September 17, 2022 - Tout 7, 1739
Departure of St. Dioscorus the Twenty-Fifth Pope of Alexandria
On this day of the year 451 A.D., departed the blessed father and the great hero of the Orthodox faith, Saint Discorus, the twenty-fifth Pope of Alexandria. His departure took place on the island of Gagra, after he had fought a good fight defending the Orthodox faith.
When he was summoned to the Council of Chalcedon by the order of Emperor Marcianus, he saw a great assembly of six hundred and thirty bishops. Saint Discorus said, In whom is faith lacking that it is necessary to gather this great assembly? They told him, This assembly has been convened by the emperor's command. He replied, If this assembly has been convened by the command our Lord Jesus Christ, I may stay and say what God gives me to say; but if this assembly has been convened by the emperor's command, let the emperor manage his assembly as he pleases. When he saw that Leo the Archbishop of Rome was teaching that Christ has two natures and two wills after His unity, he spoke to confute this new belief. He stated that our Lord Jesus Christ is one, He who was invited to the wedding as a man and changed the water into wine as God, and that the two natures were not separate in all of His works. Quoting Pope Cyril, he said, The union of the Word of God with the flesh is like the union of the spirit with the body, and like the union of fire and iron: even if they are of two different natures, by their unity they became one. Similarly, our Lord Christ is one Messiah, one Nature, and one Will. None of those who were gathered at that assembly dared to contradict him. Among them were some who had attended the Council of Ephesus, which had been convened against Nestor. They informed the Emperor Marcianus and the Empress Belkarya that no one disobeyed their commands concerning the faith of except Dioscorus the Patriarch of the City of Alexandria. They brought him, and the senior bishops of the Council debated and discussed the matter till it was evening, but St. Dioscorus would not deviate from his Orthodox belief.
The emperor and empress were irritated at this, and the empress commanded to smite him on his mouth, and to pluck out the hair of his beard, which was done. He took the hair and the teeth that had dropped out, and sent them to Alexandria saying, This is the fruit of Faith. When the rest of the bishops saw what had happened to Dioscorus, they agreed with the king, being afraid of undergoing the same fate. They signed the document of the belief that Christ has two distinct and separate natures. When St.Dioscorus knew this, he sent for the document pretending that he wanted to sign it too. But when he read the document, he wrote at its foot that he excommunicated them all as well as everyone who deviated from the Orthodox Faith. The king was enraged and he commanded to banish him to the Island of Gagra, along with St.Macarius, the Bishop of Edko, and two others, and the Council of Chalcedon was resumed.
When they took St.Dioscorus to the island of Gagra, its bishop, because he was a Nestorian, met him with contempt and disdain. But God performed at the hands of St.Dioscorus so that all obeyed him and magnified his greatness because God honors His chosen ones in every place. St.Dioscorus told St.Macarius, his companion in exile, You shall receive the crown of martyrdom in Alexandria. He sent him with one of the believing merchants to Alexandria, where he earned the crown of martyrdom.
St.Dioscorus, having ended his good fight, departed from this worthless life and received the crown of eternal life. He departed in the island of Gagra where his body was laid. May his blessings and prayers be with us all. Amen.
Martyrdom of Saints Agathon, Peter, John, Ammon and Ammona and their Mother, Rebecca
On this day also was the martyrdom of Saints Agathon, Peter, John, Ammon, and Ammona and their mother, Rebecca. They were from Kemola of the district of Kus. Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to them and informed them of what would happen to them and how they would receive the crown of martyrdom in the city of Shoubra which is near Alexandria, and that their bodies would be carried to the city of Nakarha in the district of Behairah. The Saints rejoiced at this vision, and they rose up early and gave all their possessions to the poor.
Agathon, their eldest brother, was a man of high position in the city and was loved by everyone. Rebecca, their mother, encouraged them and incited them to bear the torture patiently for the name of the Lord Christ. Then they came to the city of Kus and confessed their belief in Christ before Dionysius, the governor, who tortured them severely. He started with their mother who bore the torture patiently and with joy, and then tortured her five children. When he was weary of torturing them, he was advised to send them to Alexandria so that they might not lead other people astray, for they were loved by everyone. Because of them, many confessed their belief in Jesus Christ and received the crown of martyrdom.
When they were brought before Armenius, the governor of Alexandria who learned about their case, he tortured them very severely. He hacked their bodies, cast them in a boiler, squeezed them with wheels, then crucified them upside down. From all these sufferings, our Lord Christ saved them until the governor and all his people were ashamed.
Finally, he ordered to have their heads cut off and to have their bodies drowned in the sea. God sent forth an angel to a rich man from the city of Nakarha and commanded him to take the bodies of the saints and the man was exceedingly glad for that. He came to where the bodies were, gave the soldiers much silver and took the holy bodies. When he laid them in the church, he heard a voice saying, This is abode of the saints. The bodies remained there till the time of persecutions passed, then their existence was revealed and a big church was built for them. God made manifest from their relics, signs, and wonders. Then they transferred the bodies to the city of Sonbat, where there is a church known as, The Five and Their Mother or El-Sitt Refka (Lady Rebecca). Many visit this church every year to get their blessing. May their intecession be for all. Amen.
Departure of St. Severianus, Bishop of Gabla
On this day also departed the righteous holy father, Abba Severianus, Bishop of Gabla in Greece. The name of his father was Blaryanos. He studied the earthly wisdom of the Athenians and then went to Caesarea for higher studies. He returned to Rome where he studied the doctrines of the Church, and learned the Old and New Testaments in a few years. After this his parents departed and left him a great wealth. He wished to give it all to Christ so that he might receive it back a hundred-fold. He built a hotel to house the strangers, the poor, and the afflicted, and planted gardens to have the fruits distributed to the poor. His name was given to these places after his departure from this world. His uncle who was the governor of that city informed Emperor Honorius that he had squandered all his money for the name of the Lord Christ to receive from Him back a hundred-fold as He had promised in His Holy Gospel. The emperor was pleased. He invited him and commanded him not to leave the palace. He used to take him along to the church. In those days Pope Yonakendios was sitting on the chair of Rome, and it was revealed to him by God that Severianus would be in charge of a large group. The Pope loved and honored him, and wished not to be separated from him, and he was loved by everyone.
When St.Severianus (Sawiros) saw that everyone honored him, he became afraid of losing his labor, so he decided to escape from earthly honors secretly. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and commanded him to go to the city of Gabla and there he would become father to many souls. After having put on the garb of the monks, he departed by night and with him was his disciple, Theodore. God sent to him a light to guide him to his destination. There was a monastery led by a holy abbot who learned in a vision about the coming of St.Severianus. He went out and welcomed him and told him about his vision. His fame reached that region and a countless number of people came to him. The Emperor Theodosius had one of the monasteries renewed for him to live in as the angel had determined for him. He became the comforter of many souls. He continued to teach and instruct the monks until they became saints like angels.
God performed many wonders at his hands. The daughter of the governor of Gabla had an evil spirit dwelling in her and the spirit said to her father, If you drive away Severianus from this place, I will get out of your daughter. When her father informed the saint about that, he wrote him a paper saying: In the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, get out of her. When he returned to his daughter with this paper, straightaway the devil screamed and left her. Once some magicians agreed with some soldiers to break into his monastery, but they were smitten with blindness and they remained like this for three days until the saint prayed for them to be cured.
Philatheus, the Bishop of the city, learned in a vision from God that St.Severianus (Sawiros) would succeed him on his chair and he said this to his people. When St.Severianus was ordained, he looked after his people in the best way. There was in that city a Jew called Sektar who was proud of his knowledge. He came to the saint and debated with him until finally he was convinced of the correctness of Christianity and the faith in the Lord Christ; many other magicians also believed. During his days, Egypt became as proud of its monks as Constantinople was of Saint John Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth). When the Persians declared war against Honorius and Arcadius, they sent to St.Severianus asking for his prayers for the kingdom. He sent back to them saying, If we belong to Christ, and our kingdom belongs to Christ, we have no need for armor or spears or troops. And he reminded them of what the Lord had done with those previous kings who pleased Him.
When Empress Eudoxia was angry with Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth), she brought St.Severianus with others for the trial of St.Chrysostom. He admonished her saying, John Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth) did nothing worthy of banishment, but she would not hearken to him. He wrote many discourses and sermons which still exist in the church books till now. He waxed old reaching the age of one hundred years. Ten days before his death, the angel of God appeared to him and informed him of the day of his departure from this world. He gave advice to his people and then departed in peace. His pure body was prepared as was met and was placed in the sepulchre. His departure was two years before that of St.John Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth). May his prayers be with us all, and Glory be to God forever. Amen.