February 16, 2023 - Amshir 9, 1739

Departure of St. Barsauma, the Father of the Syrian Monks

On this day of the year 458 A.D., the blessed father Anba Barsauma, the father of the Syrian monks, departed. His father was from Samosata. One of the saints prophesied about him before his birth, saying to his parents, 'There shall go forth from you a righteous fruit, whose fame shall spread out every where,' and this prophecy was fulfilled. When Barsauma grew up, he left his parents and went to the river Euphrates where he stayed with a holy man called Abraham.

Afterwards, he lived a solitary life in the mountain and many disciples gathered around him. The water in this place was salty, and the saint prayed to God and the water became sweet. He used to fast for a week at a time. God wrought through him many miracles. St. Barsauma was a contemporary of St. Simeon the Stylite. When St. Barsauma knew about him, he went to visit him and they blessed each other. He was well known for his resistance to the heresy of Nestorius and his followers. He attended the Universal Council at Ephesus at the invitation of Emperor Theodosius the Less, who gave him a great honor. Some accused St. Barsauma of eating, drinking and living a luxurious life. The Emperor called him and saw for himself St. Barsauma's righteousness and his ascetic living. The Emperor vindicated him and allowed him to return to his monastery with great honor.

When Emperor Marcian called for the Council at Chalcedon, the fathers asked the Emperor not to call upon St. Barsauma, for they knew of the grace that was in him. When the council agreed on the two natures of Christ, St. Barsauma resisted these heretic teachings and he was persecuted by the Chalcedonians. When the Lord wanted to take St. Barsauma from the world, He sent him an angel to tell him that 4 days were left in his life on earth. He gathered his disciples and told them to go to the neighboring cities to confirm its people in the Orthodox faith. He blessed them and departed in peace. At the time of his departure, a pillar of light appeared at the door of his cell which the faithful saw from afar. They came and found that St. Barsauma had departed. They took his blessings and buried him with great honors. May His prayers be with us all. Amen.

Martyrdom of St. Paul the Syrian

On this day also, St. Paul, the Syrian, was martyred. He was born in the City of Alexandria to Syrian parents who lived afterwards in the City of Ashmunin. They were very rich merchants. St. Paul heard about the persecution of the Roman governors to Christians. He gave up his money to the poor, after the death of his parents, and prayed to God to guide him in the way that pleased Him. God sent him His angel Soriel, who said to the saint, 'The Lord has commanded that I be with you and strengthen you, so that you should not be afraid.' The saint arose and came before the governor of Antinoe (Ansena) and confessed the Lord Christ. The Governor ordered him to be stripped naked, beaten with whips, and burned in the sides with torches. The governor tried again to entice him with money, but the saint said to him, 'My parents left me a fortune of gold and silver, and I rejected them for the sake of the love of the Lord Christ. How can I look to your money now?' The Governor became angry to hear that and he tortured him with different kinds of tortures. The angel Soriel came to him, healed and strengthened him. The Governor ordered to release venomous serpents on him, but they did not harm him. The Governor then went to Alexandria and took the saint with him and put him in prison, where St. Paul met his two friends: Anba Esi and his sister Teckla. His soul rejoiced when he saw them. God inspired him that he would be martyred in Alexandria. When the Governor wanted to go back to his city, he ordered that the head of St. Paul be cut off at the sea shore. The faithful came and they took the body and prepared it for burial, and they kept it in their possession. May His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.