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For the Preservation of the Deposit of the Faith
For the Kingdom of God to come!
St. Jerome tells the memorable story told to him by a venerable anchorite, named Malchus, who had himself been the hero. One day he had asked his superior to see his mother one last time before he died. During the journey he was surprised by pirates, who took him prisoner and sold him to an Arab master. Fortunately he was not alone, for one of his fellow slaves was a pious and God-fearing man. The two slaves were forced to work hard and were subjected to cruel treatment; they therefore resolved to flee, and at the first opportunity they reached the desert without being discovered. They were already well into the desert when they saw a cloud of dust on the horizon: it was their former master who was chasing them, mounted on a dromedary. Immediately they recognized that they would soon be joined and looked for a hiding place in the surroundings. Finally, they took refuge in a cave that went down between the rocks. The cave was deep and dark, so they didn’t dare venture too far into it and huddled in a corner a few steps from the entrance. No sooner had they hidden than their persecutors arrived, making a great noise and threatening them with terrible torments. As nobody answered in the cave, the master ordered the slave who accompanied him to drive out the fugitives with his scimitar. This one entered noisily. But suddenly a lioness, awakened by the noise, appeared from the depths of the cave, killed him with a blow of her teeth and dragged him into her den. His master was waiting for him, and when he did not return he went into the cave himself. He was also killed by the lioness. The fugitives had seen from their hiding place the bloody drama that had just taken place and thought they were lost. But the adventure had an unexpected outcome. The lioness, seeing her den discovered, took her cubs one by one and did not return until the evening. When night came, the two fugitives left the cave and found, to their great satisfaction, the camels of their persecutors. They thanked God with tears, got into the saddle, and thanks to their excellent mounts reached in a few days a Roman camp, where they were received with benevolence. After that they separated to return to their country.
In the presence of such facts, we must cry out with David, “This has happened from the Lord and it is admirable in our eyes.”