On this day we venerate the holy chain with which the chief of the Apostles Peter suffered to be bound for Christ by order of the tetrarch Herod, as Luke the Apostle relates in his twelfth chapter of the Acts. From that apostolic and most holy body did this blessed and miracle-working chain receive the grace to bless those who venerate it with faith and to unbind the chains of every evil disease. When this chain fell from Apostle Peter's body through the appearance of the divine angel, "Because, they say, that the chains fell immediately from his hands", then some Christians found it and kept it and gave it to each other in succession. Later on it was brought to Constantinople by pious kings and was kept in the church of St. Apostle Peter which lies inside the great Church where his celebration takes place.
Danax the reader
On this day we celebrate also the memory of the holy martyr Danax the reader.
St. Danax came from Illyricum (i.e. Albania), from a place called Aulon (i.e. Vlore). He was a cleric in the holy church of God there. He took the church utensils to protect them from the infidels' raid but he was caught by them. So, he was being forced to sacrifice to the idols but, since he was not convinced to do so, he was killed by their swords and in this way this blessed man received the crown of martyrdom.
Consecration of St. Macarius' Church
On this day, we commemorate the consecration of the Church of St Macarius, in the monastery known after his name, by Anba Benjamin the 38th Pope of Alexandria. This took place when Emperor Heraclius appointed El-Moquakas a ruler and patriarch over Egypt. Both Heraclius and El-Moquakas believed in the teachings of the Council of Chalcedon.
El-Moquakas started to persecute the Christians of Egypt (the Copts) because they refused to be led by him. He drove out Pope Benjamin, the legitimate Pope of Alexandria, and the Pope took flight to upper Egypt. He kept moving from one church to another and from one monastery to another, confirming the faith among his people. He did this for ten years until the Arabs came to Egypt and until the death of El-Moquakas.
When Anba Benjamin returned to his throne, the elders of the wilderness of the Sheheat (Scetis) desert asked him to consecrate the new church which they built there in the name of St. Macarius.
When he went to the monastery the monks received him with palm and olive branches, just as the city of Jerusalem received Christ when He entered it.
When he was consecrating the church and as he started to consecrate the altar, he saw the Hand of Christ anointing the altar with him. He fell on his face with great fear, and one of the Cherubim angels raised him up and comforted him. Abba Benjamin said, "Truly this is the house of the Lord and this is the door of heaven." He looked to the west side of the church and he saw an elder standing there with a awesome shining countenance, and his face looked like an angel. He said to himself, "Truly, if there was a vacant chair for a bishop, I would ordain him a bishop." The angel told him, "Would you make this man a bishop? He is St. Macarius, the father of Patriarches, bishops, and all the monks. He has come today to attend by the Spirit, and to rejoice with his children, and this place will be always filled with righteous monks, and it will never be short of leaders with spiritual fruits.
St. Benjamin said, "Blessed are his children." The angel said, "If his children follow his teachings, they will be with him in glory. But if they do not, they will have no share with him".
Then St. Macarius said, "My lord, do not decide what would happen to my children in this manner. For if one grape remains hanging in a bunch, the blessing of the Lord be in it. For if love for one another remains among them, I believe that the Lord will never keep them away from His Kingdom".
St. Benjamin was amazed and marvelled at the abundant mercy of St. Macarius. He wrote what had taken place and kept it in the church as a perpetual memorial. He asked the Lord Jesus that his death may take place on a similar day. That was fulfilled and he departed on the eighth day of Tubah after being a Pope for 39 years. The altar in which he saw the Lord Jesus had been named after him.
Departure of Abba Andronicus, the 37th Pope of Alexandria
In this day also we commemorate the departure of Anba Andronicus, the 37th Pope of Alexandria, in the year 617 A.D.
He was from a well know family and his cousin was the governor of Alexandria. He was well educated and he excelled in the interpretation of the holy scriptures.
Because of his knowledge, his righteousness and his charity towards the poor, he was ordained a deacon. Later, by consensus he was chosen Pope of Alexandria, though he never lived in a monastery. He stayed in Alexandria all the days of his Papacy, not intimidated by the authority of the Melkites.
During his time, the Persians invaded the East and crossed the River Euphrates. They gained control of Halab, Antioch, Jerusalem and other cities and they killed and imprisoned many Christians. They attacked Egypt and reached the City of Alexandria, around which there were about 600 inhabited monastries. They killed the monks and plundered their possessions and destroyed the monastries.
When the people of Alexandria heard what had happened, they opened the gates of the city for them. The Persian commander saw someone in a dream at night saying to him, "I have delivered the City to you. Do not destroy it, but kill its rulers because they are hypocrites." So he arrested the Governor of the City and tied him up. He also killed 80 thousand men whose ages were between 18 and 50 years.
After that, the Persian King went with his army to Upper Egypt. He passed by the city of Nikios. He sent men to kill some seven hundred monks living in cells and caves around it. He continued to kill and destroy until Emperor Heraclius drove him out of Egypt.
As for Pope Andronicus, he lived a virtuous life. He remained the Pope of Alexandria for six years and he departed in peace.
Departure of Abba Benjamin, the 38th Pope of Alexandria
On this day also, we commemorate the departure of Anba Benjamin the 38th Pope of Alexandria, in the year 656 A.D.
He was from the City of Barset (Barshout), from the province of El-Behiera, born to wealthy parents.
He became a monk under the guidance of a saintly elder by the name of Theonas in the monastery of St. Knobus near Alexandria. He grew in virtue and in the knowledge of the books of the church until he reached a level of Christian perfection.
One night he heard in a vision someone saying to him, "Rejoice Benjamin, you will shepherd the flock of Christ." When he told that to his spiritual father, he said to him, "The devil wants to hinder you. Beware of pride".
His spiritual father took him to Pope Andronicus and he told him about his vision. The Pope ordained him as a priest and put him in charge of the church affairs, which he managed very well.
When he was ordained the Pope of Alexandria, he faced many tribulations. The angel of the Lord revealed to him the hardships that the Church was about to experience. The angel told him to flee with his bishops. St. Benlarmn celebrated the Holy Liturgy and he adminstered Holy Communion to the people. He commanded them to be steadfast in the faith of their fathers and informed them of what war was going to happen. He wrote a circular to all the bishops and all the heads of the monasteries, advising them to hide until the hardships were over. Then he went to the wilderness of St. Macarius, then to Upper Egypt.
After the Pope had left Alexandria, the Chalcedonian El-Moquakas arrived, and took charge over the country and the church with authority from Emperor Heraclius. He persecuted the believers and arrested the brother of Abba Benjamin and tortured him severely. Hd burnt his sides, and finally killed him by drowning.
Shortly after that, Amr Ibn El-Aas invaded Egypt and stayed there for three years. In the Coptic year 360, Amr Ibn El-Aas went to Alexandria and gained control of its fortress resulting in no civil order. Many evil people took this chance and burned many churches. St. Mark`s Church on the seashore was plundered, as well as the churches and monasteries that were surrounding it.
One of the sailors went to the Church of St. Mark and he thrusted his hand into the sarcophagus of St. Mark, thinking that he would find money. He did not find anything except the body. He stole the clothing and took the head with him, and hid it in his ship and did not tell anyone.
When Amr Ibn El-Aas knew that Pope Benjamin disappeared, he sent a circular to all the cities of Egypt asking the Pope to come back to his people and to take charge of the church, without fear of being arrested.
Pope Benjamin came back after he had been in hiding for 13 years. Amr Ibn El-Aas was courteous toward him and he returned to him the churches and all their property.
When Amr Ibn El-Aas was about to leave Alexandria, heading to Pentapolis (the five western cities), one of the ships could not leave. The captain of the ship was questioned and when they searched the ship they found the head of St. Mark. They called upon Pope Benjamin and he carried it and walked with the priests and the people while they were singing hymns joyfully, until they arrived at Alexandria. The captain of the ship paid a great amount of money to the Pope to build a church in the name of St. Mark.
This father was highly active in converting the unbelievers to the Christian faith. He departed in peace after being Pope for 37 years.
Glory be to God forever. Amen.