1. On this day of 327 A.D., St. Helena the Empress, departed. She was born in the city of Raha (Edessa) for Christian parents about the year 247 A.D. They brought her up in a Christian manner, taught her the doctrine of the church and the religious ethics. She was very beautiful. When Emperor Constantius the First, Emperor of Byzantium, came to the city of Raha, and heard about this Saint, he sought her out and married her. She gave birth to Constantine who became the first Christian Emperor. She raised him up well, and taught him philosophy, wisdom and knighthood. During the reign of her son, she saw a vision at night as if one said to her: "Go to Jerusalem and search carefully for the Honorable Cross and the Holy places." When she informed her son about this, he sent her with many soldiers to Jerusalem.
She searched for the wood of the Honorable Cross until she found it along with the other two crosses whereon the two thieves were crucified. She wanted to know which was the cross of the Lord Christ. St. Macarius, bishop of Jerusalem, told her that it was the cross that was written on the top of it: "This is Jesus, king of the Jews." She asked him that she wished to see a miracle to make sure that it was the cross of the Lord. By the Will of God, a procession of a dead man was passing by at that time. She placed the other two crosses on the body of the dead man, but he did not rise. When she placed the third cross, straightway the dead rose up. Her faith increased and her joy multiplied. She built many churches as it is written under the 17th. day of the month of Tute. She gave the needed money to build the churches to St. Macarius, she took the honorable Cross and the nails and returned to her righteous son Emperor Constantine. He kissed the Cross and placed it in a case made of gold and decorated with precious stones, and placed some of the nails in his helmet.
St. Helena led a righteous life, and she endowed many endowments for the churches, monasteries and the poor. She departed at age of eighty.
May her prayers be with us. Amen.
2. On this day also of the year 1168 A.M. (May 4th., 1452 A.D.) Pope Yoannis the eleventh, the 89th. Patriarch of Alexandria, departed. He was known as Yoannis El-Maksi for he was from El-Maksa in Cairo. His name was Farag before his ordination. He was enthroned Patriarch on the 16th. of Bashans, 1143 A.M. (May 11th., 1427 A.D.). He sat on the throne of St. Mark for 24 years, 11 month, and 23 days. His residence was in the patriarchal cell in Haret Zewala. When he departed, he was buried in the tomb of the monastery of El-Khandak. The Chair remained unoccupied after his departure, for four month and six days. He was contemporary to the rulers El-Ashraf, El-Aziz, El-Zaher, and El-Mansour. He encountered many hardships that required the intervention of the kings of Ethiopia who threatened the Egyptian government to cut the flow of the Nile because of the persecution of El-Nasara (The Copts, the Nazarenes). The Patriarch was forbidden to communicate with the kings of Ethiopia and Nubia without the permission and knowledge of the rulers of the government.
May his prayers be with us. Amen.
3. On this day also of the year 1319 A.M. (May 14th., 1603 A.D.), Pope Gabriel the eighth, the 97th. Patriarch of Alexandria, departed during the reign of Sultan Ahmad the first, the Ottoman. He was from Meer, and became a monk in Anba Bishoy monastery in the wilderness of Sheahat (Scetis). His name was Shenouda, and was ordained Patriarch on sunday the 16th. of Baounah 1303 A.M. (June 20th., 1587 A.D.). The enthronement celebration was headed by Anba Zacharias, Bishop of Jerusalem, and Anba Kyrellos El-Khiami, in the church of St. Mercurius in Old Cairo. At the time of his ordination, the Copts were divided, and they chose for themselves four patriarchs, and they deposed him. He returned later on to his Chair at the time of Sultan Mourad the third, the Ottoman and his papacy was confirmed.
It came to pass (As was written in a document in St. Antonios monastery) that he decreed that the fast of the Apostles must start on the 21st. of Baounah until the 5th. of Abib, and that there should be no fasting during the three days of Nineva, the Advent fast should start on the first of Kiahk, and that the fast of the Virgin be left optional. All the Copts at that time approved what he had decreed. However, after his departure, they returned back to the old tradition of fasting.
He departed in the monastery of the Virgin Mary known as El-Sourian, after he had been on the throne of St. Mark for fifteen years, ten month, and twenty four days.
May his prayers be with us and glory be to God forever. Amen.
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