Khirbet el-Kuṣeir - SOUSAKIM


Therefore I, wishing to make obeisance to him, went to the laura of Souka and, accompanied by John, the old man’s disciple, descended to Sousakim. This place is at a distance of about 90 stadia from the Laura of Souka. Now, when we arrived near the place, a gigantic and most fearful lion came towards us. I was scared, but Abba John said to me not to be afraid, and the lion, as soon as it understood that we were going to see the old man, let us pass. When the old man saw us, he was overjoyed, and exclaimed: “Lo! here comes Cyril, my monastery mate”. And Abba John said to him: “He was very scared at the sight of the lion, father”. Then the old man explained to me: “There is nothing to be afraid of, my son: this lion is always here with me, watching my small kitchen garden against the wild goats! And after having told me many anecdotes about the holy Euthymius and the other fathers of this desert, (Cyriacus) invited me to eat. While we were eating, the lion came and stood before us, and the old man rose and gave it a piece of bread, then sent it off to guard his vegetables. And the old man told me that the lion not only guarded the kitchen garden, but also kept away robbers and wandering Arabs. I spent the whole day with him and availed myself of his teaching; on the morrow he gave me a parting gift (of food) and, after having said a prayer for me, sent me on my way in peace with his disciple. And so, going away, we found the lion crouching on the path and eating a wild goat. The lion, seeing that we stood uncertainly and dared not pass, left its prey and withdrew, until we had passed by.

(transl. Leah Di Segni)

A tame lion guards Cyriacus' vegetable garden.