Abib 7 : The Departure of St. Shenouda (Shenoute), the Archimandrite, and the Martyrdom of St Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, in Rome.
1. The Departure of St. Shenouda (Shenoute), the Archimandrite.
On this day, the ascetic father, St. Shenouda (Shenoute), the Archimandrite, departed. This father was born in the city of Shandaweil (Shenalolet) in the district of Akhmim. His father was a farmer, who owned flocks of sheep.
When Shenouda grew up, his father entrusted him with the care of the sheep. He tended to the sheep, gave his food to the shepherd, and he spent his day fasting. His father took him to his uncle Anba Bgoul (Bigal) to bless him. Anba Bgoul laid the boy's hands on his own head and said, "You bless me, my child, for you will be a father for many peoples." His father left him with his uncle and returned home. One day he heard a voice from heaven saying, "Shenouda has become the Archimandrite." Since that time, he exerted himself with many worships and intense asceticism. When Anba Bgoul (Bigal) departed, Shenouda replaced him. He followed the monastic communal rules that were formulated by St. Pakhom, and he added to them a pledge the monk had to sign before joining the monastery.
The number of monks during his days reached 1800 monks. That monastery, still standing west of the city of Souhag, has a church and is known as the monastery of Anba Bishoy.
Anba Shenouda had built another monastery, the number of its monks reached 2200 monks, which is still standing and is known as the monastery of Anba Shenouda.
Once, an army commander asked Anba Shenouda to lend him his girdle to wear during the war so that God might make him victorious. The Saint gave it to him and the commander overcame his enemies.
Anba Shenouda became a shining light to all the world with his sermons, discourses, and canons that he put for the good of the monks, hierarchies, and laity, men and women. He attended the Council of the two hundred that gathered at Ephesus with the holy father Anba Kyrillos (24th), and he admonished Nestorius the heretic. Before his departure, he asked his disciples to support him so that he might worship his creator. He worshiped God and then commanded them to follow his footsteps and told them, "I commit you to God" then he departed in peace.
May his prayers be with us. Amen.
2. The Martyrdom of St Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, in Rome.
On this day also, St. Ignatius was martyred in Rome in the year 17 A.D. He was chosen Bishop for Antioch, succeeding St. Peter the Apostle, in the year 69 A.D., during the reign of Emperor Trajan. When the Emperor heard that this Saint had attracted many by his teachings to believe in the Lord Christ, he brought him and asked him, "Are you Ignatius the Theophoros?" He replied, "Yes, I am." The Emperor inquired about the meaning of his name. The saint replied saying, "It means 'God-bearer.'" The Emperor said, "Do you think that we do not carry our gods to support us in wars?" The Saint answered, "How can these statues be gods? Listen, there is no God except the only God that created the Heaven and Earth, and His Son Jesus Christ who was incarnated to save mankind. So if you had believed in Him, you would be content now in your kingship."
The emperor attempted to persuade him to forsake Christianity, but he refused. The Emperor was enraged, ordered him bound with fetters, and taken to Rome to be thrown to the beasts. Ignatius responded by kissing the fetters that would be his means of receiving the crown of martyrdom. The believers tried to save him by paying bribes to the soldiers, but he refused, for he was yearning for martyrdom.
He went on his way to Izmir (Smyrna), where he wrote a letter to the Christians of Rome that said in it: "I am afraid that your love may be harmful. If you wish to prevent my death, that will not be difficult for you. But allow me to be slaughtered wherever the altar has been prepared .. I am wheat which must be ground, to make bread, to be offered to Jesus Christ. Whenever the people will not behold me anymore, I will behold our Lord Jesus Christ."
When he arrived in Rome, they threw him to the beasts. A lion attacked him and grabbed him by his neck. The Saint delivered up his soul in the hand of the Lord. Then the lion released him and went back to his place, and the believers came and carried his body with great honor to a place they prepared for him in Antioch.
May his prayers be with us, and Glory be to God forever. Amen.
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