The 12th Day of the Blessed Month of Bashans
Commemoration of the Consecration of the Church of St.Demiana
On this day, the church commemorates the consecration of the church of the virgin St. Demiana. This pure and fighting virgin was the daughter of Mark, who was the governor of El-Borollus, El-Zaafran and the valley of Saisaban. She was the only child of her parents. When she was one year old, her father took her to the church that was in the monastery of El-Maima. He offered gifts there so that God might bless this daughter and keep her safe Him. When she was fifteen years old, her father wanted to get her married. She refused and told him that she had vowed herself a bride for the Lord Christ. When she found that her father was pleased of her decision, she asked him to build her an isolated palace, so that she could worship God with her virgin friends, and right away he did what she asked. He built the palace where she and the forty virgins lived in. They spent their time by reading the Holy Bible and praying fervently to God. Shortly after, Emperor Diocletian sent for Mark her father and ordered him to worship the idols, but he refused at first. However, after some persuasion, Mark obeyed him and worshipped the idols, forsaking the creator of the universe.
When Mark returned, and St. Demiana knew of what her father had done, she rushed to meet him without a greeting saying: "What have I heard about you? I wished I have Heard the news of your death, and not knowing that you have forsaken God who have created you and worshipped what is made by hands. If you insist on what you have done and you do not relent by denouncing the idols, you are not my father, and I am not your daughter." She also said to him: "It is better for you, O my father, that you die a martyr and live with Christ in heaven forever, than you live as a pagan here and die with the devil in hades forever." Then she left him. Her father was moved by what she said and wept bitterly. He went in hurry to Diocletian and confessed the Lord Christ before him. When Diocletian could not change his mind, he ordered him to be beheaded. When Diocletian knew that the one who turned Mark away from worshipping the idols was his daughter Demiana, he sent to her a prince to persuade her at first, and if she did not obey, he would cut off her head. The Prince came to her with an entourage of one hundred soldiers armed with all instruments of torture. When he arrived to her palace, he went to her and said: "I am an envoy sent by Emperor Diocletian. I came to ask you, according to his orders, to worship his gods, so he might grant you whatsoever you wish." St. Demiana shouted at the prince saying: "Curse the messenger and he who sent him. Are you not ashamed to call stones and wood gods that only dwelt by devils? There is no other God in heaven or on earth except the one God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Creator, Who has no beginning and no end, the Omnipresent, and the Omniscient God, who will throw you in hell for eternal condemnation. As for me, I worship my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Good Father and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity. I profess Him, depend on Him, and in His name I die and by Him I will live forever." The Prince became angry of what she said, and ordered her to be placed in the body press. Her blood poured out on the ground, and the virgins were standing, weeping for her. Then they put her in prison, where the angel of the Lord appeared to her and touched her body with his celestial wings and healed her from all her wounds.
The Prince was creative in the ways he tortured St. Demiana, sometimes by rending her flesh, or placing her in boiling grease and oil. In all that, the Lord strengthened her and raised her up whole. When the Prince saw that his efforts were of no avail and the steadfastness of this pure virgin, he ordered her to be beheaded with all the virgins with her. They all received the crowns of martyrdom. (The account of her martyrdom is mentioned in the thirteenth day of the month of Tubah) The Prince returned to Antioch, the city of the Emperor. The faithful came and gathered the bodies of the martyrs and kept them until the end of the days of persecution and the reign of the righteous Emperor the Christ-loving Constantine the great. He ordered to destroy the idol temples and built many churches after the names of the martyrs. He gathered the bodies of the martyrs in every place and placed them in the churches. He endowed the churches with the necessary income to maintain them. When Constantine knew of all what had happened to St. Demiana, and how she endured for a long time in the valley of El-Saisaban, he delegated his blessed mother St.Helena to take burial clothing, go to El-Zaafran, and build a church in the name of St. Demiana and the forty virgins, there. St. Helena came to the valley, went up to the palace, and found that the bodies were unharmed. She found St. Demiana in the place where she used to sit and around her the forty virgins. She kissed the body, taking the blessing of the Saint and wrapped the bodies with expensive shrouds. She gathered the craftsmen and architects, tore down the palace, and built instead a well built tomb (Cellar) underground. She laid the body of St. Demiana on an ivory bed, and covered her with a precious bedspread and laid the forty virgins around her in it. Then she built a small and beautiful church which had one dome on the top of it. The church was consecrated by Pope Alexandros, the nineteenth Patriarch of Alexandria, on the 12th. of Bashans. He also ordained a saintly bishop, priests, and deacons to serve in the church day and night in prayers.
The bishop of this area, El-Zaafran and El-Borollus, was martyred and his body was placed in this church among the bodies of other martyrs. Abba Yoannis, Bishop of El Borullus, said in his book, The History of the Church: "The church was destroyed in the 8th. century by one of the Arab rulers, who built in its place a palace for his residence." At this time, the water of the Mediterranean sea flooded the Delta of the Nile river until it reached the city of Samannoud to the western side of the church that called "Zion" by the old citadel. This flooding was caused by the deterioration of the barrier, which held back the sea water. When the news reached the king Hassan Ibn Atahia, he was saddened because this district brought the government much money because it was rich in its highly priced aromatic plants. One of his close aids, who was a Jew, told the king to bring the Patriarch of the Copts and order him to pray in faith to return everything to where they were before the flood. God assisted this Patriarch through the help of one of the holy men who was known as El-Toffahi in this trying time. The Patriarch prayed in the church at Samannoud in the presence of the king. Then the Patriarch went out of the church raising the Cross. The people were saying Lord have mercy and the holy man, El-Toffahi, behind him. Instantly, the water receded to the north before them. The Patriarch, behind him El-Toffahi, the priests, the people, and the king continued to walk until they arrived to El-Zaafran where they erected tents for the king beside the destroyed palace, under which the body of St. Demiana along with the bodies of the forty martyrs were kept. The Patriarch prayed and knelt to the ground with all the people with him. At this moment, a great miracle and sign occurred that amazed everyone. A great wind blew in the sea and the waves became very high, which caused great quantities of sand to form a great barrier with the power of God almighty which was stronger than the original one. Then the winds calmed down.
The Patriarch returned to the king, who received him with honor and told him: "O Patriarch, ask from me, something to do for you." The Patriarch replied: "I need your assistance in building a church in this place because it contains the bodies of Saints who were martyred, for they refused to worship idols. The king ordered that the place be cleaned. The Patriarch opened the door of the cellar, went down, and found the forty bodies of the martyrs around the bed of St. Demiana. The king ordered at once to build a church with one dome, which was consecrated by the Patriarch on the 12th. day of Bashans. The news of this church spread in all the country and the people came with their offerings to it. The church was consecrated for the first time during the reign of Constantine and the second time was on this day. The king ordered that no one disturb the Copts, so it was a peaceful and tranquil time in all Egypt. The king returned to his palace in Misr (Cairo) and always asked the Patriarch to visit him periodically. He came to visit the king with great honor till his departure. The king of Egypt at that time was Hassan Ibn Atahia, who was just, loved the churches, and treated the bishops and the monks with great respect. He loved Pope Khail the first, the forty-sixth Patriarch of Alexandria (743 - 767 A.D.), and came often to visit him. He discussed the affairs of the country with him.
May the prayers of St. Demiana be with us. Amen.
Commemoration of the Relocation of the Relics of St.John Chrysostom
This day also marks the commemoration of the relocation of the relics of St. John Chrysostom (Of the Golden Mouth), from the city of Cuma, where he departed to the city of Constantinople, in the year 437 A.D., with honor and respect befitting him. They laid him in the church of the holy Apostles, and this was during the reign of Emperor Theodosius II. Empress Eudoxia, the wife of Emperor Arcadius, had exiled St. John, for he prevented her from attending the church and partaking from the Holy Mysteries, because she took by force a garden owned by a widow, and for other reasons. God avenged because of the Empress' evil deeds; she became sick and spent large sums of money. The Saint had departed in his exile and the Empress went to his tomb, wept, and asked his forgiveness. She was healed. The biography of the Saint is under the 17th. day of the month of Hatour.
May his prayer be with us. Amen.
Commemoration of the Appearance of a Cross of light above Golgotha
On this day also, of the year 351 A.D., during the time of St. Kyrillos (Cyril), Patriarch of Jerusalem, and during the reign of Emperor Constantius, the sign of the honorable Cross appeared in the sky at the third hour of the day. The sign of the cross was surrounded with a light which exceeded the light of the sun, covering the area above Jerusalem, from Golgotha to the mount of Olive. All those who were in Jerusalem saw it, and they all rushed to the church of the resurrection, and were astonished and overwhelmed from the greatness of the sign. Many believed at that time. The Patriarch wrote to Emperor Constantius saying: "In the days of your blessed father, the sign of the Cross made of stars, appeared in the middle of the sky, and in your days, the sign of the Cross appeared also surrounded with great light. He forbade him from following the heresy of Arius. He also made this day a memorial in Jerusalem and one of the feasts celebrated there, and all other churches followed this tradition until today. For through the Cross we received the Salvation, and it is our armor against all our enemies if we armored ourselves with it in a strong faith.
May the blessing of the Cross be with us. Amen.
Departure of Pope Mark the Seventh, the 106th Patriarch of Alexandria
On this day also, of the year 1485 A.M. (May 18th., 1769 A.D.), Pope Mark the Seventh, the one-hundred and sixth Patriarch of Alexandria, departed. He was from the city of Klosna, in the district of El-Bahnasa. His name was Simeon, and he went to the monastery of St. Antonios at a young age. He stayed there for a time and visited often the monastery of St. Paul in mount Nimra, where he became a monk and was ordained a priest. When Pope Yoannis the Seventeenth (The 105th. Patriarch) departed, he was chosen to succeed him on the Patriarchal Chair. They brought him from the monastery and ordained him Patriarch on Sunday, the 24th. of Bashans, 1461 A.M. (May 30th., 1745 A.D.) on the day of the feast of the entry of the Lord Jesus to Egypt. This Pope was kind, with a very beautiful voice, and was very fluent in speech. After two years of his enthronement, there was a mutiny among the soldiers. Many of the princes were killed, some escaped to upper Egypt, and some escaped to the Arabian Peninsula. The Pope suffered a great deal in these days, from inside the church and from outside. God removed these tribulations after it had lingered for a time.
This pope ordained Abba Peter, a Metropolitan over Upper Egypt, to shepherd his flock from the snatching wolves. At the end of his days, Abba Yoannis the 14h., Metropolitan of Ethiopia the 103rd., departed. A delegation was sent by the king of Ethiopia, came to the Pope asking to ordain a Metropolitan for them. The Pope ordained Abba Yousab the 4th., six months before his departure, and Abba Yousab left Egypt to his Chair in Ethiopia, after the departure of Pope Mark. He departed when he was residing in the church of the virgin, in the monastery known as Adawiyya, in El-Maadi near Cairo. Before he delivered up his soul, he saw St. Antonios and St.Paula at the second hour of Thursday. The church was celebrating the feast of St. Demiana, the commemoration of Archangel Michael, and the departure of St.John Chrysostom. Right after his departure, they took his body by a boat to the monastery of St. George, and placed it in the convent under the shrine. On Friday, the 13th. of Bashans, Metropolitan Yousab of Ethiopia, Abba Peter bishop of Upper Egypt, and all the archpriests, priests, deacons, and lay leaders washed the face of the departed Pope: his hands and his feet with rose water. They prepared him with precious spices, put on him his priestly clothing, and placed him in a coffin. They carried him in a procession to the church of St. Marcurius (Abu Saifain), where they prayed over him as befitting his honor and buried him in the tomb of the Patriarchs. He stayed on the Patriarchal Chair for twenty-three years, eleven months and eighteen days, and the Chair was vacant five months and five days after his departure. He was a contemporary to El-Sultans Mahmoud I, Osman III, and Moustafa III.
May his prayers be with us. Amen.
Commemoration of the Martyrdom of Master (Moallem) Malati
On this day also, of the year 1519 A.M. (May 19th., 1803 A.D.), the church commemorates the martyrdom of Master (Moallem) Malati. He was a scribe to Ayyoub Beck El-Defterdar, of the Mamaliks of Mohammed Beck Abu El-Dahab. When the French occupied Egypt, they formed a department to look after national problems, and made Moallem Malati a general manager to it with the consent of the Christian and Moslem members, for his great managerial ability and wisdom. After the French had been driven out of Egypt, Moallem Gergis El-Gawhary, Moallem Wasef, and Moallem Malati were protected by the rulers of Egypt. However, in a disturbance at the time of Taher Pasha,the governor of Egypt, they arrested Moallem Malati, and cut off his head at Bab Zoweila in Cairo, and he received the crown of martyrdom.
May his intercession be with us and Glory be to God forever. Amen.