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Orthodox Library - Plerophories

The Plerophories are a collection of visions, prophecies and dreams which were gathered together by the anti-Chalcedonian communion. As the introduction to the text tells us..

That is to say: testimonies and revelations that God made to the saints, on the subject of the heresy of the two natures and of the prevarication which took place at Chalcedon; They were made by one of the disciples of Peter the Iberian, whose name was the priest John of Beit-Rufin, of Antioch, bishop of Maiouma in Gaza.

These little narrative accounts are therefore testimony to the spiritual attitudes of those living before and after the events which took place at Chalcedon. The first chapters are added here, and in due course the complete work will be translated into English and made available here.

Plerophories

That is to say: testimonies and revelations that God made to the saints, on the subject of the heresy of the two natures and of the prevarication which took place at Chalcedon; They were made by one of the disciples of Peter the Iberian, whose name was the priest John of Beit-Rufin, of Antioch, bishop of Maiouma in Gaza.

I. Our father and bishop, the venerable Abba Peter the Iberian, related to us that when he was still at Constantinople, before he renounced the world, when Nestorius was still living and was bishop: As he ended the commemoration of the holy Forty Martyrs in the Church called after Mary, he got up to explain the Scripture before all the people in my presence. He had a clear and feminine voice. He started to blaspheme and to say before me in the middle of his speech: “You will not be glorified, Mary, as if you had given birth to God; for, O excellent one, you have not given birth to God, but to the man, the instrument of God”. As soon as he had said this, he was possessed by a demon, even in the pulpit, so that, together with his face, his right hand was turned upside down; as he twisted and was about to fall some servants and deacons caught him quickly, and carried him and laid him in the sacristy. And since that time the greater part of the inhabitants of the city separated from his communion, and especially the people of the palace, and me also, before all the others, although he loved me much.

II. The father spoke to us on the subject of blessed Pelagius of Edessa, who had kept a perfect life. He was a monk and a prophet; and when he had heard the blasphemies of Ibas, Bishop of Edessa, and that he had repeated them openly, he had much to suffer from his part. Finding himself persecuted, he went into a certain locality of Palestine and stayed there in peace during the time of Juvenal, before the council of Chalcedon, and the corruption of the faith. In this manner grace dwelt in him; He was full of the spirit of prophecy and he deserved to have frequent visions. He went very often to visit Abba Peter who was then living in peace in the Laura of Maiuma of Gaza. These saints had, indeed, a great affection the one for the other. In one of their meetings, as Pelagius walked with our father in the sandy parts of the laura, and while he was having a discussion with him concerning the thoughts and perfections which are in God, he said, seven years before the council, that he had been caught up in ecstasy, and he had seen the corruption which was to take place at Chalcedon on the part of the bishops. He even named the impious emperor Marcian, at the time, and by whose power this corruption would occur, as well as the later events, and he said, “These times will come upon us, me and you also, Abba, and when we are persecuted with all the saints who will not consent to acquiesce to this corruption of the faith, we will die during this persecution”. And finally, this also came to pass.

III. It was of the same Abba Pelagius who was a prophet, that our father told us, when he went with some of the other saints to find this old man. He had yet another vision before the council of Chalcedon, and he began to say while in tears: “Misfortune unto Pulcheria! Misfortune to Pulcheria! Misfortune to Pulcheria”. And when we asked him was great insistence to reveal to us the significance of his words, he said: “Pulcheria, who promised her virginity to God, who drove out Nestorius and who is represented by all the saints in all the countries as holy and a virgin, she who was considered as the head of Orthodoxy, she is on the point of becoming an apostate to her faith and to her virginity, and of maltreating the saints”. This is also what happened. She broke her vows of purity, which she had made to Christ, she married Marcian, and she became the heiress of his empire, of his impiety and of the sorrows which are reserved for him.

IV. The same priest Pelagius, as Pamphilius recounts, deacon of the Church of Jerusalem and his friend, who entered with him once into the holy place of Golgotha, to pray there, while it was still night, - it was indeed his usual practice – as he prayed upright, he had a vision, and, under the weight of sadness and tears, he began to say: “Juvenal! Juvenal! Juvenal!”. When the vision came to an end, the deacon Pamphilius threw himself to his knees and demanded of him what was the object of this vision, and why had he not ceased to cry out: Juvenal! Pelagius responded: “This Juvenal, you will see him, if you still live, carried in triumph by the Romans and the demons, as you see now, this Juvenal, carried in triumph by monks and the clergy”.

V. This Pelagius, seeing in spirit that which would happen, said to our holy father and to the blessed John the Eunuch: “Contemplate the Divine Scriptures, my sons, and when Christ entrusts His churches to you, pray for me”. In this way he predicted the laying on of hands to those who were to receive it; also, the blessed Peter was in astonishment, and he by no means found the words pleasant which had just been said, because he had until then fled from the imposition of hands. Full of anger he spoke to the old man saying: “You do not know what you say, old man”. But Pelagius, preserving his serenity, answered: “I know what I say, and that which is a cause of distress, distresses me also”.

VI. This Pelagius, at the time of the corruption of the faith, constantly offered this prayer: “Lord my God, preserve me until the end from the transgression of the Orthodox faith and from joining the communion of those who oppressed the faith at Chalcedon. Receive my spirit where you will and as you will, even at the hostelry or the inn. Keep me only from becoming a renegade. And this also happened to him in reality, at Ascalon, at the home of a certain Cyril, an orthodox hosteler, who had been driven from Maiuma for the cause of Orthodoxy, and who had retired to Ascalon and ran a hotel. As the blessed Pelagius was hiding with him, he died one night, as he had asked and predicted. When some of the zealous brothers of Maiuma learned of his death, they came at night, carrying his body and buried it in the Laura, at the monastery of the friend of the Messiah, Haroun, the corn merchant.

The same night of the death of Pelagius – as the Orthodox bishops were then persecuted, Bishop Abba Peter had left – he was in Oxyryncos in the Thebaid and, at a distance, he saw in a dream, the blessed Pelagius joyfully approaching him with a smiling face, greeting him and saying, “Father, pray for me and recommend me to God, because I am going to the Lord”. Our father noted in writing the day he had this vision and found later that it was the hour when the great confessor Pelagius had died.

The mother of this man, fasting for a week, conceived him, brought him forth into the world and raised him in holiness. He became a man and reached middle age. When one of the most honourable men of the cirt died, seeing him placed in the ground, he was overwhelmed with sadness and, immediately after the funeral he fled to the monastery because he understood the vanity of this world, and so became a chosen vessel.

This translation is ©2012 Father Peter Farrington