Thursday, November 27, 2008

The History of Abba Isidore

Palladius' first history is of the monk Isidore, whom he met in Alexandria. Abba Isidore managed an Alexandrian hospital and, now aged seventy, had spent his early spiritual formation in the desert. Palladius marvels at the monk's temperance:

On several occasions he burst into tears at the table; and when I asked him, "What is the cause of these tears?" he said unto me, "I am ashamed of myself because, being a rational being, I eat the food of an irrational creature; I desire to live in Paradise, where I should enjoy the food which is imperishable. For [although] we have received that power which is from Christ, yet am I drawn to partake of the food which perisheth. I would partake of the food which is spiritual, and I would that I were in the Paradise of delights in the dominion which God hath given unto me; and behold I am eating the food of the beasts." (90)

Palladius further notes Abba Isidore's great generosity and that, although he was acquainted with many Roman nobility, he continued to live in poverty and generosity. In fact, when he finally died he left no estate at all, having given everything away. To his heirs [his sisters, and seventy nuns with them] he said,

"He who created you will provide for your living and also whatsoever things of which ye have need, even as He hath [provided] for me." (91)

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