A Curious Case of Tongues in the Early Church

Pope St. Gregory the Dialogist ca. 540-604

GREGORY. For you were well acquainted with Ammonius, a monk of my Monastery…This man told me, how, in that great mortality which happened in this city, in the time of that noble man Narses, there was a boy in the house of the foresaid Valerianus, called Armentarius, who was very simple and passing humble: when, therefore, that mortal disease entered that lawyer’s house, the foresaid boy fell sick thereof, and was brought to the point of death: who suddenly falling into a trance, and afterward coming to himself again, caused his master to be sent for, to whom he told that he had been in heaven, and did know who they were that should die out of his house. “Such and such,” quoth he, “shall die, but as for yourself, fear nothing, for at this time die you shall not. And that you may be assured that I have verily been in heaven, behold I have there received the gift to speak with all tongues: you know well enough that ignorant I am of the Greek tongue, and yet will I speak Greek, that you may see whether it be true that I say or no.” Then his master spake Greek, and he so answered him in that tongue, that all which were present did much marvel. In the same house there was a Bulgar, servant to the foresaid Narsus, who in all haste, being brought to the sick person, spake unto him in the Bulgarian tongue; and the boy that was born and brought up in Italy, answered him so in that barbarous language, as though he had been born and bred in that country. All that heard him thus talking wondered much, and by experience of two tongues which they knew very well that before he knew not, they made no doubt of the rest, though they could make no trial thereof. After this he lived two days, and upon the third, by what secret judgment of God none can tell, he tare and rent with his teeth his own hands and arms, and so departed this life. When he was dead, all those whom before he mentioned did quickly follow after; and besides them, none in that house died at that time.

PETER. A very terrible thing it is, that he which merited so great a grace, should be punished with so pitiful a death.

GREGORY. Who is able to enter into the secret judgments of God? Wherefore those things which in divine examination we cannot comprehend, we ought rather to fear than curiously to discuss. (Dialogues Bk. 4.26)

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