The Monk Ilarion the Great
Commemorated on October 21
The Monk Ilarion the Great was born in the year
291 in the Palestinian village of Tabath. He was sent for study to Alexandria,
where he became acquainted with Christianity and accepted holy Baptism. Hearing
an account of the angelic life of the Monk Anthony the Great (Comm. 17
January), Ilarion set out to him, in order to study that which is pleasing to
God. Ilarion soon returned to his native-land. His parents had already died.
Having distributed his familial inheritance to the poor, Ilarion set out into
the wilderness surrounding he city of Maium. The monk struggled intensely with
impure thoughts, vexations of the mind and the burning of the flesh, defeating
them with heavy toil, fasting and fervent prayer. The devil sought to terrorise
the saint with phantoms and apparitions. During times of prayer Saint Ilarion
heard children crying, women wailing, and the growling of lions and other wild
beasts. The monk perceived that it was the demons causing these terrors, in
order to drive him away from the wilderness, and therefore he overcame his fear
with the help of fervent prayer.
One time robbers fell upon the Monk Ilarion, and he by the power of his words persuaded them to forsake the life of crime.
Soon all Palestine learned about the holy ascetic. The Lord vouchsafed to the Monk Ilarion the power to cast out unclean spirits. With this graced gift he loosed the bounds of many of the afflicted. The sick came for healing, and the monk cured them free of charge, saying, that the grace of God is not for sale. By means of smell the saint learned with which passion this or that man was afflicted. And they came to the Monk Ilarion wanting to save their soul under his guidance. With the blessing of the Monk Ilarion, monasteries began to spring up throughout all of Palestine. Going from one monastery to another, he set in them a strict ascetic manner of life. About seven years before his death (+ 371-372) the Monk Ilarion resettled to Cyprus, where he asceticised in a solitary place, until the Lord summoned him to Himself.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.