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And they told of him*, that at one time in the neighboring countryside a murder had been committed, and the crime fastened on an innocent man, and he who was thus under calumny fled for refuge to his (Macarius') cell: and thither came also his persecutors, accusing him and declaring that they themselves were in peril unless they seized the murderer and delivered him over to the law.  But he on whom the crime was fastened swore on the sacraments that he was innocent of this man's blood.  And while the contention went on, on this side and on that, the holy Macarius asked where he was buried that was reportedly slain.  And when they had shown him the place, he set out with all the company that had come to harry the man to the sepulchre, and there upon his knees he invoked the name of Christ, and said to those who stood by: "Now shall the Lord show if the guilty man is indeed this whom ye have accused."  And lifting up his voice, he called the dead man by name, and when he that was summoned answered from the sepulchre, he said to him: "I charge ye by the faith  of Christ, tell us now if it was by this man who bears the blame, that thou wast slain."  Then the voice from the grave did clearly answer that it was not by him he had been slain.  And in amazement, they all fell to the ground, and they rolled at his feet and began begging him to ask the dead by whom he had been slain.  Then said he, "I shall not ask this thing; it is enough for me that the innocent goes free; it is not for me to betray the guilty" -- History of the Monks of Egypt, translated from the Greek by Rufinius of Aquileia  in Helen Waddel, The Desert Fathers

*Macarius -- probably Macarius the Elder (The Egyptian).


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 14th, 2012 09:00 pm (UTC)
Say, you've read Peter Brown, right?
Jul. 15th, 2012 02:29 am (UTC)
Peter Brown
Yes, i read him about two years ago, why?

For a long time i was fixated on that last sentence. I have a hard time imagining a contemporary Christian who says he is far less interested in the guilt of the guilty than he is in the innocence of the innocent. "Macarius'" refusal to help find the real murderer struck me as peculiar and as peculiarly insightful.

Hagiography quickly becomes incredible, but i can understand that.
If a holy person can do anything, why not have him or her do everything (including speak with the dead). Contemporary standards of journalistic accuracy did not apply in the fourth century. (Do they really apply now?) If it is going to encourage somebody to believe that Macarius talked to the dead, why not say he did? (But please don't burn me at the stake if i think he didn't).

Marcarius' particular crime solving technique does not interest me as much as other details of the story, like turning the suspect over to the law, and the alleged negative consequences of giving the suspect sanctuary

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )



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