Orthodox River


March 10 2020 - February 26 2020

Sainted Porphyrios, Archbishop of Gaza (+ 420). Monk Sevastian (Sebastian) of Poshekhonsk (+ c. 1500). Martyrs Sebastian and Christodoulos (+ c. 66). Martyr John Kalphes (+ 1575). Saint Nicholas the Viceroy (Vicar). Saint Asthea.

Mezhetsk Icon of the Mother of God.

Sainted Porphyrios, Archbishop of Gaza, was born in about the year 346 at Thessalonika in Macedonia. His parents were people of substance, and this allowed Saint Porphyrios to receive a fine education. Having the inclination for monastic life, at twelve years of age he left his native region and set off to Egypt, where he asceticised in the Nitreian desert under the guidance of the Monk Makarios the Great (Comm. 19 January). There also he met Blessed Jerome (Comm. 15 June), who was then visiting the Egyptian monasteries; he set off with him to Jerusalem on pilgrimage to the holy places and to reverence the Life-Creating Cross of the Lord (Comm. 14 September), after which he resettled into the Jordanian wilderness for prayer and ascetic deeds. There Saint Porphyrios fell under a serious malady. For healing he decided to go to the holy places of Jerusalem. One time, when fully paralysed he lay half-conscious at the foot of Golgotha, the Lord sent His servant into a salvific sleep-vision. Saint Porphyrios beheld Jesus Christ, descending with the Cross and turning to him with the words: “Take this Wood and preserve it”. Awakening, he sensed himself healthy. The words of the Saviour were soon fulfilled: the Patriarch of Jerusalem ordained Saint Porphyrios to the priestly dignity and appointed him curator of the Venerable Wood of the Cross of the Lord. And it was during this time that Saint Porphyrios received his portion of an inheritance from his parents – 4 thousand gold coins. All this he gave away to the needy and for the embellishing of the churches of God.

In 395 the bishop of the city of Gaza (in Palestine) died. The local Christians set out to Caesarea to the Metropolitan John with a request to provide them a new bishop, who would be able to contend against the pagans, which were predominant in their city and were harassing the Christians there. The Lord inspired the Metropolitan to summon the Jerusalem presbyter Porphyrios. With fear and trembling the ascetic accepted the dignity of bishop, and with tears he prostrated himself before the Life-Creating Wood and then set off to fulfill his new obedience.

In Gaza he found all of only three Christian churches, but of the pagan temples and idols – there were a great many. During this time there had occurred a long spell without rain, causing a severe drought. The pagan-priests brought offerings to their idols, but the woes did not cease. Saint Porphyrios imposed a fast for all the Christians; he then made the all-night vigil, followed by going round all the city in a church procession. Immediately the sky covered over with storm clouds, thunder boomed, and abundant rains poured down. Seeing this miracle, many a pagan cried out: “Christ is indeed the One True God!” As a result of this, there came to be united to the Church through Holy Baptism 127 men, 35 women and 14 children, and soon after this, another 110 men.

But the pagans just like before still harassed the Christians, passed them over for public office, and burdened them down with taxes. Saint Porphyrios and the Metropolitan of Caesarea John set off to Constantinople, to seek redress from the emperor. Saint John Chrysostom (Comm. 14 September, 27 and 30 January) received them and rendered them active assistance.

Saints John and Porphyrios were presented to the empress Eudoxia who at that time was expecting a child. “Intercede for us, – said the bishops to the empress, – and the Lord will send thee a son, who shalt reign during thine lifetime”. Eudoxia very much wanted a son, since she had given birth only to daughters. And actually through the prayer of the saints an heir was born to the imperial family… In consequence of this, the emperor in the year 401 issued an edict directing the destruction of the pagan temples in Gaza and the restoration of privileges to Christians. Moreover, the emperor bestowed on the saints the means for the construction of a new church, which was to be built in Gaza on the locale of the chief pagan-temple there.

Saint Porphyrios to the very end of his life upheld Christianity in Gaza and guarded well his flock from the vexatious pagans. Through the prayers of the saint there occurred numerous miracles and healings. Over the course of 25 years the archpastor guided veritable flock and reposed at an advanced age, in the year 420.

The Monk Sevastian (Sebastian) of Poshekhonsk: the account about him is located under 18 December.

The Holy Martyrs Sebastian and Christodoulos died by the sword under Nero (54-68). They were companions of the holy Martyress Photinia (Comm. 20 March).

The Holy Martyr John Kalphes (Architect) lived in a suburb of Constantinople, called Galata. By profession he was an architect and in his craft he had acquired great mastery, such that important officials made use of his services. He was entrusted with the inner adornment of the sultan’s palace.

Saint John Kalphes was distinguished for his Christian charity, he concerned himself over orphans and about those locked up in prison, and many turned to him for help. One time a certain dignitary asked Saint John to take on his nephew as an apprentice. He agreed, and the youth upon completion of his apprenticeship received honourable position at court. And one time, encountering his former teacher and benefactor, he began to question Saint John, what it says in the Christian books about the “prophet” Mahomet. Saint John did not want to answer his question, but in light of the persistent demands of the youth, he declared the falseness of Mahometanism. The youth, devoted to Islam, reported to his co-religionists, that the architect had insulted Mahomet. They brought Saint John to trial, where they demanded that he renounce Christ, but he bravely confessed his Orthodox faith. After torture, they sent the holy martyr off to penal servitude, where he spent 6 months. Then, over the course of the next three months they beat him in the prison and finally, on 26 February 1575, they beheaded him in the crowded city-square in Ergat-Bazara, near Bezstan. The suffering of the holy Martyr John Kalphes were recorded by a steward of the Constantinople Patriarch, Andrew, who communed him with the Holy Mysteries in prison.

The Mezhetsk Icon of the Mother of God appeared at Kiev in the year 1492.

© 1999 by translator Fr. S. Janos