The History of St Dioscorus – Ch 17-20


These are the final 4 chapters of a contemporary account of St Dioscorus, written by Theopiste, one of his disciples. I have translated these passages myself and am responsible for any errors. But in my love for this saint I will translate the rest of this text in due course. Especially if you are a member of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria, I encourage you to read these passages and honour our father among the saints.

17. After this Father Paphnutius, abbot of the monks of Tabennisi, of the sons of Pachomius, came to the gate. At this news our father rejoiced greatly, as if he had forgotten all the sufferings he had endured, and he went to meet holy Paphnutius. When Paphnutius saw our father he said to him, “I have found Israel as a vine which bears fruit in the desert and as a field which supports the roots of fig trees. Thus have I found you who battles for the Orthodox Faith, in the midst of six hundred and thirty-four wolves”. After these words, they embraced in tears, and Paphnutius fell immediately at the feet of our holy father Dioscorus and clasped them. “I adore”, he said, “the earth which bears your feet, for this earth which bears them is truly holy ground, and I have seen the bush in which is the Messiah, that is to say his flesh, the divinity was united to it without change and without confusion, as the bush which burned without being consumed, in the same way the divinity and the humanity were not separated the one from the other from the moment when He entered into the womb of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Glory to Him, whose name is worshipped unto ages of ages, Amen”.

He then came with us to the place were we lived, and they discussed together the holy fathers who had preceded them. Our father spoke of the Archbishops and of their good works, of Archbishop Cyril and of the Samaritan woman who believed in our Lord Jesus Christ by his hands. Father Paphnutius recounted the wonders and miracles of the fathers, his predecessors; of Father Pachomius, of Petronios and of Theodore. He spoke at length also on the subject of Father Shenoute, how he was taught and became wise even in his childhood, and how he rode a chariot of cloud when he returned to the Imperial city in the air.

While they talked the feet of the Archbishop grew tired, and he removed the shoes which he was wearing. Now there was a man with Father Paphnutius who suffered in his feet and who had gout. He took these shoes, put them on his feet, and was healed.

There was also a superior of a monastery whose feet were bent behind and were hard like stone. He took the shoes which had fitted this saint’s feet, I have confidence (he said) that at the time when they will approach my feet the bad pain which is making me suffer will disappear and I will walk with them. When he had put these shoes on his feet, their nerves became sensitive at once, their tendons were like those of a child, his feet extended and he went on his way praising God and our holy father. And the fame of holy Dioscorus spread through all the island of Gangra. They said, “God sent a help and a saviour to us”. God performed many wonders and miracles by his hands which are not written down, we have written these so that you may worship God who lives in his saints.

18. There were also some Jewish merchants on this isle, and two of them came to our holy father to test him. One of them pretended to be lame and put plasters on his feet, the other feigned desiccated hands; when they came to our father, they said to him, “Hail, man of God, we have come to ask you to have pity on us, and that you would ask God to heal our impotent limbs so that we can work and return to our family”.

Our father knew their deception and said to them, “It will be according to your faith in the Messiah”. The Jews responded saying, “We do not have faith in the Messiah”. He said, “Go, since you are lame and one-armed”, and immediately their hands were desiccated, and they could no longer extend their feet. So they cried with a loud voice and said, “The Messiah God of Dioscorus lives! O our father, we know that we are sinners, and we pray your paternity to have pity. We have heard it said that the Messiah, your God, cures all pain and makes all well. Therefore, it is not fitting that his servant does wrong. We came before you healthy, and now we are leaving as cripples”.

Our father said to them, “You like this type of disease, and behold God has made you as you desire. There is nothing worse than this, that when God had made you healthy and beautiful, you dared to change the beauty of the creature into corruption”.

When they had made many prayers and supplications, he extended his holy hands in prayer and said, “O my God, the Messiah, my Saviour, command that these men become healthy as before”. He stretched his hand over them and immediately their limbs were healed. They worshipped God and asked that holy Dioscorus make them Christians. He baptized them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and confirmed them in the Faith. They distributed their goods among the poor, save that which they needed.

19. When the feast-day arrived of the Archangel Michael, of Matthew the Evangelist, and of John Chrysostom, Archbishop of Constantinople, my father said to the holy Father Paphnutius, archimandrite of father Pachome, “Let us go to the Church, because it is a great day and make offerings to God”. After having gone there, to accomplish everything according to the rules of the liturgy, and having put on the vestments for the service of the altar, while we were gathered around the table of life, we had intended to say, “The Angelic Host of the Lord surrounds those who fear Him, and protects them”. After some time, he said to me, “Go, my son, begin, for the lessons of this holy feast have been read”. I said to him, “Who has read them?”. He replied to me, “The Apostle Paul has read his, John the Evangelist has read one of his letters, Luke the Acts, and Our Lord Jesus Christ His Gospel”

Then he ordered Peter the Archdeacon, “Go, stand before the altar and perform the office without fear, because the Lord Messiah orders it of you”. Peter extended his hand and began the great Anaphora of the Apostles. When he came to the Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Might, Dioscorus said to me, to Peter, and to another Deacon called Timothy, “Do not fear if you hear the voice of the angels which worship God”. And at once we heard the voice of the angels who say Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord of Might. You can believe, my brethren, that a great fear seized us. We were as dead men because of the sound of the voice of the angels. And when we came to the Invocation of the Holy Spirit, as soon as the prayer had been made, a great light descended at once upon the altar and the table of life, and our venerable and holy father was held within this light. As for us, we were prostrate and lay as if dead.

When we came to the prayers of the offerings to the Church, Dioscorus commanded Father Paphnutius to raise us from the ground. He came, took us by the hand and raised us up, and our father Dioscorus said, “Preach now, Peter”. But he could not speak, because of the fear of that which he saw on the table of life. And when our father saw that we had such fear he made a sign to one of the spiritual angels which stood close to the table of life, and that one preached. When the fear had left us, we took part, with great respect, of the holy mysteries.

When the communion was completed, we sat down to rest ourselves, and Father Paphnutius said to our father, “In truth, holy father, I have seen your face as bright as the sun, and all the time that you were at the table of life, your face shown like that of Moses, the first of the prophets”. Our father replied to him, “Do you believe that this will only take place today? Truly, I say to you, all the times that I offer the communion of the Orthodox, in whatever place it happens to be, all that you have seen happens to me, and those gathered there. God desired to reveal this to you today in order to convince you that the faith for which I strive is the True and Orthodox Faith which was established at Nicaea by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of the three hundred and eighteen fathers who were assembled there. It is with the same faith that all the celestial orders worship God. God wanted to make this known to you on the festival of the Archangel Michael which is also in heaven the feast of the celestial orders. I tell you also, my friends, that my end approaches. I will tarry ten months and four days after the second Teschri (November) and will end my course in exile. I know that the father Macarius, bishop of Tkoou, has left this world, for he was with me today at the table of life”.

Father Paphnutius gave him some news. “I have learned”, he said, “that after you had left and been sent into exile, at Alexandria, a chalcedonian had been sent to him, to make him adhere to the letter of impious Leo. He did not want to subscribe to it, and the irritated envoy gave him a kick in his private parts. He gave up his soul to God and died a martyr. The crowd of faithful took his body, burying it with great honour and placing it close to the bodies of John the Baptist and the prophet Elisha, in the temple which had been built there”. And our father said of him this eulogy, I have been young, and I have grown old, and I have never seen the righteous abandoned. And now, my brethren, it is time that I recount the departure from this world of my father holy Dioscorus.

About eight months after the preceding vision, the first day of the month of Tomouz (July) there was another vision which I will tell you of now. “I have seen this night my father holy Cyril standing before me, with a crowd of bishops whom I did not know. He told me their names and I heard that he said to the first, “Our father Alexander, and you also, our great Athanasius, bless my son Dioscorus who was father of the Church”. He also named Ignatius, and said to him, “Blessed Ignatius, God-filled, I know that it is your feast today, but I desire that you come and bless my son”. And I saw the radiant Ignatius place his hand on the head of a small child and say to him, “Severus, come see your fathers and imitate their actions. Come kiss the feet of the pilots of the Church, such as Alexander, imitate Athanasius and the theologians like Cyril. Suffer for God as I and my father Ignatius, and follow the example of the holy and persecuted Dioscorus. You will not fall into error, even if you begin to suffer from persecution today. As for you Dioscorus, write to your son Timothy to occupy your See because in two months and four days you will come to me”.

Such was this vision, and, since that day, this saint of God, Dioscorus, fell ill and wrote a letter to the inhabitants of Alexandria that they should consecrate Timothy as Archbishop.

20. When Father Paphnutius left us to go to Egypt, my father called us, myself and the Archdeacon Peter, and said to us, “Theopiste, my son, after my death leave Peter with my body and save yourself, for a great danger will threaten you”. And two days before his departure we heard him say, “If there should be only one day left to me on earth, I would not cease worshipping and blessing you, O Our Lord Jesus Christ, true God”. And after this day, at the first hour of the night, we heard a voice which said, “Behold, I have come, Severus”. We asked him who this Severus was?

“This one”, he told us, “was the bishop of Gabala”. And he said to me, “Why are you weeping, my children?” We replied, “Because you are leaving us orphans”. He responded to us, “Do not weep for that, because God will not abandon you. Weep rather for your brethren who will succeed you, because the end is coming. There will be nothing good after you, only a curse, contempt, universal devastation and stain. Only among those in Egypt and in East Syria will the true faith remain, and the rest of the world will be occupied by the teaching of the devil. After a certain time, when the altars which are in Egypt have been destroyed, then the son of perdition will reveal himself to all the world and there will be misfortune in the world when he reveals himself”.

After these words he kept silent, and when the hour arrived to deliver his soul to God, he prayed in these terms, “O God, my Saviour, help me in this hour of anguish; that those who come seeking my soul, to separate it from the body, may not frighten, and that those who test me (will judge me) may not come after me because even if I had been only one day on the earth, I would not be free from sin, and that those who guard paradise might not prevent me from entering. Those who come after me, Lord, are the spirits free from all sin, but me, I inhabit a body filled with sin. That those who have no sin may not be cruel to me, to me who, on the contrary, ……, that the river of fire which flows before you may not reach me. That the guardians of the gate of your Grandeur may not prevent me, O Perfection, from reaching you. Make me worthy to adore your glory with uncovered face, without shame. It is because of this hour, Lord, that I have endured sufferings, and I have not turned from the Orthodox faith; bright glory be to my ancestors and to those who nursed me with milk because I have fought for Orthodoxy and it is because of this that I am dying in exile”.

He spoke and gave up his soul to God at eleven at night on the fourth of the month of Elul (September). We buried his holy body with honour, accompanied by the songs of the Holy Spirit. We completed the sacrifice over him according to the rite and participated in the Holy Mysteries. We placed his holy body in a coffin and carried it to his city.

And two months after his death holy Peter sent me a letter, “Go, flee and hide yourself”. Because when the heretics learned of the death of our holy father Dioscorus the Patriarch, they told the Emperor that the silver and gold of the Church was hidden with me. I remembered the prophetic words of my father on this subject, a great peril will come to you. Immediately I went to the city of Pentapolis, there I hid myself, and wrote this history of our father Dioscorus, holy in all things, Archbishop of Alexandria.

I testify before God that I have written the truth, and you should believe, my brothers, that I have not written all the wonders, all the healings and all the miracles that God worked through the hands of this holy martyr for the truth because there are too many.

Lord God Almighty, help us and have pity on us, grant us a pleasant end and permit us to see you face to face on the day of right judgement, through the prayers of the Holy Mother of God, the Virgin Mary, and of this saint, and of all the saints. Amen.







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