It once passed through the mind of Antonios the Great to wonder what measure of holiness he had attained. God, however, Who wished to humble his mind, showed him in a dream one night that a certain cobbler, who had a shop on one of the out-of-the-way streets of Alexandria, was better than he.
As soon as day broke, the Saint took his staff and set out for the city. He wanted to meet this renown cobbler himself and to see his virtues. With great difficulty, he found his shop, went inside, sat down beside him on his bench, and began to ask about his life.
The simple man, who could not figure out who this old monk who came so suddenly to interrogate him was, answered him ever so slowly and calmly, without taking his eyes from the shoe that he was mending.
"I do not know, Abba, if I have ever done any good. Every morning I get up and do my prayers and then I begin my work. However, I first say to myself that all the people in this city, from the very least to the very greatest, will be saved, and only I will be condemned for my many sins. And in the evening when I lie down, again I think about the same thing."
The Saint stood up in wonderment, embraced the cobbler, kissed him, and said to him with emotion: "You, my brother, like a good merchant, have easily gained the precious pearl. I have grown old in the desert, toiling and sweating, but I have not attained to your humility."