Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The History of Abba Macarius the Alexandrian and a Certain Virgin

Palladius tells of an Alexandrian virgin who was quite rich but gave nothing to the poor or to the Church, saying that she needed all her money to provide for her niece's wedding. A priest named Macarius, who had been a jewelsmith in his youth, decided to show the virgin the folly of her ways. He approached her saying that he was in possession of some valuable emeralds and gems which the owner would sell for only five hundred dinars. The sale of just one emerald, he assured her, would bring her more than five hundred dinars which she could use on her niece's wedding. She gave Abba Macarius the money and asked him to buy the gems on her behalf.

Abba Macarius took the money and spent it on the poor. The virgin waited a long time to ask him about the money, because he was a well-respected man nearly one hundred years of age. But she finally inquired and he invited her to come to his house and see the gems and emeralds he had purchased for her. He showed her women in his care who were diseased and deformed and said, "these are the gems," then showed her the men and said, "these are the emeralds. If these please thee [good and well]; but if not take thy money" (98). She was ashamed and became grateful to the priest Macarius. Meanwhile, the niece she had been saving up her money for ended up dying.

No comments: