St. Paisius the Athonite: Power of the Cross

Let me give you one example so you can appreciate the power of the cross. Once upon a time there lived a wicked king in Miziri, Egypt. He had a vizier, a Jew who had converted to Islam (leaving one devil behind and coming to another). At the same time, Joachim, a holy, wise, and righteous man, was the Patriarch of Alexandria. One day the vizier, who knew the Holy Gospel, proposed to the king that he invite the patriarch to a conversation in order to show his superiority in the dispute. When the patriarch arrived at the king’s order, the Jew said to him: “Patriarch, I want us to talk and argue about faith.” The patriarch answered: “As you wish, sir, I am even ready to shed my own blood for my faith.” The dispute began, and the patriarch was skillfully disarming the Jew all the time. But the vizier did not yield and suggested to the king: “Christ said in the Gospel, “Whoever has faith and drinks deadly poison shall not die.” So, get the patriarch to drink the poison I will prepare for him. If he does not die, we will believe in his God. Be aware, however, that Christians possess the magic power of the cross, and with the help of the sign of the cross, they even make bitter things sweet.” The Jew spent three whole days preparing the poison… He brought it to the king and said, “Order the patriarch to drink poison but make sure that he doesn’t cross himself or the poisoned drink.” The wise and holy patriarch, wishing to shame the Jew and make him a laughingstock, did what the Holy Spirit told him to do: he took the cup of poison in his hands and said, “Well, Sire, you gave me the poison, but you didn’t tell me how to drink it, from which side.”

Crossing the fingers on his right hand as if for blessing, he pointed in different directions, asking from which side he had to drink the poison. In so doing, he crossed the cup in such a way that no one even noticed it… The patriarch drank the poison and miraculously survived. Then he told the king, “I have drunk all the poison. Now order your vizier to rinse the cup with water and drink it. If nothing happens to him, then we will all accept the Jew’s faith.”

The vizier refused at first, but the king forced him to drink it. And – what a miracle: he died as soon as he touched the cup. You see, my brothers? He who has faith in Christ and whose heart is pure will protect himself from all evil by making the sign of the cross.

Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds

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