(The Seventh Day of the Blessed Month of Tute)
I. The Departure of St. Dioscorus, 25th Pope of Alexandria:
On this day of the year 451 A.D., the blessed father and the great champion of Orthodoxy, Saint Dioscorus, 25th Pope of Alexandria, departed. His departure took place on the island of Gagra after he had fought the 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. Saint Dioscorus asked, "In whom is the faith lacking that it was 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 of our Lord Jesus Christ I shall stay and speak with what God may give 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, Archbishop of Rome, was teaching that Christ has two natures and two wills after the Union, he took the charge to refute 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 a God, and that the two natures were not separated in all of His works. Quoting Pope Cyril, he said, "The Hypostatic 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 and iron: even as they are of two different natures, by their union they became one. Likewise, our Lord Christ is one Messiah, one Lord, and one Nature." 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 Nestorius. Some informed the Emperor Marcianus and the Empress Belkarya that no one disobeyed their commands concerning the faith except Dioscorus, Patriarch of the City of Alexandria. They brought St. Dioscorus, and the leading bishops of the Council who 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 St. Dioscorus on his mouth, and to pluck out the hair of his beard. He took the hair and the teeth that were knocked 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 emperor, 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 and pretended that he wanted to sign it too. But when he read the document, he wrote at its foot that he excommunicated everyone who had signed it, as well as everyone who deviated from the Orthodox Faith. The emperor was enraged and he commanded to banish St. Dioscorus 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. However, God performed at the hands of St. Dioscorus many great signs and wonders, so that all obeyed him, respected and revered him greatly, for 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 received the crown of martyrdom.
St. Dioscorus, having ended his good fight, departed from this vain life and received the crown of eternal life. He departed on the island of Gagra where his body was laid.
His blessings and prayers be with us all. Amen.
II. The Martyrdom of Sts. Agathon, Peter, John, Amun and Amuna and Their Mother, Rebecca:
On this day also, Sts. Agathon, Peter, John, Amun, and Amuna and their mother, Rebecca, were martyred. 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 that 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 Nakraha in the province of El-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, strengthened and encouraged them to endure the torture in the name of the Lord Christ.
They came to the city of Kus and confessed their faith in Christ before Dionysius, the Governor. He tortured them severely, starting with their mother who bore the torture patiently and with joy, and 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 other people astray, for they were loved by everyone. Because of them, many confessed their belief in the Lord Christ and received the crown of martyrdom.
When they brought the saints before Armenius, the Governor of Alexandria, who was in a city called Shoubra, and 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 head down. From all these tortures, the Lord Christ raised them whole 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. They cut their heads off and placed their bodies in a boat to cast them in the sea. God sent forth His angel to a rich man from the city of Nakraha and commanded him to take the bodies of the saints and the man was exceedingly glad. He came to where the bodies were, gave the soldiers much silver and took the holy bodies. He laid them in the church, and he heard a voice saying, "This is the abode of the righteous." The bodies remained there till the end of the era of persecutions. They then revealed the bodies and a big church was built for them. God made manifest from their relics, many signs and wonders. Then they transferred the bodies to the city of Sonbat, where there is now a church known as "The Five and Their Mother" or "El-Sitt Refka" (Lady Rebecca). Many visit this church every year to receive their blessings.
Their intercession be for us all. Amen.
III. The Departure of St. Severianus, Bishop of Gabala:
On this day also, the righteous holy father, Abba Severianus, Bishop of Gabala in Greece, departed. The name of his father was Blaryanos. He studied the secular wisdom of the Athenians, then went to Caesarea to study at the hands of those who were there. He returned to Rome where he studied the doctrines of the Church, and learned the Old and New Testaments in a few years. Later on, his parents departed and left him a great wealth. He wished to give it 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 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 from Him 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. The emperor used to take the saint along with him to the church. In those days Pope Einokendios 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 of people. The Pope loved and honored him, and wished not to be separated from him, as he was loved by everyone.
When St. Severianus (Sawiros) saw that everyone honored him, he worried about losing his labor, so he decided to escape from the vain glory of this world. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and commanded him to go to the city of Gabala where he would become a father to many souls. He departed by night with his disciple, Theodore, after having put on him the monastic eskeem. God sent to him a light to guide him to his destination. There was a monastery headed by a holy abbot who learned in a vision about the coming of St. Severianus. He went out, welcomed him and told him about his vision. His fame reached that region and a countless number of people came to him. Emperor Theodosius had one of the monasteries renewed for him to live in as the angel had determined for him. He became the comforter for 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 Gabala 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. 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 of Gabala, 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 armors 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 among 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 100 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 instructed his people and then departed in peace. His pure body was prepared as was meet and was placed in the tomb. His departure was two years before that of St. John Chrysostom (of the Golden Mouth).
His prayers be with us all, and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.