lundi 5 mars 2018

Saint PHOCAS le jardinier, martyr



Phocas le jardinier

† 303

Sur s.Phocas, les avis ne sont pas concordants, quoique les légendes pourraient sans doute s’accorder.

Phocas, donc, naquit à Sinope (auj. Sinop, Turquie N) de Pamphilios et Maria.

Peu après son baptême, il reçut la grâce d’accomplir des miracles et amena beaucoup de païens au Christ.

Il était jardinier, disent les uns ; il fut appelé à devenir évêque, disent les autres. Mais y a-t-il un inconvénient à ce qu’un évêque s’occupe de son jardin et qu’il vive du fruit de sa culture ? S.Paul dit bien clairement que Si quelqu’un ne veut travailler, qu’il ne mange pas non plus (2 Th 3:10).

Ses récoltes étaient apparemment suffisantes pour nourrir aussi les pauvres, à moins qu’il ait eu le don de la multiplication des pains et des légumes.

Un soir, Phocas eut la révélation qu’il allait boire à la coupe du Seigneur. En effet, des soldats se présentèrent, qui cherchaient un certain Phocas. 

Phocas commença par les recevoir très amicalement, leur offrit le repas et les installa pour la nuit. Ensuite il creusa sa tombe. Au matin, il révéla son identité aux soldats qui, frappés de sa bonté, voulaient rep7artir et dire à leur chef qu’ils n’avaient pas trouvé Phocas, mais Phocas insista, leur démontrant qu’ils avaient tout intérêt à obéir à leur chef.

Les soldats alors le décapitèrent et l’enterrèrent dans la tombe toute prête. Ce pouvait être en 303.
Dans une autre version, Phocas est présenté au gouverneur Africanus qui, ayant blasphémé le nom du Christ et fait torturer Phocas, mourut brusquement dans un tremblement de terre. L’épouse du gouverneur supplia Phocas, qui le ressuscita.

Le fait fut rapporté à l’empereur qui, irrité au plus haut point, se fit amener Phocas, le fit écorcher vif et précipiter dans un bain d’eau brûlante, où mourut Phocas.

De nombreux miracles eurent lieu encore après la mort de Phocas.

Par allusion à son nom (qui signifie phoque en grec), les marins ont coutume, dit-on, de mettre de côté la portion de S. Phocas, consistant en une portion de nourriture vendue à un passager ; le prix en est remis au capitaine qui, au port, remet l’argent aux pauvres en action de grâce pour être rentré sain et sauf avec son équipage. 

La bonté de Phocas peut certainement expliquer l’immense culte qu’on lui voua. Mais s’il fut si célèbre, on s’étonne qu’il n’y ait aucun témoignage plus solide, de la part de ses diocésains, au sujet de son épiscopat et même qu’on ait laissé sa tombe dans son jardin, sans aucune cérémonie.

Saint Phocas le jardinier est commémoré le 5 mars dans le Martyrologe Romain.



Phocas de Sinope, appelé parfois Phocas le jardinier, est un martyr reconnu saint par l'Église catholique romaine et l'Église orthodoxe. 

Saint Phocas naquit dans la ville de Sinope, au bord de la mer Noire, d'un père nommé Pamphile, constructeur de bateaux, et d'une mère nommée Marie. Dès qu'il sortit de l'erreur païenne, Dieu lui accorda la grâce d'accomplir des miracles. Il devint évêque de Sinope et amena, tant par ses paroles que par ses miracles, de nombreux païens à la vraie foi. 

Les premières traces de son nom sont présentes dans les écrits d'Astérios d'Amasée (vers 400). En grec ancien, Phocas signifie phoque, ce qui explique peut-être que Saint Phocas soit le saint patron des marins et pêcheurs. Selon la tradition, les marins mettent de côté une part de chaque plat, appelée la portion de Saint Phocas. Cette portion est vendue à un des voyageurs, et le prix est remis au capitaine. De retour au port, l'argent est distribué aux pauvres en remerciement d'être rentrés sains et saufs. Cette tradition dérive probablement d'une tradition plus ancienne de la mer Noire basée sur l'esprit invisible de Klabautermann 

Selon la tradition chrétienne, Phocas était un jardinier vivant à Sinope, au bord de la mer Noire en Turquie, qui nourrissait les pauvres avec ses récoltes et qui a aidé des chrétiens persécutés 

Un jour, Dieu lui révéla que le moment du Martyre était venu: «Une coupe a été préparée pour toi, tu dois maintenant la boire». Il comparut devant le gouverneur Africanus et confessa avec audace sa Foi au Christ vrai Dieu et vrai homme. Comme Africanus avait blasphémé le Nom du Christ et fait torturer le Saint, il y eut un tremblement de terre. Le gouverneur mourut. Mais, à la demande de sa femme, le Saint, miséricordieux, le releva par sa prière. Il fut conduit à l'empereur qui le fit écorcher puis jeter dans un bain surchauffé, où le Saint remit son âme à Dieu. 

Après sa mort, Phocas fit encore de nombreux miracles. Au cours des persécutions ordonnées par l'empereur 

Rédigé par Parlons d'orthodoxie le 5 Octobre 2012 à 11:07 | 0 commentaire | Permalien



From his panegyric, written by St. Asterius, and another by St. Chrysostom, t. 2, ed. Ben. p. 704. Ruinart, p. 627.

A.D. 303

ST. PHOCUS dwelt near the gate of Sinope, a city of Pontus, and lived by cultivating a garden, which yielded him a handsome subsistence, and wherewith plentifully to relieve the indigent. In his humble profession he imitated the virtue of the most holy anchorets, and seemed in part restored to the happy condition of our first parents in Eden. To prune the garden without labour and toil was their sweet employment and pleasure. Since their sin, the earth yields not its fruit but by the sweat of our brow. But still, no labour is more useful or necessary, or more natural to man, and better adapted to maintain in him vigour of mind or health of body than that of tillage; nor does any other part of the universe rival the innocent charms which a garden presents to all our senses, by the fragrancy of its flowers, by the riches of its produce, and the sweetness and variety of its fruits; by the melodious concert of its musicians, by the worlds of wonders which every stem, leaf, and fibre exhibit to the contemplation of the inquisitive philosopher, and by that beauty and variegated lustre of colours which clothe the numberless tribes of its smallest inhabitants, and adorn its shining landscapes, vying with the brightest splendour of the heavens, and in a single lily surpassing the dazzling lustre with which Solomon was surrounded on his throne in the midst of all his glory. And what a field for contemplation does a garden offer to our view in every part, raising our souls to God in raptures of love and praise, stimulating us to fervour, by the fruitfulness with which it repays our labour, and multiplies the seed it receives; and exciting us to tears of compunction for our insensibility to God by the barrenness with which it is changed into a frightful desert, unless subdued by assiduous toil! Our saint joining prayer with his labour, found in his garden itself an instructive book, and an inexhausted fund of holy meditation. His house was open to all strangers and travellers who had no lodging in the place; and after having for many years most liberally bestowed the fruit of his labour on the poor, he was found worthy also to give his life for Christ. Though his profession was obscure, he was well known over the whole country by the reputation of his charity and virtue.

When a cruel persecution, probably that of Dioclesian in 303, was suddenly raised in the church, Phocas was immediately impeached as a Christian, and such was the notoriety of his pretended crime, that the formality of a trial was superceded by the persecutors, and executioners were despatched with an order to kill him on the spot wherever they should find him. Arriving near Sinope, they would not enter the town, but stopping at his house without knowing it, at his kind invitation they took up their lodging with him. Being charmed with his courteous entertainment, they at supper disclosed to him the errand upon which they were sent, and desired him to inform them where this Phocas could be most easily met with? The servant of God, without the least surprise, told them he was well acquainted with the man, and would give them certain intelligence of him next morning. After they were retired to bed he dug a grave, prepared everything for his burial, and spent the night in disposing his soul for his last hour. When it was day he went to his guests, and told them Phocas was found, and in their power whenever they pleased to apprehend him. Glad at this news, they inquired where he was. “He is here present,” said the martyr, “I myself am the man.” Struck at his undaunted resolution, and at the composure of his mind, they stood a considerable time as if they had been motionless, nor could they at first think of imbruing their hands in the blood of a person in whom they discovered so heroic a virtue, and by whom they had been so courteously entertained. He indirectly encouraged them, saying, that as for himself, he looked upon such a death as the greatest of favours, and his highest advantage. At length recovering themselves from their surprise, they struck off his head. The Christians of that city, after peace was restored to the church, built a stately church which bore his name, and was famous over all the East. In it were deposited the sacred relics, though some portions of them were dispersed in other churches.

St. Asterius, bishop of Amasea about the year 400, pronounced the panegyric of this martyr, on his festival, in a church, probably near Amasea, which possessed a small part of his remains. In this discourse 1 he says, “that Phocas from the time of his death was become a pillar and support of the churches on earth: he draws all men to his house; the highways are filled with persons resorting from every country to this place of prayer. The magnificent church which (at Sinope) is possessed of his body, is the comfort and ease of the afflicted, the health of the sick, the magazine plentifully supplying the wants of the poor. If in any other place, as in this, some small portion of his relics be found, it also becomes admirable, and most desired by all Christians.” He adds, that the head of St. Phocas was kept in his beautiful church in Rome, and says, “The Romans honour him by the concourse of the whole people in the same manner they do Peter and Paul.” He bears testimony that the sailors in the Euxine, Ægean, and Adriatic seas, and in the ocean, sing hymns in his honour, and that the martyr has often succoured and preserved them; and that the portion of gain which they in every voyage set apart for the poor is called Phocas’s part. He mentions that a certain king of barbarians had sent his royal diadem set with jewels, and his rich helmet a present to the church of St. Phocas, praying the martyr to offer it to the Lord in thanksgiving for the kingdom which his Divine Majesty had bestowed upon him. St. Chrysostom received a portion of the relics of St. Phocas, not at Antioch, as Baronius thought, and as Fronto le Duc and Baillet doubt, but at Constantinople as Montfaucon demonstrates. 2 On that solemn occasion the city kept a great festival two days, and St. Chrysostom preached two sermons, only one of which is extant. 3 In this he says, that the emperors left their palaces to reverence these relics, and strove to share with the rest in the blessings which they procure men. The emperor Phocas built afterwards another great church at Constantinople in honour of this martyr, and caused a considerable part of his relics to be translated thither. The Greeks often style St. Phocas hiero-martyr or sacred martyr, which epithet they sometimes give to eminent martyrs who were not bishops, as Ruinart demonstrates against Baronius.

Note 1. P. 178, ed. Combefis. [back]

Note 2. Not. ib. t. 2, p. 704. Op. St. Chrys. [back]

Note 3. T. 2, ed. Ben. p. 704. [back]

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73).  Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints.  1866



San Foca l'Ortolano Martire


Accanto ai grandi martiri dei primi anni del secondo secolo come Ignazio di Antiochia e Simeone di Gerusalemme, ultimo dei parenti immediati di Gesù, troviamo anche un ortolano, di nome Foca, abitante a Sinope, nel Ponto Eusino. Era apprezzato e benvoluto da tutti per la sua generosità e la sua ospitalità e di queste sue virtù diede una commovente dimostrazione agli stessi carnefici, incaricati di eseguire la sentenza capitale pronunciata contro di lui. Evidentemente i carnefici non lo conoscevano di persona, perchè, entrati in casa sua per avere delle indicazioni, furono generosamente invitati a pranzo dall'ortolano. Mentre i due si rifocillavano, Foca andò nell'orto a scavarsi la fossa; quindi tornò in casa e dichiarò la propria identità ai carnefici, pregandoli di non porre indugi all'esecuzione della sentenza. Fu accontentato e pochi istanti dopo il suo corpo cadeva nella fossa appena scavata. (Avvenire)

Patronato: Agricoltori, Giardinieri, Naviganti

Emblema: Palma

Martirologio Romano: A Sinópe nel Ponto, nell’odiena Turchia, san Foca, martire, che fu giardiniere e patì molti tormenti per il nome del Redentore. 

L’ospitalità, si sa, è dovere di ogni buon cristiano; l’amore vicendevole ed il perdono fraterno anche. Ma arrivare al punto da preparare cena, prestare il proprio letto e fornire lenzuola di bucato ai propri assassini è eroismo puro. Che ci viene insegnato oggi da un santo dal nome strano ma dalla storicità certa, che gode di una vastissima devozione tanto in Oriente come in Occidente, al punto che c’è chi lo festeggia a marzo, chi a luglio e chi il 22 settembre. Addirittura hanno provato ad “inventare” altri santi con lo stesso nome, ma l’unico autentico è proprio quello dal mestiere più umile e dalla testimonianza più coraggiosa, San Foca il giardiniere. La sua vicenda umana si colloca nei primi secoli dell’era cristiana, sicuramente non oltre il quarto secolo; le prime testimonianze su di lui arrivano da un panegirico del V secolo, così stringato, documentato e presentato con tono di rapida sequenza, come di cronaca giornalistica, da non lasciare dubbio alcuno sull’autenticità del personaggio celebrato. Dicevamo: Foca è giardiniere, forse anche benestante, dato che è famoso presso i suoi contemporanei per la sua generosità verso i poveri e per l’ospitalità che offre a tutti nella sua casa. Vive a Sinope, un grande porto sul Mar Nero ed è cristiano, il che, all’epoca in cui vive, non è certo una scelta di comodo o una semplice tradizione di famiglia, visto che continuamente i cristiani sono perseguitati e uccisi dall’imperatore di turno, che in questa maniera si illude di spegnere la nuova religione che sta prendendo piede. Foca, oltre che generoso ed ospitale, è forse anche un personaggio in vista; oppure la sua testimonianza è così limpida e convincente da rappresentare un pericolo per l’autorità politica. Così viene condannato a morte senza processo e mandano due sicari sulle sue tracce, con il preciso incarico di eseguire immediatamente la condanna capitale. Per ironia della sorte i due sicari, giunti nei pressi di Sinope, bussano proprio alla porta di Foca per avere informazioni sul “pericoloso cristiano” di cui sono alla ricerca e si vedono spalancare la porta di quella casa, tradizionalmente ospitale, offrire un pasto sostanzioso e un buon letto su cui riposare. Non hanno nessun problema a rivelare a quell’uomo così cortese il motivo del loro viaggio e non si fanno scrupoli nel chiedergli consiglio sul modo migliore per giungere in fretta a mettere le mani su quel tal Foca e così portare a termine la loro missione. Invitati a trascorrere la notte in quella casa con la promessa di ricevere dal loro ospite utili indicazioni il mattino successivo, quale non è, al risveglio, la loro sorpresa nel trovarlo di buon mattino già in giardino, dove ha appena finito di scavare una fossa. Ma alla sorpresa si aggiunge un più che comprensibile problema di coscienza, nello scoprire che è proprio lui quel Foca di cui sono alla ricerca. Che li invita a compiere il loro dovere, dato che non ha voluto, anche se avrebbe potuto mentre dormivano, sfuggire ai suoi carnefici, ai quali anzi ha risparmiato anche la fatica di scavargli la fossa. E in quella lo seppelliscono dopo averlo trapassato con la spada, in mezzo ai fiori ed agli ortaggi del suo giardino, umile seme di autentica testimonianza cristiana. Giardinieri, ortolani e i marinai orientali lo venerano loro patrono. Viene invocato contro il morso dei serpenti: secondo la tradizione, chiunque, dopo il morso, aveva la possibilità di toccare la porta della basilica del martire veniva immediatamente risanato.

Autore: Gianpiero Pettiti