Tales of Monks and Nuns Who Fell (John Moschos, 7th Century)

NOTE: This article is excerpted from “Leimon” (Spiritual Meadow):

Spiritual Meadow

223. One of the fathers said that in Thessa10nica there was a monastery of virgins. One of them was coerced by the operation of the evil one into going out of the monastery. She went out and fell into lechery by the <machinations> of the demon who scoffed at her until she left <the monastery>. Once she had fallen, she remained some time in sin then finally, undergoing a change of heart by the cooperation of God the good, she came to repentance. <Re>entering her community in order to repent, she fell before the gateway of the monastery-and died. Her death was revealed to one of the holy bishops. He saw holy angels coming to receive her soul and demons in attendance; he witnessed a dialogue taking place between them. The angels were saying: ‘She came in repentance’, but the demons said: ‘She has served us so long a time that she is ours’. Their altercation lasted some time and then the demons, those who obstruct the good, said: ‘She did not get as far as entering the monastery; how can you say she repented?’ In answer <to this> the holy angels said: ‘Insofar as God saw her intention tending in that direction, he accepted her repentance. And she was mistress of repentance by virtue of the goal she set before herself: the Lord of life and the Master of all’. Put to shame by these <words>, the demons withdrew. The holy bishop who witnessed this revelation told it to some people from whom we heard it-and told it to you. In knowledge of this, brethren, let us secure ourselves against giving in to any kind of sinful thoughts. Let us rather resist and fight, especially against <the temptation> to go out of one’s monastery, lest we unwittingly fall well and truly into the snares and nooses of our enemy.

St. John Moschos

242. Abba Peter, the disciple of Abba Isaiah told us:

Once when I was at Abba Macarios’ with my father, Abba Isaiah, some people came from the eighteenth mile-stone out of Alexandria. With them they had a consecrated virgin/widow fearfully possessed by a devil. They begged the elder to have pity and cure her, for the nun was violently devouring her own flesh. When the elder saw her so terribly afflicted and pulling her own flesh to pieces, he made the sign of the cross and reproached the demon. The demon replied to the elder: ‘I will not come out of her; for it was unwillingly and against my own wishes that I went into her. It was your colleague and ally, Daniel, who interceded with God and sent me into her’. The elder said: ‘By what means did you enter into her”! He said: ‘She was my instrument. I taught her to go often to the baths, shamelessly and unblushingly adorned. I shot and wounded many with her <looks>-and her with theirs, ensnaring not only worldlings, but clerics too, and I titillated them, <inciting them> to shameful intercourse with her. By <their> assent to shameful thoughts and by what they saw with their eyes at night (for I made it all visible to them) I trapped them into ejaculation. Now it so happened that the hoary old glutton, Daniel, met her as she was washing at the bath and going back to her cell. He heaved a sigh to God and prayed for her to be sent a correction-for her own salvation, and for the other nuns who lived soberly, that they might be completely enclosed. It was on account of this that I dwelt in her. When the elder heard this, he said: ‘He who handed over can redeem’, and the elder sent them to Abba Daniel.