The Commemoration of the Great Sign, the Lord had Manifested During the Papacy of St. Theophilus
On this day, the church celebrates the commemoration of the great miracle which God performed during the papacy of St. Theophilus, the twenty-third pope of Alexandria. There was in the city of Alexandria, a Jewish man whose name was Philexinos. He was very rich, feared God and practiced the Law of Moses. There was also in the city two poor Christian men, one of them blasphemed saying, "Why do we worship Christ and remain poor, while this Jewish man Philexinos is very rich?" The other man answered him saying, "The possessions of this world are nothing before God, for if it was, He would not give it to the worshippers of idols, adulterers, thieves, and murderers. The prophets were poor and persecuted, as also the apostles were, and the Lord said, 'the least of these my brethren'" (Matthew 25:40). Satan, the enemy of good, would not permit that man to accept any of the words of his friend. The rebellious friend went to Philexinos the Jew and asked him to accept him as his servant. Philexinos replied, "It is not lawful for me to employ anyone unless he believes in my faith, but if you want alms, I can give some to you." This miserable man replied, "Take me to your house, and I will adopt your faith and I will do whatsoever you command me."
Philexinos took him to the synagogue and the chief of the Jews asked him before all the Jewish congregation saying, "Is it true that you have denied your Christ and become a Jew like us?" He replied, "Yes," and that debased man rejected Christ the Lord before the Jewish congregation. Thus to poverty in money he added poverty in Faith. Then the chief of the Jews commanded them to make for him a cross of wood. They gave him a reed, on the top of which was a sponge full of vinegar, and a spear. Then they said to him, "Spit upon this cross, offer to him this vinegar, and pierce the cross with this spear and say, 'I pierce you O Christ.'" That debased man did everything as they commanded him. When he pierced the honorable cross with his sinful hand, blood and water flowed forth, and ran down on the ground. Then this apostate dropped dead instantly, and dried up like a rock.
Great fear fell upon all those who were present, many of them believed and cried, saying, "One is the Lord God of the Christians, and we believe in Him." Then they took the blood, and anointed their faces and eyes with it. Philexinos took also some of the blood and sprinkled it on his daughter who was born blind, and she saw straightway. He believed as well as his household, and many others of the Jews. Afterwards, they informed Pope Theophilus about this incident. He took Abba Kyrellos (Pope Kyrellos I), many of the priests and people, and went to the synagogue of the Jews, where he saw the cross, the blood and water. The Pope took the blood and water, blessed himself and also blessed the people. He wiped the blood from the floor, and laid it in a vessel for blessing. He ordered the wooden cross carried to the church. Afterwards those present confessed their faith before the Pope who baptized them in the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and blessed them. Then they went to their homes giving thanks to the Lord Christ and glorifying his Holy Name.
Glory be to our God forever. Amen.
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