JANUARY Calendar of Deacon Saints
Daniel of Padua, deacon and martyr, killed in what is now northeastern Italy in 168.
Said to be of Jewish descent, Daniel aided Prosdocimus, the first bishop of Patavium (later Padua), in the evangelization of the area around the city. His body was discovered centuries later and solemnly enshrined 3 January 1064 in the church of Santa Sofia in Padua.
Akhila (Aquila), deacon and monk of Pechersk, in the Farther Caves at Kiev in Ukraine, died in the 14th century.
He lived for a long time as a hermit and became famous for fasting on a diet of a small amount of vegetables. (Akhila is also commemorated in Orthodox churches on August 28 and on the Second Sunday of Great Lent.)
Clerus of Antioch, deacon and martyr, killed at Antioch in Syria in 300.
For having professed faith in Christ, he was tortured seven times, kept in prison a long while, and finally beheaded.
Theophilus, deacon and martyr in Libya, with the layman Helladius, date of death unknown. For preaching the gospel, they were tortured and thrown into a furnace.
Dominika of Carthage, deacon and abbess in Alexandria and Constantinople, died late 4th century. She lived in the year 374, in the reign of Theodosius the Great.
Harriet Mary Bedell, deaconess and missionary among the Seminoles and Miccosukee in southern Florida, died on 8 January 1969.
Born in 1875 in Buffalo, New York, Harriet Bedell became a teacher with many young Indian students. In the winter of 1905-06, she attended a meeting at her church to hear a missionary speak of the need for more workers in China to spread the word of the Lord. Determined to become a missionary, she gave up her job to train as an Episcopal deaconess in New York City. At the end of her year of training, she elected to study nursing for a year in her home town of Buffalo. At the end of this schooling, in 1907, she was appointed an apprentice deaconess and sent to the Whirlwind Mission in Oklahoma to minister among the Cheyenne (assisting Oakerhater, see Aug. 31). She threw herself into her work and gradually gained the love and trust of her people. She was adopted into the tribe and given the name of Vicsehia, which means Bird Woman, because she sang, hummed, and whistled constantly while she worked. Harriet devoted herself to the Cheyenne until she contracted tuberculosis and was sent to Colorado to recover. There she attended a healing service and became free of symptoms, which she called a miracle. Instead of returning to Oklahoma, in 1916 she was sent to Alaska, where she worked for many years among the native peoples. In 1922 she journeyed to Portland, Oregon, to be ordained a deaconess in the Episcopal Church, returning to her mission in Alaska. In 1932 while she was enjoying her first sabbatical with her family in Buffalo, the bishop of New York asked her to visit the chain of missions in Florida to recruit church workers. On this trip she first encountered the Miccosukee tribe. She was appalled at the condition of the local Seminoles, who were wrestling alligators and making a display of themselves for the tourists. With the backing of Bishop Wing in Miami and the Collier Corporation in Everglades (now Everglades City), Bedell set up the Glade Cross Mission to minister to local people and native Americans. This feisty little woman ventured out into the Everglades swamp by canoe and on foot to visit remote villages, where she worked with the local medicine man to improve conditions and combat disease. She established the tradition of providing a Christmas celebration for the Indians with a feast of good food, small presents, and a brief religious service. Locally in Everglades City, and on nearby Marco Island, the deaconess held Sunday School classes, taught the girls to sew, and preached to the prisoners in the county jail. She attended social functions and became a fixture in the community. The tribe adopted her and gave her the name Inkoshopie, woman who prays. Bedell borrowed on her salary and made an arrangement with the Collier Corporation to finance sales of Indian craft, including beadwork, clothing, pottery, carving, and leatherwork. With the proceeds, she repaid the loans and gave the Indians company script which they could spend at the store in Everglades. Bedell was tireless in persistent efforts for her people, traveling as far as Washington to prevent Japanese imitations of the craft work from entering the country, and to New York to sell Indian items to large department stores. She continued to do this work after her retirement, augmenting her meager income with loans from the Colliers, who eventually deeded over to her the small dwelling she occupied in Everglades. Every Christmas she arranged an enormous party with feasting and entertainment and gifts for all the Indians and children from Everglades. In September 1960 Harriet was forced to evacuate her home when hurricane Donna struck. The storm leveled her property, destroying her typewriter, sewing machine, children’s books, and gifts set aside for the upcoming holiday celebration. The bishop insisted that Harriet finally give up her active life at 85, and she moved to the Bishop Gray Inn in Davenport, Florida, a home for retired Episcopalians. Refusing to be idle, she planned and taught Sunday school, worked in the infirmary, and gave speeches to recruit mission workers. A huge birthday party was thrown for her when she turned 90, and Coronet magazine featured an article about her. She died there on 8 January 1969, just short of her 94th birthday. Her story has appeared in many newspapers and magazines, and three books have been written about her: William and Ellen Hartley, A Woman Set Apart (New York, 1953); Elizabeth Scott Ames, Deaconess of the Everglades (Cortland, NY, 1995); and Marya Repko, Angel of the Swamp (Everglades City, FL, 2009). General Convention in 2009 added her to the Episcopal calendar of saints.
Nicanor, deacon and martyr, one of the seven ordained by the apostles (Acts 6:5), according to tradition killed in Cyprus about 76 [also July 28].
Theosebia, deacon, wife or sister of Gregory of Nyssa, died about 387.
Theosebia and Gregory of Nyssa
Theosebia’s life and identification are ambiguous; her dates of birth and death are uncertain (she died probably after 381). She is thought to have played an important role in the church in Nyssa, where she was called diakonissa. Gregory the Theologian (Nazianzuz) wrote a letter of condolence on her death to Gregory of Nyssa in which he mentioned “your sister Theosebia” and “true consort of a priest.” There lies the ambiguity of her identification. Some historians suppose Theosebia was the wife of Gregory of Nyssa. Others suppose she was one of his sisters like Macrina the Younger; if so, then Theosebia was the sister of Basil the Great as well. Others imagined that she was the wife of Gregory Nazianzuz, although there is no evidence that he was ever married.
Tatiana, deacon and martyr, beheaded at Rome on 12 January about 225.
Tatiana came from an eminent Roman family and was educated in the Christian faith. When she reached adulthood, she became indifferent to riches and earthly blessings and came to love the spiritual way of life. She renounced wedded life and was made a deacon of the Roman Church. In this role she diligently tended the sick, visited jails, helped the needy, and constantly tried to please God with prayers and good deeds.
During the reign of Alexander Severus (222-235), under the Roman city mayor Ulypian, around the year 225, Tatiana became a martyr for professing her love of Jesus Christ. The emperor’s mother Mammaea was a Christian, but the emperor was wavering and indecisive. He kept statues of Christ, Apollo, Abraham, and Orpheus in his palace, and his chief assistants persecuted Christians without his orders.
According to an ancient narrative, when they brought out Tatiana for torture, she prayed to God for her torturers. Their eyes were opened, and they saw four angels around the martyr. Seeing this, eight of them believed in Christ, for which they were tortured and slain. Tatiana was thrown into the arena at the Coliseum, to be torn apart by a lion for the amusement of the spectators. Instead she caressed the lion. The tormentors continued to torture Tatiana. They whipped her, cut off parts of her body, and scraped her with irons. Disfigured and bloody, Tatiana was thrown into the dungeon that evening so that the next day they could resume with different tortures.
In the night God sent angels to the dungeon to encourage Tatiana and heal her wounds so that each morning she appeared before the torturers completely healed. They cut off her hair, thinking that sorcery or magical power was concealed there. Finally, they beheaded both Tatiana and her father. According to the witness of Deacon Zocim in 1420, Tatiana’s head was at Perivlepto in Constantinople.
Hermylus, deacon and martyr of Singidunum (present Belgrade, capital of Serbia), with his servant Stratonicus, killed in the Balkans in 315.
They were martyred by drowning in the Danube at Singidunum.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (pen name Lewis Carroll), deacon, author, mathematician, logician, and photographer, died on 14 January 1898.
Born 27 January 1832 into the large family of an Anglican priest, Charles Dodgson grew up in Cheshire and Yorkshire and was educated at Rugby and Christ Church, Oxford. As a requirement of his residency at Christ Church, he was ordained an Anglican deacon on 22 December 1861 but declined to become a priest.
After a new dean, Henry Liddell, arrived at Christ Church in 1856, Dodgson became close friends with Liddell’s wife, Lorina, and their children, particularly the three sisters Lorina, Edith, and Alice Liddell. On a rowing expedition with the sisters, 4 July 1862, Dodgson invented the outline of the story that eventually became his first and largest commercial success. Having told the story and been begged by Alice Liddell to write it down, Dodgson eventually (after much delay) presented her with a handwritten, illustrated manuscript entitled Alice’s Adventures Under Ground in November 1864. The work was finally published as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1865 under the name Lewis Carroll. The overwhelming commercial success of the book changed Dodgson’s life in many ways. The fame of his alter ego “Lewis Carroll” soon spread around the world. He was inundated with fan mail and with sometimes unwanted attention. When Lewis Carroll met Queen Victoria, who had loved his Alice books, she asked him to be sure to send her a copy of his next book. Her disappointment was apparently profound when it turned out to be a treatise on an obscure aspect of applied mathematics.
Over the remaining twenty years of his life, despite wealth and fame, his existence changed little. He continued to teach at Christ Church until 1881 and remained in residence there until his death. He died on 14 January 1898 at his sisters’ home, “The Chestnuts” in Guildford, of pneumonia following influenza. He is buried in Guildford at the Mount Cemetery.
Marianus, deacon and martyr, with presbyter Diodorus and others, killed at Rome in 284.
In Rome under Numerian (emperor 282-284), a group of Christians including Diodorus and Marianus were found praying in the catacombs on the anniversary of an earlier martyrdom. The Roman authorities sealed them in the crypt alive. Diodorus and Marianus were canonized, and a church was later built above the sandpit. The two martyrs were particularly popular in fourth century Rome, and their names appear in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum (Martyrology of Jerome).
Charlotte Boyd, deaconess at St. Bartholomew and Ascension in New York, died 17 January 1965.
Charlotte Boyd was born in 1872. She was set apart as deaconess on 6 May 1901. Her primary ministry was to the St. Bartholomew Girls’ Club. She also was director of the summer home and farm St. Bartholomew’s sponsored in Pawling, New York. During World War I, Deaconess Boyd oversaw the work of St. Bartholomew’s Red Cross Chapter, dispensing 48,500 hand- wrapped surgical dressings and 1,659 hand-knitted garments to American troops in France and Belgium. When asked what part of her training was most influential in her life as a deaconess, Boyd replied: “To have known Dr. [William Reed] Huntington and to have felt his influence has been the greatest inspiration.” Boyd left St. Bartholomew’s in 1931 and, after a trip to England, took up her work at Ascension in Manhattan. She retired in 1957 after 56 years of active church work and died on 17 January 1965 in Quebec, Canada, where she lived with her sister. She was 92 at the time of her death. [research of Deacon Geri Swanson]
Hugo Gorovoka, deacon and native missionary at Miravovo, Guadalcanal, in the Solomon Islands, died in 1918.
Augurius and Eulogius, deacons and martyrs, with bishop Fructuosus of Tarraco (now Tarragoña in northeastern Spain), martyred by burning on 21 January 259.
According to the Acta: The bishop and his two deacons were arrested on Sunday, 16 January, just as they were going to bed. The bishop asked for permission to put on his shoes, after which he cheerfully followed the arresting guards. In prison they spent their time in fervent prayer, full of joy at the prospect of the crown prepared for them. Fructuosus blessed those who visited him and on Monday baptized a catechumen named Rogatianus. On Wednesday they kept the usual fast of the stations until 3 p.m.
A few days later, on Friday, 21 January, the three were brought before the governor. Their examination was short and to the point: the prisoners affirmed their worship of one God and were sentenced to be burned to death. Officers were posted to prevent any demonstration because even the pagans loved Fructuosus for his virtues. The Christians accompanied them with sorrow tempered with joy. The faithful offered Fructuosus a cup of wine, which he refused because, since it was only 10 in the morning, it was too early to break the fast. Even with the guards at the gate of the amphitheater, some of the Christians were able to get close. The bishop’s reader, Augustalis, with tears asked permission to remove his bishop’s shoes. Felix, a Christian soldier, stepped in and asked the bishop for his prayers.
Fructuosus replied so that all could hear, “I am bound to bear in mind the whole universal church from East to West. Remain always in the bosom of the catholic church, and you will have a share in my prayers.” He added words of comfort to his flock. As the flames enveloped them and burned through their bonds, “they stretched forth their arms in token of the Lord’s victory, praying to him till they gave up their souls.”
An early legend adds that Babylas and Mygdone, two Christian servants of the governor, saw the heavens open and the saints carried up with crowns on their heads. By night the faithful came and each took some part of the martyrs’ bodies to their own home, but heaven admonished them and each returned the relics to a single grave. In art the three martyrs are portrayed as a bishop and two deacons singing on their funeral pyre. They are venerated at Tarragoña and in Africa.
Vincent of Saragossa, deacon and martyr, tortured to death at Valentia (now Valencia in Spain) on 22 January 304. A raven guards the body of Vincent
Vincent was born at Osca and lived in Caesaraugusta (now Huesca and Zaragoza, Saragossa in English, both in the Aragon region of northern Spain). He served as the deacon and secretary of Valerius, bishop of Caesaraugusta. Because Valerius stuttered badly, Vincent often preached for him.
During a persecution they were arrested in Valentia by the prefect Dacian, threatened with torture and death, and pressured to renounce their faith. According to legend, Vincent said to his bishop, “Father, if you order me, I will speak.” Valerius replied, “Son, as I have committed you to dispense the word of God, so I now charge you to answer in vindication of the faith which we defend.” Like many martyrs in the early hagiographic literature, Vincent succeeded in converting his jailer. Though offered release if he would consign scripture to the fire, Vincent refused, was tortured on a gridiron (a detail perhaps adapted from the martyrdom of Laurence), and died. Valerius was exiled.
Dacian tried to destroy Vincent’s body by leaving it naked in a marsh. A raven guarded the body, driving away a bird of prey and a wolf. The prefect then threw the body into the sea. Although a heavy stone had been attached to it, the body did not sink but moved with the tide and came to rest on the beach. There it was buried until the Christians could build a tomb. Later, when the persecution was over, a church was built and the bones of Vincent were buried at the foot of the altar.
The earliest account of Vincent’s martyrdom is in a carmen (lyric poem) written by Prudentius, (348-aft. 405), who wrote a series of such poems, Peristephanon (Crowns of Martyrdom), on Hispanic and Roman martyrs, including Laurence and Vincent. See “The Poems of Prudentius,” trans. Sr. M. Clement Eagan, CCVI, in The Fathers of the Church, vol. 43 (Washington: Catholic University of America Press, 1962). Vincent is also the patron saint of vintners, and his feast is celebrated in many winegrowing communities.
Parmenas, one of the seven ordained by the apostles (Acts 6:5), according to tradition martyred at Philippi in Macedonia, about 98 [also July 28].
Yona Kanamuzeyi, deacon and martyr, killed in Rwanda on 23 January 1964.
Yona Kanamuzeyi was a deacon in the town of Nyamata in Rwanda, south of the capital, Kigali. He had been asked to aid refugees fleeing ethnic violence. As a child of a Hutu-Tutsi marriage, his work of providing sanctuary earned him the label “Tutsi sympathizer.” As Meg Guillebaud, a missionary, recounts: Five soldiers in a jeep came and took Yona away for questioning in the middle of the night on 23 January 1964. Two others were also in custody. Yona grabbed his diary and the keys to their church. The jeep stopped suddenly alongside a river. Yona scribbled in his diary: “We are going to heaven.” Yona questioned his fellow prisoners about their own salvation. Then they all sang, “There is a happy land, far, far away.” Soldiers took Yona into the bush, and gunfire was heard. The soldiers returned “amazed” that Yona sang as he walked along to his death. Minutes later, they released the other two prisoners. Years later, the dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London inscribed his name in the cathedral’s book of modern martyrs.
The 1838 Scottish hymn “There Is a Happy Land,” sung by Yona and his companions:
There is a happy land, far, far away,
Where saints in glory stand, bright, bright as day.
Oh, how they sweetly sing, worthy is our Savior King, Loud let His praises ring, praise, praise for aye.
Come to that happy land, come, come away;
Why will ye doubting stand, why still delay?
Oh, we shall happy be, when from sin and sorrow free, Lord, we shall live with Thee, blest, blest for aye.
Bright, in that happy land, beams every eye; Kept by a Father’s hand, love cannot die.
Oh, then to glory run; be a crown and kingdom won; And, bright, above the sun, we reign for aye.
Xenia (originally Eusebia), deaconess and nun of Milassa in Asia Minor, died in 450.
Xenia, known in early life as Eusebia, was the only daughter of a Roman senator. From her youth she loved God, and she wished to avoid a marriage that had been arranged for her. She secretly left her parents’ home with two servants and set sail on a ship. Near Milassa, a town of Caria (Asia Minor), she met the head of the monastery of the holy apostle Andrew. She asked him to take her and her companions to Milassa. She also changed her name, calling herself Xenia (“stranger” or “foreigner” in Greek).
Xenia drew many souls to Christ. At Milassa, she bought land, built a church dedicated to St. Stephen, and founded a women’s monastery. Soon after this, bishop Paul of Milassa made Xenia a deaconess. She helped everyone—for the destitute, she was a benefactress; for the grief- stricken, a comforter; for sinners, a guide to repentance. She possessed a deep humility, accounting herself the worst and most sinful of all. She was guided in her ascetic deeds by the counsels of the Palestinian ascetic, Euthymius.
Xenia died in 450 while praying. During her funeral, a luminous wreath of stars surrounding a radiant cross appeared in the sky over the monastery. This sign accompanied the body of the saint when it was carried into the city and remained there until her burial. Many of the sick received healing after touching Xenia’s relics.
Caesarius of Angoulême, deacon under Ausonius, the first bishop of Angoulême (originally Iculisma) in southwestern France, died of natural causes in first century.