Saint of the Day – 26 February – Saint Porphyrius of Gaza (Died 420) Bishop of Gaza from 395 to 420, known, from the account in his Life, for Christianising the recalcitrant pagan City of Gaza in Palestine and demolishing its pagan temples. Previously he had been a Hermit. Born in Greece and died in 420. Also known as – Porphyry.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “At Gaza, in Palestine, in the time of the Emperor Arcadius, St Porphyry, Bishop, who overthrew the idol Marnas and its temple and after many sufferings, went to rest in the Lord.”
Porphyrius of Gaza is known only from a vivid biography by Mark the Deacon, who had worked with his Bishop, Porphyrius in their work of evangelising the pagans of Gaza. There is also a reference made of the life of Porphyrius by St John II, Bishop of Jerusalem (died 417).
After five years in the Egyptian desert of Scete, Porphyrius livedfor another five years in a cave near the Jordan River. In spite of his impaired health, he frequently visited the scene of the Crucifixiob and Resurrection. Here he met the Mark, at a later date to become the Deacon of his Church and his biographer. According to the Mark’s Vita, Porphyrius was appointed Bishop at the age of 45. Although a reluctant Bishop, he took to his Episcopal elevation with great zeal and devotion. He converted almost all of his Diocese and almost entirely eliminated paganism in his See.
To effect the sale of the property still owned by Porphyrius in his native City, Mark set out for Thessalonica and, upon his return, the proceeds were distributed among the Monasteries of Egypt and among those in need in and around Jerusalem.
In 392 Porphyrius was Ordained to the Priesthood and the Relic of the Holy Cross was intrusted to his care. In 395 he became Bishop of Gaza, a stronghold of paganism, with an insignificant Christian community. The attitude of the pagan population was hostile so that the Bishop appealed to the Emperor for protection and pleaded, repeatedly, for the destruction of pagan temples. He finally obtained an imperial Edict ordering the destruction of pagan sanctuaries at Gaza. A Christian Church was erected on the site of the temple of Marnas.
In 415 Porphyrius attended the Council of Diospolis.
The Saint’s body is said to be buried in Saint Porphyrius’ Church, in Gaza City.
The “Vita St Porphyrii” of Mark the Deacon, formerly known only in a Latin translation, was published in 1874 in its original Greek text and a new edition was issued in 1895 in English.
You must be logged in to post a comment.