Anonymous, Account of the Monks of Egypt (c
395 AD), Epilogue
also saw many other monks and fathers throughout Egypt who
performed many signs and wonders. Because of their great number we
have not mentioned them all. Instead, we have selected a few to represent
the many. What should one say about the Upper Thebaid in the district of
Syene, where even more wonderful men are to be found and an infinite
number of monks? One would not believe their ascetic practices, which
surpass human capabilities.
this day they raise the dead and walk on water just like the apostle
Peter. And all that the Savior did through the saints, he does in our own
times through these monks.
However, as we would have been in the greater danger if we had
gone up beyond Lyco, because of attacks by brigands, we did not dare
to visit these saints. As a matter of fact, it was not without danger or
hardship that we visited those fathers whom we have mentioned. Nor
was it without considerable effort that we saw what is reported in this
work. On the contrary, we suffered much on our journey and came very
near to losing our lives before we were counted worthy to see these things.
Indeed, we came face to face with death seven times, and "the eighth time
no evil touched us" (Job 5.19).
first time we almost fainted with hunger and thirst after spending
five days and five nights walking through the desert.
second time we blundered into some marshy ground full of thorns
and prickles, and our feet were so lacerated that the pain became unbearable
and we almost perished.
third time we sank into a swamp right up to our waists, "and there
was no deliverer" (Judges 18.28), and we called out in the words of David,
"Save me O God, for the waters have come into my soul. I sink into deep
water where I cannot stand. Deliver me from this and let me not sink"
fourth time a mass of water encircled us because of the rising of the
Nile, and for three days we waded through the water, almost sinking under
the surface in the pot-holes. Whenever this happened, we cried out, saying,
"Let not the water-flood overflow me nor let the deep swallow me up, and
let not the pit shut her mouth around me" (Psalms 69.15)
fifth time we ran into robbers as we were making our way along the
shore to Diolcos. They pursued us so hard in their desire to capture us that
there was scarcely any breath left in our nostrils. They chased us for about
sixth time we were in a boat on the Nile when it capsized and we
seventh time we were on Lake Mareotis, where papyrus comes from,
when we ran aground on a small desert island. We spent three days and nights
there, exposed to the elements, with rain and a heavly hail-storm beating down
eighth time we were on our way to Nitria and passed by a certain
place where there was a small lake. Three giant crocodiles were lying on the
shore, and we went up to look at them, thinking they were dead. Suddenly
they lunged at us. We called on Christ with a loud voice, "Christ, help!" The
crocodiles, as if repelled by some invisible angel, darted into the water. We
set off for Nitria at a dead run without stopping.
thank the Lord for delivering us from such great dangers and for
showing us such wonderful sights.