PELAGIA AND PHILAMMON
Etched, in five colors, by F. L. Kirkpatrick
After the Painting by Arthur Hacker
Larger images: 750x500
pixels or 1500x1000 pixels
"The English painter has found his subject for this painting in the last pages of Kingsley's 'Hypatia.' Philammon, the Greek disciple of the cruelly murdered daughter of Theon, after this event became a hermit in the desert, and was later made, for his piety, abbot of the monastery of Scetis. Every night in his prayers, according to an extract which the author gives from "an unpublished fragment of the Hagiologia Nilotica of Gradiocolosyrtus Tabbeniticus," he interceded for two women by name - 'a heathen and a harlot' - Hypatia and Pelagia. The latter, his sister, had been beloved by Amal, the Goth, and after his death she, too, had sought refuge in the mountains and lived there as a holy woman till, her garments all failing her, she secluded herself from the sight of all save a few women, 'who went up from time to time to carry her offering of fruit and meal, and to ask the blessings of her prayers.' One morning the abbot had a vision, and, taking the sacred paten and chalice in his hands, he went out into the desert, forbidding any to follow him. But the eldest brother sent two of the young men to seek him, and they, being directed by the two inhabitants, followed him to the cave of this holy Amma, on the summit of the mountain. Here they found the body of their abbot, and by his side "that of a woman of exceeding beauty." The empty paten and chalice showed that he had arrived in time to give her the last sacrament, and the two novices, filled with holy awe, returned weeping to the convent."