This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

October 21 - St. Hilarion of Gaza

I can understand the appeal of the eremitical life, even if I have no interest in pursuing it. Nonetheless, it seems to me that Hilarion carried this too far, even if he worked miracles.

An Alexandrian convert to Christianity, he adopted an exceptionally austere life after giving all his worldly wealth to his brothers and to beggars. He moved into a lawless part of Gaza and sustained himself by making baskets from rushes. Unwilling to cave to his carnal temptations (some of which are fabulously depicted in artworks), he began to starve himself. Naked women and sumptuous feasts consumed his minds eye while hunger and neglect consumed his body. St. Jerome wrote that this was the diet he followed age various ages:
  • from 20-23: half a pint of lentils moistened with cold water
  • 23-27: dry bread with salt and water
  • 27-30: wild herbs and roots
  • 31-35: six ounces of barley bread, and boiled vegetables without oil

After that, he suffered from signs of malnutrition, his eyesight grew poor, his body shrivelled and he developed dry mange and scabs, so he had to slightly modify his diet.

  • 35-63: six ounces of barley bread, and boiled vegetables with oil
  • 63-80: six ounces of water, boiled vegetables with oil and a broth made from flour and crushed herbs, taken after sunset
Even if he could relieve horses and people of demons, cure barrenness in women, paralysis in charioteers, raise children from the dead, and even tame a mad Bactrian camel, he ought to have washed his clothes (and himself), shaved more than once a year, and eaten enough to maintain his health. The Gnostic Christian notion that the body was an evil prison to be escaped was rejected by the proto-Orthodox; his neglect of the temple of his soul borders on sacrilege.

Then again, I could eat fewer cookies and hit the gym more often myself.

No comments:

Post a Comment