We talked together very frequently and discussed the tremendous judgment of God enacted under our eyes, saying, “You are just, O God, and Your judgment is righteous.”  Mingling our grief and groans and tears, we prayed the Father of mercies and Lord of all consolation to vouchsafe to help us in our trouble.  And it chanced, on a day, as we sat at the table with him and conversed, that he said, “Bear in mind that I am asking God, in this hour of tribulation, either to deign to deliver this town from the enemy that is [invading] it or, if that seems not good to Him, to strengthen His servants to submit themselves to His will and, in any event, to take me away from this world to Himself.”  Under his instruction, it became, therefore, our custom, thereafter, and that of all connected with us and of those within the town, to join with him in such a prayer to God Almighty.  And, behold, in the third month of the siege, he took to his bed, afflicted with a fever, and thus fell into his last illness. . .

Thus did this holy man, his path prolonged by the divine bounty for the advantage and happiness of the church, live to seventy and [five] years, almost forty of which were spent in the priesthood and bishopric.  He had been accustomed to say to us, in familiar conversation, that no baptized person, even though he were a notable Christian and a priest, should depart from the body without fitting and sufficient penitence.  So, he looked to this in his last sickness, of which he died.  For he ordered that those few psalms of David called “penitential” should be written out and the sheets containing them hung upon the wall where he could see them as he lay in bed, in his weakness.  And, as he read them, he wept constantly and abundantly.  And, that he might not be disturbed, he asked of us who were present, some ten days before he departed from the body, that no one should come in, except at those hours when the physicians visited him or when food was brought him.  This wish was, of course, observed, and he had thus all his time free for prayer.

Unintermittently, up to the outbreak of his last illness, he had zealously and energetically preached in the church the Word of God with sanity of mind and soundness of judgment.  And now, preserved to a good old age, sound in all the members of his body and with unimpaired sight and hearing, and with us, as it is written, standing by and watching and praying, he fell asleep with his fathers, having been preserved to a good old age.  And we offered a sacrifice to God for the peaceful repose of his body, and buried him. . .

Pray with me and for me, that I may both in this world become the emulator and imitator of this man with whom, for almost forty years, by God’s grace, I lived in intimacy and happiness, without any unpleasant disagreement and, in the future, may enjoy, with him, the promises of God Almighty. – Possidius (fl. late 4th century – early 5th century) was Bishop of Calama in the Roman province of Numidia.


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