Our Holy Father Sisoës the Great of Egypt (429)
One of the greatest of the Desert Fathers, he lived in asceticism at Scetis in Egypt. After the death of St Anthony the great, Abba Sisoës became a hermit in Anthony’s cave, saying “Thus in the cave of a lion, a fox makes his dwelling.” In his own lifetime he was granted the grace to heal the sick, drive out unclean spirits, and even raise the dead.
As his death approached after a long life in the desert, his brethren gathered around him. His face began to shine, and he said, “See, Abba Anthony is here!” then, “See, the choir of the prophets is here!” Seeing that he seemed to be speaking with someone, his brethren asked him who it was. He replied, “The Angels are here, and I am asking them for time to repent.” Amazed, they asked him what he could have to repent of, to which he replied, “Brethren, I do not know if I have even begun to repent.” Finally, his face became as bright as the sun, and he said, “See, the Lord is here, and He says, ‘Bring Me the vessel of the desert.’” With this, he gave his soul up to God, and his entire dwelling was filled with light and sweet fragrance.
Some of his teaching, as told in the Prologue: “St Sisoës taught his monks: ‘When temptation comes to a man, that man must give himself over to the will of God, and acknowledge that the temptation comes upon him because of his sins. If something good comes to pass, he must acknowledge that it comes about by the providence of God.’ A monk asked him: ‘How can I please God and be saved?’ The saint replied: ‘If you desire to please God, withdraw from the world, separate yourself from the earth, leave aside creation and draw near to the Creator, unite yourself to God with prayers and tears, and you will find rest in this world and in the next.’ A monk asked Sisoes: ‘How can I acquire humility?’ The saint replied: ‘When a man learns to regard every man as better than himself, he thus acquires humility.’ Ammon complained to Sisoes that he could not memorise the wise sayings that he had read, to be able to quote them in conversation with others. The saint replied: ‘It is not necessary. That which is necessary is to acquire purity of mind and to speak from this purity, placing one’s hope in God.’”
Holy Martyrs Marinus and Martha, and those with them (269)
Marinus and Martha were wealthy Persians; but they sold all their goods and traveled to Rome with their sons Audifax, Habakkuk, Valentine, and Cyrinus, in order to venerate the holy relics of the apostles and martyrs. When the Emperor Claudius asked them why they had come so far, at such cost, to seek the dead in Rome, they answered ‘We are servants of Christ, and are come to venerate the holy apostles whose immortal souls are alive with God, that they may be our intercessors with Christ our God.’ All of them were sentenced to interrogation and to death if they would not deny Christ. Valentine, who was a priest, was handed over to a General named Asterius. When Valentine healed Asterius’ daughter, who had been blind for two years, Asterius and his entire household accepted Christ and were baptised by Valentine. All of them, along with Marinus and Martha and their family, underwent torture and death for the sake of Christ.