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A Publication of


From The Ark No. 188 Summer 2001

The Gentle Feeders

‘Christ suffered to show us how we too should suffer like Him that "The patient conquer." And this is proved many times in the Lives of the Saints ... St Anthony, St Giles, and many more of the holy Fathers lived their lives in the desert among the wild beasts ... and all the hermits of those ages received their food from the birds of the air - though not from lions and tigers! ... And every lion and leopard that stalked the forests, the bears and the wild boars and all the other beasts, would fall at these hermits’ feet and caress them with their tails. And if these beasts could have spoken, I swear they would have fed the hermits even more readily than the birds did. For they showed them all the gentleness that animals know, and as they roamed the forests they would stop to lick the saints’ hands and crouch down before them.

Yet God chose the birds to feed them, and not the beasts of prey, in order to teach us that only gentle creatures should feed such peaceful men ...’

From Piers the Ploughman, by William Langland, c.1332 - 1390+,
Book XV, Charity
(Trans by J F Goodridge, Penguin Classics, 1959, 1966)

Return to The Ark No. 188

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