St. Macrina the Younger

Ἡ δὲ σφοδρῶς ἤδη τῇ ἀρρωστίᾳ κατείχετο, ἀνεπαύετο δὲ οὐκ ἐπὶ κλίνης τινὸς ἢ στρωμνῆς, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ τοῦ ἐδάφους, σανίδος ὑποτεταμένης τῷ σάκκῳ καὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν ἑτέρας πάλιν σανίδος ὑπερειδούσης, ἧς ἡ ἐργασία τοιαύτη τις ἦν, ὡς ἀντὶ προσκεφαλαίου τῇ κεφαλῇ γίνεσθαι, ἐν λοξῷ τῷ σχήματι τοὺς τένοντας ὑποβαίνουσα καὶ καταθυμίως ἀνέχουσα ἐφ’ ἑαυτῆς τὸν αὐχένα. ἐπεὶ οὖν εἶδεν ἐγγὺς τῶν θυρῶν με γενόμενον, ὀρθώσασα ἑαυτὴν ἐπ’ ἀγκῶνος προσδραμεῖν μὲν οὐχ οἵα τε ἦν, ἤδη τῷ πυρετῷ τῆς ἰσχύος ὑπολυθείσης· πήξασα δὲ ἐπὶ τοῦ ἐδάφους τὰς χεῖρας καὶ ἐφ’ ὅσον οἷόν τε ἦν ἔξω ἑαυτὴν τοῦ χαμευνίου προτείνασα τὴν τῆς ὑπαντήσεως ἐπλήρου τιμήν· κἀγὼ προσδραμὼν καὶ ταῖς χερσὶν ὑπολαβὼν χαμαὶ τὸ πρόσωπον κεκλιμένον ἀνώρθωσά τε πάλιν αὐτὴν καὶ ἀπέδωκα τῷ συνήθει τῆς κατακλίσεως σχήματι. ἡ δὲ προτείνασα τῷ θεῷ τὴν χεῖρα· “Καὶ ταύτην ἐπλήρωσάς μοι, φησί, τὴν χάριν ὁ θεός, καὶ οὐκ ἐστέρησάς με ἀπὸ τῆς ἐπιθυμίας μου, ὅτι ἐκίνησας τὸν σὸν οἰκέτην εἰς ἐπίσκεψιν τῆς παιδίσκης σου.” καὶ ὡς ἂν μηδεμίαν ἐπαγάγοι τῇ ἐμῇ ψυχῇ δυσθυμίαν, τὸν στεναγμὸν κατεπράϋνε καὶ τὴν συνοχὴν τοῦ ἄσθματος κρύπτειν πως ἐβιάζετο…
(Gregory of Nyssa, Vita Sanctae Macrinae 976d-978a)

I found her already terribly afflicted with weakness. She was lying not on a bed or couch, but on the floor; a sack had been spread on a board, and another board propped up her head, so contrived as to act as a pillow, supporting the sinews of the neck in slanting fashion, and holding up the neck comfortably. Now when she saw me near the door she raised herself on her elbow but could not come to meet me, her strength being already drained by fever. But by putting her hands on the floor and leaning over from the pallet as far as she could, she showed the respect due to my rank. I ran to her and embraced her prostrate form, and raising her, again restored her to her usual position. Then she lifted her hand to God and said – “This favour also Thou hast granted me, O God, and hast not deprived me of my desire, because Thou hast stirred up Thy servant to visit Thy handmaid.” Lest she should vex my soul she stilled her groans and made great efforts to hide, if possible, the difficulty of her breathing. (tr. William Kemp Lowther Clarke)

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