Saint Martinian

Once upon a time, in a hot Palestinian desert, among gloomy livid mountains there lived saint Martinian the hermit. He was still young but filled with an ardent spirit and from a pure heart he wanted to preserve his chastity for God. So he often prayed to Him: "Put out the fire of my passions". God heard his prayer and granted him power over them. And when He saw the righteous one was ready, He put him to a test.

In the city of Caesaria there lived a woman famous for the beauty of figure she was greatly gifted with. But not only beauty gave her fame, for people knew about lewdness of hers. Once during an evening feast, everyone witnessed how with arrogance she said before their feet: "There is not a single man that can admire me enough, who does not want to make me theirs". "There lives a man in a desert of Caesaria, to whom your beauty is nothing, your gaze will not bewitch him". And once they said that, she laughed out loud and answered them with pride: "I will visit him in the desert and he will follow me wherever I go".

The evening was filled with scarlet colors and the enchanting sunset was ablaze. Beside a small bonfire a half-naked youth was sitting and singing praise to God for the day that passed and asked to send the holy night. He asked to grant him strength to fight and drive temptations off. But he was interrupted by Zoe who now stood infront of him. "Hello, my lord", - she said while clattering her rings. "Who are you and from where did you arrive at such an hour? Perhaps you're lost and cannot find your way to Caesaria?". "Your maid, my name is Zoe. I've heard thy labours and came to summon thee to rest, to give reward for thou toil. I brought some wine and food the two of us can share. I love thee and I am ready to stay here with my lord. I beg thee, cease your prayer and repentence for my love is very deep. And I am ready to obey whatever orders thee might have". The saint said to Zoe calmly: "I love you too and I'm rejoiced that you are ready to obey whatever orders I might have. Come stand with me so that we may give thanks to Christ for everything". And then he stepped into the midst of fire with his bare feet. "What are you doing?!" Zoe screamed, "what are you doing to your feet?". "I want to know what tortures God will grant me for my sins". "What torturure? When?" Zoe cried out in fear. And while standing on coals like on flowers the desert-dweller told her about souls, God, heaven, death and sins.

His speech flowed like water straight into heart of Zoe. And with some unearthly force it cured her ailment. The saint knew and continued his speech, filled with grace. The mind of Zoe became illumined, the fire of faith blazed up in her soul. The fire and coals under feet went out a long time ago but enlightened he stood and kept preaching Christ.

Zoe cried on her knees besides his feet. But he could only utter: "May God forgive you, Zoe. Go home and pray to Him". But she answered with love: "No, my lord, let me die here". For twelve long years she laboured in the desert and in Bethlehem was crowned by God.

Performed by the Old Believers of Oregon. The pictures are various monasteries in the desert of Palestine.


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