The Stranniki (Russian for Runaways or Wanderers) are the strong Pomorsky Old Believers who rejected prayers for Tsar Peter and all government papers (identification, passports, money, etc). They would not wear clothing contrary to Old Orthodox Russia, nor eat with those of contrary Faith and Practice. Keeping themselves separate from the antichrist society they went far into the Siberian wilderness. This blog is about these people and my effort to conform my life to theirs.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Love of Animals

We see from the lives of the holy men and women printed in these volumes that the labors which they performed and their fastings and prayers made most of them kind and considerate to their fellow men, slow to anger, unwilling to judge others, and patient to bear silence, solitude, hunger, heat and cold, nakedness and poverty and the scorn and contempt of the world. One of their characteristics, which shows itself here and there in their histories, is the kindliness with which the great solitaries regarded animals.

One day a female hyena came and knocked with her head at the door of the court in which Macarius was sitting, and came and dropped a whelp at his feet. He took up the whelp, saw that it was blind, and when he had prayed and spit in its eyes, the little creature was able to see. Its mother suckled it, and then took it up and carried it off. On the following day the hyena reappeared carrying the skin of a sheep which it had no doubt killed and eaten, and left it for the old man (Vol. 1, p. 124), who accepted the gift and subsequently handed it on to the lady Melania.

In the account of the burial of Mar Paule we also have a pretty story of the two lions which came and dug his grave. As they stood before Anthony near the body of Paule, they wagged their tails, and rubbed their teeth together, and purred, and then they dug a hole in the ground with their paws; this done they drooped their heads and tails, and licked Anthony’s hands and feet. Having prayed over them he told them to depart, laying his hands on them as he did so (Vol. 1, p. 203). When they had gone Anthony buried his friend. Whatever the facts of the case may be in this instance, it is clear that Anthony was accustomed to be with lions, and that kindly hermits in all countries have lived on friendly terms with beasts of all kinds is so well known as scarcely to deserve mention.

Theon the monk was fond of animals, and loved the sight of buffaloes, goats and gazelle, and gave them water to drink (Vol. 1, p. 339).

From, The Garden of the Holy Fathers, Vol. 1, p. lxj, here:

It also speaks of The Lives of Holy Women on page 65 (lxv).