Thursday, October 21, 2021

Saint Hilarion the Great as an Exorcist

By St. Dimitri of Rostov
1. The servant and driver of a certain nobleman of Gaza was set upon by a demon as he was driving his carriage. He became stiff and could not move at all but remained able to speak. This servant was brought to the godly Hilarion in the desert, and as soon as the saint laid eyes on him, he said, "You cannot be cured of your infirmity unless you first believe in Christ the Lord, Who alone can heal you of your ailment."

The sick man cried out piteously, "I believe in Him; only let Him heal me!"

The saint prayed and healed the man by the power of Christ, and then instructed him in the faith. He told the servant to be baptized and sent him home freed from bondage to the devil and whole in body and soul.

2. There was another young man named Marsitus, from the region of Jerusalem, who had such strength that he could lift up and carry more than five hundred pounds of wheat. He was so strong that he did not need an ass to carry heavy burdens. A demon entered this man and began to torment him, driving him through fields and deserts. Finally, he was caught, bound hand and foot with chains and iron shackles, and kept shut up under close watch. But so great was his natural strength (to which was added the power of the demons) that he broke his bonds and burst open the door behind which he was shut. He then fled and began to assault everyone he met along the way. He cut off the nose, the lips, or the ears of this one; broke the arms and legs of that one; dug out the eyes of a third; and strangled still another. He spread terror among all the inhabitants of that region, but no one could subdue him. At length a multitude of people gathered together, seized him, bound his whole body with chains, and dragged him like a wild bull to the venerable one. When the godly Hilarion saw him, he ordered that he be set free, and Marsitus became as meek as a lamb. The saint then prayed for him and said to the demon which dwelt within him, "O unclean spirit! In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, I command you to depart from this man and to flee into the desert!"

The demon shook the man, cast him to the ground, and then departed from him. By the grace of the Lord and the prayers of the saint, the man was healed and began to praise the venerable Hilarion greatly. But the saint forbade him to do this and said both to him and to the others who were there, "It was not we who brought this to pass but the grace of our Saviour, Who loves mankind. Because of His ineffable compassion for us, His servants, He bore our infirmities; therefore, we ought to glorify, to thank, and to magnify Him without ceasing."

3. As he said this, another man was brought to the saint, bound with iron chains, for a legion of demons had taken possession of him. His name was Orion; he was one of the chief men of the city of Aila and was very wealthy. As he approached the saint, he tore himself out of the hands of those accompanying him, seized the saint from behind, and lifted him above his head. All those present cried out, for they feared that Hilarion would be cast to the ground and his bones, which were dried up from much fasting, would be shattered. But the saint smiled and said, "Let my opponent wrestle with me!"

Then he stretched forth his hand, took the demonized man by the hair, and forced him to lie down at his feet. After this Hilarion bound Orion’s hands and stepped on his feet, and he said, "Suffer, O legion of demons, suffer!"

The demons within the man cried out, shouting with many voices like a great crowd of people, and the saint began to pray, "O Lord Jesus Christ, free this poor man from this legion of demons, for as Thou canst overcome a single devil, so art Thou able to prevail over a multitude of evil spirits."

Immediately, the demons came forth from the man, crying out loudly. The man was freed from their torments, made whole, and gave thanks to God and to His servant, Saint Hilarion. Some time thereafter, he returned with his wife and friends, bearing rich gifts for the saint in thanks for his healing. But the saint would not accept them, saying, "Have you not heard how Gehazi suffered for taking gifts from the man who was healed of leprosy? The grace of God cannot be purchased. Go, distribute among the poor who live in your city the things you have brought me. We who dwell in the desert have no need of possessions." Thus he sent the man back with his gifts.

4. After this a stonemason of the city of Maiouma who was sick of the palsy was brought to the godly one, and by the prayers of the saint he was immediately made whole.

Dominique Papety (1815-1849). Temptation of Saint Hilarion.

5. On another occasion a possessed maiden from the region of Gaza was brought to the saint. The cause of her affliction was as follows. There was a youth who fell in love with her and was stricken with desire for her. She, however, would have nothing to do with him and would not submit to his vile lusts. When the young man saw that he could not gain his purpose either through enticing words or costly gifts, he went to the sorcerers of Aesculapius in Memphis, a city of Egypt. He told them how he had been wounded with desire for the maiden, and they gave him a copper plate upon which magic spells were inscribed. When he returned home, he buried the plate beneath the portal of the house where the maiden lived, as the wizards had instructed him to do. Immediately, a demon entered the maiden and set her aflame with lust so that she began to cry out without shame the name of the youth, telling him to come and fulfill his desires. She lewdly stripped herself of her clothes, and the fire of desire brought her to a frenzy. When her parents saw her condition, they understood that a devil had gained possession of her, and they took her to the monastery where the venerable one lived (for a multitude of brethren had gathered about the godly one, and he had founded a great monastery).

As the maiden was being led there, the demon within her cried out and wailed, saying, "It would have been better for me to remain in Memphis, where I led people astray with dreams, than to be sent here." Then, as she was brought before the saint, the demon cried, "I did not enter this maiden willingly: I was sent to her against my will by them that have charge over me. Now I am tormented cruelly and cannot come forth from her, for I am bound to the copper plate buried beneath the portal. I cannot come out until the youth who bound me looses me!"

The saint laughed a little and said, "How great is your strength, O devil! You are tied with a little string and held fast by a plate of copper!" Then he asked the demon, "Why did you not enter the young man who bound you?"

The demon replied, "He is possessed by one of my fellows, a demon of fornication."

The saint then prayed and expelled the demon from the maiden, and he warned her to guard herself from the snares of the enemy and to flee from conversations with shameless youths.

6. There was a certain prince who was possessed by an unclean demon. He went to the saint and was healed by him, and to thank his unmercenary physician, offered him ten litres of gold. The saint showed him his barley bread and said, "Those who eat such bread count gold as dirt." The Prince departed, completely healed, but the saint would not take the gold.

When the venerable Anthony heard of the deeds Hilarion worked, he rejoiced in spirit and began to write to him frequently. He said to those who came to him from Syria to be healed, "Why do you trouble yourselves, making such a long journey to come to me, when you have nearby Hilarion, my son in Christ, who has received from God the gift of healing every infirmity?"