Venerable Theophanes the Merciful of Gaza

Commemorated on September 29

      The Venerable Theophanes was an inhabitant of the Syrian city of Gaza. He was very kind and merciful. He took in vagrants, he helped the poor and the sick, and he spent all his substance on help for the needy, while he himself remained in want. Saint Theophanes grieved not at all over the loss of his property, but a still greater ordeal awaited him: he lost his health, and sickness caused him great suffering. His body began to swell up, to rot, and to give off a stench. But this ordeal also the Venerable endured in good spirit, in everything giving thanks to God. A fiercesome storm raged while he was dying, and his wife grieved that she would not be able to give him proper burial. The saint comforted her: "Weep not, woman, for up to now the trial has lasted, but here doth come help from the Merciful God, since in the hour of my death wilt cease the storm, by the will of God". Thus it occurred: just as he gave up his soul to god, calmness prevailed. After death the body of Saint Theophanes became completely cleansed of wounds and decay and became fragrant, giving forth abundant curative myrh.

© 1996-2001 by translator Fr. S. Janos.