Beyond the Coptic Orthodox Church
St. Mina in Other Churches Around the World
[Translation from E.A.W. Budge (1909), pp. 39-43]
The fifteenth Day of Khadār
On this day Saint Mīnās, the interpretation of whose name is "faithful and blessed", became a martyr. The father of this holy man was one of the men of the city of Nākīūyōs, whose name was 'Awdōkyōs (Eudoxius), and he was a prefect and governor. And his brother was jealous of him, and made an accusation against him to the king, who sent him away to the country of Afrākya (Phrygia), and appointed him governor over that country. And the people of that country rejoiced in him, for he was a merciful man, and he feared God. Now the mother of Saint Mīnās had no child. And one day, on the festival of our holy Lady the Virgin Mary, she went to church, and she saw the sons of the church wearing fine apparel, and coming to church, and she cried out and wept before the image of our holy Lady the Virgin Mary, and she entreated her to make supplication to God on her behalf that He might give her a son. And there went forth a voice from the image of our holy Lady the Virgin Mary, saying, "Amen." And she told her husband of the voice which she had heard from the image of our Lady Mary; and her husband said unto her, "The Will of God be done." And after a few days God gave her this holy son, and she called his name "Mīnās", according to the voice which she had heard from the image of our Lady Mary.
And when he had grown up a little Eudoxius taught him the Scriptures and spiritual doctrine. And when he was eleven years old, his father died, being a very old man. And about three years later his mother died; and Saint Mīnās was left by himself, fasting and praying. And although the officers, on account of their great love for his father, gave him his father's position, he would not forsake the worship of Christ.
And when Diocletian denied [Christ] he commanded all the people to worship idols, and many became martyrs for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory! And at that time Mīnās left his appointment, and departed to the desert, and he dwelt [there] many days, contending greatly. And one day he saw heaven open, and the martyrs crowned with beautiful crowns, and he heard a voice which said unto him, "He who laboureth for the Name of Jesus Christ, to whom be glory! shall receive crowns like unto these." And he returned to the city and confessed the Name of Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory! And many men received him because they knew that he belonged to a noble family. And the governor promised him rich apparel and many great honours, but he would neither hearken to his command, nor turn from his excellent counsel. And straightway the governor commanded him to be beaten with a severe beating, and when the men were worn out with torturing him, the governor commanded them to cut off his head with a sword. And they cut off his head straightway, and he received the crowns of martyrdom in the kingdom of the heavens. And many men became martyrs because of him, and for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be glory!
Now the governor had commanded them to cast the body of the holy man into the fire, but [certain] believing men took the body of the holy man out of the fire, which had neither touched it nor harmed it, and no injury whatsoever had come upon it. And they laid it up in a certain place until the end of the days of persecution.
And in those days the men of the region of Maryt (Mareotis) wished to collect a troop of men from the Five Cities, and they took the body of Saint Mīnās with them that it might be unto them a help, and might protect them on the way. And as they were sitting in the ship, the body of Saint Mīnās being with them, beasts came up out of the sea, and their faces were like unto the faces of serpents, and their necks like unto those of camels. And they stretched out their necks to the body of the holy man, and licked it; and the men were afraid with a great fear. And there went forth fire from the body of the holy man and consumed the faces of the beasts. And when they had come to the city of Alexandria, and had finished their business, they wanted to return to their country, and to take the body of Saint Mīnās with them. And when they had set his body upon a camel that camel would not rise up; and though they beat the camel with a severe beating he would not move at all. And they knew that this was the will of God, and they built a shrine over the saint, and buried him therein, and departed.
And God wished to reveal the [place of the] body of Saint Mīnās. And there was in that desert a certain shepherd, and one day a sheep which was suffering from the disease of the scab went to that place, and dipped himself in the water of the little spring which was near the place, and he rolled about in it and was healed straightway. And when the shepherd saw this thing, and understood the miracle, he marvelled exceedingly and was astonished. And [afterwards he used to take some of the dust from that shrine, and mix it with water, and rub it on the sheep, and if they were ill with the scab, they were straightway healed thereby. And this he used to do at all times, and he healed all the sick who came to him by this means.
And the king of Constantinople heard the report of this matter. And he had an only daughter who was suffering from a disease of the skin, and he sent her to that place, but she was unwilling to take off her apparel before the men. And she asked the shepherd in what way he worked, and how he healed the sick, and the shepherd told her how he did it. And she took dust from that place, and mixed it with water from the spring, and she rubbed the whole of her body wherewith. Now she slept that night in that place. And Saint Mīnās appeared unto her, and said unto her, "When thou risest up in the morning, dig, and thou shalt find my body"; and straightway she was healed of her sickness. And having risen up, being healed of her sickness, she commanded them to dig in that place, and immediately they found the body of Saint Mīnās. And she rejoiced exceedingly with great joy, and she sent a letter to her father and made this matter known unto him. And the king built a church over the body of the saint.
And a beautiful church was also buit to him in that place in the days of the righteous Emperors Arcadius (395-408) and Honorius, who commanded them to build a great city there; and a great city was built there according as the righteous Emperors had commanded. And they laid the body of Saint Mīnās in that church, and signs and great wonders were made manifest through his body. And people of all kinds used to cone into that Church, and they were healed of their sicknesses, and signs and wonders were made manifest in that church. And Satan was envious, and stirred up certain evil men of the city, and they destroyed the church, and laid waste the city, and carried away the body of Saint Mīnās. And other men built a church to him there, and they laid his body in it, and there more signs and more mighty wonders took place than before. May his blessing be with us.
Holy Martyr Menas
N.B.: The Coptic Orthodox Church portrays the saint as a dark-haired, clean-shaven young man who was in his twenties when he was martyred. The Greek Orthodox Church on the other hand portrays the saint as an older man with gray hair and a beard.
Plagal of the Fourth Tone
As godly-minded athletes and Martyrs who strove for piety, the Church doth honour and glorify this day the godly contests and travails of Menas the prizewinner, noble Victor, brave Vincent, and valiant Stephanie, and lovingly doth cry out and glorify Christ, the Friend of man.
Saint Menas, who had Egypt as his fatherland, contested in Cotyaeion of Phrygia in 296 during the reign of Diocletian and Maximian. A soldier distinguished for his valour in war, he renounced his rank and withdrew to devote himself to ascetical struggles and prayer in the mountains. Filled with zeal and more than human courage, he presented himself in the mids of a pagan festival in Cotyaeion and declared himself to be a Christian. After terrible torments which he endured with astonishing courage, he was beheaded. His martyrium in Egypt became a place of universal pilgrimage; evidence of ancient journeys to his shrine have been found as far away as Ireland. The glory and refuge of the Christians of Egypt, he has been revealed to be a worker of great miracles and a swift defender for all who call on him with faith; besides all else, he is also invoked for help in finding lost objects.
Excerpts from a Greek Orthodox Calendar of Saints (11 November) in Arabic
Excerpts from the Catholic Encyclopaedia
Catholic Encyclopaedia: St. Menas
Martyr under Diocletian, about 295. According to the Greek Acts published with Latin translation in "Analecta Bollandiana", III 258 (Surlus XI 241), Menas a Christian and an Egyptian by birth served in the Roman army under the tribune Firmilian. When the army came to Cotyaeus in Phrygia, Menas hearing of the impious edicts issued against the Christians by the Emperors Diocletian and Maximian left the army, retired to a solitude in the mountains and served God by fasting vigils and prayer. During the celebration of a great festival Menas appeared in the midst of the populace in the circus, and fearlessly professed his faith. He was led before the prefect Pyrrhus, cruelly scourged, put to torture and finally beheaded. His body was brought to Egypt and the martyr was soon invoked in many needs and afflictions. The fame of the miracles wrought, spread far and wide and thousands of pilgrims came to the grave in the desert of Mareotis between Alexandria and the valley of Natron. For centuries Bumma (Karm-Abum-Abu Mina) was a national sanctuary and grew into a large city with costly temples a holy well, and baths. A beautiful basilica was erected by the Emperor Arcadius. The cult was spread into other countries, perhaps by travelling merchants who honoured him as their patron. As a result of various vicissitudes the doctrinal disputes and the conquest of Egypt by the Arabians under Omar in 641 the sanctuary was neglected and ultimately forgotten. During 1905 Mgr C.M. Kaufmann of Frankfort led an expedition into Egypt which made excavations at Bumma. He found in a vast field of ruins, the grave, the well and thermae, the basilica, the monastery, numerous inscriptions on the walls imploring aid through the intercession of the saint, and thousands of little water pitchers and oil lamps. The rich finds are partly in the Museum of Alexandria and Cairo, and partly in Frankfort and Berlin. The monsignor published an official report of his expedition in 1908, "La découverte des Sanctuaires de Menas dans le désert de Mareotis". His feast is celebrated on 11 November. Several saints of the name Menas were highly honoured in the ancient Church about whose identity or diversity much dispute is raised. Delahaye (Anal. Boll., XXIX, 117) comes to the conclusion that Menas of Mareotis, Menas of Cotyaes, and Menas of Constantinople, surnamed Kallikelados, are one and the same person, that he was an Egyptian and suffered martyrdom in his native place, that a basilica was built over his grave which became one of the great sanctuaries of Christendom, that churches were built in his honour at Cotyaeus and Constaninople, and gave rise to local legends.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume X
Catholic Encyclopaedia: The Oil of St. Menas
In 1905-8, thousands of little flasks with the inscription: EULOGIA TOU AGIOU MENA (Remembrance of St. Menas), or the like were excavated by C.M. Kaufmann at Baumma (Karm Abum) in the desert of Mareotis, in the northern part of the Libyan (Egyptian Western) desert. The present Bumma is the burial place of the martyr Menas, which during the fifth and perhaps the sixth century was one of the most famous pilgrimage places in the Christian world. The flasks of St. Menas were well known for a long time to archeologists, and had been found not only in Africa, but also in Spain, Italy, Dalmatia, France, and Russia, whither they had been brought by pilgrims from the shrine of Menas. Until the discoveries of Kaufmann, however, the flasks were supposed to have contained oil from the lamps that burned at the sepulchre of Menas. From various inscriptions on the flasks that were excavated by Kaufmann, it is certain that at least some, if not all, of them contained water from a holy well near the shrine of St. Menas, and were given as remembrances to the pilgrims. The so-called oil of St. Menas was therefore in reality, water from his holy well, which was used as a remedy against bodily and spiritual ailments.
The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI
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This page was last modified November 11, 2005