Commemorated on September 22
The Holy Martyr
Phocas the Gardener came from the city of Sinope, situated on the southern
shore of the Black Sea. Having a small garden, he lived modestly: he sold what
he grew and on the proceeds he maintained himself, he helped the needy and paid
the housing of vagrants. The Christian piety of the saint had an influence on
other people. Even pagans deferred to him with deep respect. Under his
influence they often abandoned their error and accepted the Christian faith.
But the governor of
the district, aware that Saint Phocas was spreading Christian teachings, gave
orders to find and kill him. The saint himself accidentally came upon those
sent after him, and not mentioning his name he courteously received them, dined
them and prepared them a place for night-lodging. At night he went into the
garden, he prepared a grave and the place for his burial; he even was able to
make arrangements that all his possessions would be distributed after death to
the poor. In the morning Saint Phocas declared to the strangers that it was he
here for whom they were searching. And he asked that they fulfill the duty
entrusted to them. The visitors were distressed, not wanting to kill the kindly
saint, they felt honour bound to spare Saint Phocas. But he would not hear of
their good intent and bent down humbly his head beneathe the sword.
They buried the holy
Martyr Phocas in the grave that he himself had prepared in the garden. The
place of his burial was glorified by miracles, and later a church was built
there. An accurate account of the martyr's death was collected by Asterios of
Amasia (+ c. 410), through the testimony of whom the memory of the
holy Martyr Phocas is especially venerated by sea-farers.
© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.