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Chapter XXIV.

Abbot Paul 1000 who every year burnt with fire all the works of his hands.

Lastly, Abbot Paul, one of the greatest of the Fathers, while he was living in a vast desert which is called the Porphyrian desert, 1001 and being relieved from anxiety by the date palms and a small garden, had plenty to support himself, and an ample supply of food, and could not find any other work to do, which would support him, because his dwelling was separated from towns and inhabited districts by seven days’ journey, 1002 or even more, through the desert, and more would be asked for the carriage of the goods than the price of the work would be worth; he collected the leaves of the palms, and regularly exacted of himself his daily task, as if he was to be supported p. 275 by it. And when his cave had been filled with a whole year’s work, each year he would burn with fire that at which he had so diligently laboured: thus proving that without manual labour a monk cannot stop in a place nor rise to the heights of perfection: so that, though the need for food did not require this to be done, yet he performed it simply for the sake of purifying his heart, and strengthening his thoughts, and persisting in his cell, and gaining a victory over accidie and driving it away.



This Paul is perhaps the same as the one mentioned in connection with Abbot Moses in Conference VII. xxvi. As he was a contemporary of Cassian he must be carefully distinguished from his more illustrious namesakes, the first hermit and the disciple of S. Antony.


Also called the desert of Calamus, Conference XXIV. iv., but its position has not been ascertained.


Mansio used here and again in Conference XXIV. iv. for the stage of a day’s journey.

Next: Chapter XXV. The words of Abbot Moses which he said to me about the cure of accidie.