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Chapter II.

Of Bishop Archebius.

And when we arrived there, God gratified our wishes, and had brought about the arrival of that most blessed and excellent man Bishop Archebius,16871687    Archebius has already been mentioned in Conference VII. xxvi; and in the Institutes V. xxxvii., xxxviii., two stories are told illustrative of his kindness and goodness of disposition; but he is not known to us from any other source except Cassian’s writings. who had been carried off from the assembly of anchorites and given as Bishop to the town of Panephysis,16881688    For the situation of Panephysis, see the note on the Institutes, Book IV. c. xxx. and who kept all his life long to his purpose of solitude with such strictness that he relaxed nothing of the character of his former humility, nor flattered himself on the honour that had been added to him (for he vowed that he had not been summoned to that office as fit for it, but complained that he had been expelled from the monastic system as unworthy of it because though he had spent thirty-seven years in it he had never been able to arrive at the purity so high a profession demands); he then when he had received us kindly and most graciously in the aforesaid Thennesus whither the business of electing a Bishop there had brought him, as soon as he heard of our wish and desire to inquire of the holy fathers even in still more remote parts of Egypt: “Come,” said he, “see in the meanwhile the old men who live not far from our monastery, the length of whose service is shown by their bent bodies, as their holiness shines forth in their appearance, so that even the mere sight of them will give a great lesson to those who see them: and from them you can learn not so much by their words as by the actual example of their holy life, what I grieve that I have lost, and having lost cannot give to you. But I think that my poverty will be somewhat lessened by this zeal of mine, if when you are seeking that pearl of the Gospel which I have not, I at least provide where you can conveniently procure it.”


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