James the Ascetic
Our venerable father James the Ascetic (also known as Jacob the Ascetic or the Righteous - feastday January 28), a 4th century saint, left all worldly things to settle for fifteen years in a cave near a village called Porphyrianos. There he led an ascetic's life.
Once there was a prostitute who, moved by lecherous men, came to see the saint. She jumped on him shamelessly and was inciting him to sin. But the saint reminded her of the future punishment of eternal fire, making her repent and come to Christ.
Another time, a nobleman who had a daughter possessed by demons offered her to the saint for healing. The saint prayed and immediately freed her from the demon. The girl's father, though, was afraid that the demon would disturb her again, and so he left her and her young brother in the cave of the saint. Unfortunately, the saint was defeated by desire and slept with the maiden. He then became afraid that his abhorrent sin would be revealed, so he killed the woman and her brother and threw their dead bodies in the nearby river. Thus, he despaired completely of his salvation and made haste to return to the world. But on his way he met a pious monk. The saint obeyed this monk's advice: he shut himself in a grave where he suffered every kind of hardship and torment.
Some time later, when the land suffered from drought and lack of rain, God ordered the bishop of the city that unless James who was shut in the grave prayed, the dry spell would not end. Then the bishop together with all the people went to the saint, begged and finally convinced him to pray for them. As soon as he prayed there came a heavy rain. From this sign the saint received good hope about his salvation. In this way he commended his soul into the hands of God.
- Lives of the Saints for the Whole Year by St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (18th century)
Ὁ Ὅσιος Ἰάκωβος ὁ Ἀσκητὴς. 28 Ιανουαρίου. ΜΕΓΑΣ ΣΥΝΑΞΑΡΙΣΤΗΣ.
يعقوب التائب القديس. (Coptic account)