Little is known about Dyspepsia the Hermit before his missionary work in Szechuan Province in China. It is said that he was greeted warmly by the people and that they celebrated a great feast in his honor. Some ancient Chinese texts speak of the many miracles that occurred that night. There was the copious perspiration that is said to have drenched his clothes and no sooner did they sop up the water from where he sat a new puddle would emerge. There were the tales also of the screams of banshees that were emitted at numerous times and the redness of his face which took on the color of the setting sun. But when smoke was seen to emerge from his nostrils and ears the people were said to be frightened as they were sure that they were in the presence of a terrible and ruthless demon. The story goes that the people became worried and thought it best to lead him out into the wilderness and so they deposited him in a far away valley with a small lake. It is here where Dyspepsia earned his title the Hermit as he never left that place. The lake is said to have disappeared and there is no sign of it at this time as it seems to have miraculously turned into a dry desert. However, etched into the side of the rocks around his hermitage is the following message: “I have been to hell and there isn’t enough water to quench the fire.” I think he must have had an ecstasy during prayer where he experienced the torments of hell and this inscription is all he has left us as a warning to live a good and holy life so that we might not suffer the consequences of hellfire.
Stephacoccus of Philadelphia’s Letter to the Huns (AD 452)
The following letter to Attila the Hun was sent to the Bishop of Rome, Leo I, to be hand delivered to Attila when next he might decide to invade Rome. It is widely known that Leo I met with Attila outside of Rome and that Attila left the region without invading or plundering the city which until now has remained a mystery. Perhaps the reason for this change in heart can now be known to the many historians who have studied this interesting moment in history. The letter found in Attila’s grave, stuffed into his shirt, was as follows:
My dearest Attila,
Solicitudes and greetings from your friend and admirer Stephacoccus of Pnilidelphia along with Leukocyte the Leper, my trusted scribe and companion, who also sends his warm greetings to you. I hope this letter finds you well.
As you know, I have traveled throughout the known world to preach the Word and have warned those who would not listen to my Word of the consequences of the wrath of my Lord. To date, every known town to which Leukocyte and I have visited has been devastated both by the Cough of Death or the loss of various extremities. Now, sadly, it seems that wherever we go the towns are empty before our arrival. I am hoping for a better reception in your country.
Thereby I have taken it upon myself to make a journey to your home town; but just recently heard that you were busy sacking Rome, thereby I have sent this letter via the Pope and hope that you receive it. Though you will not be available for this meeting, I feel that having traveled this far already it would be foolish for me to return home to my beloved Philadelphia though it seems they are not too keen on my return either. I shall therefore remain in your country as long as I am able and hope to remain there until your return.
With fondest regards,
The Life of Hypochondria the Greater
It is said that Hypochondria experienced every disease known to man. But his prayers kept reviving him over and over again and by the Grace of God we have this testimony of a great saint from our past.
Saintly men are often rather sickly and ill as they take little care of their bodies and devote their lives to the development of their spirit through fasting and prayer. And so it was with Hypochondria. At age 7 he weighed an incredible 212 pounds though he is said to have eaten nothing but the bitter herbs of the hemp plant. He began to have visions around this time which continued throughout his life. These visions did not vary greatly except in minute details: he was always eating at the Divine Wedding Feast with the other saints and the menu items were the only things that changed from vision to vision. He usually awoke from these ecstasies a few pounds heavier and was in an almost hysterical state as the other saints had removed him from the table before he had his fill. These visions were interpreted to mean that his appetite for the sacred was insatiable and that he had a larger appetite for the holy things of God than anyone in heaven.
By the time he was 18 he was constantly bedridden with various ailments though doctors from near and far tried their best to diagnose his diseases but to no avail. His suffering must have been great and the sign that God gave to him and for all to see was that he was being spiritually nourished with the sacred things of heaven and thus his steady weight increase though he ingested almost nothing. At times, after his ecstasies, he was said to become very anxious and fearful, hiding beneath the covers for days.
There were stories that Fibulous, his trusted servant, was feeding him at night with copious amounts of food and a new dessert which he had invented: now known as chocolate brownies but known in his day as Fibulous Fabulous Goodiness. But such gossip is often the norm for saints who are always subjected to such ridicule in their own day. It is only after their death that the truth begins to shine forth.
The trials of Hypochondria lasted the rest of his life. And when he died at the age of 107 he weighed an astonishing 642 pounds (earning him the title, the Greater) even after a long ailment which left him completely immobile during the last 6 months of his life. He was celebrated as the patron saint of the paranoid in the very early Church.