Michael IV part 17


    Those who took part in these ceremonies with him and faked the apparitions, will know whether the story is true or false. If it is a mere fabrication then my opinion on the subject cannot be disregarded. Obviously, where history is concerned, men are prone to invention and for that very reason slanders current among ordinary folk do not readily convince me. Before I trust what I hear, I always put such stories to the test.

    Beings above this world

    34. I do know that the man was a pattern of piety after his accession. Not only did he regularly attend Holy Church, but he paid particular heed to the philosophers. By the word ‘philosophers’ here I do not mean those who have tried to discover the principles of the universe — and neglected the principles of their own salvation — nor those who have examined the essence of nature. I mean those who have scorned the World and who live with the Beings above this world. Who, then, that lived such a life, escaped the emperor’s notice? What land and sea did he not thoroughly search, what clefts n the rocks, what secret holes in the earth, that he might bring to the light of day one who was hidden there?

    Once he had found them he would carry them off to his palace. And then, what honour did he not pay them, washing their dust-covered feet, even putting his arms about them and gladly embracing their bodies, secretly clothing himself in their rags and making them lie down on his imperial bed, while he cast himself down on some humble couch, with a hard stone for a pillow? That by no means exhausts the catalogue of good deeds, but my purpose here is not to compose a eulogy: I am narrating simple events.

    35. The truth is, that while most men usually avoid the society of persons suffering from disease, this man did an extraordinary thing, for he frequented their company, put his face to the festering sores on their bodies, then — even more amazing — embraced them, folded them in his arms, tended them with bathing and waited on them, as though he were a slave and they his masters. What right, then, have the wicked to slander him? Why should this emperor be exposed to their calumnies? But I am deviating somewhat from the main course of my narrative.

    36. The emperor desired forgiveness of his sins. He set himself, therefore, to do all such things as would please God, and he encouraged the clergy to help him in this object. In fact, a considerable part of the imperial treasures was set aside for the foundation of monasteries and nunneries throughout the continent.

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