Friday, February 27, 2009

The History of the Blessed Nathaniel

Palladius tells of a monk Nathaniel, who had died fifteen years prior to Palladius' own arrival in Nitria. Nathaniel left his first cell because a devil was tempting him, and when the devil came to his second cell he repented and returned to the first cell where he remained for thirty-seven years without leaving once.

Towards the end of Nathaniel's life, this devil tempted him to leave the cell by appearing as a young man who needed help delivering bread to the monastery for the Eucharist. Nathaniel doubted and prayed and finally refused to leave his cell, calling out that if there was true need then God would help the young man, but if it was a temptation then it was fruitless. Infuriated, this devil "took the form of a whirlwind and the forms of wild asses which dance abotu and skip and break wind." (113)

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