And with these words she turned to the East, and raising her eyes to Heaven and stretching out her hands, she began to Pray in a whisper…

Zosima said: “By your Prayers, mother, Christ has granted lasting peace to all. But fulfill the unworthy petition of an old man and Pray for the whole world and for me who am a sinner, so that my wanderings in the desert may not be fruitless.” She answered: “You who are a Priest, Abba Zosima, it is you who must Pray for me and for all – for this is your calling. But as we must all be obedient, I will gladly do what you ask.” And with these words she turned to the East, and raising her eyes to Heaven and stretching out her hands, she began to Pray in a whisper… when at length he thought that her Prayer was very long, he took his eyes off the ground and saw that she was raised about a forearm’s distance from the ground and stood Praying in the air.

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When he saw this, even greater terror seized him and he fell on the ground weeping and repeating may times, “Lord have mercy.” And whilst lying prostrate on the ground he was tempted by a thought: Is it not a spirit, and perhaps her prayer is hypocrisy. But at the very same moment the woman turned round, raised the elder from the ground and said: “Thoughts, tempting you about me, trouble you, Abba, telling you I am a spirit, and that my Prayer is feigned? Know, holy father, that I am only a sinful woman, though I am guarded by Holy Baptism. And I am no spirit but earth and ashes, and flesh alone.” And with these words she guarded herself with the Sign of the Cross on her forehead, eyes, mouth and breast, saying: “May God defend us from the evil one and from his designs, for fierce is his struggle against us.”

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Hearing and seeing this, the Elder fell to the ground and, embracing her feet, he said with tears: “I beg you, by the Name of Christ our God, Who was born of a Virgin, for Whose sake you have stripped yourself, for Whose sake you have exhausted your flesh, do not hide from your slave, who you are and whence and how you came into this desert. Tell me everything so that the marvellous works of God may become known… But the woman raised him and said: “I am ashamed, Abba, to speak to you of my disgraceful life, forgive me for God’s sake!…God is my witness, I am afraid of defiling you and the very air with my words.” Zosima, weeping, replied to her: “Speak on for God’s sake, mother, speak and do not break the thread of such an edifying tale.”…