JULY Calendar of Deacon Saints

(based on Ormonde Plater’s Calendar of Deacon Saints)

July 3

Irenaeus, deacon and martyr, with the Roman matron Mustiola, killed at Clusium (now Chiusi in Tuscany), during the reign of Aurelian (270-275), in 273.
Irenaeus was arrested for burying the martyred Felix of Sutri and was slain in the presence of Mustiola. She was beaten to death with a club after spurning the advances of a local magistrate.

Jessie Carryl Smith, deaconess at Holy Trinity Church in Paris, France, and later in Alaska, New York, and Philadelphia, died 3 July 1923.
Jessie Carryl Smith was an actress in New York. At the age of thirty, she entered the New York Training School for Deaconesses, graduating in 1902. She was set apart as a deaconess at Holy Trinity Church in Paris in 1906. While in Paris she ran a small hospital infirmary. During World War I Deaconess Smith served on the front lines in France at various field hospitals, including one that cared for wounded Senegalese soldiers serving with the Third Army of France. For her work on the front lines, she was awarded the Croix de Guerre with the Medaille de Reconnaissance by the government of France. In 1920 Smith traveled to Fort Yukon in Alaska to serve in the mission field, returning in 1921 to New York. She served the parish of St. Simeon in the Bronx and was also manager of the St. Paul’s Chapel Lunch Club in lower Manhattan. In 1922 she took a position at St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral in Philadelphia where she taught a course in church history at a private girls’ school. She died suddenly on 3 July 1923 at Kings Park, Long Island, New York.
It is not often that an opportunity comes for service of such vivid worth and need as this in which Deaconess Jessie C. Smith has been engaged in France. The Alumnae may rejoice that she met it with such gallantry and that her efforts have won for her the proud distinction conferred with the decorations given her by the French Government.
She went to France early in 1917 as a member of Mrs. Daly’s Equips and served continuously with Auto Cher No. 7, attached to the Third Army of France, at the front, this unit having always been assigned to the point nearest the line of battle. From July 1st, 1917, to February, 1918, they were at and near Ressons-sur-Matz, finally going into barracks (shacks) at Cuguy, where they wintered.
When that sector was taken over by the British, the unit (Auto Clier No. 7) were ordered “En repos” but Deaconess Smith asked to be assigned to duty at St. Raphael, where the Hospital Auxillaire No. 66 was short handed in the care of the Senegalese wounded who were segregated there.
When the terrible Prussian offensive began she was recalled on a twelve hour notice and rejoined the Auto Clier in the retreat of the armies during April and May. It was for her splendid work then and later at Compiegne, when the city was evacuated, that specific dates and deeds of great heroism and devotion were mentioned in the citations accompanying the Croix de Guerre with the Medaille de Reconnaissance accorded her by the French Government.
During the terrific struggle around Compiegne she was assigned to the deserted hospital at Royallieu where the hopelessly wounded had to be dropped in the retreat and there, again, her courage in remaining when the barracks on either side were destroyed, fire raging all around, and her own wards under continuous shell fire and nightly bombed and finally in effecting the evacuation of all the wounded was witnessed and cited by the commanding officers. Leaving Royallieu less than half an hour before the complete destruction of her own barracks, she reached Compiegne where the equipe had preceded her. From there they went to the big base hospital at Agincourt and upon finding it overflowing and no space for their wounded, camped out in the woods under tents, sleeping on the ground.
During the summer, epidemics of trench dysentery carried off a number of the unit, and Deaconess Smith, having had repeated attacks and in addition been severely poisoned by wasp bites, was finally ordered to Paris for a fortnight’s “convalescent leave”. She remained with Hospital No. 5 at Evreux until its closing in December, and was on duty at Camp Williams, near Dijon, since Christmas until, upon the request of Mr. Sedgwick, she was recently released.

July 5

Athanasius, deacon and martyr, killed at Jerusalem in 452.
Athanasius denounced Theodosius, a heretic who had usurped the see of Jerusalem, formerly held by bishop Juvenal. For this act of denunciation, Athanasius was arrested and beheaded.

July 6

Isaurius, deacon and martyr, with companions, beheaded at Apollonia in Macedonia in 283-284.
Isaurius and his companions Innocent, Felix, Hermias, Basil, and Peregrinus were Athenians, suffering for Christ in the Macedonian city of Apollonia under Numerian (emperor 283-284). Beheaded with them for believing in Christ were two city officials, Rufus and Ruphinus.

July 12

Fortunato, deacon and martyr, killed with his bishop Ermacora at Aquileia, near the northern Adriatic coast of Italy, in the first century.

According to legend, St. Mark converted and ordained Ermacora during a mission to northeastern Italy. The cathedral at Udine contains a painting of the two martyrs by Tiepolo (painted 1737).

July 15

Catulinus (also called Cartholinus), deacon and martyr, with companions Januarius, Florentius, Julia, and Justa, killed at Carthage in North Africa, under Diocletian (emperor 284-305) in 303.
Nothing is known of their martyrdom. Their bodies were buried in the basilica of bishop Faustus in Carthage. In praise of Catulinus, St. Augustine preached a panegyric to the faithful.

Gundisalvus Hendriquez, Portuguese deacon and martyr, Jesuit scholar, killed with companions in the Canary Islands on 15 July 1570.
Gundisalvus Hendriquez was a friend and companion of Ignatius de Azevedo (1528-1570), superior and leader of a band of forty Spanish and Portuguese Jesuit missionaries martyred by the Huguenot Jacques Sourie while en route to the West Indies. They were killed by drowning.

July 19

Macrina the Younger (also Makrina), deacon, older sister of Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyssa, died in 379.
Macrina the Younger was born to a holy family in Cappadocia in 340. Her grandmother, Macrina the Elder, for whom she was named, lived in the days of Diocletian (emperor 284-305), who made a determined effort to destroy the Christian faith. She and her husband fled into hiding and survived into the time of Constantine. One of their sons, Basil the Elder, and his wife Emmelia had nine children. Five are commemorated as saints: Macrina the Younger, Basil the Great, Peter of Sebaste, Gregory of Nyssa, and Theosebia the Deaconess (see 10 January).
Macrina was the oldest child. She was betrothed at the age of twelve, after the custom of the day, but when her fiancé died she decided to devote her life to prayer, contemplation, and works of charity. After the death of her father, she convinced her mother to sell the family estates, and they formed a community of women who shared her goals. This convent or monastery was the first group of Christians living under the rules of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Macrina often brought poor and hungry women home to be fed, clothed, nursed, or otherwise taken care of, and many eventually joined the community, as did many women of means.
After the death of their parents, Macrina was chiefly responsible for the upbringing of her younger brothers. When they were inclined to be conceited about their intellectual accomplishments, she deflated them with affectionate but pointed jibes. Her example encouraged some of them to pursue the monastic ideal and to found monastic communities for men. Although Basil the Great is remembered as the founder of eastern monasticism (all Orthodox monks follow a variation of Basil’s monastic rule), the community of monks organized by Basil was preceded and inspired by the community of nuns organized by Macrina. Three of her brothers (Basil, Gregory, Peter) became bishops, and all of them were leading contenders for the faith of Nicaea against the Arians. She was buried in a grave shared with her parents, with a eulogy by her brother Gregory of Nyssa. In his Life of Macrina, Gregory records his last visit with her, her farewell speech, and her prayers and teachings about the resurrection.

Arsenius the Great, deacon of Rome and hermit in the desert of Egypt, died about 449.
Born about 360, Arsenius was the scion of a Roman senatorial family. He had an early career as tutor to the sons of Theodosius the Great (emperor 379-395). Bishop Damasus I is said to have ordained Arsenius to the diaconate and to have recommended the learned cleric to Theodosius. Arsenius later became a hermit at Sketis, in the desert near Alexandria in Egypt, and a disciple of John the Dwarf. After barbarians began to raid the monasteries, Arsenius moved to Troë near Memphis, and he spent fifteen years wandering in the desert. Numbered among the desert fathers, Arsenius wrote a guide to monastic life and a commentary on the gospel according to Luke, which describes the contemplative life.

July 20

Barhadbesciabas (sometimes called Barhadbesaba), deacon and martyr of Arbela in Persia (now Arbil in Iraq), killed by beheading in 355.
He was caught up in the persecution conducted by Shapur II the Great (king of the Persian Sassanid empire 309-379) and was tortured by the governor of the Persian region of Adiaban (now Adaban in southwestern Iran). Aggai, an apostate Christian, was ordered to behead Barhadbesciabas. He used the ax with such clumsiness that he had to strike the martyr again to slay him.

Paul of Saint Zoilus, deacon and martyr of Córdoba in Spain and a member of the community of Saint Zoilus in that city, beheaded in 851.
Paul devoted much of his effort to bringing aid to Christians imprisoned by Muslim officials. Seized by members of the ruling Islamic government, he was beheaded.

July 22

Theodora of Gaul, deacon, died 22 July 539.
Her tomb in St. Trinitatis (Holy Trinity) at Ticini in Gaul (now southern Switzerland) carried this Latin inscription: “hic in pace requiescit b.m. Theodora diaconissa, quae uixit in saeculo annos pl. m. XLVIII. d[eposita] XI kal. Aug. V p.c. Paulini iun. u. c. ind. II” (Here rests in peace and blessed memory Theodora the deaconess, who lived in the world about 48 years. She was buried on 22 July 539.) (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, Berolini, 1863, V/2:6467)

July 25

Olympias of Constantinople, deacon, benefactor, cathedral staff member at Constantinople, and friend and disciple of the banished John Chrysostom, died on 25 July 410.
Born into a wealthy noble Constantinople family, about 361, Olympias was orphaned as a child and given over to the care of Theodosius I (emperor 379-395) by her uncle, the prefect Procopius. At about age twenty she married Nebridius, prefect of Constantinople, but he died soon after. She refused several offers of marriage, and Theodosius put her fortune in trust when she also refused his choice for a husband. When he restored her estate in 391, at age thirty,
Patriarch Nectarius ordained her deaconess, and with several other women she founded a community. She was so lavish in her almsgiving that her good friend John Chrysostom remonstrated with her, and when he became Patriarch of Constantinople in 398 he took her under his direction. She established a hospital and an orphanage and gave shelter to the expelled monks of Nitria.
When John Chrysostom was expelled from Constantinople in 404, Olympias became his firm supporter. She was fined by the prefect, Optatus, for refusing to accept the usurper Arsacius as Patriarch, and Arsacius’ successor, Atticus, disbanded her community and ended her charitable works. She spent the last years of her life beset by illness and persecution but comforted by Chrysostom from his place of exile. She died in exile in Nicomedia on 25 July 410, less than a year after the death of Chrysostom. [Also observed 17 Dec.]

July 27

George, deacon and martyr, monk from Palestine, with four companions, killed at Córdoba in Spain about 852.
George and his companions were martyred under Emir Abd ar-Rahman II. Aurelius and Felix, with their wives, Natalia and Liliosa, were Spaniards whose family backgrounds, although religiously mixed, legally required them to profess Islam. Given four days to recant, they were condemned as apostates for revealing their previously secret Christian faith. Deacon George was a monk from Palestine who was arrested along with the two couples. Though offered a pardon as a foreigner, he chose to denounce Islam again and die with the others.

July 28

Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, deacons, companions of Stephen and Philip, died first century (see Acts 6:5).
All except Nicolaus were Hellenistic Jews who became Christians. According to tradition, Prochorus (or Prochoros) accompanied St. John the Divine in exile on the island of Patmos. In icons Prochoros is portrayed as a scribe in a cave, taking dictation as John describes his vision of the Apocalypse (Revelation). Prochoros became bishop of Nicomedia and died in peace. Nicanor was stoned to death in Jerusalem. Timon became bishop of Bostra in Arabia and ended his life in martyrdom by fire at the hands of the pagans. Parmenas died in peace in Jerusalem. Nicolaus (or Nikolaos), a pagan from Antioch who became a Jew and then a Christian, was a deacon in Jerusalem.

Irene Chrysovalantou, deacon, abbess of a community of women at Constantinople, died in 921.
Irene was born about 826 to the prominent Gouber family in Byzantium. The empress planned to marry her to Prince Michael III. According to legend, on the way to the wedding she delayed to listen to the wisdom of a hermit. When she arrived at Constantinople, the prince was already married to someone else. Irene gave her jewelry to the church, entered the monastery of Chrysovalantou, and immediately engaged in vigils and prayer. Soon she was ordained deaconess and became the new abbess.
Increasing her spiritual struggles, with great trust in God to guide the community properly, she developed the gifts of foresight and exorcism. She prayed throughout each night in the courtyard of the monastery, and her prayer caused her to levitate and the cypress trees to bend toward her. She was granted three apples from John the Theologian and visions of angels. Icons often portray her with bending trees, apples, and angels. She appeared in a vision to the emperor to release an unjustly convicted man. Her veneration and miracle-working continued down the centuries and include a miraculous weeping icon of St. Irene, written in 1921 by a monk at Mount Athos. It is now in the Orthodox monastery bearing her name at Astoria, Long Island.