Departure of St. Dioscorus I, the 25th Pope of Alexandria

On this day of the year 451 A.D., the blessed father and great hero of the Orthodox faith St. Dioscorus I, the 25th Pope of Alexandria departed. He died 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 630 bishops. He said to them: "Whose faith is lacking that it was necessary to gather this great assembly?" They replied: "This assembly has been convened by the command of the Emperor". He said: "If it has been convened by the command of our Lord Jesus Christ I would attend and say what the Lord gives me to say but if it has been convened by the Emperor's command let the Emperor manage his assembly as he pleases".

When he found out that Leo the Pope of Rome was teaching that Christ has two natures and two wills and not one, he spoke out to refute this new belief. He stated that Jesus who was invited to the wedding of Cana of Galilee as a man, He Himself changed the water to wine as God and that the two natures were not separated. He quoted what Cyril the 24th Pope of Alexandria said: "The union of the Word of God with the flesh is like the union of the soul with the body and like the union of fire with iron. It is true that they are of two different natures, but by their union they become one. Likewise, the Lord Jesus is one Christ, one God, of one nature, with one will". None of the bishops in the Council dared to contradict him and among them were some who had attended the Council at Ephesus which was convened against Nestor.

They informed Emperor Marcianus and Empress Belkharia that no one disobeyed their command concerning the new faith except Dioscorus Patriarch of Alexandria. They brought him before the senior bishops in the Council and debated and discussed the matter till it was evening, but St. Dioscorus would not deviate from his belief.

The Emperor and Empress were angered at this and the Empress ordered to smite him on his mouth, and to pluck out the hair of his beard. He took the hair and the teeth that had fallen and sent them to Alexandria with a note saying: "This is the fruit of faith". The other bishops when they saw what had happened to Dioscorus, and being afraid to undergo the same fate, sided with the Emperor. They signed the document of the belief that Christ has two distinct and separated natures.

When Dioscorus knew that, he sent for the document which they signed, pretending that he wanted to sign it too. But when he read it he wrote at its end that he has excommunicated them all as well as everyone who deviated from the Orthodox faith. The Emperor was enraged and ordered to banish him to the Island of Gagra along with St. Macarius, the Bishop of Edkow, and two others and the Council of Chalcedon resumed its meetings.

When they took St. Dioscorus to the Island of Gagra, its bishop (who was a Nestorian) met him with contempt and disdain. However, God performed signs and wonders at the hands of St. Dioscorus that all honored and respected him, as God honors His chosen ones in every place. Meanwhile, St. Dioscorus informed St. Macarius his companion in exile that St. Macarius shall receive the crown of martyrdom in Alexandria. He sent him with one of the believing merchants to Alexandria where he received the crown of martyrdom. St. Dioscorus himself having ended his good fight in the Island of Gagra departed, where his body rests there.

Martyrdom of Saints Agatho, Peter, John, Amon, Amona and their mother Rebecca

On this day also we commemorate the martyrdom of Saints Agatho, Peter John, Amon, Amona and their mother Rebecca. They were from Kemona of the district of Quos. Our Lord Jesus Christ appeared to them and informed them of what would happen to them and that they would receive the crown of martyrdom in the district of Shoubra near Alexandria and that their bodies would be carried to Nakraha in the province of El-Beherah. The Saints rejoiced at this vision. They rose up early and gave all their possessions to the poor. Agatho, the eldest brother, was a man of high position in the city and was loved by everyone. Rebecca their mother encouraged and inspired them to bear the torture patiently in the name of the Lord Jesus.

As they arrived in the City of Quos they confessed their belief in Christ before Dionysius the Governor. He tortured them severely starting with their mother who bore the torture patiently and with joy. Then he 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 others to their faith, as they were loved by everyone to the extent that because of them, many confessed their belief in the Lord Jesus and received the crown of martyrdom.

When they were brought before Armenius the Governor of Alexandria he tortured them severely. He slashed their bodies, cast them in a boiler, squeezed them between wheels, then he crucified them upside down. In all these sufferings the Lord strengthened them until the Governor and his people were ashamed. Finally, he ordered to have their heads cut off and their bodies thrown into the sea.

God sent forth His angel to a rich man from the City of Nakraha to take the bodies of the Saints and the man was exceedingly grateful for that. He came to where the bodies were, gave the soldiers lots of silver and took the holy bodies.

When he laid them in the church, he heard a voice saying: "Here is the dwelling of the Saints". Their bodies remained there till the time of persecutions ended. Their existence was then revealed and a big church was built for them where the Lord made signs and wonders from their relics. Then they transferred their bodies to the City of Sonbat, where there is now a church known by the name of "Mother Refka (Rebecca) and her five children". Many visit this church every year to receive their blessings.

Departure of St. Severianus, Bishop of Gabla

On this day also we commemorate the departure of the righteous holy father Abba Severianus (Sawiros), Bishop of Gabla in Greece. He was the son of Blaryanos. He studied the earthly wisdom of the Athenians and then went to Caesarea for higher studies. He returned to Rome where in a short time he studied the doctrines of the Church, the old and new.

When his parents died they left him with great wealth. He preferred to give his wealth to Christ so that he might receive it back a hundred-fold as Christ promised in His Gospel. He built a hotel to house the strangers, the poor and the afflicted, and appointed guardians to have the proceeds distributed to the poor. His name was given to these places a long time after his departure from this world.

His uncle who was the Governor of that city informed Emperor Honorius that Severianus had squandered all his money for the name of the Lord Christ to receive back from Him a hundred-fold as Christ had promised in His Holy Gospel. The Emperor admired him, invited and commanded him to stay in the palace. The Emperor used to go with him to the church. Meanwhile, it was revealed by God to Yonakendios, Pope of Rome, that Severianus would be in charge of a large group of believers. The Emperor loved and honored him more, and wished not to be separated from him. He was also loved by everyone.

When St. Severianus saw that everyone honored him, he was concerned of losing his labour and decided to escape secretly. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and commanded him to go to the City of Gabla and there he would become a father to many souls. He departed by night and with him was his disciple, Theodore (Tadros) after he was ordained a monk. The Lord guided him by a light to his destination. There was a monastery led by a holy abbot who learned in a vision about the coming of St. Severianus. He welcomed him and told him about his vision.

His fame reached that region and a countess number of people used to visit him. Emperor Theodosius had one of the monasteries renewed for him to live in as the angel had instructed him. He became the comforter of many souls and he continued to teach and instruct the monks until they became saints, like the angels.

God performed many wonders at his hands, among which was for the daughter of the Governor of Gabla who had an evil spirit dwelling in her. The spirit used to say 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 command for the spirit saying: "In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, get out of her". As soon as he returned to his daughter, the devil screamed and left her. In another incident, 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 and they were cured.

Philatheus, the Bishop of the city, learned in a vision from God that St. Severianus would succeed him on his chair and he mentioned that to his people. When St. Severianus was ordained a Bishop, he supervised 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 apt of Christianity and the belief in the Lord Jesus. So did many other magicians. During his days, Egypt became as proud of its monks as Constantinople was of St. John Chrysostom (Golden Mouth).

When the Persians declared war against Honorius and Arcadius, they sent to St. Severianus asking for his prayers. He sent back to them saying: "If we belong to Christ, and our kingdom belongs to Christ, we have no need for armour, spears or troops", and he reminded them of what the Lord had done with the previous kings who pleased Him.

When Empress Eudoxia was annoyed with Chrysostom, she brought St. Severianus and others for the trial of St. Chrysostom. He reproved her saying: "John Chrysostom did nothing worthy of banishment," but she would not harken to him.

He wrote many discourses and sermons which still exist in the church books till now. As he reached the age of one hundred years; ten days before his death the angel of the Lord appeared to him and informed him of the day of his departure from this world. He gave advice to his people and departed in peace. That was two years before the departure of St. John Chrysostom.