Saints of Africa: December

Noah cursed his grandson, Canaan, because Ham exposed his father’s nakedness while he was drunk. For thousands of years, accidental and intentional misinterpretations of scripture placed the curse on all descendants of Ham, especially the various peoples of Africa and that brown and black skin was a symbol of the curse. Yet, God made a hiding place for His Son in the African land of Egypt. Man’s curses are not as strong as God’s mercy. Noah’s words coming out of a drunken stupor do not trump the Word who became flesh for our salvation.

Our Lord and Savior was in the Levant region where three continents met. He met and ministered to a variety of people from many backgrounds. The Apostles went further into the known world to make disciples of all nations. No one ethnicity or race can claim any sort of supremacy as God is no respecter of persons. But, he calls all people to salvation.

The Nativity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ

December 2  Andrew, Heraclemon, John, and Theophilus (4th century)  Hermits in Egypt.

December 3  Theodore I (609)  Served two years as the Archbishop of Alexandria.  Among his tortures by the pagans, Theodore was made to wear a crown of thorns before being beheaded.

December 5  Karion (Carion, or Cyron) and Zacharias (4th century)  They were father and son living as monks in Egypt.  Zacharias even surpassed his father in ascetic discipline.  Three lessons of Karion (Carion) and five of Zacharias are listed in the Sayings of the Desert Fathers.

December 8  Patapius (7th century)  He was raised by pious parents in the Egyptian city of Thebes.  Patapius first tried to flee worldly vanity in the wilderness areas of his homeland.  But, he fled to a hut in Constantinople when too many people began to praise him.  Even there, he was well known for miraculous healings. 

Holy Martyrs of Africa (477)  Vandals under King Gunerik (Genzerik) allowed Arian heritics to persecute Orthodox Christians in the Roman province of Africa.  Two priest were burned to death.  Sixty had their tounges cut out.  Three hundred laypersons were beheaded.

December 10  Menas the Most Eloquent, Hermongenes, and Eugraphus  (313)  Menas and Hermogenes were Athenians who lived in Byzantium.  Menas was a secret Christian and was sent to Alexandria to root out believers from the city.  Rather than root them out, he confessed his faith and led many pagans to convert.  Hermongenes was sent to torture Menas.  But he also converted seeing Menas healed from his wounds and became the Bishopm of Alexandria.  Emperor Maxim himself went to the city to have them both tortured and executed along with Eugraphus, a friend and secretary to Menas who loudly confessed the Christian faith. 

December 11  Mirax (640)  He was an Egyptian who was tricked by a Muslim Emir to convert to Islam.  But, he repented and entered a mosque with a cross and called on the Muslims to convert.  He was tortured and beheaded.

December 14  Apollonius, Philemon, Arianus, Theoctychus, and four guards converted by Arianus (305)  Arianus was a crule judge who persecuted Christians in Egypt.  Threatened by this judge, Apollonius bribed the pagan musician Philiemon to dress like him and offer sacrifices to idols in his place.  However, Philemon saw the light of Christ and loudly declared himself a Christian in the pagan temple.  Rain came down from heaven and baptized him as he was being tortured.  Arianus executed both men.  But, he also became a Christian after his injured eye was miraculously healed.  He and four soldiers were condemned to death by Emperor Diocletian. 

December 15  Bacchus (787)  A monk at Mirs al-Fustat, Egypt who was martyred.

December 17  Patermuthius, Coprius, and Alexander (361-363)  Patermuthius and Coprius were monks who were martyred.  Alexander was a soldier who was also killed for the faith in Egypt. 

December 19  Elias, Probus, and Ares (308) Egyptian Christians who were martyred in Cilicia. 

December 24  Eugenia and those with her (262) Born in Rome, she was the daughter of Philip the Eparch of Egypt.  She visited the Christians who were driven out of Alexandria and accepted the faith.  After baptism, she disguised herself as a man and entered a monastery.  A woman had Eugenia arrested and sent to the Eparch having failed to lure the “monk” into adultery. Eugenia revealed her true identity to her father who was so glad to see his daughter alive that he and the rest of the family became baptized Christians.  The emperor had Philip secretly killed.  Eugenia and the remaining family moved to Rome where she was later arrested.  After enduring much torture, the Lord Himself appeared to her to inform her that she would be martyred on the Feast of His Nativity.

December 25  JESUS CHRIST (1st century)  Born in Bethlehem of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary.  Joseph took Him as a child and his mother to Egypt to protect Him from the jealous King Herod (Matthew 2:13~15, 19~21).  The Holy Family traveled through Egypt for three to four years going as far south as Assiut in the middle of the country.                                                            

December 27 Maximus (282) Bishop of Alexandria

December 29  Benjamin (392) Monk of Nitria, Egypt.  Perhaps the same Benjamin with five lessons from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers attributed to him.

Athenodorus  (4th century) A disciple of Pachomius the Great

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