Baramhat 26 : The Departure of St. Euphrasia (Eupraxia), the virgin, and the Departure of Pope Peter VI, the One Hundred and Fourth Pope of Alexandria.
1. The Departure of St. Euphrasia (Eupraxia), the virgin.
On this day the blessed St. Euphrasia (Eupraxia) the virgin departed. She was the daughter of a noble family in the city of Rome, who was related to Emperor Honorius. Before her father's departure, he asked the Emperor to care for her.
Her mother went to Egypt to collect the revenues and rent of her estates and orchards, which her husband had left her. She took her daughter, who was nine years of age, with her, and they lodged in one of the houses of virgins. The nuns of that convent were on high degree of asceticism, piety and devoutness, they never ate food with meat, oil, fruits, at no time drank wine and slept on the floor.
Eupraxia loved the life in that convent, and she was pleased with the nun that served her. That nun told her: "Promise me that you will not leave this convent"; and she promised her that. When her mother finished her work that she came to achieve, her daughter refused to return with her and she said to her mother: "I have vowed myself to Christ, and I have no need for this world, for my true Bridegroom is the Lord Christ." When her mother knew that, she gave all her money and goods to the poor and needy, and she lived with her daughter in the convent for many years, then departed in peace.
When Emperor Honorius heard that, he sent asking for her. She answered back saying that she had vowed her self to the Lord Christ, and she can not break her covenant. The Emperor marveled at her wisdom and righteousness and allowed her to stay.
Eupraxia contended strenuously in the ascetic life, she fasted two days at a time, then three, then four, and afterwards she fasted for a week at a time, and during the Holy Lent she did not eat anything which was cooked. Satan was jealous of her, and he smote her with an illness in her feet, gave her pain for a long time, until God had compassion on her and healed her. God granted her the gift of healing the sick, and she was beloved by all the sisters and the abbess for her humility and obedience to them.
One night the abbess saw in a vision crowns which had been prepared, and she asked: "Who are these for?", and she was told: "These crowns for your daughter Eupraxia, she will be coming to us after a short while." The abbess told the nuns of the vision which she had seen, and commanded them not to tell Eupraxia about it. When her time came to depart of this world, she fell sick of a slight fever. The abbess and the nuns gathered around St. Eupraxia and asked her to remember them before the Divine Throne, then she departed in peace.
Then right after her departure the nun her friend departed, and shortly after, the abbess fell sick, so she gathered the nuns and told them: "Choose whom will be abbess over you, for I am going to the Lord." When they came on the following morning to visit her, they found that she had departed.
May their prayers be with us. Amen.
2. The Departure of Pope Peter VI, the One Hundred and Fourth Pope of Alexandria.
On this day also the church commemorates the departure of Pope Peter VI (Petros), the one hundred and fourth Patriarch in the year 1442 A.M. (April 2nd., 1726 A.D.). This blessed father and spiritual angel was the son of pure and Christian parents from the city of Assiut. They raised him well, educated him with ecclesiastic subjects and manners and he excelled in them. His name was Mourgan, but later on he became known by the name Peter El-Assuity. The grace of God was on him since his young age, and when he came to the age of maturity, he forsook the world and what in it, and longed to the monastic life. He went to the monastery of the great St. Antonios in the mount of El-Arabah, he dwelt there, became a monk and put on the monastic garb. He exerted himself in worship, and when he achieved the ascetic life, purity, righteousness, and humility, the fathers the monks chose him to be a priest. They took him against his will to Cairo, and he was ordained a priest, for the monastery of the great Saint Anba Paula the first hermit, among others, by the hand of Pope Yoannis El-Toukhy (13), in the church of the Lady the Virgin in Haret El-Roum. He increased in virtues and he became well known among the people.
When Pope Yoannis, the above mentioned, departed, the Chair became vacant after him for two month and six days. They went on looking for whom was fit for this honorable rank so they chose some priests and monks. They wrote their names on pieces of papers, placed them over the alter and celebrated the Divine Liturgy. On the third day after asking and supplicating God to raise the one He chooses, the lot fell on this father, so they realized that he was the chosen one by God. He was ordained Patriarch for the See of St. Mark on Sunday the 17th. of Mesra 1434 A.M. (August 21st., year 1718 A.D.) at the church of St. Marcuriusin Old Cairo. It was a great joy for his enthronement, which was attended by the Christian mass, foreign dignitaries, Catholics, Greeks, Armenians, and the military.
Afterwards, Pope Peter went to visit the cities of Lower Egypt, visited the churches, and at the end he arrived to Alexandria to visit the church of St. Mark the evangelist in the 11th. of Baramouda year 1438 A.M. He kissed the pure holy head of St. Mark, and he did extensive renovation inside the church. When he was about to return he was informed that a group in Alexandria planning to steal the holy head so he hid it in the monastery since that time. Then he gave a lamb made of silver as a gift and lit it over the tomb of the Evangelist, and he encircled it by a partition with windows looking inside. He went to Lower and Upper Egypt and the people of Egypt rejoiced.
During the days of this father, a group of priests and deacons came, delegated by the Emperor of Ethiopia, with extravagant gifts and a letter from the Emperor, asking for a Metropolitan. He deliberated the subject with Mr. Lotf-Allah Abu-Yousif a prominent notable of Cairo and others, and they all agreed on the honorable father Khristozolo bishop of Jerusalem. He was a blessed father, and knowledgeable teacher, so Pope Peter ordained him Metropolitan, and called him Khristozolo III. They went with him to Ethiopia happy and joyful, and he cared for that parish from 1720 - 1742 A.D. Pope Peter ordained Anba Athanasius bishop for Jerusalem.
During the papacy of this Pope many churches were built and consecrated with his blessed hand. Among those churches, the church of St. Mary on the Nile in the district of El-Maady, the church of Michael the archangel in Babylon, and the church of St. Mina the wonder worker in Fum El-Khalig - Cairo. The last two churches were built by the noble and charitable Mr. Lotf-Allah Abu-Yousif by his private funds, also he built the church of the Apostles in the monastery of St. Antonios, and also assumed and paid the cost of the enthronement festivals of the Patriarch.
The days of this Pope were peaceful and tranquil, and he worked on implementing the church cannons especially he stopped the divorce, for whatever the reason. For that purpose he went to the Governor Ebn-Eiwaz and discussed the subject with the Muslim scholars, so they gave him a formal legal opinion and a decree that the No Divorce only apply to the Christians, and no one can object him for that in courts. He ordered the priests not to wed except in his presence. That was because a man, who was the son of a priest, protested against him. The man had divorced his wife and married another without the Patriarch's knowledge in the church. He ordered them to come before him so he might dissolve the illegal marriage, but the man refused and did not come. The Pope excommunicated the man, his wife and his father the priest for he had married them. This man died after sever illness in his mouth, and his father the priest went to the Pope, asked for his forgiveness, the Pope absolved him and shortly after he died.
This pope shepherded the flock of Christ with the best of care, and when he completed his strife, he fell sick for a short sickness and departed on the 26th. of Baramhat, year 1442 A.M. in the Holy Lent. His body was placed in the tomb of the Patriarchs in the church of St. Marcurius in Old Cairo. He remained on the Chair for 7 years, 7 month and 11 days. He was charitable, generous and merciful to his people as his predecessor. Pope Peter (Petros) El-Assuity was approximately forty six years old, and he was a contemporary of Sultan Ahmed III the Ottoman. The Chair remained vacant for 9 month and 11 days after him.
The year this pope departed, there was an outbreak of Plaque in the land along with severe drought, many bishops and priests departed and death befell the people from Alexandria to Aswan.
May the lord have mercy on his people and benefit us with the prayers and blessings of Pope Petros El-Asuity, and Glory be to God forever. Amen.