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Coptic Anchorites

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Saint Hermina

The Anchorite

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ANBA HERMINA

THE ANCHORITE

 

 

ST. ABAHOR ALEBEAHTI TOLD US THE STORY OF ANBA HERMINA THE ANCHORITE OF MOUNT KAW. HE SAID:

I used to live with Anba Youhanna and Anba Yousab at Mount of Asfaht.  One day as we were plaiting palm leaves, an angelic man with an illuminated face like sun, approached us.  We bowed down to him and he said, Fear not, I am John the Evangelist, the disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ the Living God.

Quit now,  Abahor , and head towards the inner wilderness where you will find a righteous Saint called Anba Hermina (of the hat) for this is his name.

He is from the border of the city of Bahnasa, and he spent sixty years in the wilderness worshiping God and leading a life of great corporal austerity.

I asked him to tell me about his biography, and the Beloved St. John started saying:

Since he was ten years of age, while he was pasturing his fathers sheep he was constant in praying, fasting daily until the evening except on Saturdays and Sundays.  He was kind and merciful especially to strangers.  If a stranger passed by he would receive him in hospitality and invited him to take a rest.  He used to serve them in joy and gave them water from the well. He would rather carry their luggage and walk with them a mile before he returned back to his sheep feeling happy and satisfied.

When he was perfected in virtues I went together with St. Peter, to him, disguised as passerby monks. He was pasturing his sheep when he saw us and hurried to receive us in joy. He asked us to have a rest in the village until the morning but we refused saying that we would prefer to spend the night in the monastery with the monks. He asked to go with them saying that the Lord said in the gospel: There is no man that has left house or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospels but he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time....and in the world to come eternal life(Mark 10:29-30)

  Then we asked him if he wished to be a monk. He replied positively and asked to pray on his behalf to know the Lords will. We informed Anba Jacob the abbot of the monastery with the story. I took the scissors and cut his hair and we dressed him in monastic vestments. Then he partook of the Holy Sacraments. We prayed on his behalf to be blessed and to be saved from satan's conspiracy. We instructed him to stay with  Anba Jacob to guide him and to benefit from him as his spiritual mentor. I (St. John) recommended Anba Jacob to lead him into monastic life and teach him of the satanic fights, until we return back. Then we greeted them and left.

Anba Hermina, then entered his entered solitary cell and started to fast, pray and meditate. Anba Jacob rejoiced to watch his progress in ascetic life. When the fullness of time was come, I came and knocked at the door of his cell. He opened the door, and prostrated as the habit of monks. Then we prayed together. Then I asked him to follow me and go into the upper mount of Kaw mountain which is known as the mountain of joy and comfort.                                                                                                                           

St. Hermina came to the blessed father Anba Jacob the abbot of the monastery and prostrated before him and said ,Forgive me father and absolve me, for with your permission I am going to mount Kaw in upper Egypt to acquire the blessings from you and the Saints. Anba Jacob blessed him, and he headed with me toward the mount. On our way we met with an elder called  Anba Bishai, who invited us to rest until the morning.

Then we kept going on our way until sunset when we saw an illuminated cloud. At this point St. Hermina looked at me and said,  Father, I havent known your name yet. I said to him, I am John son of Zebedee and when we dressed you in the monastic vestments I was accompanied by St. Peter, St. Paul, and King David the prophet.

We then reached the Mount of Al Noclon which is known as the Mount of the Rock. We heard voices of hymns and praises for it was the ninth hour of the Saturday evening. We stayed there until Sunday morning. The tomb of Elisah was at that situation.

We started  walking towards the South until we reached the Mount of Asiut. We penetrated  deeply through  the wilderness for two days until we reached a very deep valley where we discovered a high cave, beneath which was a well and a palm tree. I said to Hermina, You will live here, and eat of the dates of this palm tree, and drink of the water of this well. Then I greeted him and left.

St. Hermina was constant in praying and in many high spiritual exercises. His prostrations were                

as much as twelve hundred by day and a similar number by night. Many angels, especially archangel Michael used to visit him to strengthen and comfort him; as well as the other saints who dwelt in the wilderness worshipping God.

 St. Hermina was persevering in his spiritual struggle until hi body was weakened and his eyes grew hollow. Nevertheless, he had many visions of the places of repose which  the Lord has prepared for the saints and the righteous. Many times he was lifted up in the spirit to the heavenly Jerusalem.

 

     The devil could not endure the saints behavior, envying him for the crowns he was going to acquire in the heavenly Jerusalem. So he came to him disguised as an angel and said to him, Arise, Hermina and move to live next to your village, near St. Anba Jacob. St. Hermina who knew through the Holy Spirit that it was a satanic device, said to him, Who are you? Satan said, I am Michael who stands in front of the glorified Lord. St. Hermina said to him, If you are really what you say, then join me in praying before we leave. The adversary said to him that he could   not pray isolated from his legion.

Then St. Hermina said, My Lord Jesus Christ lives, you will not quit before I know who you are. Then he started praying and by the      time a cloud of fire descended from heaven and overwhelmed the devil who blazed with fire and cried until he was rescued. Nevertheless he warned St. Hermina saying, I will not stop fighting you together with all who are similar to you, until the end of the world. Then he vanished.

The devil became infuriated, so he gathered his soldiers and instructed them to fight St. Hermina. He claimed that Hermina contradicted him and did not the devils will in the wilderness. He asked them to do their best to plunder him of his glory.

But the angel of the Lord came to St. Hermina to strengthen him and comfort him. He asked him to go fight the enemy because the Lord would support him.

The devil was disguised as a respectable king and sent seventy of his soldiers to  St. Hermina. They knocked on his door and he opened while he was reciting the psalms and crossed them with the sign of the  holy cross and said, Deliver me, O my God out of the hand of the wickedYou are my hope O Lord God. Instantly Archangel Michael and Archangel Gabriel came and beat them so savagely that they cried appealing for mercy. They said that they were instructed by their chief and would not return back again. The devil was frustrated and he vanished  like the wind with his soldiers.

St. Hermina rejoiced and sang with David the king the psalm, I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. They are brought down and fallen but we are risen and stand upright. The devil  would never despair. He blew  up a strong storm of sand that covered the Saints cell with sand and ashes.

St. Hermina raised his eyes towards heaven and asked, O Lord the compassionate Who listened to the prayers of three young  men  in the  burning fiery furnace and saved them, and Who listened to the prayers of Daniel the prophet while he was in the den of lions and saved him. Yes O Lord Who listened to our father Abraham and to Joseph while he was in jail and saved them, hearken to me O God and send me your angel. Archangel Michael came quickly, bonded the devil and his soldiers and said to St. Hermina, Behold, the Lord has delivered your enemy unto your hands, so do  whatever you find suitable with him. Then he ascended to heavens.

Then St. Hermina said to the devil and his soldiers, The Lord lives, you will not be released until you carry away all the sands which covered the cell. The devil was transfigured into a lion and began digging the sands and removing it afar until the cell was clear of sands. Nevertheless he did not leave him before punishing him for the tribulations he used to bring them to the saints.

Then, the devils groaned to their master saying, Didnt we tell you never try to tempt the man of God, St. Hermina lest he reacts against you as St. Babnoubna did with you when he let the rock of Mount Toukh crush you !!

Then they appealed to St. Hermina in the name of the reconciliation and peace he had acquired, to set them free, promising not to that place again.

 He glorified God saying : O Lord, king of heavens, earth and all creation, we thank and praise You, for You gave us the power to tread on serpents and scorpions and upon all the power of the enemy.        

 Then St. Hermina crossed the river and turned his face toward Mount Kaw, where he heard a voice coming out of the saints bodies saying, Blessed is your coming to us today O Brother Hermina we  glorify our Lord, the Miracle Doer.

He stayed there praying unceasingly, day and night. At sunset he used to eat some fruit of a tree located there and it was like honey to his taste. Then he drank some water, blessed himself with he sign of the cross, and gave thanks to God. God visited and strengthened him.

Then St. John The Evangelist said, Behold Abahor, I have told you the biography of the man of God St. Hermina. So, raise up and go to him for he has advanced in age, and his body is worn out from his severe  asceticism, and he dwells in a deserted place in Mount Kaw. I have told you his story to write it so that it may be a source of consolation to whoever listens to it. Then I greeted him and left.

I (Abahor) left right away heading towards the man of God St. Hermina. I penetrated deeply in the wilderness for almost eighteen miles. Then there in a low valley I saw the blessed Anba Hermina erect by the wall  and with his hands raised towards heaven. They were shining like lightened lamps. He smelt like perfumed incense.

I approached and knelt down  before him. He blessed and welcomed me saying, Well done your coming to me today brother Anba Hermina The Lord has sent you to me.

When I inquired of him about his biography, he added nothing more than what St. John the Evangelist told me. I stayed with him for two days,   

then I returned back to my place.

Some days later I went to the Saint and when I reached the rock I fell into a deep lethargy through which I saw a gathering of angels and saints in radiant garments praising and blessing St. Anba Hermina. When I awoke, I kept walking to his cell then knocked on the door. He opened the door while he was spiritually joyful and his face illuminative. I prostrated and greeted him. Then we conversed the Lords benefactions. He said to me, Brother Abahor, we have to struggle more because satans snares are innumerable. We have to put in mind that we are expatriated and should weep for our sins. Then I returned back delighted in my cave in Ekhmim.

Six months later, St. John the Beloved came to me in my cave, dressed in a radiant vestment. I hurried and knelt down before him. He  blessed me and said to me, Go now to your friend Anba Hermina for his departure is growing near, to be relieved  from this worlds tribulations. Then he greeted me and left.

After praying, I went to the town of Kaw, and kept walking until I reached the wilderness. I looked about, and there I saw a huge black bull with two big horns rising in the mountain. I came near and crossed myself with the sign of the cross. It then transformed into a whirlwind then vanished. I glorified and praised God for saving me from the adversary.

Then I went deep through the wilderness and found St. Hermina kneeling down praying. I knew that he had lead a life of great corporal austerity for forty days. I was so impressed that I started crying because I felt my spiritual struggle and order were not to be compared with his.

I looked and behold; Our Lord Jesus Christ was descending on a Cherubimic vehicle among the angels praises, and called St. Hermina saying Blessed are you my selected who traded with the talents and gained many more. Behold I make your name circulated all over the world and I have prepared for you three crowns, one for your celibacy, the second for your expatriation and the third for your weariness for my sake. So, go now towards north to have the blessings of the relics of the saints and then return towards south to spend the rest of your life on Mount Kaw.    

 

 

 

   

   

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