A woman of sin once made up her mind, and wagered with her friends, that she could, without fail, succeed in leading into her nets a hermit, who lived on a mountain far from the city and about whom it was said by all that he was a holy man.
She wore a thick veil, which hid her attractiveness, and climbed the mountain. Her friends waited for her half-way up the road. As evening fell, she knocked at the door of the hermit's cave. He was disturbed when he saw her: "How can it be that a woman would be found at such an hour in this wilderness?"
"Ah, devil, this is one of your enticements," he mused.
He asked her who she was and what she was looking for. She turned on the tears.
"For hours on end I have been wandering in the wilderness, Father. I lost my way and my companions and I do not even know how I got here. But in the name of God, do not let the wild beasts eat me."
The hermit found himself in a dilemma. Should he take a woman into his living quarters? No such thing had ever occurred to him. But, on the other hand, should he let a creature of God be eaten by wild beasts? That would be inhuman, almost criminal. Finally, sympathy got the better of him and he took her in. She then took off her veil, supposedly ingenuously, and showed him her charms. Temptation began to inflame the desires of the combatant, since the act was no longer impeded.
He threw a few dry leaves on the ground and told the woman to lie down, while he removed himself to the depths of the cave. He kneeled and prayed fervently.
"Tonight," he reflected, "I have to wage the toughest battle against the visible and invisible enemy, and either I shall be victorious, or I will waste all of my labors."
As the night progressed, so much more the flame of his desire burned him. For one moment he felt his resistance yield and he was terrified.
"Those who defile their bodies with sinful acts go to hell," he said almost screaming. "And now to test to see if you will endure in the torturing fire."
He lighted his oil lamp and put his finger in the flame. But the other flame which burned his flesh was stronger and did not let him feel pain from the burn. Since his first finger had become useless, he put his second finger into the flame of the oil lamp, and then the third. By the time morning came, he had burned the five fingers of his hand.
That vile woman followed the superhuman struggle of the servant of God from a hidden vantage point and, seeing him obstinately burn all of his fingers, one after the other, was so shaken that she dropped dead of her terror.
Her friends, in the meantime, made a surprise incursion on the elder's cave in order to get a laugh at his expense. However, they found him outside in prayer.
"Did a woman perhaps show up here last evening?" they asked him.
"She is inside sleeping," he answered them.
They went in and found her dead.
He then uncovered his hand and showed them his fingers.
"Do you see here what the daughter of the devil did to me?
The commandment of Christ, however, commands me to return good for evil."
He stood up and prayed over her soulless body and brought it back to life!
(The Ancient Fathers of the Desert)