Porphyry of Gaza, St.

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Fifth-century ascetic and bishop; b. Thessalonica, c. 347; d. Gaza, Feb. 26, 420. A generally authoritative but chronologically unreliable biography by Mark the Deacon records that Porphyry lived ten years as a monk in Egypt and Palestine, then sold his property in Thessalonica and distributed the money among the monasteries of Egypt and the poor of Jerusalem. Ordained in 392, he had in his charge the relics of the Holy Cross until in 395 he became bishop of Gaza, a hotbed of paganism. His success in making converts brought persecution on the small Christian community. He appealed to Emperor Arcadius, who closed the pagan temples, but they were soon reopened and the persecution resumed. Empress Eudoxia helped Porphyry obtain a new rescript. This time troops destroyed the temples. On the site of the largest, the Marneion, Porphyry built a basilica called Eudoxiana after the empress, who had donated plans and funds. Porphyry tirelessly instructed his people and made many converts despite continued pagan opposition.

Feast: Feb. 26.

Bibliography: p. peeters, tr., "La Vie Géorgienne de saint Porphyre de Gaza," Analecta Bollandiana 59 (1941) 65216, Lat. tr. h. grÉgoire and m. a. kugener, eds. and trs., Marc le Diacre: Vie de Porphyre (Paris 1930), review by f. halkin, Analecta Bollandiana 49 (1931) 155160. c. baur, John Chrysostom and His Time, tr. m. gonzaga, 2 v. (Westminster, Md. 196061). h. engberding, Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner, 10 v. (2d, new ed. Freiburg 195765); suppl., Das Zweite Vatikanische Konzil: Dokumente und Kommentare, ed. h. s. brechter et al., pt. 1 (1966) 8:619620.

[p. w. harkins]