Martyr Conon of Isauria; Martyr Conon the Gardener of Pamphylia; St. Mark the Ascetic of Egypt

Martyr Conon of Isauria – The Holy Martyr Conon of Isauria was born in Bethany, a village near the Asia Minor city of Isauria, whose inhabitants had accepted Christianity from the Apostle Paul. From his youth, Saint Conon was accorded the special protection of the “Archistrategos” (“Leader of the Heavenly Hosts”) Michael, who appeared to him and assisted him in many difficult circumstances in life.

At the insistence of his parents, Conon was betrothed to a maiden named Anna. He persuaded her to live with him in virginity after the wedding. The young couple lived as brother and sister, devoting themselves entirely to God. Saint Conon brought also his parents to the Christian Faith. His father, Saint Nestor, received a martyr’s death for denouncing idol-worshippers.

After burying both his mother and wife, Saint Conon continued his service to God, devoting himself entirely to monastic works, fasting and prayer. In his declining years the holy ascetic was glorified with the gift of wonderworking. By virtue of his preaching and miracles many pagans were converted to Christ. It is said that even the evil spirits were forced to serve him.

When a persecution against Christians broke out in Isauria, one of the first to suffer was Saint Conon. He was subjected to fierce torments for his refusal to offer sacrifice to idols. When the people of Isauria learned of the tortures to which the saint was being subjected, they came forth bearing arms to defend the martyr. Frightened by the people’s wrath, the torturers fled, and the Isaurians found the martyr wounded and bloodied at the place of torture.

Saint Conon wished to endure martyrdom for the Lord, but he lived two more years. Saint Conon died in the second century and was buried beside his parents and wife.

Martyr Conon the Gardener of Pamphylia – The Holy Martyr Conon the Gardener was born in Nazareth of Galilee, but he lived in the city of Mandona, where he occupied himself with gardening. He was a God-fearing man, sincere in heart, and without malice. The saint suffered for his faith in Christ under the emperor Decius (249-251). When they brought him to trial, he unwaveringly and firmly confessed his faith. The torturers drove nails into his feet and dragged him behind a chariot until the sufferer collapsed from exhaustion. With a prayer, he surrendered his spirit to the Lord.

St. Mark the Ascetic of Egypt – Saint Mark the Ascetic was born in Athens during the fifth century, and became a monk in the Nitrian desert (Lower Egypt). From his youth his fondest pursuit was the reading of Holy Scripture. It is said that he knew the whole Bible by heart.

Nine of his thirty discourses have come down to us. Three of them are in Volume I of the English PHILOKALIA. The Byzantines had such a high regard for his writings that they said, “Sell everything and buy Mark.”

He was noted for his gentleness and purity of soul. He was known as “the Ascetic” because of his abstinence. He lived for ninety years as a solitary, then surrendered his soul to God when he was one hundred and twenty years old.

Tr by oca.org

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