Saints & Martyrs

Saint Menas

Menas (d. ca. 300) martyr. Menas was Egyptian by birth and served as a soldier in the Roman army. He was martyred under the Roman emperor Diocletian when he publically declared his Christian faith. According to a popular episode from the Life and Miracles of St. Menas, the camels bearing his dead body on its way back to Egypt miraculously stopped at Lake Mareotis near Alexandria, thus marking the site chosen by the saint for his entombment. Menas is the patron saint of merchants and desert caravans, and is usually depicted between a pair of camels.

Excerpt from the Ethiopic Synaxarium

Now the governor had commanded them to cast the body of the holy man [the martyred Menas] into the fire, but [certain] believing men took the body of the holy man out of the fire, which had neither touched it nor harmed it, and no injury whatsoever had come upon it. And they laid it up in a certain place until the end of the days of persecution.

And in those days the men of the region of Maryt (Mareotis) wished to collect a troop of men from the Five Cities, and they took the body of Saint [Menas] with them that it might be unto them a help, and might protect them on the way. And as they were sitting in the ship, the body of Saint [Menas] being with them, beasts came up out of the sea, and their faces were like unto the faces of serpents, and their necks like unto those of camels. And they stretched out their necks to the body of the holy man, and licked it; and the men were afraid with a great fear. And there went forth fire from the body of the holy man and consumed the faces of the beasts.

And when they had come to the city of Alexandria, and had finished their business, they wanted to return to their country, and to take the body of Saint [Menas] with them. And when they had set his body upon a camel that camel would not rise up; and though they beat the camel with a severe beating he would not move at all. And they knew that this was the will of God, and they built a shrine over the saint, and buried him therein, and departed.

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