Dispatch From The Desert:  January 27th to February 1st, 2020

African Saints (from the Prologue of Ohrid)

  • Peter of Egypt (Jan. 27) 5th Century
  • Synaxis of the Three Hierarchs: Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian, and John Chrysostom (Jan. 30)  Basil the Great (Jan. 1)spent time in Egypt and is listed in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.  Gregory and John would have known of these and other monastic writings from Africa.
  • Cyrus and John, Unmercenaries and Miracle-workers and the Holy Martyrs Athanasia and her daughters Theodota, Theoctista and Eudoxia (Jan. 31) Cyrus was a doctor who healed many people with the power of Christ and his learning. As an unmercenary, he often healed people without charge.  Cyrus began this practice in Alexandria before becoming a monk in Arabia.  John, his spiritual brother, encouraged Athanasia and her daughters to endure their tortures for the faith as they would also suffer in Canopus, Egypt.  All five were beheaded in 311.
  • Perpetua, Felicitas, Saturus, Revocatus, Saturnius, and Secundulus (Feb 1) Perpetua was a noble woman of Carthage and Felicity was her servant. In a dream, Perpetua saw the ladder extending to heaven and all of the glories.  She encouraged her companions to keep the faith despite their brutal tortures.  They all were martyred between 202 and 203.

Saint Perpetua and Saint Felicity

A Word from the Fathers & Mothers

A shared prayer in early African and African-American Christianity is “Lord, have mercy.”  This is a short version of the longer Orthodox Jesus Prayer, Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.  It is a cry for God’s deliverance.  In the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches “blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.”  We can be the answer to each other’s prayer.  Paulinus the Merciful (January 23) renounced a place in the Roman Senate and became a strict ascetic Christian in Spain in the 4th century.  Sometime afterward, he was elected Bishop of Nola in Italy.

The Vandals under Prince Rig sacked the city and rounded up men to serve as slaves.  Among the captives, the only son of a widow was taken.  The woman ran and cried to her Bishop Paulinus as she didn’t have the money to pay his ransom.  Paulinus dressed himself in simple clothes and asked the Vandal prince to release the widow’s son and take him instead.  Rig agreed taking the bishop as his gardener in Africa.  In time, God allowed Paulinus and other slaves to return to their home.

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