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Day 7 of the Blessed Coptic Month of Bashans, may God make it always received, year after year, with reassurance and tranquility, while our sins after forgiven by the tender mercies of our God my fathers and brothers.
The Twentieth Day of the Blessed Month of Bashans
Departure of St.Ammonius the Hermit
On this day, of the year 73 A.M. (357 A.D.), the holy
father Abba Ammonius departed. He was born in 294 A.D., in a village near
Mariot. He was, as St. Antony was, born to a righteous and rich Christian
family. He lost his parents while he was young and became under the guardianship
of his uncle. He longed for the life of purity, chastity, and holiness.
Nevertheless, his uncle forced him to be engaged to a rich girl against
his will. Since he could not disobey his uncle, he talked to his bride
to be, with a spiritual dialogue and through his holy life, he was able
to have a good influence on her. He made her long to the life of purity
and planted in her heart the desire to consecrate her self a bride for
the True Bridegroom Jesus Christ. Thus they decided to accept the marriage
but decided to live as a brother and sister. They remained like this for
seventeen years, keeping themselves pure and chaste, after which his wife
departed to the eternal bliss. The Saint saw in a vision St. Antonios calling
him to put on the monastic garb. When he woke from his sleep, he rose up
and went to St. Isidore, who put on him the holy Eskeem. He dwelt with
him for some time, after which he went to mount Tounah, where was St. Antonios.
St. Ammonius remained with St. Antonios for a while
and became his disciple, and studied on his hands the cannons of the holy
monasticism. He built for himself a cell in mount Tounah. He fervently
worshipped God there, and the devil envied him. He came to him in the form
of a nun and knocked his door. When he opened and asked the devil to pray
with him, the devil became like a flame of fire. Then the devil went and
dwelt in a woman and moved her to entice the Saint to fall in sin with
her. She wore the best of her clothing and came to him at dusk, and knocked
the door of his cell, saying: "I am a traveling woman, and I had lost my
way, and it is dark now. Please do not let me stay outside lest the wild
beasts kill me, and you become responsible for my blood." When he opened
the door and knew the snare of the devil who sent her, he started to preach
her and put the fear in her heart of the tortures of hell which is awaiting
the sinners, and indicated to her the delight and the bliss which is awaiting
the righteous. God opened her heart, and she understood what he said to
her. She knelt to his feet weeping and asked him to accept her and assist
her in saving her soul. She took off her apparel and he put on her a sackcloth
of hair. He cut off her hair and called her "The simple minded or the naive".
He taught her the way to righteousness and she excelled through many prayers
and fasting, and surpassed many saints by her fasting and perpetual prayers.
The devil tried to snare him again. This time in
the form of a monk who went around in the monasteries weeping and saying:
"Abba Ammonius the hermit had married and he kept the woman with him in
his cell. He had put the monks to shame and disgraced the monastic garb."
When Abba Apollo (Ebelo), who was like the angels, heard of that, he took
with him Abba Yousab and Abba Nohi (Bohi), and came to mount Tounah to
the cell of Abba Ammonius. They knocked on the door of the cell, and when
she opened to them they realized the matter. They entered and prayed together
as the custom and sat to talk about the greatness of God. At the end of
the day, Abba Ammonius told them, let us go to see the "Naive" for she
was baking some bread. When they went out to where she was, they saw her
standing in the midst of a great fire, and her hands were stretched out
towards heaven praying. They marvelled exceedingly and glorified God. After
they had eaten the bread, everyone went separately to sleep and the angel
of the Lord revealed the story of the "Naive" with St. Ammonius to Abba
Apollo, and that God brought them there to be present at the time of her
departure. About the third hour of the night, she became sick with fever.
She knelt down and delivered up her soul at the hand of the Lord. They
swathed her, and after praying over her, they buried her. Then Abba Ammonius
told them about her virtues, and that for the eighteen years that she stayed
with him, she never raised her face to look at him, and that her food was
bread and salt. After this, St. Antonios sent him to El-Natroun valley
to establish there new monasteries, and many believers followed him. He
organized for them their livelihood and directed them with excellence.
Soon after, this holy father departed in peace.
May His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
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