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The Legend of Hilaria (1913) pp. 30-34. The story of Hilaria: Short Arabic version


(Forget I, p. [Arabic] et sequ.)

On this day (21th Tubih) died also the holy, pure Hilaria, the daughter of king Zeno. This king was orthodox and a friend of the church. He had two daughters, this saint and her sister, but no son. This pure maid Hilaria had from her youth an inclination for being alone. So she began to think about monasticistn and putting on the angelic habit. She left the palace of her father, dressed as a man, reached Egypt and went from there towards Shihât. There she met a holy old man, named Aba Bamu. She told him the plan she had conceived and that she was a woman. He concealed her secret and gave her a grotto to dwell in and took up the habit of visiting her. When she had passed fifteen years in the grotto without getting a beard, the old men thought her to be a eunuch and they called her Hilari the eunuch.

As to her sister, a villainous demon took hold of her. Her father spent much money on her behalf, but she was not healed. Then the advice was given him to send her to the old men in Shihat; for their fame had penetrated throughout the Roman empire, because of their holiness. So he sent her, accompanied by two masters and an escort and slaves and gave them a letter for the old men, in which he informed them of his sorrow, |33 and told them that the Lord had given him two daughters; one of them had left him and he knew not her place of abode, and he had not heard of her. The other was possessed by a demon, she whom he 1) had expected to be his 1) comfort and consolation. He asked their holiness to pray over her, that the Lord might heal her. When the old men had read the letter of the king, they prayed over her many days but she was not healed. Lastly they requested Hilari the eunuch, her sister, to take her and pray over her, but she excused herself. Then they induced her to take her and after a few days she was liberated from the demon.

The holy maid had recognised her sister, without being recognised by her; and she used to embrace and to kiss her and to go outdoors to weep. Then she brought her before the old men and said to them: "Behold, the Lord hath healed her by your prayers". Then they sent her to her father in peace. When she arrived, he and all the inhabitants of the castle rejoiced over her and uttered many thanksgivings to the Lord. Her father asked her about her manner of life among the old men. She told him how the holy Hilari had healed her and how he used to embrace her often and to kiss her. The king was disturbed by this fact and he sent a message to the old men wherein he told them to send Hilari the eunuch who had healed his daughter in order to receive his blessing, whereupon the old men told her to go to the king. Then the holy maid wept grievously before all the old men and excused herself. They said to her: "This king is pure, a friend of the |34 church. It is not allowed, according to the scriptures, to thwart him". After a struggle she went to the king. He and his courtiers saluted her. When they were alone, the king drew near to her and uttered his suspicion about her kissing his daughter and how he had been disturbed on hearing this: he asked her to reveal him the cause of this. Only he and the queen were present. So she said to them: "Bring me the Gospel and swear to me, that you will not press me not to return to the desert, when I shall have spoken". They swore, and thereupon she told them that she was their daughter Hilaria, and how she had left them disguised as a man, and showed them the signs they knew. Then they cried aloud and wept together and there was a great tumult in the castle. They said to her: "We allow thee not to go". But she reminded them of the oath and scarcely she agreed to stay a month with them. Then she departed to the desert. From this day onwards the king gave the revenues and the taxes to the inhabitants of the desert and all that they wanted from the revenues of Egypt, so that the number of the monks augmented greatly, and they began to inhabit the cells. As to the pure, holy Hilaria, after her coming back from her father, she lived five years; then she died and nobody knew her to be a woman, until after her death. May the blessing of her prayer be with us. Amen.

[Footnote moved to the end]

1. 1) The text has the 1st person.

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This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2004.  All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
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