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The Legend of Hilaria (1913) pp. 58-59. The story of Hilaria: Short Karshuni version


It is told that Hilaria, the daughter of king Zeno, when she heard of the desert and the monks living there, left the kingdom and fled to the desert disguised as a servant. The Father of the desert received her; the Holy Ghost had revealed to him that she was a woman. But he concealed this and put her into a grotto, where she remained thirteen years, praying with the monks till her skin grew black, her appearence became altered and her bones grew thin. She reached a high degree of ascetism.

When the old men saw that she remained beardless, they called her the eunuch, but her name was Alaria.

It happened that her sister became insane in a vehement manner, so that her father and her mother were sorry for her sake. He said: "I will give half of my kingdom to him who healeth my daughter." But he found no one. Then there was told to him: "In Wadi Habib, near Alexandria, dwelleth a monk, called the eunuch. When he prayeth over insane persons, they are healed. He is a disciple of a disciple of Abu Macarius."

The king wrote to the governor of Alexandria, in this way: "We have heard, that in Wadi Habib, in the neighbourhood of thy city, there is a monk who healeth insane persons. We send to thee a sick person, dear to us, with an escort. When he reacheth thee, accompany him to that place. The king sent with her 1) much money |61 and many of those in his confidence. When they reached Alexandria [on their way] to Wâdi Habib, the governor with his soldiers encamped at a distance. Then he took the girl with her trustworthy servants to the monastery of the monks. He told the old men what the matter was. Immediately they called the eunuch. When her sister entered, Hilaria recognized her without being recognized. She wept and kept her with her seven days, weeping and praying over her. When she slept, she held her on her bosom. She used to kiss her eyes. On the seventh day the demon left her; her companions took her and journeyed with her to their country.

When they reached Constantinople and her parents saw that she was healed, they rejoiced greatly and gave opulent alms. Being alone with her they asked her about what had happened to her during her abode in that place. She told them every circumstance and how the holy eunuch (I mean her sister) had healed her. The king was very angry; he said: "A monk, a slave, healeth the sick and abuseth his monastic state in order to look on a woman; prayeth and holdeth her on his breast and kisseth her eyes."

He wrote to the governor, ordering him to send the eunuch. The goyernor did so. When the monk was introduced to the king and he saw his person, he received him, standing, very graciously, and took his blessing. But the monk was like a shadow or a spider: his skin had grown black and his bones had become thin. The king regretted to have summoned him. Afterwards he was alone with him and asked him about what his daughter had told him. He answered: "How troublest thou me and restrainest me from doing my duty by |62 [forcing me to reveal] what I am not bound to reveal to thee. In the presence of the Gospel and the patriarch thou shalt swear to me that thou wilt let me go to my place of abode."

He swore to him, that, after having been entrusted with the secret, he would immediately let him go to the monastery without restraining him. She thought: "There remaineth for me in the world only so and so much." When she was sure of him on account of his oaths, she said: "I am thy daughter Hilaria. Thou believest this not?" He believed her not until she had communicated to him some peculiarities he knew about her and she had told the story of her life, and shown to her mother a token on her body. Then they wept vehemently and pressed her on their bosom.

She stayed with them three days. Then she returned to her dwelling place in Wadi Habib, as if she were a servant. For she had made them swear that they would not betray her state.

The king sent many treasures with her to that place. Then she built .....2) and fortified houses and churches and monasteries all over the desert. And the king ceased not to send these gifts [yearly] till after the death of his daughter. And the other kings followed his example by providing for this place, till Islam appeared. The church of Abu Macarius was built in Wadi Habib.

Their prayers be with us. Amen.

[Footnotes moved to end and renumbered]

1. 1) The text has: him.

2. 1) [...] which I do not understand.

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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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