carry them off to
the prison house. Then he commanded them to bring them out and to scrape their
bodies with iron combs until their flesh was torn into strips.
And he also commanded them to take them into the theatre and stone
them with stones, but the saints remained uninjured, and they also beat
their sides and backs with whips, and threw salt on their wounds; and they
also cast them into the furnace of the baths which had been heated for
three days, but it was to them like unto cool dew, and when they opened
the bath chamber they found them in converse concerning the great things
of God. When the tyrant saw
this he was exceedingly wroth, and he commanded them to heat a furnace
until the flames came out of the top of it, and therein they cast the
righteous martyrs. And
standing up in the furnace they prayed for a long time, and they made the
sign of the Cross over their faces in the Name of the Father and the Son
and the Holy Ghost, One God, and they delivered up their souls into the
hand of God. And their bodies
lay upon the burning coals from the second until the seventh (or sixth)
hour of the day, but they were unharmed, and the hair of their heads was
not singed. When it was night
certain believing men took the bodies and swathed them for burial in a
manner befitting their honorable rank, and they buried them in a beautiful
tomb, and signs and wonders appeared through them. Salutation to Anicetus and Photinus.
be to God Who is glorified in His Saints.