Deir el-Quruntul - DOUKA


(139) Once I followed the old man in the caves of Douka with some other fathers from our own Great Laura and from the Laura of Souka, to spend there the period of the Forty-days Lent of our holy father Sabas. I had a small cave near the Elder’s cave, and while I sat there,  every day I would see him come out of his cave and look at the mountain top, sighing contritely from the depths of his heart and praising God with all his might. I never spoke a word to him about this (behaviour). At the end of Lent the old man was insistently asked (by the fathers), when would he agree to climb to the mountain top; so he took the fathers, leaving me in the lower with another monk. Now, while they circled (the mountain top) in a body, they found a cave containing dry hay, a well made sitting place and traces of the presence of a man. The fathers, and the holy man with them, wandered about following the man’s tracks, but though they searched everywhere, they could not find him. So the Master pretended to step aside as for some physical need, saying: “Precede me a little, fathers; I shall rejoin you at once”.

(140) <The monks waited for Stephen a long time; when he finally came back he refused to tell them what had delayed him.>

(141) <Leontius, the disciple, insistently questioned his master and finally received the following answer:>  “An anchorite inhabits a cave on the mountain top, a true and holy servant of God. Climb the mountain and look for him, for you will enjoy his conversation. This is the reason why, during Lent, while we were on the ridge, I sighed from the depths of my heart, praying to have the occasion for a spiritual conversation with this anchorite.

(142) <After Easter, Leontius went back and found the hermit, whose is so described:> He is grizzled, but not feeble (with age), though his flesh has been consumed by prolonged asceticism. His bones are great and massive, and he is very tall and good-looking, and naked except for a leather wrapper he wears around his privy parts; shaggy, long-haired and bushy-bearded. He has lived as a hermit for thirty years.

(transl. Leah Di Segni)
An anchorite lives in a cave up the mountain from the monastery of Douka, from a late 8th cent. life of Stephanus written by his disciple.