Dear brothers ands sisters,
I was very happy that a few of us were able to gather in Llanelli and use our midweek compline to celebrate the Holy-Great Martyr Menas, adding his canon to the Supplicatory Canon to the Mother of God.
Though little known outside the Orthodox Church today, he was known and revered across the Christian world in the middle ages, with pilgrim flasks bearing his image found by archaeologists across North Africa and Europe, including Russia.
For those who turn to him, St Menas, martyred during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian is a great wonder-worker and intercessor.
As a Roman centurion and a Christian, he refused to take part in earlier persecutions of Christians, and withdrew to mountain isolation to lead a life of prayer and ascetic labour, but during one of his visits to a city during a pagan festival he castigated the idol worshippers and denounced their impiety. This greatly angered the prefect, Pyrrhus, who sought to tempt Menas to renounce his Faith.
St Menas was steadfast in confessing Christ, and equally steadfast in opposing the pagans, confessing his Faith in a trial before the Imperial prefect. For his resilient Faith, he was subject to cruel tortures before being beheaded.
His sacred relics were taken by Christians at night and guarded until after the persecutions had ended, when they were buried with honour at the place we know call Al Alamein, south west of Alexandria.
In that place, he famously appeared driving camels through Field-Marshall Romel’s waiting German tank Army on the first night of the Battle of Al Alamein, frightening the superior and stronger German Army. The weaker allied forces gained a notable victory over the Germans, changing the course of the war in north Africa. Such is the grace and power of the intercession of our great St Menas!
Honour him on this feast, and bring your prayers and sorrows to him with great faith!
May God bless us and have mercy on us for the sake of his prayers.