James the Ascetic

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Our venerable father James the Ascetic (also known as Jacob the Ascetic - feastday January 28) left all the worldly things and settled for fifteen years in a cave near a large village called Porphyrianos. There he led an ascetic's life.

Once a prostitute, moved by some lecherous men, came to 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 and made her repent and come to Christ. But, because no man alone can escape the tricks and traps of the deceitful devil, it happened that he also, being a man, erred and sinned greatly so that from his example those virtuous men who think that they are firm and cannot fall should watch over themselves. Moreover, they should take example so that, even if they sin greatly by some trick of the devil, they should repent and rise again without despairing. So, a certain glorious nobleman who had a daughter who was possessed offered her to the saint to cure her. The saint prayed and he immediately freed her from the demon. But the lady's father was afraid that the demon would disturb her again. So, he left her together with her young brother in the cave of the saint.

But the saint was defeated by desire and slept with the maiden. He was 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 go to the world. But on his way he met a pious monk. The saint obeyed his counsel and advice and he shut himself in a grave where he suffered every kind of hardship and torment.

Some time later, when that land suffered from drought and lack of rain, God ordered the bishop of the city that, unless Jacob 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 him and convinced him to pray. As soon as he prayed there came a heavy rain. From this sign the saint received good hope about his salvation and added hardship to hardship and tears to tears. In this way he commended his soul to the hands of God leading a life pleasing to Him.


Lives of the Saints for the Whole Year by St. Nicodemus of the Holy Mountain (18th century)