Chapter XXIV.—Assault upon the Monks, and Banishment of their Superiors, who exhibit Miraculous Power.
The emperor Valens having issued an edict commanding that the orthodox should be persecuted both in Alexandria and in the rest of Egypt, depopulation and ruin to an immense extent immediately followed: some were dragged before the tribunals, others cast into prison, and many tortured in various ways, and in fact all sorts of punishments were inflicted upon persons who aimed only at peace and quiet. When these outrages had been perpetrated at Alexandria just as Lucius thought proper, Euzoïus returned to Antioch, and Lucian the Arian, attended by the commander-in-chief of the army with a considerable body of troops, immediately proceeded to the monasteries of Egypt, where the general in person assailed the assemblage of holy men with greater fury even than the ruthless soldiery. On reaching these solitudes they found the monks engaged in their customary exercises, praying, healing diseases, and casting out devils. Yet they, regardless of these extraordinary evidences of Divine power, suffered them not to continue their solemn devotions, but drove them out of the oratories by force. Rufinus declares that he was not only a witness of these cruelties, but also one of the sufferers. Thus in them were renewed those things which are spoken of by the apostle: 635 for they were mocked, and had trial of scourgings, were stripped naked, put in bonds, stoned, slain with the sword, went about in the wilderness clad in sheep-skins and goat-skins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented, of whom the world was not worthy, wandering in deserts, in mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. In all these things they obtained a good report for their faith and their works, and the cures which the grace of Christ wrought by their hands. But as it appears Divine Providence permitted them to endure these evils, having for them provided something better, 636 that through their sufferings others might obtain the salvation of God, and this subsequent events seem to prove. When therefore these wonderful men proved superior to all the violence which was exercised toward them, Lucius in despair advised the military chief to send the fathers of the monks into exile: these were the Egyptian Macarius, and his namesake of Alexandria, both of whom were accordingly banished to an island where there was no Christian inhabitant, and in this island there was an idolatrous temple, and a priest whom the inhabitants worshiped as a god. On the arrival of these holy men at the island, the demons of that place were filled with fear and trepidation. Now it happened at the same time that the priests daughter became suddenly possessed by a demon, and began to act with great fury, and to overturn everything that came in her way; nor was any force sufficient to restrain her, but she cried with a loud voice to these saints of God, saying:—Why are ye come here to cast us out from hence also? 637 Then did the men there also display the peculiar power which they had received through Divine grace: for having cast out the demon from the maid, and presented her cured to her father, they led the priest himself, and also all the inp. 110 habitants of the island to the Christian faith. Whereupon they immediately brake their images in pieces, and changed the form of their temple into that of a church; and having been baptized, they joyfully received instruction in the doctrines of Christianity. Thus these marvelous individuals, after enduring persecution on account of the homoousian faith, were themselves more approved, became the means of salvation to others, and confirmed the truth.
Heb. xi. 36-38.109:636
Heb. xi. 40.109:637
Matt. viii. 29.