Today (technically today) is the 10th Day of Kiahk in the Coptic Calendar (December 19th), and we celebrated two things:
Departure of the great confessor, martyr, and wonderworker St. Nicholas of Myra, aka Santa Claus
The Relocation of the body of the great saint, confessor, and pillar of faith St. Severus of Antioch
1. The Relocation of the Body of St. Severus, Patriarch of Antioch.
On this day, the body of St. Severus, Archbishop of Antioch, was relocated to the Zogag Monastery. This holy man departed in the city of Sakha at the house of a righteous wealthy man called Dorotheus, where he was hiding. Dorotheus sent the body, in a ship, with trustworthy men to the Zogag Monastery, located to the west of the city of Alexandria.
He commanded them not to enter the bay but to use the lake until they came to the shore. When they came to Kartasa, facing north, they sailed towards the west, but they did not find water deep enough to sail their ship and the crew was saddened and worried.
God, the Lover of man, He Who saved the children of Israel from their enemies, and opened up a way for them in the Red Sea and made them pass over, this same God preserved the body of Saint Severus from those who hated him. God made manifest this miracle. He made the ship sail in shallow water for six miles until they arrived to the shore.
From there they took the body of the Saint, carried it to the Zogag Monastery and laid it in the place which Dorotheus had built for it. There was great joy in the city of Alexandria and God worked great signs and wonders through the body of His saint Abba Severus. God honored St. Severus after his death even more than during his life.
His blessings be with us. Amen.
2. The Departure of St. Nicholas, the Confessor, Bishop of Myra (Mora).
On this day also the righteous St. Nicholas (1), Bishop of Mora (Myra), departed. He was from the city of Mora, his father's name was Epiphanius and the name of his mother was Tona. They were rich, as well as God-fearing, people. They had no children to bring joy to their hearts and to inherit their wealth after their deaths. They remained without a son until they grew old and they were enveloped with despair. God had pity on them and gave them this saint. He was filled with the Divine grace since his young age. When he reached school age, he demonstrated, through intelligence and knowledge, that he learned far more from the Holy Spirit than he did from his teachers. He learned all the doctrine and the teachings of the church since his young age and was ordained deacon.
Then he became a monk in a monastery wherein his cousin was the abbot. He lived an ascetic and a righteous life, and was ordained a priest when he was 19 years old. God gave him the gift to work signs and wonders and to heal the sick.
St. Nicholas is too illustrious to describe all the signs that were performed by his hands, but an example of his good deeds and benevolent works follows:
There was a very rich man in the city of Mora who lost all his wealth. He had three daughters who had passed the age of marriage, and he could not marry them because of his poverty. Satan tempted the man to think that he should make his daughters live in sin so that they might get their food by means of fornication. God revealed to St. Nicholas the thoughts which were in this man's head, and what he intended to do. St. Nicholas took 100 dinars of his father's money and tied it up in a sack. During the night, secretly and without anyone seeing him, he threw the money into the window of that poor man's house. When the man found the gold, he was astonished and rejoiced exceedingly and was able to give his eldest daughter away in marriage. During another night the saint threw another hundred dinars into the man's house and the man was able to give his second daughter away in marriage. The man wanted to know who this charitable person was. The third time when the saint threw the gold into the house, the man was watching and immediately when he felt the drop of the sack, he ran out of his house to see who was throwing the gold to him. He found the kind bishop St. Nicholas and the man bowed down at his feet and paid him great homage and thanked him because he saved his daughters from poverty and from a life of sin. The saint refused to accept any thanks and asked them to thank the Lord Who put this thought in his heart.
St. Nicholas drove out the devil and his angels from people, he healed many sick people, and he blessed little bread to satisfy many people, with much more left over.
Before being selected bishop, he saw in a vision, a great throne and magnificent vestments placed on it and a man said to him, "Put on these vestments and sit on this throne." Another night he saw our Lady, St. Mary, giving him the vestments of the priesthood and our Lord Jesus Christ gave him the Gospel.
When the Bishop of Mora departed, the Angel of the Lord appeared to the Archbishop and told him the one who was chosen for this rank was Nicholas and described his virtues to him. When he woke up he told the bishops what he had seen, and they all believed that vision. They knew that it was from the Lord Jesus Christ. They took St. Nicholas and made him Bishop over the city of Mora.
Shortly thereafter, Diocletian reigned, and incited the pagan worship. When Diocletian arrested many of the believers, he heard about this saint. He seized him and tortured him severely for many years. The Lord Christ strengthened him, protected him, and raised him whole from all these tortures so that he might become a mighty branch of the tree of faith. When Diocletian was tired of torturing him, he cast him into prison. Saint Nicholas wrote to his congregation from prison to teach, encourage and confirm them in the faith. He remained in prison until God perished Diocletian and established the reign of Constantine the Just. Constantine brought out all the confessors from prison, among them was St. Nicholas, who returned to his city.
When the Council of Nicea convened in the year 325 A.D. to judge Arius, he was one of the 318 fathers assembled there.
Having finished his course and guarded his flock, he departed to be with the Lord. He sat on the episcopal throne for more than 40 years, and all the days of his life were about 80 years.
His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
(1) St. Nicholas is the true personality behind the story of St. Claus or Baba Noel, who leaves presents for children on Christmas Eve.
On other days, we celebrate St. Severus' entrance into Egypt (Baba 2 or October 13) and his departure (Amshir 14 or February 21):http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/2_2.html#1http://www.copticchurch.net/synaxarium/6_14.html#1
Another Synexarium version of St. Nicholas:
St. Nicholas the Wonderworker
Archbishop of Myra in Lycia
This saint, famed throughout the entire world today, was the only son of his eminent and wealthy parents, Theophanes and Nona, citizens of Patara in Lycia. They dedicated to God the only son He gave them. St. Nicholas was instructed in the spiritual life by his uncle Nicholas, Bishop of Patara (see below), and became a monk at `New Sion', a monastery founded by his uncle. On the dealth of his parents, Nicholas distributed all the property he inherited to the poor and kept nothing back for himself. As a priest in Patara, he was known for his charitable works, fulfilling the Lord's words: `Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth' (Matt. 6:3). When he embraced a life of solitude and silence, thinking to live in that way until his death, a voice from on high came to him: `Nicholas, set about your work among the people if you desire to receive a crown from Me.' Immediately after that, by God's wondrous providence, he was chosen as archbishop of the city of Myra in Lycia. Merciful, wise and fearless, Nicholas was a true shepherd to his flock. He was cast into prison during the persecutions of Diocletian and Maximian, but even there continued to instruct the people in the Law of God. He was present at the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea in 325, and, in his zeal, struck Arius with his hand. For this act, he was removed from the Council and from his episcopal duties, until some of the chief hierarchs had a vision of our Lord Christ and His most holy Mother showing their sympathy with Nicholas.
This wonderful saint was a defender of the truth of God, and was ever a spirited champion of justice among the people. On two occasions, he saved three men from undeserved sentences of death. Merciful, trustworthy and loving right, he walked among the people like an angel of God. People considered him a saint even during his lifetime, and invoked his aid when in torment or distress. He would appear both in dreams and in reality to those who called upon him for help, responding speedily to them, whether close at hand or far away. His face would shine with light as Moses' did aforetime, and his mere presence among people would bring solace, peace and goodwill. In old age, he sickened of a slight illness, and went to his rest in the Lord after a life full of labor and fruitful toil. He now enjoys eternal happiness in the Kingdom of heaven, continuing to help the faithful on earth by his miracles, and to spread the glory of God. He entered into rest on December 6th, 343. [According to the Coptic calendar, his martyrdom is celebrated on Koiahk 10 (December 19)].
On icons of St. Nicholas, our Lord and Saviour will often be seen on one side with the Gospels in His hand, and the most holy Mother of God on the other with an episcopal stole in hers. This has a twofold historical significance: it denotes, firstly, Nicholas's calling to episcopal office, and secondly his vindication and re-instatement following the punishment for his clash with Arius. St. Methodius, Patriarch of Constantinople, writes: `One night, St. Nicholas saw our Saviour in glory, standing by him and holding out to him the Gospels adorned with gold and pearls, and the Mother of God standing on his other side and placing a pallium on his shoulders. Shortly after this vision, John, the then Archbishop of Myra, died, and Nicholas was installed as Archbishop of that city.' That was the first occasion. The second occurred at the time of the First Ecumenical Council in Nicaea. Unable to put a stop by argument to the senseless blasphemy of Arius against the Son of God and His most pure Mother, St. Nicholas struck Arius in the face. The holy fathers at the Council strongly disapproved of such behavior, and they banned Nicholas from the Council and stripped him of all marks of his episcopal rank. That very night, several of the fathers had the selfsame vision: how the Lord stood on one side of Nicholas with the Gospels and the Mother of God on the other with a pallium, offering to the saint those marks of rank that had been stripped from him. Seeing this, the fathers were amazed, and quickly returned to Nicholas that which they had taken from him. They began from that time to respect him as a great man, and to interpret his action against Arius not as some senseless rage but as the expression of great zeal for God's truth.
Also, there is an upcoming move of St. Nicholas of Myra. Let's pray it's a good and accurate portrayal of real St. Nicholas:http://www.nicholasofmyra-movie.com/
May the prayers and blessings of St. Severus and St. Nicholas be with us all. And glory be to God forever. Amen!