Porphyrius was born around 347 in Thessalonica. He spent five years in the Scete desert in Egypt and then went to live in a cave near the Jordan. Despite poor health, he would go often to meditate at the site of Christ’s Resurrection. Once while visiting the site, he met Mark, who later became a deacon and Porphyrius’ biographer. Porphyrius sent Mark to his native home of Thessalonica to sell the property that he (Porphyrius) owned there. After selling the property, Mark, acting on the instructions of Porphyrius, distributed the monies among the monasteries of Egypt and to the poor in the area.
Porphyrius was ordained a priest in the year 392 and received a relic of the Holy Cross as a gift. In 395 he was made Bishop of Gaza, which had a very small Christian community. The majority of the population there was pagan. The pagans were very hostile to the Christians, so Porphyrius repeatedly asked the emperor to destroy the pagan temples and to protect the Christian community. Finally the order was given and the temples were destroyed. At the site of the temple of Marnas a Christian church was built. Porphyrius attended the Council of Diospolis in the year 415.
St. Porphyrius died at Gaza on February 26, 420. Mark the Deacon wrote “Vita S. Porphyril,” the biography of Porphyrius, which was translated into Latin; however, in 1874, M. Haupt published it in its original Greek text, and in 1895 the Bonn Philological Society issued a new edition.
Lord Jesus, we are happy that Saint Porphyrius, who spent so much time at Your Resurrection site, is now in heaven with You. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of faith. We pray all will come to know You and have eternal life. Amen.
Other Saints We Remember Today
St. Alexander (326), Bishop