Saturday, July 23, 2011
July 23 -- Feast of Saint Phocas the Gardener
A few saints named Phocas seem to have gotten wrapped up together as stories were repeated, but the untangling hagiographers seem most sure of this tale.
Phocas was a Christian, living near the Turkish seaport of Sinope during the reign of Trajan. He was a famous gardener, and generously gave surplus produce to the needy in town. Since Trajan had ordered the death of Christians, some soldiers rolled into Sinope and soon learned of this gardener. They set out to find him, reaching his farm sometime around dusk.
Without identifying himself, Phocas promised to guide the soldiers to the gardening Christian in the morning. Then he invited them in, gave them supper, and let them sleep in his house. He slipped outside, dug his own grave, and spent the night praying. In the morning, he identified himself, led the soldiers to the grave he dug, and knelt for his beheading.
Posted by Tom Major at 5:37 AM