Phocas the Martyr

August 2

Reading

Saint Phocas was a gardener in a small village on the south coast of the Black Sea. He lived a simple life, carrying out acts of piety and love for all around him, even serving the pagans of the village, some of who left their ways and followed Christ. The local governor heard of this and sent soldiers to kill him. The saint stumbled upon these very soldiers and, without disclosing his name, ministered to them by receiving them into his home, feeding them, and giving them rest. That night he dug a grave for himself in his garden and prepared for all his possessions to be given away after his death.

The next morning, Phocas disclosed to the soldiers that it was he whom they were seeking to kill. The soldiers were distraught, not wanting to kill the saint who had shown them so much kindness. Phocas insisted that they must carry out their mission as he willingly laid his head beneath the sword. They proceeded to execute him and then bury him in the grave he dug in his garden. The site later became a source of miracles, and eventually a Church was erected upon it. Saint Phocas is frequently invoked for those who travel by sea. His life was recorded by Saint Asterius of Amasia (see October 10th).