Saint Porphyry, Bishop

February 26

Today is the feast day of Saint Porphyry.  Ora pro nobis.

Saint Porphyry (Porphyrius) was born at Thessalonica about 347. After five years in the Egyptian desert of Scete he lived five years in a cave near the Jordan. In spite of his impaired health, he frequently visited the scene of the Resurrection. Here he met the Asiatic Mark, at a later date a deacon of his church and his biographer.

Saint Porphyry was drawn to a more solitary life, passed into Palestine, where he spent a similar period in the severest penance, until ill health obliged him to moderate his austerities. He then made his home in Jerusalem, and in spite of his ailments visited the Holy Places every day, thinking so little of his sickness, says his biographer, that he seemed to be afflicted in another body than his own. About this time God put it into his heart to sell all he had and give it to the poor; then, to reward the sacrifice, He restored him, by a miracle at the Holy Sepulchre, to perfect health.

In 392 Porphyrius was ordained to the priesthood, and the relic of the Holy Cross was intrusted to his care. In 395 he became Bishop of Gaza, a stronghold of paganism, with an insignificant Christian community. The attitude of the pagan population was hostile so that the bishop appealed to the emperor for protection and pleaded repeatedly for the destruction of pagan temples

His labors and the miracles which attended them effected the conversion of many; and an imperial edict for the destruction of the pagan temples, obtained through the influence of Saint John Chrysostom, greatly strengthened the influence of the Bishop in Gaza. During a long drought, a fast and a procession to the tombs of the martyrs outside the city, held by the Christians in obedience to their bishop to obtain rain from God, brought the trial to a successful end. Many pagans were converted when a torrential rain descended.

When Saint Porphyry first went to Gaza, he found there one temple more splendid than the rest, in honor of the chief god. When the edict went forth to destroy all traces of heathen worship, Saint Porphyry determined to put the demon to special shame, there where he had received special honor. A Christian church was built upon the site, and its approach was paved with the marble stone of the heathen temple. Thus every worshiper of Jesus Christ trod underfoot the vestiges of idolatry and superstition, each time he went to assist at holy Mass.

Saint Porphyry lived to see his diocese cleared of idolatry, wholly Christian, and then died in the year 420.

Image: Porphyrios of Gaza (5)

Research by REGINA Staff



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