MARCH Calendar of Deacon Saints

Using Ormonde Plater’s Calendar of Deacon Saints

March 8

Pontius, deacon and witness to the execution of Cyprian of Carthage, died in 260.
A deacon of the congregation at Carthage, Pontius followed Cyprian into the exile imposed upon him during the persecution of the church under Valerian (emperor 253-260). After attending Cyprian’s trial and execution on 14 September 258, he wrote an account of the event. This appeared in his work, Vita Cæcilii Cypriani (Life of Cæcilius Cyprianus), which was not so much a biography of the bishop as a touching and vivid panegyric. Nevertheless, it is considered the earliest Christian biography.

Apollonius, deacon and martyr of Antinoe (also called Antinopolis) in Egypt, with the actor Philemon, cast into the sea at Alexandria about 305.
Apollonius was a deacon in Antinopolis Faiyoum, on the east bank of the Nile in central Egypt, and he converted Philemon, a musician and actor. Arrested in the persecutions of Diocletian (emperor 284-305), the two were taken to Alexandria, where they were drowned. Tradition states that Philemon was hired to represent Apollonius at a pagan sacrifice demanded of citizens. Philemon announced he was a Christian. When no one listened to his claims, he persisted and was baptized miraculously. Apollonius declared the faith when arrested, and he and Philemon were sewn into sacks and thrown into the sea.

March 12

Peter the Deacon, disciple, secretary, and companion of Gregory the Great, died at Rome on 12 March 605.
A Benedictine monk and one of the seven deacons of Rome, Peter wrote the four books of the Dialogues as dictated by Gregory. He is responsible for the statement that the Holy Spirit sometimes hovered in the form of a dove over the great bishop’s head. Peter died a year to the day after Gregory. He is revered as the patron saint of Salassola in the diocese of Biella, near V enice.

March 14

Diaconus, deacon of the church of the Marsi (an Italic tribe who lived in what is now Marsica in central Italy), martyred with two monks by the Lombards in the sixth century. Gregory the Great recorded Diaconus’ death in his Dialogues.

March 16

Tatian, deacon and martyr, with bishop Hilary (also called Dionysius) of Aquileia and others, killed by beheading in 284.
The others, all baptized Christians, were Denis, Felix, and Largus. Aquileia is at the head of the Adriatic in northeastern Italy.

March 19

Amantius, deacon and evangelist in Belgium and northeastern France, died about 668.
The bishop of Rome (Martin I, reigned 649-655) sent Landoald, a Roman priest, and Amantius his deacon to evangelize what is now the Maestricht region of Belgium and northeastern France. Landoald founded a church at Wintershoven.

March 21

Sophia of Jerusalem, deacon, died 21 March, probably in the fourth century.
The Greek inscription on her tombstone reads: “Here lies the servant and virgin of Christ, the deacon, the second Phoebe, who passed away in peace on the 21st day of March . . . May the Lord God . . .” In 1903 this inscription was found in five pieces below the tomb of the prophets on the Mount of Olives and is now in the museum of the White Fathers of St. Anne in Jerusalem. (Revue biblique, New 1 [1904], 260-262)

March 22

Octavian, archdeacon and martyr at Carthage, with several thousand of his flock, executed by Arian Vandals at the command of King Huneric in 484.

March 23

Bertha M. Garvin, deaconess at Grace Church, New York City, died 23 March 1945.
Originally from New Hampshire, Bertha Garvin served at Grace Church, Manhattan, where she was the rector’s secretary and the vestry secretary for forty years. She first served under the Rev. William Huntington who had pioneered the deaconess cause at General Convention. During World War I, Garvin helped in organizing and serving Sunday dinners to sailors and soldiers who passed through the busy port of New York on their way to or from the European war. At the 125th anniversary of Grace Parish, Garvin was honored at a luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. The guest speakers included Bishop William T. Manning of New York. More than 300 people attended this event. Garvin also served the greater community of deaconesses in New York City. She was president of the Alumnae Association of the New York Training School for Deaconesses in 1914, 1928, 1929, and 1930. She sat on the Executive Committee of the Association in 1923 and 1924. In 1940 Garvin retired to her home in Sanbornville, New Hampshire, where she died on 23 March 1945. [research of Deacon Geri Swanson]March 26

Irenaeus, deacon and martyr, with bishop Theodore of Pentapolis (in what is now Libya) and others, had his tongue cut out but survived and died in peace in 310.
Theodore, Irenaeus, and readers Serapion and Ammonius suffered under Gallienus (emperor 260-268) by having their tongues cut out. Although all survived, they are venerated as martyrs.March 27Pelagius, deacon, venerated at Treviso (near Venice in northern Italy), date of death unknown.March 28Cuthbert Symson, deacon and Reformation martyr, deacon of an underground “Gospeller” congregation in London during the reign of Queen Mary, tortured and then burned at the stake 28 March 1558.

March 29

Cyril, deacon and martyr, killed at Heliopolis, and companions, who suffered under Julian the Apostate in 362.
Cyril was a prominent deacon in Heliopolis, a suburb of Athens in Greece. He opposed idol worship and destroyed many of the city’s idols. Julian (emperor 360-363) sentenced him to torture and death. Tradition holds that God punished Cyril’s torturers with blindness, boils, and terrible illness.

March 31

Benjamin of Susa, deacon and martyr, with bishop Audas, martyred by torture for refusing to cease preaching Christ, in 421.
Audas, bishop of the city of Susa (east of the Tigris River in Persia), was beheaded for Christ in the year 418 by Emperor Yezdegird. His deacon, Benjamin, was released by the tormentors with the understanding that he would never preach the gospel again. In the beginning Benjamin agreed, but he could not keep this promise and continued to spread the truth of Christ among the people. For this breach, three years after Audas, Benjamin was captured, tortured with thorns driven under his nails, and killed.