Translation – The Prayer of Saint Langinos


This is an interesting text, preserved in an Ethiopic manuscript. It describes something of the affairs in Egypt at time of the council of Chalcedon when violence was threatened against those who rejected the Tome of Leo. It describes a miracle performed at the prayer of St Langinos. I have translated it into English from a Franch translation made at the beginning of the 20th century.


(F. 17 a) In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God. We write about the prayer of Saint Langinos, in order that it might protect the servant of the Lord, the man of Christ, for ever and ever. Amen.

In those days, the King Marcian, under whom (we were), sent a letter to the people at Alexandria from the heretic Leo and ordered that (the people of) the city of Alexandria and especially the monks who remained at the convent of Mahew, do his will. The Lord had revealed this to our Father, Saint Abba Langinos three months before. He ordered all the monks of the convent of Mahew to gather together concerning the vision that had been revealed to him, so that he would explain to them what would happen. He ordered them not to subscribe to the impure letter at all, and to approve none of the words contained in the abominable letter. Then our Father, Saint Abba Langinos summoned all who lived in Mahew’s convent, told them what the Lord had predicted in his vision, and commanded them to keep the Lord’s commandments energetically and to fight for the Christian faith until death . When they heard this from (F. 17 r ° b) the old man Abba Langinos, they were very surprised. They held counsel among themselves, saying, “No man can refute the impure letter, except the one to whom the Lord has revealed this mystery and the one he has taught of the persecution that will come.” Then they asked Saint Abba Langinos to become the father, the guide, and the chief of all the monks of the convent of Mahew.

Three months later, a subordinate arrived who was the bearer of the impious letter. The king wrote in those days to the judge Afakyos to compel all the monks who were in the convent to subscribe to the letter of Leo. When Judge Afakyos read the king’s letter, he wrote (a message about) the impure letter and sent it to all the monks who lived in Mahew’s convent. Here are the words written by the judge Afakyos: “We write to the fathers, the monks who are at the holy convent of Mahew. Greetings to you! Behold, our mighty Master has deigned to send us an honored letter, in which he commands that you all subscribe to the letter of Leo, bishop of Rome. He especially greets you, the monks who live (F. 17 rd) at the convent of Mahew. Now, then, I want you to receive the king’s letter-bearer, who is sent to you with glory, and that you fulfill the order of our Master, the King, and that you accept the gifts and honors from the great benefactor, our sovereign, who will rejoice over your obedience.

The great Abba Langinos, having received this letter thus conceived, summoned all the brothers and read to them all that which was written in the letter. Having heard it, they cried with one voice: “Anathema to Leo with the faith he sends, as well as to everyone who associates with him! Then they wrote a letter to the judge, saying, “You prostrate yourself to the abject will of your Master, but we bow down to the Master of All and the Universal Benefactor by His Law, Our Lord Jesus Christ. May this be made known in your kingdom, that none of us, from the least to the greatest, will subscribe to the impure and iniquitous letter of the heretic Leo, and that all of us are ready to fight until death for our glorious and eternal faith and for the commandments of the faith, which our Holy Fathers (the Doctors) of the Church have given us. We write to you nothing other than that which is better for our souls, namely, that we will not subscribe to the letter of (your) sovereign.

When the Judge had received this letter (F. 17 v a) thus composed and had seen the energetic (terms) in which it was written, he was angered at the old saints who were at convent of Mahew. (The judge and his subordinates) decided among themselves that the soldiers of the chief of councilors should capture and kill all the monks of the convent of Mahew. But the Lord, who destroys the council of princes, revealed this to the holy old men, Langinos and Abba Loqyos. They summoned all the brothers and Abba Langinos said to them: “I ask you, my dear brothers, not to let there be any trouble among you. But listen to me. Each of you take a date palm and all go to meet the judge, before he comes to us. This word pleased all the brothers. Having taken (each) a date palm, they went to a place called Afa Hagar (out of town.) All the monks stood at this place and none of them dared enter the city, as such had been the order of their Father.

Then the king’s counselor went out (with) a large army under his command, to make war on the monks. When (F. 17 v ° b) this news reached them, their eyes (saw) that the soldiers were firing arrows at all the monks, but that, when they had fired them, not a single (arrow) had wounded any of them. Then they uttered this praise in a sweet rhythm, as if they had had one mouth, saying,

We have trusted in the Lord. How did you tell our souls to roam the mountains like birds? For, behold, sinners have stretched out their bow, and prepared their arrows in their quivers, to fire them away from the heart. And sinners drew their sword and stretched out their bow, to kill the poor and unfortunate and to pierce the hearts of the righteous. Their sword has entered their own hearts and their bows have broken.

Then blessed Abba Langinos, the fighter for justice, he who fought for the Just One (Jesus Christ) until death, he who exposed his soul, so as to remain under the help of the Most High, did not fear the fearsome arrows flying in the air. But he took David’s confidence as his shield, saying, Justice will surround you with a shield; you will not fear the arrows that fly (F. 17 v ° c) in the day. The holy old man uttered this. Valiant, he approached the army with the strength of a great heart. While (the soldiers) fired (arrows) at him and the arrows flew around him here and there, none of them hit the perfect fighter.

Then when the chief of the councilors and the army saw that, because of this great energy of heart, none of the arrows touched him and did not reach any of his brothers at all, at that very hour they dismounted from their horses and each prostrated himself at the feet of the saint and all the brethren who were with him, and asked him to make peace with him concerning the bold attempt they had made against him. Then the old man spoke to the chief counselor, saying, “Behold, you see that we have fought, and are ready (to fight) unto death for the faith which our fathers have given us. We ask you to go with us to the convent of Mahew, to the place where our Fathers are, so that we might ask them to dispose your hearts well before your king. For us, we are ready to follow their order, as they will give it to us in your presence.

(F. 18 r a) The brothers were astonished at the words which the old man had spoken to the chief of the councilors and to those who were with him. They said to each other: “Has any of us remained in the convent? Among the least and the greatest among us (is there one) who did not come here? How will he then tire out these men and force them to come with us to the convent?” He did not answer them at all, for he knew what he would do, and when he had followed the crowd, the chief of councilors, the army, and all the brethren, he went before them, until he had led them to the tombs in which were the bones of the Holy Fathers, that is to say the old men, who had kept the right faith energetically, until they had completed their days at the pleasure of the Lord. And they stood in the midst of their graves, and stretched out his hands, and prayed with all who were with him: and when they had finished the prayer, they said, Amen.

Then the illustrious Father Langinos opened his mouth and raised his voice to all, saying: “Our holy fathers, who sleep in the faith of Christ, do you want to receive the letter of Leo?” At this very hour a voice came from the bodies of those who were in the tombs, up to three times, saying to this name: “The impure letter which you name is filled with blasphemies about the divinity of Christ, for it divides (Christ) into two natures after the ineffable Incarnation.” When they heard this frightening voice coming from the body of the saints, the chief of the councilors and all the army who followed him, were greatly astonished, prostrated themselves at the feet of the great Abba Langinos and the monks who were with him. He asked them to intercede for them, and to pray for them, that they should enter into the knowledge of the truth. At this time many of the soldiers repudiated the profession of soldier and this world of vanity and became monks under the holy obedience of Abba Langinos, because of the great fear that had arisen on them. The rest of the soldiers returned to the city, being astonished at what they had seen. When the people of the city had learned all the virtues and (all) the wonders that had come through Father Abba Langinos, they strengthened their hearts in the faith. Then, having arrived at the walls, they all brought out the judge Afakyos, (F. 18 r ° c) who had ordered them to subscribe to the heretical letter, and burned it in a fire (lit) in the middle of the city.


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