Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States

Commentary: St. Abanoub

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Regardless of what age one is or stage of life they are going through, it is vitally imperative to realize, understand, and appreciate the fact that the Lord God is working in each one of us through the Holy Spirit, which lives in and enlightens each one of us through our actions, thoughts, words, and personalitiesevery second, every minute, every hour, every dayas well as in good times and through difficult times. It is also important to know and comprehend that God is, as some say, testing each one of us. The tests are there to measure the truth and sincerity of our relationship with God. If you always keep in mind that every single situation that occurs in our lives comes from God, and know that God loves each one of us more than can be measured in terms of our earthly understanding, then there will also reside within our hearts and minds: spiritual peace, comfort, success, and guidance. I have recently adopted a new saying in my daily life that I heard somewhere else and it states,

If God brings you TO it, He will get you THROUGH it!

Knowing that, all situations can be approached as a little message that God desires to speak to us. There is a lot to be said regarding hardships in our lives. In fact, idealistically, one could say that it is more beneficial to fail or suffer than to experience only good or success. Why? Because when only good or successful times are experienced, one generally does not take the time to thank God for the beneficial outcomes/result or take the time to learn from its details. While on the other hand, when God presents to us failure or difficult situations in our lives, they are meant to shape us in His image and guide us to fulfill His will and commandments and possibly back onto the right path, one that we may have not realized we were straying from.

For instance, as in the situation that St. Abanoub was in from his youth, how would we personally have answered Gods call to witness or stand firm in our own faith? Imagine being surrounded by destruction (of churches) and death of your friends, families, church servants and church fathers. Imagine with that, being subjected to cruel and unusual punishment on the basis of what you believe in/your faith. Isnt that similar to what the Lord Jesus Christ suffered for us? Did the Lord Jesus Christ deserve any single, spiteful action that was taken against Him? The answer is simplyNO. Would these types of circumstances cause YOU to back down from your faith? Would it cause you to question Gods actions and intentions? Or would it make you stronger in your trust, dedication, and love of God? Stronger because you know that God is personally speaking to you because of His love for each of us. These are the types of questions that we always need to be thinking about in our every day dealings in this world, which is not the permanent world. We always need to keep in mind that the things of this earth (good and bad), remain with the earth, after we pass on. The goal of this temporary assignment here on this earth is to fulfill God commandments, be cities on hills with our ever bright lights, and reaffirm our true sincerity in our dealings with God. Whenever you are in question with respect of how to respond to a (difficult) situation, do as St. Abanoub did and pray, but pray from within the heart, not just to edify oneself or fulfill ones duty. And if you truly feel there is no solution, then

P.U.S.H. Pray Until Something Happens

God Bless the Coptic Orthodox Church, all His churches, all the church fathers, all the servants, and all the saints.

St. Abanoub
Martyred on the 24th Day of Epep

+ St. Abanoub was born in a town called Nehisa in the Nile Delta of Egypt, the only child of good Christian parents who died when he was a young boy. At the age of twelve, St. Abanoub entered the church and heard the priest asking the congregation to remain faithful throughout the persecutions that were taking place at the hands of Diocletion the Roman Emperor. The priest warned the congregation from worshipping idols and encouraged them to deliver themselves to death for the sake of the Lord. During the reign of Diocletion, thousands of Christians were martyred for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

+ St. Abanoub received the Holy Sacraments and prayed to God to guide him to where he could show his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. He then went out and sold all of his possessions to the poor, and set off to a city called Samanoud on foot. As he was walking, he saw the Archangel Michael before him. Because the sight was so amazing, St. Abanoub fell to the ground, but the Archangel Michael picked him up and told him he must suffer for three days in Samanoud and be a witness to the Lord Jesus Christ in other places as well.

+ Once in Samanoud, St. Abanoub went before the Roman ruler Lucianus and openly declared his faith and insulted the idols that the ruler worshipped. Lucianus was enraged and gave orders for his soldiers to whip St. Abanoubs stomach. The soldiers beat him so severely that his intestines poured out of his stomach. After this, the Archangel Michael miraculously healed his terrible wounds. St. Abanoub was thrown in jail with other Christians who became encouraged by his presence and were later martyred for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

+ The next day, Lucianus took St. Abanoub on a boat to a city called Atrib, and in order to punish the young boy, he hung St. Abanoub upside down from the mast of the ship. The soldiers and their ruler rejoiced on the boatdrinking, dancing, and repeatedly hitting St. Abanoub on the mouth. St. Abanoubs nose started to bleed, but then unexpectedly, the soldiers became paralyzed. In their agony, they begged St. Abanoub to pray to his God to heal them. They promised that if they were cured, they would become Christians. St. Abanoub replied saying, This will only happen in Atrib, so that everyone there should know that theres no other God but the Lord Jesus Christ. When the boat arrived in Atrib, they were all healed and cried with joy, We are Christians! We believe in the God of Abanoub! The soldiers then took off their uniforms and threw them down in front of the governor of Atrib. The governor was very angry and ordered them all to be killed.

+ In Atrib, St. Abanoub was severely torturedby being whipped and sometimes by being tied to his steel bed and having a fire ignited beneath him. Throughout all of these tribulations, the Lord showed his power and St. Abanoub was saved each time. Because of these miracles, many onlookers became Christians and received the crown of martyrdom. Not to be deterred, the governor ordered that St. Abanoubs hands and feet be cut off. When this was done, an Angel of the Lord came down from Heaven, replaced St. Abanoubs hands and feet, and completely healed the young boy. After this, St. Abanoub arose and walked in front of everybody. Hundreds of people became Christians as a result of this miracle.

+ Frustrated, the ruler called on the best magicians in the world, asking them to help him defeat St. Abanoub. They suggested that he be thrown to poisonous snakes which had enough poison to kill two or three hundred men, they claimed. The ruler put St. Abanoub in a cell with these snakes, but God, who shut the mouths of the lions at the time of Daniel, tamed the snakes so that St. Abanoub was not harmed. In the morning, to everybodys astonishment, St. Abanoub came out of the cell alive. One of the snakes slithered out of the cell behind St. Abanoub and coiled itself around the rulers neck. He started shaking and cried to St. Abanoub, In the name of the Lord Jesus, your God, be merciful to me and dont let the snake harm me. St. Abanoub, who loved everyonefriend or enemyjust as the Holy Bible commands, prayed from his heart and ordered the snake to come down and not injure the ruler. On that day again, many people who were present, including the three magicians, believed in the Lord Jesus Christ.

+ Finally, one of the rulers advisors suggested that in order to put an end to this episode, St. Abanoub should be beheaded, and so the ruler ordered the soldiers to kill St. Abanoub by the sword. He was only twelve years old when the Roman ruler martyred him. A faithful man named St. Julius El Akfahsi wrapped St. Abanoubs body in fine linen and sent him to his hometown of Nehisa where he was buried. St. Julius also wrote a biography about the brave, young saint.

+ In 960 AD, St. Abanoubs body was transferred to St. Virgin Mary Church in Samanoud, where it still lies until today. Throughout the years, St. Abanoub has appeared many times in this church. It is also said that the Holy Family visited this place during their flight to Egypt. The church still contains the well from which Jesus, St. Mary, and St. Joseph drank. Numerous apparitions and miracles occur at this church.

+ St. Abanoub has had many apparitions over years in his church in Samanoud. He often appears as a 12 year old child and has performed many miracles.

+ A well-known bishop visited from Montreal and spoke about the miracles that he has witnessed. He said, One day, I was visiting Samanoud, and I participated in celebrating the Divine Liturgy in St. Virgin Mary and St. Abanoub Church. The Divine Liturgy was in the middle of the week and was attended by very few people. After we finished, I told the priest that I really enjoyed praying the Divine Liturgy in the church, except for one thing; I added that throughout the prayers a young boy kept coming in and out of the front door. The priest told me that he did not see any young children, and that few grown-ups attended the Divine Liturgy. Then he concluded that the young boy was St. Abanoub.

+ Another man said that after he attended Divine Liturgy at the church he went on his way carrying a briefcase. It was raining, and I slipped and fell into a puddle. Then a young boy came out running at me, and helped me get on my feet. He handed me my briefcase, and told me to cross to the other side of the road. I was surprised to find out that my clothes and my briefcase were completely dry. Then I looked for the little boy, but he had disappeared.

+ There is no doubt that there are many more stories just like these that have gone unreported. St. Abanoub, the faithful young saint, continues to perform wonders and miracles for many, many people until this day.

+ May the prayers and supplications of this great martyr, the child St. Abanoub, be with us, Amen.

Church Identity through Persecution

The Egyptians or the Copts accepted Christianity so very rapidly to the extent that the Romans had to exercise a series of persecutions in an attempt to suppress the growth of a religion which openly defied the divinity of the Emperor. The edict of 202 A.D. decreed that Christian conversion should be stopped at all costs. The edict of 250 A.D. decreed that every citizen should carry at all times a certificate issued by the local authorities testifying that he had offered sacrifice to the gods. Those who refused to conform were tortured with unprecedented ferocity. Some were beheaded, others were thrown to the lions and others were burnt alive. All were subjected to even innovated veracious torture regardless of age or sex. The Catechetical School of Alexandria was closed by order of the authorities, though its members continued to meet in other secret places. At one time, the number of bishops was restricted by the State to three. The consummation of the age of persecution is considered by the Copts to be during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305). So severe was the mass execution and the savage torture of the Copts that they took the day of Diocletian's military election as Emperor to mark the beginning of the era of the Coptic martyrs. That very day marked the start of the Coptic Calendar known in the Western world as Anno Martyrum (A.M.) or the year of the Martyrs.

It was in the midst of this ruthless execution and torture that Egypt's Church flourished beyond recognition until it assumed its definitive form in the course of the second century. In other words, the third century saw the Coptic Church with a great hierarchy ranging from the Patriarch in Alexandria down to the modest priest and the monks who lived out in the Eastern and Western Deserts. The rise of this great hierarchy conterminously with the Roman persecution resulted in the identification of the Coptic people with their own Church in Alexandria. This tradition persisted and even became more prominent when, in a subsequent age and for other reasons, the Byzantines resuscitated Coptic persecution.



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