VENERABLE ISAAC

May 30

From the Prologue

During the reign of Emperor Valens there was a great persecution against Orthodoxy on the part of the Arians which the emperor assisted. Hearing about this persecution a hermit Isaac, somewhere from the east, left the wilderness and came to Constantinople to encourage the right-believers and to denounce the heretics. Precisely at that time, the Emperor Valens departed to the north with his army against the Goths, who had come down from the Danube toward Thrace. Isaac came before the emperor and said to him: "O Emperor, open the churches of the right-believers and God will bless your path." The emperor ignored the elder and proceeded on his way. The following day, Isaac ran out again before the emperor and again he repeated his warning and the emperor almost heeded the elder were it not that a certain advisor of his, a follower of the Arian heresy, prevented him. Isaac ran out before the emperor on the third day, grabbed the emperor's horse by the reins and begged the emperor to grant freedom to the Church of God and threatened him with the punishment of God if he acts contrary to his petition. The enraged emperor ordered that the elder be thrown into a chasm of mud and thorns. But three angels appeared and pulled the elder out of the chasm. The fourth day Isaac came before the emperor and prophesied a terrible death for him if he does not grant freedom to the Orthodox: "I am speaking to you O emperor, you will lead the army against the barbarians but you will not be able to sustain their attack. You will flee from them but you will be captured and burned alive." Thus, it happened. The barbarians cut down the Greek army as grass but the emperor, with his Arianite advisor, fled and hid in a basket. The barbarians arrived at that place and learning where the emperor was, surrounded the basket and set it afire and both the emperor and his advisor were burned alive. Following this, Theodosius the Great was crowned emperor. Theodosius, who heard about the prophecy of Isaac and its fulfillment, summoned Isaac and prostrated himself before him. Since peace reigned in the Church and the Arians banished into exile, Isaac wanted to return to his wilderness but was persuaded and remained in Constantinople. An aristocrat, Saturninus by name, built a monastery for the Elder Issac where he lived a life of asceticism until his death, working many miracles. The monastery overflowed with monks and became a great monastery. Before his death, Isaac appointed Dalmatus, his disciple, as abbot after whom this monastery was later called. The god-pleasing Elder Isaac entered into eternity in the year 383 A.D., to find pleasure in gazing at the face of God.





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