St. Mina the Wonder-Worker

In this episode of “Walking The Way with The Saints”, we focus on St. Mina the Wonder-Worker and Martyr, whom we commemorate on November 11 according to the Syriac Orthodox Liturgical calendar. Daniel Michalski presents us with his research into the life and martyrdom of this beloved saint and how we should desire to live a life close to God and be counted among His saints.

St. Mina the Wonder-Worker (c. AD 285 – 309) was an ascetic and martyr of the early Egyptian Church. He holds a deep place in the hearts of the Coptic Church, with many Churches named after him and many sons of the Church receiving his name at birth or baptism. St. Mina is also well known throughout the Christian world and in the early centuries people traveled from as far as northern Germany to visit his relics.

Video prepared by Daniel Michalski

St. Mina (whose name means Amen) was born to Christian parents, Eudoxios and Euphemia. Euphemia was a saintly woman who was barren. Like Elizabeth and Hannah, she prayed to God for a child. She sought the intercession of the pure Virgin St. Mary, pleading before her icon, and through the prayers of St. Mary, she gave birth to a son whom she named Mina. Mina was devout and prayerful from early years and maintained that faith throughout his life.

Jesus and Minas, 6th-century icon from Bawit in Middle Egypt, currently at Louvre; One of the oldest known icons in existence

When he was 11 years old, his father died, and when he was 14 years old, his mother died as well. A year later, in the weakness of his flesh, he chose to join the military and quickly became well respected in its ranks. Soon, the Roman Emperor Diocletian demanded that all his soldiers offer sacrifice to pagan idols. St. Mina at that moment chose to completely follow God over any worldly glory, his heart being too inflamed for his Savior to allow the trifles of the world to interfere. He abandoned the army, gave all his wealth to the poor, and fled into the wilderness. There he remained for several years as a hermit in fasting and prayer. He drew very close to God and the heavenly beings during his time in the desert and was purified from all defilement of body and spirit.

One day, while the holy St. Mina was praying in the desert, he saw a vision of the martyrs being crowned in heaven and rejoicing with the Savior, Jesus Christ. He became determined to join them in their rest. He arose and left the desert, making his way to the city where he boldly preached Christ.

The commander of the army St. Mina had served in came to observe the commotion and began to question and bully him. When he discovered who this hermit was, he was shocked. The commander offered him the most excellent spot in the army if St. Mina would offer sacrifice to idols. He flattered him and boasted of the abilities of Mina and Mina’s father, Eudoxios. St. Mina flatly rejected the offer of worldly riches and prominence, rejecting the twin evils of idolatry and military service.

The Martyrdom of Saint Menas, oil painting by Paolo Veronese (ca. 1580)

St. Mina said, “I really am a soldier, but I prefer to be a soldier of my Lord Jesus Christ.” In saying this, he rejected both serving idols and shedding blood in war, affirming the true God we must serve is Jesus Christ and the only war Christians fight is the spiritual fight against the passions and demonic forces. The commander abused and tortured St. Mina, and seeing he would not renounce the faith sent him to the governor, who even further tortured and abused him in hope that he would renounce his Lord. The Lord Jesus appeared to St. Mina and encouraged him saying, “Do not be afraid my beloved Mina. I will be with you wherever you are.”

Before the judges of this world, St. Mina remained true to the faith. They beat him and beheaded him. Then they tried to burn his body, but the flames did not affect it. He had become pure and his body was already incorrupt. The believers took St. Mina’s body and protected it. Over the centuries his incorrupt and immaculate body have often been moved, buried, lost, and recovered. But it remains the same as the day he died. Many miracles and healings have been performed by his body and Christians used to come from around the world to seek his intercession and receive healing grace from his body and whatever it touches.

The modern Monastery of Abu Mena. Today, the monastery is one of the most famous monasteries in Egypt. The relics of Saint Mina, as well as that of Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria lie in this monastery.

Through St. Mina, we remember that nothing in this world and its passing glory satisfies. The true fight we should fight is the spiritual warfare in prayer and fasting against the passions and demons. The true God is the only one we should serve and worship. Our Christ-God is with us to the end, to purify and strengthen us in this warfare and cause that we too may receive the blessing of incorruption on the last day if not before.

May the prayers and blessing of our honored and righteous father, the victorious St. Mina be with us all and glory be to God forever, Amen!

Photo of the Monastery of Abu Mena – By Isabelle + Stéphane Gallay – https://www.flickr.com/photos/isa_lias/3336050723/in/set-72157614867800035/, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6316473

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