November 2011- Holy Martyr St. Menas (~304)
Menas fought at the Battle of Emesa that defeated the army of Queen Zenobia of Palmyra and at the Battle of Callinicum that defeated the Persians. He renounced his soldier's rank when his Legion was ordered to seize Christians in North Africa as part of a general persecution of Christians. Fleeing to the mountains of Egypt, he dwelt in the wilderness for some time in silence and solitude, devoting his days to prayer and learning from the hermits of the region. To support himself, he became a camel herder. After some time, he visited a pagan festival, denounced the idols, and declared himself a follower of Christ. For this, he was arrested and given over to the Roman governor. Menas was subjected to torture and executed. Some faithful retrieved his body and gave him an honorable burial near Lake Mareotis, about thirty miles from Alexandria. Later a church was built over his tomb and it became a place of pilgrimage for Egyptians and Christians from all over the world: evidence has been found of journeys to his shrine from as far away as Ireland and China. Today it is the site of the famous Coptic Orthodox Monastery of St. Menas and a place of many miracles.
The Synaxarion gives an account of the Saint's intervention in the Second World War: "In June 1942, during the North-Africa campaign that was decisive for the outcome of the Second World War, the German forces under the command of General Rommel were on their way to Alexandria, and happened to make a halt near a place which the Arabs call El-Alamein after Saint Menas. An ancient ruined church there was dedicated to the Saint; and there some people say he is buried. Here the weaker Allied forces confronted the numerically and militarily superior German army, and the result of the coming battle seemed certain. During the first night of engagement, Saint Menas appeared in the midst of the German camp at the head of a caravan of camels, exactly as he was shown on the walls of the ruined church in one of the frescoes depicting his miracles. This astounding and terrifying apparition so undermined German morale that it contributed to the brilliant victory of the Allies. The Church of Saint Menas was restored in thanksgiving and a small monastery was established there."
On ‘Veterans Day’ let us commemorate the soldier Saint Menas and all the other Saints who served courageously in the military; there is quite a list of them. Let us also honor the men and women who are veterans of recent wars who have served in the military of ours and other nations.