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Chapter XII.—Virgins are Called to the Imitation of the Church in the Wilderness Overcoming the Dragon.

The Church, then, coming hither into this wilderness, a place unproductive of evils, is nourished, flying on the heavenward wings of virginity, which the Word called the “wings of great eagle,”27422742    Ezek. xvii. 3. having conquered the serpent, and driven away from her full moon the wintry clouds. It is for the sake of these things, meanwhile, that all these discourses are held, teaching us, O fair virgins, to imitate according to our strength our mother, and not to be troubled by the pains and changes and afflictions of life, that you may enter in exulting with her into the bride-chamber, showing your lamps. Do not, therefore, lose courage on account of the schemes and slanders of the beast, but bravely prepare for the battle, armed with the helmet of salvation,27432743    Eph. vi. 17. and the breastplate, and the greaves. For you will bring upon him an immense consternation when you attack him with great advantage and courage; nor will he at all resist, seeing his adversaries set in array by One more powerful; but the many-headed and many-faced beast will immediately allow you to carry off the spoils of the seven contests:—

“Lion in front, but dragon all behind,

And in the midst a she-goat breathing forth

Profuse the violence of flaming fire.

Her slew Bellerophon in truth. And this

Slew Christ the King; for many she destroyed,

Nor could they bear the fetid foam which burst

From out the fountain of her horrid jaws;”27442744    Hom., Il., vi. 181.

unless Christ had first weakened and overcome 340her, making her powerless and contemptible before us.

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