Abba John of Lycus

St. John of Lycus or Lycopolis (modern day Assiut) was born in Egypt about the year 305, he died towards the close of AD 394. He lived as a hermit for many years, conversing with people through a window in his cell on Saturdays and Sundays. 

BEGIN. As a foundation stone for our task let us take John as an example of everything that is good. For those who are religiously devoted to God John will be more than sufficient as a guide to the heights of virtue and the summit of perfection. We met him in the desert parts of the Thebaid, living on the side of a steep mountain near the city of Lycus. It was very difficult to get up to his monastery. The approach was so narrow and full of obstacles that no one had joined him there for all of the fifty years since his fortieth birthday …….

There is another marvel that God manifested through him. A certain military tribune came to him and begged him to give permission for his wife to visit him. He said that she had already undergone great dangers in the effort to get to see him. John said that he had never been in the habit of giving interviews to women, especially since having shut himself up in this monastery on the cliff. The tribune persisted in his pleas, saying that if she couldn’t see him she would doubtless perish from grief. Again and again he pleaded, repeating that his wife would surely die, in the belief that she had lost all hope of being healed. Overcome at last by the tribune’s faith no less than his importunity, the old man said, “Go, your wife shall see me this night, not here but at home in her own bed.” At these words the tribune went away, pondering in his heart the meaning of this reply. He told his wife what had been said, and she also was no less puzzled by it. But when she was asleep the man of God appeared to her in a vision, and standing next to her said, “Woman, great is your faith, and therefore I have come to satisfy your desire. But I admonish you that you should not try to seek the physical presence of the servants of God, but rather should contemplate their acts and doings in the spirit. For it is the Spirit which gives life, the flesh profits nothing. I have prayed to God for you, not because I am a righteous person or a prophet, as you think, but simply because of your faith, and he has granted you healing of all the diseases, which afflict your body. From now, you and your husband will be whole, and your whole household will be blessed. Be mindful, both of you, of the blessings which God has given you, fear him always and be content with your wages. You have seen me in your dreams, that should be enough for you, you don’t need anything else.” When the woman awoke she told her husband what she had seen and heard, and described the man’s face and what he was wearing and all other distinguishing marks. Whereupon the man marveled, and went back to the man of God to give thanks. The man of God blessed him and he went away in peace. END.

From: De Vitis Patrum, Book II, Chapter 1

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