St. Mary of Egypt, and St. Zozimus, a Holy Priest
From her life commended in the seventh general council, and by St. Sophonius; but written one hundred and fifty years before him, by a grave author of the same age in which the saint lived. See Papebroke, ad diem 2. Apr. t. 1. p. 67. and Jos. Assemani Comm. in Calend. ad 1. Apr. t. 6. p. 218.
IN the reign of Theodosius the Younger, there lived in Palestine a holy monk and priest named Zosimus, famed for the reputation of his sanctity, and resorted to as an oracle for the direction of souls in the most perfect rules of a religious life. He had served God from his youth with great fervour, in the same house, for the space of three-and-fifty years, when he was tempted to think that he had attained to a state of perfection, and that no one could teach him anything more in regard to a monastic life. God, to discover the delusion and danger of this suggestion of the proud spirit, and to convince him that we may always advance in perfection, directed him by revelation to quit his monastery for one near the Jordan, where he might learn lessons of virtue he yet was unacquainted with. Being admitted amongst them, it was not long before he was undeceived, and convinced, from what he saw practised there, how much he had been mistaken in the judgment he had formed of himself and of his advancement in virtue. The members of this community had no more communication with the rest of mankind than if they had belonged to another world. The whole employment of their lives was manual labour, which they accompanied with prayer, the singing of psalms, (in which heavenly exercise they spent the whole night, relieving each other by turns), and their chief subsistence was on bread and water. It was their yearly custom, after having assisted at the divine mysteries, and received the blessed eucharist on the first Sunday in Lent, to cross the river and disperse themselves over the vast deserts which lie towards Arabia, to pass in perfect solitude the interval between that and Palm Sunday; against which time they all returned again to the monastery to join in celebrating the passion and resurrection of our Lord. Some subsisted during this time on a small parcel of provisions they took with them, while others lived on the herbs which grew wild; but when they came back they never communicated to each other what they did during that time. 1 Continue reading