As in inquirer who's very busy learning church history right now, I'm curious. Do you know of any EO "skeletons" in the historical closet? Anything that makes you think "Gosh, we probably shouldn't have done that"?
Anna (the newbie)
Well I would cite the life of our Coptic saint, St. Samuel the Confessor as one.
A confessor is a person who suffers for God's sake. He may be tortured or abused in many different ways, but his suffering does not result in martyrdom.
St. Samuel was born about 597 A.D. in the city of Daklube. When his parents became sure of his persistence to live as a monk, they built a superb church where st. Samuel was ordained deacon to serve with his father the priest. After his parents died he went to Scetis by a Divine proclamation. In Abba Macarius' monastery, he became the disciple of abba. Aghathon, and god gave him the gift of healing and performing miracles. Crowds of people flocked to him, and many became his disciples. St Samuel set himself to studying the Scriptures, meditating, and praying with his teacher. In addition to the spiritual pursuits, they worked with their hands. Quite likely, they descended once a year to help gather the harvest, as did St. Macarius
and his monks three centuries before.
When Heraclius imposed Cyrus as the alien patriarch and governor over Egypt, the latter set out to chase Pope Benjamine. He sent out Maximian, his military commander, with two hundred soldiers to Scetis where they occupied St. Macarius church. Then he called the monks to a meeting while St. Yuanis the protopriest was out hiding the sacred vessels from the invaders. Abba Samuel was arrested, and Maximian read to him the letter of
Cyrus which contained the Chalcedonian doctrine and the Tome of Leo. When the commander received no response, he began to threaten him. St.Samuel replied, "we do not agree to the Yome or accept the Council of Chalcedon. We also do not recognize any archbishop other than ourfather Abba Benjamine." Then he asked Maximian to show him the letter, and when he held it in his hand he announced the excommunication of the Tome, the Council, and whoever accepted their doctrine, then he tore up the letter.
Abba Samuel was beaten without mercy until one of his eyes was scooped out, and was left between life and death. The monks carried him to a nearby cell, and prayed on him because they thought that he had died. But the saint regained consciousness, and in time regained his health also.
After these incidents , Abba Samuel left, accompanied by four other monks, to the Mount of Qalamon in the Fayoum region. Here they settled in a small monastery dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. This monastery currently exists and is still inhabited by monks. During the occupancy of Abba Samuel, the monastery flourished, and to this day it bears the name of the saint. In the vicinity of the monastery, there flows a stream with many fish in it. The monks sustain themselves on the fish and the water the stream provides.
In his monastery, his reputation again surpassed the limits of the desert. Fourteen brothers came to live with him. Also multitudes of people flocked to him bringing the sick and the infirm. He patiently attended to the need of everyone. Whenever he felt the urge to solitude, he quietly slipped out to a nearby cave. there he would spend a week or so in the companionship of god, before returing to the monastery with a radiant countenance.
After this Cyrus went to fayoum in pursuit of the followers of Abba Benjamin. when St. Samuel head his intention he left the monastery with all the monks and so when Cyrus arrived he found non of the monks there. St. Samuel was captured, and tortured but he was set free on condition that he would leave the fayoum mountain.
Shortly after, some Berbers from Lybia invaded the region. They ravaged the village's church, and took St. Samuel captive. After treating him very badly they took him away with them but when they found that he was useless to them, they left him half dead, but with the help of God he returned safely to his monastery after four days walking.
Other Barbers came and took Abba Samuel where he spent three years in slavery during which he suffered greatly at the hands of those savages who worshipped the sun. they tried to force him to worship the sun, but he refused. They put him in chains with a young girl and the two were left to guard camels day and night but he sustained his purity with the help of God.
St. Samuel was released as a result of the many miracles that he performed in curing sick people among whom was the wife of his capoter.
His captor asked St. Samuel to pray to God for his wife to give birth to a child and promised him his liberty if this happened.
When the boy was born Zerkandas, his captor fulfilled his promise and gave Abba Samuel
a camel and five servants to show him the way. Furthermore, he requested St. Samuel to baptize him before departing.
After his return he rebuilt the monastery after the name of virgin Mary. St. Samuel was permitted to live in peace for the Moslems had conquered the land, and the alien patriarch was not appointed by Byzantium anymore. He spent his last days in teaching those who came to live with him.
The virgin Mary appeared to Abba Samuel blessed him and promised to help him and all his monks.
St. Samuel died at the age of 96 about AD.693, he lived 74 years as a monk. The Coptic Church celebrates the feast of St. Samuel on 8 Koiak (17 Dec.)
May the prayers and supplications of this great Saint Abba Samuel the confessor be with us. Amen.