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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Saints of Gaza

Saint Agapius of Palestine

Saint Agapius of Palestine (Greek Άγιος Αγάπιος, from the Gr. αγάπη, love) was a Christian martyr from Gaza, beheaded along with seven others by order of Urban, governor of Palestine, in the year 303 or 304 under the Great Persecution of Diocletian. Eusebius records that Timolaus of Pontus, Dionysius from Tripolis in Phœnicia, Romulus, said to have been sub-deacon of the parish of Diospolis, Plæsius of Egypt, and two men named Alexander, one from Gaza and the other from Gazahad. These six young men bound themselves and surrendered to Urban in the hopes of becoming martyrs. They openly professed their Christianity and said that their faith made them unafraid of the wild animals of the arena. Urban had them put into prison. A few days later they were joined by two others, one a certain Dionysius, and the other Agapius, who is said to have been tortured in the past for his faith. All eight were beheaded in Caesarea Maritima on the same day.

His feast day is observed on March 24. The Greek Orthodox Church observes his feast on March 15.

Saint Porphyry of Gaza

Saint Porphyry (or Saint Porphyrius) (Greek: Πορφύριος, Porphyrios; Latin: Porphyrius; Slavonic: Порфирий, Porfiriy) (ca. 347–420), Bishop of Gaza 395–420, known from the account in his Life for Christianizing the recalcitrant pagan city of Gaza, and demolishing its temples.

Porphyry of Gaza is known to us only from the vivid biography by Mark the Deacon. The Vita Porphyrii appears to be a contemporary account of Porphyry that chronicles in some detail the end of paganism in Gaza in the early fifth century. However the text has been identified in the 20th century as hagiography rather than history and some elements of it are certainly examples of the stereotyped events characteristic of this form of fiction.[2] On the other hand the author was certainly intimately familiar with Gaza in late Antiquity,[3] and his statements are of interest at least as reflecting attitudes in the 5th century. A street in the village of Zejtun, Malta, bears his name.

His feast day is observed on February 26.

Saint Vitalis of Gaza

Saint Vitalis of Gaza (died c. 625 AD) is venerated as a hermit-saint by the Catholic Church. A monk of Gaza, he travelled to the city of Alexandria at the age of sixty. His legend states that after obtaining the name and address of every prostitute in the city, he hired himself out as a day laborer, and took his wage to one of these women at the end of the day. He then would teach her about her dignity and value as a woman and that she did not deserve to be used by men as an object of their lust.

This practice was condoned by the Church, and many prostitutes in the city abandoned their profession and became good wives and mothers. Vitalis was killed when a man, misunderstanding the nature of Vitalis' visit to a brothel, struck him on the head. The monk managed to return to his hut where he died. Apparently during his burial, former prostitutes came out to explain the saint's works before processing with candles and lanterns as his body was carried to the grave. Saint Vitalis of Gaza is the patron saint of prostitutes and day-laborers.

In the Eastern calendar, his feast day occurs on April 22.

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