p. 52 Book XI.
To John, Abbot.
Gregory to John, Abbot of Mount Sina 123 .
The Epistle of thy Humility testifies to the holiness of thy life; whence we give great thanks to Almighty God, for that we know that there are still some to pray for our sins. For we, under the colour of ecclesiastical government, are tossed in the billows of this world, which frequently overwhelm us. But by the protecting hand of heavenly grace we are raised up again from the deep. Do you, then, who lead a tranquil life in the so great serenity of your rest, and stand as it were safe on the shore, extend the hand of your prayer to us who are on our voyage, or rather who are suffering shipwreck, and with all the supplications in your power help us as we strive to reach the land of the living, so that not only for your own life, but also for our rescue, you may have reward for ever. May the Holy Trinity protect thy Love with the right hand of Its protection, and grant unto thee in Its sight, by praying, by admonishing, by shewing example of good work, to feed the flock committed to thee, that so thou mayest be able to reach the pastures of eternal life with the flock itself which thou feedest. For it is written, My sheep shall come and shall find pastures (John x. 27). And these pastures in truth we find, when, freed from the winter of this life, we are satisfied with the greenness of eternal life, as of a new Spring.
We have learnt from the report of our son Simplicius that there is a want of beds and bedding in the Gerontocomium 124 , which has been constructed by one Isaurus there. Wherefore we have sent 15 cloaks, 30 rachanæ 125 , and 15 beds. We have also given money for the purchase of mattresses and for their transport, which we beg thy Love not to disdain, but to supply them to the place for which they have been sent. Given on the day of the Kalends of September, Indiction 4.
No doubt the John called Climacus, Scholasticus, and Sinaita, commemorated as a saint on 30 March. Having entered the monastery of Mount Sinai at the age of 16, he is said to have retired thence to live the life of an anchoret, to have been elected abbot at the age of 75, to have again after a time retired into solitude, and to have died early in the 7th century. While abbot, he wrote a work called Scala (κλὶμαξ) Paradisi, whence his name of Climacus. The monastery on Mount Sinai was a place to which pilgrimages were made. Cf. IV. 46.52:124
Properly a hospital for aged persons.52:125
The meaning of the word rachana, racana, or racahina, is uncertain. It occurs again in XI. 78, where Barbara and Antonina, two young ladies at Constantinople, are thanked for a present of two racanæ, which they had alleged to be of their own workmanship. It is usually supposed to mean some wooller article of dress, worn by monks. Others understand blankets.