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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VIII:
Two Epistles Concerning Virginity.: Chapter II

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter II.—His Behaviour in Places Where There Were Christians of Both Sexes.

And if, moreover, it chance that we are distant from our homes and from our neighbours, and the day decline and the eventide overtake us, and the brethren press us, through love of the brotherhood and by reason of their affection for strangers, to stay with them, so that we may watch with them, and they may hear the holy word of God and do it, and be fed with the words of the Lord, so that they may be mindful of them, and they set before us bread and water and that which God provides, and we be willing and consent to stay through the night with them; if there be there a holy man, 439 with him we turn in and lodge, and that same brother will provide and prepare whatever is necessary for us; and he himself waits upon us, and he himself washes our feet for us and anoints us with ointment, and he himself gets ready a bed for us, that we may sleep in reliance on God.  All these things will that consecrated brother, who is in the place in which we tarry, do in his own person.  He will himself serve the brethren, and each one of the brethren who are in the same place will join with him in rendering all those services 440 which are requisite for the brethren.  But with us may no female, whether young maiden or married woman, be there at that time; 441 nor she that is aged, 442 nor she that has taken the vow; not even a maid-servant, whether Christian or heathen; but there shall only be men with men.  And, if we see it to be requisite to stand and pray for the sake of the women, and to speak words of exhortation and edification, we call together the brethren and all the holy sisters and maidens, and likewise all the other women who are there, inviting them with all modesty and becoming behaviour to come and feast on the truth. 443   And those among us who are skilled in speaking speak to them, and exhort them in those words which God has given us.  And then we pray, and salute 444 one another, the men the men.  But the women and the maidens will wrap their hands in their garments; and we also, with circumspection and with all purity, our eyes looking upwards, shall wrap our right hand in our garments; and then they will come and give us the salutation on our right hand wrapped in our garments.  Then we go where God permits us.



i.e., one who has taken the vow of celibacy.


Lit. “will with him minister all those things.”


[The minuteness of all these precepts is of itself suspicious.  The “simplicity” of the earlier age had evidently passed when these prohibitions were penned.—R.]


***,  Beelen’s conjecture for ***, “rich.”  Zingerle proposes ***, “about to be married.”


Lit. “come to the delight of the truth.”


Lit. “ask of the peace of.”

Next: Chapter III