Golden Legend – Life of the Abbot John

Here beginneth of the Abbot John.

John, abbot, when he had dwelled forty years in desert with Episius, then Episius demanded how much he had profited, and then he said: As long as I have been solitary there was never sun that saw me eating. And John said: Ne me, being wroth. In like manner it is read that, when Epiphanius the bishop gave flesh to the abbot Hilary, he said: Pardon me, for sith I took this habit I never eat flesh ne fowl. To whom the bishop said: And sith I took mine habit, I suffered never none to sleep that had anything against me, ne I ne slept also as long as I was contrary to any other. To whom Hilary said: Father, forgive it me, for thou art better than I. John would have lived like unto angels, and entended always to serve God without any other thing doing, and he despoiled him, and was a whole week in desert. And when he was almost dead for hunger, and all stung with bees and wasps, he returned to the door of his brother and knocked, and he asked: Who art thou? and he said: I am John. And that other said: Thou art not he, for John ic made an angel and is not among men. And John said: Truly I am he; but for all that he left him there till on the morn. And then he opened the door to him, and said to him: If thou be a man it is need that thou labour again for to be fed, and if thou be an angel, wherefore desires” thou to enter herein? And John said: O brother, forgive it me, for I have sinned. And when he should die his brethren prayed him that he would leave to them, instead of heritage, a word of health, and that short, and then he sighed and said: I did never yet mine own will ne I never did thing to any other but I did it first myself. Hæc in Vitis Patrum.