Saints of Africa: February

February is African-American History Month.  We also celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on the 14th. As time marches on, we said “farewell” to Henry Aaron and “congratulations” to Kamala Harris.  God is blessing us to break barriers and make great achievements in this earthly kingdom.

Christians aim for a greater kingdom than sports trophies and public office.  We must not sell ourselves short of our ultimate and eternal goal; oneness with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  We have role models dating back centuries who have devoted their lives to the Gospel.  Among them is St. Simon of Cyrene, the man who bore our Lord’s cross to the Crucifixion in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

This list of saints includes those who born in Africa and spent time there in spiritual development.  My source is the Prologue of Ohrid written by St. Nikolai Velimirovich and other sources where noted.  Please contact me about any saint that should have been  included for this month. 

  • John of Thebes (Feb. 6th), 6th century monk of Palestine, founder of the Choziba Monastery which is still in use today.
  • Conitus of Alexandria (Feb. 8th),  martyred in  249
  • Mary & Martha of  Tanis [Hermopolis, Egypt]  (Feb.  8th), virgin-martyrs
  • Eugene & Mary [Marius] of Alexandria (Feb. 12) This father and daughter became monks with the girl disguised and named as a boy. An innkeeper’s daughter was infatuated with the young monk and when she became pregnant by another man, she claimed Marius as the father. Rather than reveal her true identity, Mary was banished to a grove outside of the monastery and raised the child for three years as it’s mother went insane. Mary died in 508 and only then did the other monks discover Marius was really a woman. The innkeeper’s daughter was restored to her senses when she admitted her sin.
  • Timothy (Feb. 13), Archbishop of Alexandria. Died in 385
  • Peter (Feb. 14), Patriarch of Alexandria. Died in 380
  • Paphnuntius & Euphrosyne (Feb. 15), Father and daughter monk and nun of Alexandria in the 5th century
  • Uncovering the relics of Menas the Most Eloquent Martyr of Alexandria (Feb. 17)
  • Bessarion the Great (Feb. 20), wonderworker of Egypt. Died in 466
  • Abilius (Feb. 22), Bishop of Alexandria. Died in 98.
  • Montanus, Lucias, Julian, Victoricus, Flavian, and their companions (Feb 24), Martyred in Carthage in 259
  • Julian and Chronium (Feb 27), Julian was crippled with gout. He was taken on a pallet and condemned as a Christian.  He and his disciple Chromion were burned at the stake in Alexandria in 250 and 252.
  • Simon of Cyrene (Feb 27), Carried the cross for our Lord and raised two sons, Lucius and Rufus, in the faith. Died in the first century. [Simon’s commemoration is found only in the Lectionary Paris BN gr 282 (9th century) and the Ormylia Synaxarion]
  • Proterius and his six companions (Feb 28), Proterius was elected Patriarch of Alexandria after the Fourth Ecumenical Council of 451. Dioscorus, the previous Patriarch, was removed for supporting the Monophysite (Jesus having one nature) doctrine and his supporters ran the new head of the African Church.  Proterius had a vision of Isaiah telling him, “Return to the city, I am waiting for you.”  He returned to Alexandria where he and six of his supporters were killed by the heretics in 457.

{Commemorated on Feb 28 on non-leap years}

  • John Cassian the Roman (Feb 29), spent years among the African Desert Fathers. By their wisdom, he wrote the Conferences and Institutes. On the Holy Fathers of Sketis in the Philokalia, Vol. 1 is dedicated to his conversations with Moses the Black. Cassian brought monasticism to Marseilles and other parts of present day France and had a large following of monks and nuns.  He died in 435.
  • John called Barsanuphius (Feb 29), born in Palestine and became a monk. John was elected Archbishop of Damascus. But, he secretly left the city and became a water carrier for other monks in Nitra, Egypt known for humility and meekness.  He died in 457.

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