The Life of Severus of Antioch – part 8

The story continues.

But let no-one think that this story is irrelevant to our subject.  Our intention is to show that the accusation made against the great Severus is entirely unfounded.  Far from ever deserving the accusation and reproach of idolatry, he was constantly with those who gave proof of their zeal against the pagans, and he praised their conduct.   He was a Christian by faith, but he was still only a catechumen at this time.  As he was then applying himself to the study of secular knowledge, he could not show himself so that everyone [thinks] he lived in Phoenicia.  However the following fact proves that at Alexandria he was well above any pagan ideas.  Sometime after the destruction of the idols, the pious Menas, who had prophesied for Severus the dignity of a bishop, left the human life.  He immediately made his way to the one whom he loved, adorned with numerous virtues: virginity of body and soul, love of neighbour, humility, perfect charity and great sweetness.

At that time I was afflicted by a physical illness, and the pagans thought that we were receiving chastisement for what we had done to their gods, in our zeal for religion, and for the idols which we had burned.  They spread a rumour that I too was certainly going to die at this time.  When it turned out that, by a miracle due to the kindness of Our Lord Jesus Christ, I was delivered from sickness, I pronounced the eulogy of the illustrious Menas in a funeral discourse.  I made mention of the destruction of the pagan idols, I recalled their annihilation by fire, before all the people of the town; then, finally, I recalled all that had happened, as was right, on the tomb of he who, through his great amiability and love of his neighbour, was even the admiration of the pagans, before the zeal which was showed against them.  The great Severus rejoiced so much and felt such lively joy on hearing this oration, and boasted of the words uttered by myself against the pagans, as if they were his own, that he applauded me more than everyone.  Meanwhile the pagans, whom we had invited to come and hear, and who had come without knowing what was to be said, wept to some degree over their misfortunates and one of them shouted angrily, “If you had the intention of speaking against the gods, why did you bring us to the tomb of your friend?”

I have been obliged to speak of these things because of the slanderer in question.  Because I have never sought to talk about my own affairs, which are those of a man immersed in sin and unworthy to write the story, not only of the great Stephen, of Athanasius and Paralios, but also of Menas, as well as their friends who competed in zeal with them, and principally of Severus, who is the reason for this work, and whose stay in Phoenicia we will likewise tell.

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