Thursday 11 October 2012

Saints celebrated in the month of October

OCTOBER brings something of a lull in the Church Year, because in this month we have no Great Feasts nor any special fasts. This is a distinction which it shares only with July. Among the saints that we commemorate in October, we have:

The Righteous Galla of Rome (5th/18th) is mentioned by Saint Gregory the Great in his Dialogues. The noted patrician, Q. Aurelius Symmachus had two daughters, one of whom, Rusticiana, was married to the renowned Boethius. The other was St Galla. She was given in marriage when she was young, but was widowed within a year. She declined to take a second husband, and instead devoted herself to the monastic life in a community near the Basilica of St Peter. After a while she was afflicted with cancer of the breast, and as the disease progressed she was often in agonies of pain. Such was her distress that she could not bear to rest in complete darkness, and asked the sisters whether two candles might always burn in her cell. One night, when she was in torments, the Holy Apostle Peter appeared to her, standing between the two candles. She besought him whether her sins were forgiven her, and he assured her that her earthly life had almost run its course, and her sufferings would soon be over. There was another sister in the Convent, Benedicta, whom Galla particularly loved, and she pleaded with the Apostle: "I pray thee, suffer Benedicta to come with me." St Peter assured her that Sister Benedicta would follow her into the other life within thirty days. When the Apostle had departed, Galla called sisters and told them of her vision. Three days later she gave up her soul in peace, and, as promised within another thirty days, Benedicta followed her.

The Holy Apostle James, son of Alphaeus (9th/22nd). There are three Apostles by the name of James, and two of them have feast days in October. The one that does not is St James, the son of Zebedee and brother of St John the Theologian, and his feast day falls on 30th April. He is often known as James the Greater. The third one, is Saint James the Brother of God, who was not numbered among the Twelve but was one of the seventy disciples. He was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and we still use the Liturgy he composed on his feastday (23rd October). The son of Alphaeus, sometimes known as "the Less," was the brother of the Evangelist St Matthew, and like his brother he was numbered among the Twelve. Their father, Alphaeus, like St Matthew, was a tax-collector and lived in Capernaum. After the Day of Pentecost, St James travelled with St Andrew to Edessa. Later he was sent to preach in the city of Eleutheropolis and in Gaza, and then continued his missionary endeavours in the land of Egypt. Through the power of healing, working miracles and casting out demons, granted him by the Saviour, and through his preaching he brought many pagans to Christ. Resenting the success of his mission, some pagans apprehended him in a town called Ostracina, which was on the sea coast near the Palestinian border, and there he suffered martyrdom by crucifixion.

Saint Acca, Bishop of Hexham (20th October/2nd November) was educated at York, in the school of St Bosa the bishop of that city. Afterwards he became a disciple of St Wilfrid and his constant attendant. He journeyed with St Wilfrid to the continent, to Rome and to the Low Countries. St Wilfrid fell mortally ill at Meaux, and confided to St Acca that he had been granted a vision in which it was revealed to him that he would recover and would be restored to his see, but that four years thereafter he would pass to his eternal reward. When this prophecy had been fulfilled, Acca, now bereaved of his Elder, was consecrated as Bishop of Hexham as Wilfrid's successor. He was responsible for adorning the church and for building oratories dedicated to the saints whose precious relics reposed there. For a reason which has been lost in the mists of history, St Acca was deprived of his cathedra and banished, and it seems certain the he was never restored, but on his death in A.D. 740, his body was honourably laid to rest in the church. Three centuries later, it was revealed to a pious priest that his relics should be taken up, and they were found to be incorrupt.

The Holy Martyrs Marcian and Martyrius (25th October/7th November) were clergymen in Constantinople and secretaries to the Patriarch, St Paul the Confessor, a hieromartyr whose feast day we celebrate on 6th November. St Marcian was a reader, and St Martyrius a subdeacon. When the Emperor St Constantine the Great died, his son Constantius took over the reins of government in the East, and he was favourable to the Arian heresy. Under the influence of two even more ardent Arians, the noblemen Eusebius and Philip, the new Emperor contrived to have the holy Patriarch deposed and sent into exile, where later he was slain, being strangled with his own omophorion. A new Patriarch, Macedonius, was installed and it seemed that the Arians had gained the upper hand. The two disciples of St Paul, however, remained steadfast in their adherence to Orthodoxy, even when they were offered bribes to change their allegiance. Eventually when the heretical party saw that they were unable to shake the faith of these righteous ones, they had them condemned to death, and they were beheaded with the sword in the year 355.

The Holy Hieromartyr Cyriacus and his Mother Anna (28th October/1Oth November) also lived in the first half of the fourth century. They were Jews living in Jerusalem, and at first Cyriacus was named Judas. He was able, through knowledge of a local tradition, to inform the Empress St Helena, where the True Cross of the Saviour was to be found. When the Cross was recovered, seeing the many miracles which were wrought by it, Judas and his mother converted and were baptised. Later he was ordained and consecrated as the Bishop of Jerusalem. During the reign of Julian the Apostate, in the persecution that he raised against the Christians, Sts Cyriacus and Anna received crowns of martyrdom. He was tortured for a long period and then placed in a large pan which was heated until he gave up his soul, and she was burned at the stake.

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