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A Vision of the Last Judgment

The following vision was granted to Saint Niphon, a holy bishop from Cyprus who lived at the time of Emperor Constantine the Great.

Hear, brothers, another awe-inspiring and harrowing story, which the righteous man saw one day and fell into great ecstasy and fear. One night, after performing the regular nocturnal prayers, he lay down to sleep, as was his habit, on a stone. The time was about midnight, but he sat awake and was observing the loftiness of the sky, and the moon and stars. And as he was sitting by himself, he remembered his sins and he mourned terribly, reminding himself of the fearful hour of judgment.

As he was sitting and mourning, he suddenly looked, and, behold, the firmament of the sky was lifted like a linen sheet, and he saw straightaway our Lord Jesus Christ in huge form, standing in the air inside the firmament. All of heaven’s forces stood in a circle around Him in fear and trembling: angels, archangels, as well as fearful and extraordinary battalions, standing very orderly, with respect and great reverence, as if they were bees.

Then the Lord signaled to the general of one of the battalions, who approached astounded and shuddering greatly. And the Lord said to him: “Michael, Michael, lord of the covenant, raise up together with your order the fiery throne of My glory and go to the valley of Josaphat, and there prepare it as a divine herald of My coming. For the time of judgment has come, so that everyone will receive according to his deeds—and I will do this swiftly, because the day is at hand.

I will take vengeance on those who worship idols and reject Me, their creator. Those who honour stones and wood, which were given to them for service, all of them will be shattered like potter’s vessels, along with My enemies the heretics, who dared to separate Me from my Father, who dared to reduce my paraclete Spirit to a created thing. Woe to them and the punishment that awaits them!

I will reveal Myself to the Jews, who crucified me and did not believe. To Me was given authority, honour, and power. I will judge fairly. They said at the cross, Ah, you who would destroy the Temple, save yourself. Revenge is Mine; I will repay the perverse and wicked race, I will judge and examine and fill them with great shame and punishment, because even though I gave them chances to repent, they did not pay heed to Me.

I, even I will also take my revenge upon them—the offspring of Cain and Seth, to whom I gave years to repent, and who paid no heed to Me. And the Sodomites, who defiled the air and the earth with their foul smell, I burned and I will burn again, for they turned away from the pleasure of the Holy Spirit and loved the pleasure of the devil.

I will take vengeance on the adulterers and the senseless, those who are blinded by passion, the lusty stallions, those who are not satisfied with their own wives but who foolishly march into the abyss of fire bridled by Satan. They did not heed the saying: 'It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God;' they do not quake. I will pour out my indignation on them. I gave them a chance for repentance, but they did not repent.

I will convict the thieves who committed murders and many evils. I will cast into Tartarus all those who perpetrated the greatest wickedness and did not repent. I will show them how to submit to God and His commandments. I offered repentance to all but they did not heed it. Where is their profit? Because they did not regard the repentance I gave them, but they contemned Me, I will fill them with shame, and bitterness, and distress, and burning.

I gave them the prodigal son as a model and example along with many others so that they would not despair, but they looked down upon My commandments and denied Me; they turned away from Me and loved licentiousness. They loathed Me and they made themselves slaves to sin; let them march then towards the flame that they themselves have lit.

And upon those who died bearing malice I will deliver a terrible agitation, for they loved not My peace, but irascibly wasted their lives in bitterness and anger. I shall requite them, for they felt shame but were not moved to contrition. I will also obliterate the greedy and the usurers and those who make avarice a second idolatry; and I will carry out on them My full revenge, since they placed their hope in gold but thrust Me aside as if I had not provided for them.

I will also abandon the Christians who say there is no resurrection of the dead and those who assert that a transmigration of souls occurs. All these I will melt like a candle in Gehenna; in fire I will reduce them to ashes, and then I will show them the resurrection of the dead.

Magicians and sorcerers and astrologers and soothsayers will be crushed in a violent gnashing and will be pulverized into annihilation. And those who drink wine with lutes and timbrels I will destroy and throw down into the abyss. They rejected Me; revenge is Mine. I will take revenge as a righteous one.

Woe to those who sing and dance and use foul language and think themselves great, those who play with their own shadow! I will justly and impartially purge them purely. I called and they did not obey, but they sneered at Me. The worm will devour their hearts. I offered mercy and repentance to all of them but none paid heed to Me.

Those who set no value upon the divine scriptures, which My spirit poured forth through the mouth of My saints, I will bring down to the fog. And because they sneered and laughed at My commandments, I will laugh at them, and having filled them with shame, I will deliver them to the fire.

Those who pursue witchcraft as if it were a physician, and lay their hope in the knife and the axe and their sickles and in certain other things—I will examine each one of them and then they will know that it was necessary to put one’s hope in God and not in His creations. Do you resist Me and oppose Me even though you have no power? Mine is the revenge; I will repay.

And I will repay those kings and rulers who rebel against My name through injustice. In arrogance and contempt they chose lawlessness and injustice. Having received bribes, they wronged others and changed what was right into injustice—but I am not so. My might will not be bribed. As Lord and God I will obliterate them according to their wickedness. Then they will come to know that I am the one to be feared who takes away the spirits of princes. Then they will understand that I am the one to be feared among the kings of the earth. Woe to them and the punishment that awaits them! For they gnashed their teeth and they spilled innocent blood, the blood of My sons and My daughters.

With what anger shall I deliver those who were hirelings and not shepherds, those who ravaged My vineyard and scattered My sheep, those who shepherded pieces of gold and silver and demanded the priesthood as if they were worthy? How great will be their punishment, how great their lamentation! In My wrath and in My anger I will trouble them. They acquired perishable sheep and cattle, yet they did not take care of My sheep. I will visit their lawlessness with a rod and with scourges their offenses.

And the priests who make merry or are contentious in My holy churches, what shall I not do to them? I will tame them with fire, I will send them down to Tartarus, and I will crush them together like the potter’s vessels. I will come bearing judgment. I came and will come again. Whoever finds the strength, let him oppose Me. Woe to him who in wickedness falls into My hands, for all will come to me naked and laid bare. Where then will their shamelessness appear? How will they behold My countenance? Where will their shame be? For they will be put to shame before My angelic hosts.

I will also convict the monastics who conducted their lives with great negligence and lied to God and to angels and to men, for they promised one thing and instead did another. I shall hook them and shake them like wind from the clouds and I will send them to the abyss. They were not satisfied with their own perdition but became a scandal for the perdition of others, corrupting most by vainglory. It would have been better for them not to have renounced the world than to have renounced it and lived shamefully and associated with licentiousness. Mine is the revenge; I will take vengeance on those who did not want to repent, and I judge as a fair judge.”

Terror overtook the countless heavenly forces at the Lord’s words to Michael the archangel. Then the Lord ordered to be brought to Him the seven ages of the composition of the world. Michael was ordered to fetch them, and he immediately marched to the house of the covenant. And he brought what had the appearance of giant books, and placed them before the Lord, standing in fear and trembling and considering how He would ponder the books of the ages and what was written therein.

The Lord, having taken the first age and opened it, said, “Here it is recorded, first of all: Father, Son, Holy Spirit, one God in three persons, from the Father was begotten the Son, the creator of the ages. For through the word of the Father the ages were produced, through the word of the Father the forces of heavens were created, through the word of the Father the heavens were made firm, and all the earth and the underworld, seas and rivers, and everything that is in them. By the breath of His mouth all their host was made firm.”

And thereafter, having proceeded a little further with the reading of the book, He said, “Here it has been written that the first man Adam and his wife Eve are the image of the invisible God.” He then read a little more of the book and said, “A commandment of God, the Ruler of All and Creator of all things visible and invisible. This law, its observance, and its assurance were given to Adam so that he would have an exact memory of God and bear in his mind the knowledge that God is above him.”

And having advanced a little further He said, “Here is the transgression that the image of the invisible God committed because he had been deceived, or rather, because of his own sloth and negligence. He was cast out of paradise through the fair judgment and decree of God, for such an unfit transgressor could not remain amidst so many blessed things.”

Again He read further and said, “Cain rose up against Abel and slew him according to the will of the devil. He should be burned to ashes in the fire of Gehenna, since he did not repent. Abel, however, will live unto the ages.” He advanced a little and said, “Seth is the face of blessing and Enos is the image of sanctification; Enoch is a prefiguration of My ascension.” Having arrived at the end of the book, he said, “Here is the book of the first age of humankind, of those who acted in it throughout their short lives. Death and life, lawlessness and justice, humility and arrogance have all been recorded; to each will be given according to his deeds.”

Then in a similar way he proceeded with the other six books of the ages. Holding the book of the seventh age, he said, “The beginning of the seventh age, the end of ages, the beginning of evil and wickedness, the beginning of covetousness and mercilessness." And having read further, He said, “The people of the seventh age are wicked, envious, liars, having a blameworthy love, fond of power and enslaved to sodomitic harlotry.” After He read a bit further and ruminated, He raised up his eyes, struck His own forehead with His hand, covered His forehead and eyes, and stood like that for quite some time. Then, as if collecting Himself, He said, “Truly, this seventh age surpassed in injustice and wickedness the previous six ages.”

And again having gone through the book a little further, He said, “The heathens and their idols were shattered by the wood and the lance and the nails, which were driven through My life-bringing bread.” After being quiet for a short time He stooped over the book of the seventh age and said, “Twelve rulers of the great king, pure as light, who agitated the sea, who muzzled wild beasts, who choked dragons, led the blind, satisfied the hungry, stripped the wealthy, caught fish and divinely returned them to life: their reward will be plentiful.”

And having advanced a little further, He said, “I, the beloved, have elected for Myself martyrs, whose friendship reaches up to the sky, and their love up to My throne, and their desire up to My heart, their love inflames Me intensely; My glory and My power are with them.” After rereading a good part of the book, He seemed to smile, and said, “A man who piously held the rudder of the Seven-hilled city (Saint Constantine) and led the kingdom was found to be a servant of My love; he, a zealous follower and imitator of Christ, deserves the kingdom of heaven.”

And after these words, having put down the book, He said, “My bride, beautiful, lovely, and honoured, whom many swindlers were eager to corrupt and proclaim a whore. But you did not reject Me, your own lover. Manifold heresies were raised up against you, but the rock on which I placed your foundations was not shaken, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”

After saying this and going through more of the book, He spoke of sinners, how there were recorded the words of men, both the wicked and the good, and which words death shut off and were not wiped out through repentance. The book contained first the good works of humankind; then their sins were written in it, as great as the sand of the sea. As the Lord Jesus went through reading them, He often shook his head and sighed with weariness.

And that terrible multitude of angels stood in great amazement trembling with fear and from the reading of the books of the ages. As He reached the middle of this same age, He said again, “This last book contains much stench from sins. That is why I will reach the middle and that is enough. The human affairs in it are full of smoke and stench, full of murder and lies, full of enmity and the remembrance of injuries, and simply full of filth. That is why I will finish in the middle and I will cut short this malodorous sin altogether.”

Having said these words the Lord marshalled Michael, the leader of the heavenly host, to prepare the judgment. Immediately, Michael departed along with his battalion, holding fast with him the marvelous throne. His battalion was so large that the earth was not enough to contain it. While marching they said, “Holy, holy, fearful, great, sublime, marvelous, glorified unto the ages of ages.”

Forthwith, Gabriel was dispatched with his battalion, and as he marched, they began to cry out, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Sabaoth, the whole earth is full of His glory.” And the sky and the earth was shaken from the fearsome sound of their cry. Behind them was released the third awesome archangel with his battalion. His name was Raphael and cried aloud as he marched, “One is holy, one is Lord, Jesus Christ, to the glory of God the Father. Amen.”

Then the fourth company was released, whose commander was white like snow, astonishing, and sweet to look upon. As he marched, they also began to cry thus: “The God of gods, even the Lord, has spoken and summoned the earth, from the rising up of the sun to its setting. Out of Sion is the splendour of his beauty; God shall plainly come, our God, and He shall not keep silence; a mighty fire shall burn before Him, and a mighty tempest is round about Him” and the rest of the psalm.

And the chiefs of the battalion responded and said, “Arise, O God, judge the earth, for you shall be heir in all nations, and of all who have kept your ordinances and your statutes. Blessed are you who come, for you come to judge the earth and the world in truth and justice.” The chief of this divine battalion was Uriel, that was his choice name.

After this, His glorified cross, shining as fearsome lightning, was brought before the Lord and its glory was great in its exceedingly sweet smell. It was led in the highest honour between the two battalions, the Authorities and Powers. Their march was a frightful spectacle to behold.

The multitudes of angelic powers, afflicted by much fear and trembling, sang as they advanced, “I will exalt you, my God, my king, and bless your name forever and forever and ever.” Others responded and said, “Exalt the Lord our God and worship at the footstool of His feet, because holy is He! Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.”

After this a divine command was issued to Michael, the leader of the heavenly host, who quickly found himself standing firmly before the Lord’s countenance. And another angel came before the Lord God’s countenance, firmly holding a kind of bow which was white and rosy in hue, and at its end was fastened a trumpet. The trumpet was on the exterior like chaff, and inside resembled ashes, and it was exceedingly solid. And on its exterior was written “the resurrection of the dead,” and on the inside “the life of those who have piously fallen asleep.”

And the Lord took the trumpet in His hands, blew three times into it, and He said three words to it. He gave it to Michael, the mighty angel, and said, “Take this trumpet and go to Golgotha, where I extended My undefiled hands. Stand there, sound the trumpet three times, and wait.” And having said this, He sent him out hastily.

After this He invited a different battalion, which was called Principalities, and He said to their commander, “I tell you: take your divine battalion and stand over the whole world to take up in the clouds the saints from the East and the West and the North and the South, that they may be ready for My advent when the trumpet is sounded.”

After these words He issued a signal through an angel that the sky and the earth be changed from corruption to incorruption, and that the sun and the moon be darkened. The stars will fall, the rivers and the sea will dry up, and everything that is on the earth will die.

Then the just Judge looked over the earth and observed, and, behold, there was mist and darkness, lament and woe and wailing among men from the great tyranny of Satan. For the dragon raved and raged and devoured all men, crushing them like grass, seeing indeed that the angels of God were preparing the eternal fire for him. When the just Judge saw this, He immediately summoned one of the angels. The angel was flaming and his countenance was harsh and severe and showed no compassion, and he was the commander of the angels who watch over the fire of Hell.

The Lord said to him, “Go and take with you My staff that shatters and binds, as well as countless spirits of your order and the swiftest leaders who were appointed to serve in the punishments. And once you have gathered them, go to the noetic sea and follow the traces of the dragon and catch him through power and strength, through a blow of the staff, and burn him until he yields the battalion of impure spirits. And then, having bound them all at once by the staff of My power, distribute them according to My command to the fiercest of punishments.” Saying this the Lord sent him forth to capture the ruler of darkness so that he and his servants might receive the fire of Gehenna.

After this, a divine signal from above was given to the archangel holding the divine trumpet to finally sound it, and it suddenly became very silent at that hour, as if the world stood still. Then, at the first sound of the trumpet the bodies of the dead were found intact. He sounded the trumpet for the second time and the spirit of the Lord proceeded from the trumpet, bringing the souls into each one’s body. Amazement and fear encompassed everything at the sound of the trumpet, and those above and those below shuddered continually. And he sounded the trumpet for the third time, which was much more terrifying, so that the sky and the earth leapt from fear, and the dead were raised from their tombs in the twinkling of an eye.

The account of these events, brothers, is awful even to speak of, for as the dead arose, they threw off the soil of the earth, and the innumerable battalions were descending from heaven like a dense rain to the throne of preparation, crying out mightily and saying “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Sabaoth, the whole earth is full of fear and trembling.”

And all the people and the innumerable company stood looking upwards, and they trembled and shuddered at the sight of that fearsome power that was descending to the earth. Suddenly there were earthquakes and thunder and flashes of lightning in the valley of judgment and in the air, so that everybody was overcome with the strongest fear and much confusion.

As if a curtain were lifted from the firmament of heaven, suddenly the venerable cross appeared, shining brightly like the sun and emitting rays of spiritual graces. It was borne by the holy angels, and our Lord Jesus Christ, the Judge of the entire world, led in front. Shortly thereafter the saints began to sing a hymn, a song that had never been heard before: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Lord God, the Judge, the mighty one, the commander of His peace.”

As that hymn was shouted mightily, behold, the Judge was revealed in the clouds, seated on a fiery raised throne. The earth and heaven were ablaze from His great brilliance and purity. And suddenly, from the multitude of the resurrected dead, some out of their midst shone like the sun and were seized by clouds in the air, hastening to the encounter of the Judge. But most remained below, and were not snatched, lamenting bitterly because they were not deemed worthy to be seized by the clouds, and in their souls there was bitter sorrow and distress. They bent their knee to the Judge and then they rose again.

After the great Judge sat in the seat of preparation, around Him stood the whole might of heaven with great fear and trembling. And those who were seized by clouds to meet the just Judge were carried off to the right. But most of those who were not seized by clouds were selected and delivered without judgment to the Gehenna of fire. The rest of those on the left of the Judge were pressed together.

Most of those on the left were Jews and officials, archbishops, priests and emperors, clerics and a great crowd of monastics and laypeople, who stood in great shame and rebuked themselves in distress at their own perdition. For their faces were filled with shame and they were crushed by agony and breathed heavily.

Some were changed, breathing loudly and overcome by painful mourning. Others beat their breasts and shed tears; and others still were in despair and could in no way be consoled. But those who stood to the right of the Judge were all radiant and bright like the sun, honoured, glorified, pure as the light, inflamed by the divinely-kindled lightning; in all truth, they shone—if it is not too bold to say—like their Judge and God.

Presently then, that awesome Judge looked carefully from side to side. And to those on the right, He smiled, beholding them with exceeding gladness. But seeing those to His left, He was agitated with great anger and turned His face away from them. He cried out with a loud voice and said, “Come, you that are blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed Me; I was naked and you gave Me clothing; I was sick and you ministered to Me; I was in prison and you visited Me.”

Then they answered and said, “Lord, when was it that we saw You hungry and gave You food, or thirsty and gave You drink or saw You a stranger and welcomed You, or naked and gave You clothing? And when was it that we saw You sick and we ministered to You, or in prison and visited you?” And then He answered them and said, “Truly I say unto you, inasmuch as you have done it to the least of these my brothers, you did it to Me.”

Then he turned in anger towards those in the left side and said, “You that are accursed, depart from Me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome Me, naked and you did not give Me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.”

And they replied and said “Lord, when was it that we saw You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?” Then he replied to them saying “Truly I say unto you, inasmuch as you have not done it to the least of these, you did not do it to Me. You, the darkened of the earth, depart from me into Tartarus, to the gnashing of teeth; there will be woe and perpetual lamentation.”

After he spoke these words and gave his decision, there suddenly appeared from the East a mighty river of fire flowing towards the West. In its width and length it was like a great and wide sea. Those on the left were greatly terrified at the issue of the river; they trembled, for they were greatly confounded and astonished. Immediately, the Awesome One ordered that both the righteous and the sinners pass through the middle of the river so that the fire might test them.

First to begin the trial were those who stood on the right. And all passed through the midst of the fire emerging like pure gold. And their works were not destroyed in the fire but were rather made manifest through the trial as beaming and radiant. And they greatly rejoiced because their divine works were tested, and no stain was found on them.

After this, there came those from the left. But as they began to cross the river, the fire consumed the sinners, detaining them in the middle. And their works were consumed like straw; their bodies, however, remained whole unto the ages, and they are still burning eternally along with the devil and his angels. For none of them was able to cross over the river of fire, but the fire overcame them all, as they were worthy of judgment and punishment.

After the sinners were surrendered to the punishments—for it was through the fire that they were surrendered to all the punishments—then the awesome Judge stood up from His throne and began, along with His saints, to make His way towards the divine bridal chamber.

The entire force of heaven surrounded him with great fear and trembling, singing and saying, “Lift up your gates, O you princes, and be lifted up, O gates of Eden, and the God of gods, the Lord shall enter along with His saints, granting them eternal inheritance.” And another battalion responded saying, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, along with all the sons of God who serve according to grace, the Lord is God with the sons of Sion and he has showed us the light.”

And the archangels that marched ahead of the Lord magnified Him as well and sang a heavenly and salvific song like an antiphon, “O come, let us rejoice in the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to God our savior! Let us go before His countenance with thanksgiving, and with psalms let us shout in jubilation unto Him.”

And another battalion answered again, singing sweetly and saying, “The Lord is a great God, a great king over all the earth, for in His hands are the ends of the earth and the heights of the mountains are His.” The holy angels were saying these and other marvelous things, which lulled the hearer by their sweetness and caused indescribable joy. And while the holy angels sang in this way, the saints along with the Lord Jesus Christ entered with praise into the heavenly inner room of the divine bridal chamber with hearts that leapt for joy; and the gates were closed.

After the gates of the divine bridal chamber were closed, the Lord invited the generals of the divine angels; Michael and Gabriel, Uriel and Raphael came, and then the commanders of the other battalions. Then the twelve luminaries and apostles were called before the most divine angels, and a fearsome lightning of splendour and glory was given to them so that they shone forth yet more marvellously and more loftily.

And twelve fiery, star-studded thrones were given to them, and they sat with Christ, their teacher, in great honour and splendour, and their glory was a light eternal and incomprehensible and unapproachable. And they were clothed in purity, and shining like amber they were admired by the celestial powers. And they were given the highest and most awesome crowns made of crystal decorated with valuable and heavenly stones. Large and fearsome angels held the crowns above their heads, at whom everything trembled.

After these things, the seventy disciples were also brought before the Lord while the great princes stood around His throne. And to the seventy also was given such honour and glory, except that the crowns of the twelve apostles were more marvellous, for to behold the crowns was a startling wonder. Just as the sun does not allow the human eye to observe it well, similarly the crowns did not allow the blessed Niphon to behold them on account of their abundant and extraordinary brilliance.

After these things, the servant of God Niphon saw the great choir of martyrs being brought before of the Lord, while the entire order of the heavenly host stood around the formidable throne. To them was given the belt and the great army that the wild dragon Satan lost when he fell from heaven. And straightaway the great martyrs became great generals of angels and divine rulers of the heavenly battalions. Immediately a great multitude of holy and heavenly crowns was brought to them and was placed on their holy heads. The crowns laid upon them were like the shining sun and they rejoiced exceedingly.

After these things, the most divine choir of the holy hierarchs, priests, deacons, and clerics was brought in and an eternal and imperishable crown was placed upon each of their holy heads according to their work and endurance and zeal and compassion and love. And they were delighted, rejoicing exceedingly and strongly. And the radiance was allotted to them in great redolence and grace like the sun and like fire.

And the noetic and heavenly sanctuary was given to them and to all the clerics and the leaders of the church so that they might offer a sacrifice that is holy and perfect and acceptable among themselves. All were crowned but the crown was not the same for all. For one crown surpassed in glory another, as a star outshines another star, for many priests were more honourable and radiant than bishops, and even deacons and clerics surpassed bishops and priests in sanctity.

After these things, the pious choir of holy monastics was brought in, and their appearance was like a mystical and sunny fragrance, flashing forth rays that shed divine light and full of the glory of God, the ruler of all. Forthwith six wings were given to each, and, having put them on, they became by the power of the Holy Spirit awesome cherubim and seraphim, crying aloud, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Sabaoth, the whole earth is full of His glory.” And their glory was great, many-eyed, exceedingly glorious, and filled with divine light. Their crowns were many-coloured, impossible to behold, splendid, and different as the sun differs from the moon, for glory was also given according to each one’s toil and struggles.

After these things the choir of the holy prophets was brought in and they received the song of songs and the psalmic harp of David, along with timbrels and choirs, and the light of lightning, the beauty and brightness of exultation, and the thanksgiving praise of the Holy Spirit. Their crown was of pure gold and lightning, and highly exalted.

They were ordered by the master of the divine bridal chamber to chant a short song, and they sang a delightful song of praise, so that all the saints who were perpetually pleasing to God leapt with joy. And the saints, having received these crowns from the undefiled right hand of the Savior, waited yet to receive what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived.

After these things, the whole choir of those who were saved while in the world, paupers and rulers, emperors and commoners, slaves and freemen were brought in. As they all stood in front of the divine bridegroom, a division took place, and the merciful and the pure were taken to one side, and to them were given the joy of the paradise of Eden, heavenly and radiant palaces, and a crown of comeliness and sanctification and exultation, as well as thrones and scepters and radiant angels to minister to their splendour, and the joy was like quality dew and brilliant air.

After these individuals, all who became poor in spirit for Christ were brought in, and they were exalted greatly. And they received a crown of comeliness from the hand of the Lord, and to them was allotted also the kingdom of heaven. After them, those who mourned for their sins in fervent repentance were brought in, and the great consolation of the Holy Trinity was given to them in much delight, and their joy was made brilliant by the grace of God.

Following these, the meek and the honest were brought in and to them was allotted the earth where the spirit of God drops sweetness and fragrance. There was in them much joy and delight in knowing that the blessed land was allotted to them. To them was given a rose-like, delightful, colourful, and radiant crown; when they received it from the hand of the Lord, they rejoiced exceedingly, being delighted in their cheerful souls.

After these things, those who hunger and thirst for justice and those who remember His commandments were brought in, and the reward of justice was given to them in abundance, and they were delighted at their good state, seeing Christ the King being supremely exalted in praise and glorified by holy angels. Their crown was honourable and glorified, enveloped in much wisdom.

Following them, the choir of those who have enacted good works with a pure heart was brought in. To them was given a luminous eye full of the oil of rejoicing and contemplative vision surpassing all vision so that they could see God’s countenance clearly and unceasingly. Their crown was variegated and most bright, and had crystalline crosses on the front and the back, and on the left and right sides cherubic eyes were depicted.

After them the honourable choir of the peacemakers was brought in, and peace and the wisdom of God and His spirit were given to them, and also good will, sagacity, and oil of illumination from the brightness of Christ. Then came to them the wrist of a hand, which held an immaterial pen which wrote on their foreheads, “Jesus Christ, son of the living God, by grace and not nature.” Lastly, there was given to them a brilliant crown of peace, having the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit written intangibly on it. And they were delighted, rejoicing exceedingly in the pleasure of God.

After these things those who were persecuted for righteousness’ sake were led in, and were given divine praise and wondrous life shining with airborne rays and beams. And they were given also marvelous thrones in the kingdom of heaven, and their crowns were of divine immaterial pure gold which was illumined, and the choirs of angels were gladdened by this glory.

After these things, there was brought in the divine choir of those who were reviled on account of Christ, our great God and savior of our souls. And they were given the holy blessing of divine praises and of the angels of God, and more honour and glory and the richest and highest light of Christ were given to them. Then each was given a many-coloured and splendid throne and scepters of God and saints. After this, they were given royal crowns, adorned by the glory of God, and their praise was of incomparable comeliness and beauty.

After these things, others were brought in who, although they repented of their own sins, did not devote themselves to fasting and prayers; they avoided evil, but did not work intensely towards the good. And the bridegroom said to them, “It satisfies us that you escaped punishment.” And only a kind of rod was given to them, a sign that they would not be punished—so that they would be spared from the fire—although they would be put in a dark place.

After these others were led in, those who had good deeds and much charity, but until their last breath had judged and slandered their neighbour; and not only these things, but they were also enslaved by fornication. They were assigned to the lowest darkness, which is like fog but it is somewhat illuminated, having acquired a bit of moisture.

After these things a multitude of peoples was brought in who, though they did not have the law, nevertheless naturally followed the law of Christ. Many of them shone like the sun due to their purity and cleanliness. They were allotted the divine paradise and the fragrance of God, and also very luminous crowns, intertwined with roses and lilies.

There was only one thing that was hard and painful to them, and for it they blamed themselves. For due to their lack of holy baptism, they were completely blind and unable to see the glory and the light that the merciful God had granted them. For holy baptism is light and a heavenly eye. This is why he who does not receive it, even if he performs countless good deeds, while he inherits rest and some of the senses, that is, he experiences something of the fragrance and sweetness of paradise, yet he sees nothing and on this account is exceedingly despondent and greatly disturbed.

After these things the righteous Niphon saw entering a rank of saints who were the children of the Christians. All were about thirty years of age. The bridegroom, gazing at them earnestly with a cheerful face, said, “Your baptismal garment is without blemish, but your works are nonexistent. What should I do with you?” With boldness they responded, “Lord, You deprived us of Your earthly goods; at least do not deprive us of the heavenly ones.” The bridegroom smiled and allotted to them as well eternal goods in perpetuity, and crowns of faith and purity and innocence and enjoyment. And they were much admired before the heavenly armies, and these saints rejoiced wearing the incorruptible crowns with a pure heart. It was a wonder that the holy angels, when they saw the ranks of all the saints and the great luminaries, celebrated loudly through song, rejoicing exceedingly in merriment, and were most astonished and joyful in the divine pleasure.

Then the righteous Niphon saw through the spirit, and behold, a divinely illuminated bride came before the bridegroom as terrible and venerable lightning of God. There was exultation and joy among the holy angels of God before her and, as she walked, her feet flashed forth as the sun and the eyelids of her eyes were like lightning with heavenly fragrance and divine scents.

She went forth to the glory and joy of the saints of God, clothed in the purple and fine linen of comeliness; and she wore a divine crown, incomparable and indescribable, for the beauty of her head, from which flashes of divinity proceeded to the amazement of the holy angels of God and to the astonishment of His saints. The crown was carried above her holy head as something miraculous by the divine grace of the Holy Spirit. And that immaculate diadem was inexplicable in its nature.

As she proceeded to the divine bridal chamber towards the bridegroom, a great multitude of maidens and virgins followed behind her with praises and hymns, melodically singing the greatness of God. When she came near the bridegroom, she made obeisance to Him thrice along with all the holy virgins. Then He Himself, youthful in beauty, rejoiced greatly at seeing her and, as if smiling, bowed down His head, honouring her as His immaculate mother.

After drawing her undefiled arms together towards herself and approaching Him with much reverence and grace, she kissed purely His immortal and everlasting eyes, and likewise his compassionate and sympathetic hands. When that divine greeting was completed, then the Lord himself gave to all those holy virgins suitably brilliant garments and also immaculate crowns. Then the noetic powers and the saints who were well-pleasing to God drew near, and all made obeisance to the Mother of the Lord in great joy, and praised her and blessed, and magnified her exceedingly with extended arms.

When all the gifts of comeliness had been given, then the bridegroom exited his bridal chamber, holding on the right side his immaculate mother, on his left a certain great and marvelous prophet. And walking thus from the bridal chamber, he entered the divine room where there were the goods that no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.

After the Lord entered that light-filled and marvellous room, the whole choir of saints accompanied Him. Seeing these goods, the saints leapt with great joy and gladness of heart, and they began to boast in glory, dancing in that amazing chamber. There the Lord distributed to all his saints the eternal goods, about which the servant of God Niphon was unable to tell me anything—for I pressed him hard, yet he did not tell me anything about them. But, sighing, he said only this, that “with my tongue I cannot represent or compare to anything the things that were there. They were beyond every thought and distinction, beyond every desire and contemplation, beyond everything that is seen and not seen.”

When, therefore, the Lord had distributed those things to the saints, He ordered the great Cherubim to encircle the eternal chamber as a wall encircles a city, and he ordered the Seraphim to encircle the Cherubim, and again he ordered the Thrones to encircle those. Similarly the Dominions were ordered to encircle the Thrones, and after these, the Principalities were appointed to encircle the Dominions, and the Powers of heaven were appointed to encircle the Dominions as a wall encircles a city. In this way each battalion encircled another.

Michael with his own battalion stood to the right of the eternal chamber in great stillness; Gabriel, along with his battalion, stood to the left of the chamber with much reverence; Raphael with his battalion stood to the east with reverence; Uriel proceeded to the west of the divine chamber along with his battalion. They did this by the order of the Lord Jesus Christ, the great God and Savior of all the saints.

These four armies became exceedingly great, and the battalions of the immaculate powers stood and each one encircled the other, and all encircled the chamber of God in much contentment and splendour. When this was accomplished, then the Son subjected himself to his own Father Who had subjected everything to Him and handed over to Him all power, His authority, and majesty, which He had received from Him. He himself entered the divine and unapproachable chamber, becoming heir of the Father and king and high priest unto the ages, along with all His saints who shared His inheritance.

This is the end, brothers, of all that was said, the mysteries and the awe-inspiring revelation that the righteous one saw. For at the end the Father himself, the begetter of the only-begotten Son, the unapproachable and incomprehensible light, rose suddenly, shining in never-setting light of purity upon that infinite chamber of comeliness. He also shone over the holy powers and on all their circular deployment.

And he shone above the most pure chamber, in the same way the sun brings light to the world. So, too, the Father of compassion shone over all the saints, making them rejoice through his unutterable divinity. And just as a sponge absorbs water and retains it, thus did the saints, having absorbed and become united with the unutterable divinity of the Father, reign with him perpetually to eternity. Henceforward, there was for them neither night nor day, but God and the Father was for them light and joy and life and day, and incomprehensible pleasure and delight.

After this, it became very quiet and a clear and pure light was given to the eyes of the righteous one, and he saw and—behold: the first battalion was given a song in continuous and unceasing inheritance which was incomparably and perpetually pleasing. Then immediately the divine and awesome battalion began its inexpressible praise in much fragrance and beauty, causing the hearts of the saints to leap from joy and pleasure at the hymn. They rejoiced with much thanksgiving, moving about the immaculate chamber to the glory of the Lord.

Then the indescribable hymn was passed on gloriously from that first battalion to the second, that of the Seraphim, and it also began to chant a multiform and incomprehensible hymn. And the praise was as richly sweet honey to the ears of the saints and they rejoiced greatly through all their senses.

For their eyes beheld the unapproachable light, their noses smelled the fragrance of divinity, their ears heard the divine hymn of the immaculate powers, their mouths ate and drank the body and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven, and their hands held the eternal goods and were made brilliant. Their feet danced in the broadness of the beauty of the undefiled chamber and with all their senses they experienced a mighty joy and incomprehensible pleasure and indescribable delight.

After this, that divine hymn was given in harmonious beauty and contemplation from the second battalion to the third, and from there the unutterable hymn spread to the four battalions in order. And their melody was very sweet and mysterious. And what was amazing was that all the battalions were not singing one hymn, but the variety of the sound that rose up from their song was strange and inexpressible. Their praises fit tightly together as a joint fits a joint, or a limb fits a limb, sending it up to God Himself and causing the saints ineffable rejoicing.

When they had all finished the hymn in great comfort and peace, the angels began their thrice-holy praise. Michael sang, and Gabriel responded antiphonally. Similarly Raphael spoke, and Uriel responded antiphonally to him. And one could see in them a strange and incredible rendition, for the four protectors stood out from their innumerable order like awesome pillars and their hymn was sweet and very mighty, for one relied on the other and they each rested in each other in great reverence.

After this, all the saints inside the divine chamber, revelling in infinite joy and delight, also began to sing and praise the glories of God. Thus there was praise inside and praise outside, and everywhere awesome songs, setting aglow the hearts of saints with immaculate and blessed pleasure. In this way these incessant songs, which transcend the mind, were sent forth to unending ages.

After the blessed Niphon had seen all these things and was in a state of much ecstasy and contemplation, the voice of the knowledge of God spoke to him saying, “Niphon, Niphon, how fine is your contemplation and prophetic foresight! All these things that you have heard and seen in all wisdom, record them in writing according to the most blessed truth, because it is in this way that I will miraculously perform all My works to everything visible and invisible. To you, as an initiate into the mysteries and as My friend and beloved son, and as an heir to My kingdom I have revealed these things, which I have not shown to anyone else, so that you might know how much friendship lies between you and Me.

Then from the knowledge of these awesome mysteries, by which, in all truth, you came into a state of ecstasy, as they will come to pass and will be administered in this way, be fully assured of My great benevolence towards both you and the entirety of human nature, which in great humility serves My authority and kingdom. For I look with pleasure upon the one who is meek and cautious and who fears My words.” Having said these words, the Lord released him from this awesome vision.

When he finally came to himself, Niphon fell down terrified and began to weep and lament and wail, saying, “Woe to me, the sinner! What awaits my thrice-miserable soul! Woe to me, the wretch! In what condition shall I, the prodigal, find myself there! What shall I say before the Judge? How will I answer for my sins? Where will I hide the multitude of my iniquities? Oh, the profane and miserable one! I have neither sighs nor tears. I have no repentance, no charity whatsoever, no prayer at all, not a drop of love! Guilelessness and meekness are foreign to me!

Alas! What shall I, the wretched and vile one, do? What shall I take hold of to save my soul? I have polluted my baptism, I have soiled my garment, I have plunged my soul into the mire, I have hardened my heart with intoxication. Ah, sinner that I am, I know not what to do! My eyes behold obscenities. My ears delight in demonic songs. My nose seeks sweet scents. My mouth inclines towards gluttony. My hands are led to sin. My body desires to wallow in the mire of immorality, seeking soft beds and pleasing food. My will desires prodigality. Ah, the lawless, darkened, and foul one! I know not whither to go.

Who shall deliver me, the miserable one, from that terrible fire? Who shall rescue me from the gloomy darkness and the awful pit? Who shall free me from the gnashing of teeth? Woe, woe to me, the detestable one! Better had it been had I not been born! Oh, what glory shall I, the dark one, be denied! What honor, what crowns, what joy, what bliss will I lose because I became a slave to sin!

My miserable soul! Where is your compunction? Where is your repentance? Where are your virtues? Unfortunate one! Where will your place be on that day? Have you done anything good that may be pleasing to God? How shall you enter the furnace? How shall your miserable eyes endure the ceaseless weeping and the eternal lamentation? How shall your conscience withstand the infinite bitterness of the divine judgment?

O, my foul soul, which always desired to wallow in corruption, always a slave to your belly! With what eyes, lawless and corrupt one, shall you look upon the sweetest face of Christ? How shall you stand before Him? Tell me, tell me! You have seen the marvelous things that the Lord will perform in the last days. Tell me then, O my soul, do you have deeds worthy of that divine glory? How shall you enter there, having defiled your holy baptism? Woe to you then, my polluted soul! You deserve to inherit eternal fire. And where will sin and its father the devil be to save you then? But, my Lord, Lord, save me from the fire, from the gnashing of teeth, from the terrible pit!”

With these words the blessed one prayed and reproached himself and his eyes poured forth tears like fountains. In the days that followed, one could see him walking with difficulty, dragging his feet, shedding rivers of bitter tears, and sighing profoundly. He reflected on the fearsome mysteries he had seen, and strove to attain them by abandoning the world and all earthly things.

Often, when he would be reminded of that vision most clearly and vividly, he would be beside himself from the unbearable blaze of the Holy Spirit. “Oh, what joy,” he would cry out, “what glory, what splendour awaits the saints in Heaven! How I fear to be denied them!” Sighing deeply, he would add: “Lord, help and save my darkened soul.”

Translation adapted from Vasileios Marinis (2017).


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