The Departure Of St. Ammonius The Hermit
On this day, of the year 73 A.M. (357 A.D.), the holy father Abba Ammonius departed. He was born in 294 A.D., in a village near Mariot. He was, as St. Antony was, born to a righteous and rich Christian family. He lost his parents while he was young and became under the guardianship of his uncle. He longed for the life of purity, chastity, and holiness. Nevertheless, his uncle forced him to be engaged to a rich girl against his will. Since he could not disobey his uncle, he talked to his bride to be, with a spiritual dialogue and through his holy life, he was able to have a good influence on her. He made her long to the life of purity and planted in her heart the desire to consecrate her self a bride for the True Bridegroom Jesus Christ. Thus they decided to accept the marriage but decided to live as a brother and sister.
They remained like this for seventeen years, keeping themselves pure and chaste, after which his wife departed to the eternal bliss. The Saint saw in a vision St. Antonios calling him to put on the monastic garb. When he woke from his sleep, he rose up and went to St. Isidore, who put on him the holy Eskeem. He dwelt with him for some time, after which he went to mount Tounah, where was St. Antonios.
St. Ammonius remained with St. Antonios for a while and became his disciple, and studied on his hands the cannons of the holy monasticism. He built for himself a cell in mount Tounah. He fervently worshipped God there, and the devil envied him. He came to him in the form of a nun and knocked his door. When he opened and asked the devil to pray with him, the devil became like a flame of fire. Then the devil went and dwelt in a woman and moved her to entice the Saint to fall in sin with her. She wore the best of her clothing and came to him at dusk, and knocked the door of his cell, saying: "I am a traveling woman, and I had lost my way, and it is dark now. Please do not let me stay outside lest the wild beasts kill me, and you become responsible for my blood." When he opened the door and knew the snare of the devil who sent her, he started to preach her and put the fear in her heart of the tortures of hell which is awaiting the sinners, and indicated to her the delight and the bliss which is awaiting the righteous. God opened her heart, and she understood what he said to her. She knelt to his feet weeping and asked him to accept her and assist her in saving her soul. She took off her apparel and he put on her a sackcloth of hair. He cut off her hair and called her "The simple minded or the naive". He taught her the way to righteousness and she excelled through many prayers and fasting, and surpassed many saints by her fasting and perpetual prayers.
The devil tried to snare him again. This time in the form of a monk who went around in the monasteries weeping and saying: "Abba Ammonius the hermit had married and he kept the woman with him in his cell. He had put the monks to shame and disgraced the monastic garb." When Abba Apollo (Ebelo), who was like the angels, heard of that, he took with him Abba Yousab and Abba Nohi (Bohi), and came to mount Tounah to the cell of Abba Ammonius. They knocked on the door of the cell, and when she opened to them they realized the matter. They entered and prayed together as the custom and sat to talk about the greatness of God. At the end of the day, Abba Ammonius told them, let us go to see the "Naive" for she was baking some bread. When they went out to where she was, they saw her standing in the midst of a great fire, and her hands were stretched out towards heaven praying. They marvelled exceedingly and glorified God. After they had eaten the bread, everyone went separately to sleep and the angel of the Lord revealed the story of the "Naive" with St. Ammonius to Abba Apollo, and that God brought them there to be present at the time of her departure.
About the third hour of the night, she became sick with fever. She knelt down and delivered up her soul at the hand of the Lord. They swathed her, and after praying over her, they buried her. Then Abba Ammonius told them about her virtues, and that for the eighteen years that she stayed with him, she never raised her face to look at him, and that her food was bread and salt. After this, St. Antonios sent him to El-Natroun valley to establish there new monasteries, and many believers followed him. He organized for them their livelihood and directed them with excellence. Soon after, this holy father departed in peace.
May his prayers be with us and glory be to God forever. Amen.
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