Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. II: The Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen.: Discovery of the Relics of Zechariah the Prophet, and of Stephen the Proto-Martyr.Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Chapter XVII.—Discovery of the Relics of Zechariah the Prophet, and of Stephen the Proto-Martyr.
I shall first speak of the relics of the prophet. 1642 Caphar-Zechariah is a village of the territory of Eleutheropolis, a city of Palestine. The land of this district was cultivated by Calemerus, a serf; he was well disposed to the owner, but hard, discontented, and unjust towards his neighboring peasants. Although he possessed these defects of character, the prophet stood by him in a dream, and manifested himself; pointing out a particular garden, he said to him, “Go, dig in that garden at the distance of two cubits from the hedge of the garden by the road leading to the city of Bitheribis. You will there find two coffins, the inner one of wood, the other of lead. Beside the coffins you will see a glass vessel full of water, and two serpents of moderate size, but tame, and perfectly innoxious, so that they seem to be used to being handled.” Calemerus followed the directions of the prophet at the designated place and zealously applied himself to the task. When the sacred depository was disclosed by the afore-mentioned signs, the divine prophet appeared to him, clad in a white stole, which makes me think that he was a priest. At his feet outside of the coffin was lying a child which had been honored with a royal burial; for on its head was a golden crown, its feet were encased in golden sandals, and it was arrayed in a costly robe. The wise men and priests of the time were greatly perplexed about this child, who and whence he might be and for what reason he had been so clothed. It is said that Zechariah, the superior of a monastic community at Gerari, found an ancient document written in Hebrew, which had not been received among the canonical books. In this document it was stated that when Zechariah the prophet had been put to death by Joash, king of Judah, the family of the monarch was soon visited by a dire calamity; for on the seventh day after the death of the prophet, one of the sons of Joash, whom he tenderly loved, suddenly expired. Judging that this affliction was a special manifestation of Divine wrath, the king ordered his son to be interred at the feet of the prophet, as a kind of atonement for the crime against him. Such are the particulars which I have ascertained on the subject.
Although the prophet had lain under the earth for so many generations, he appeared sound; his hair was closely shorn, his nose was straight; his beard moderately grown, his head quite short, his eyes rather sunken, and concealed by the eyebrows.
An independent chapter, built on local story.
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