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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Saint Hilarion of Gaza, Ab ; Saint Ursula, V

Saint Hilarion of Gaza

Hilarion was born of heathen parentage at Tabatha in Palestine, five miles south of Gaza, about the 291. Saint Epiphanius, Bishop of Salarius, knew him well, and wrote his life, from which the following account is largely taken. As a lad he was sent to study at Alexandria, where he bore a fair name for life and wit. There he embraced the religion of Jesus Christ, and made wonderful headway in faith and love. When the name of Anthony became famous in Egypt, Hilarion made a journey into the desert on purpose to see him, and dwelt with him two months, to the end that he might learn his complete rule of life. After the death of his father and mother, he gave all that he had to the poor. And so, before he had completed the fifteenth year of his age, he went into the desert, and built a little house, scarcely big enough to hold him, and wherein he was used to sleep on the ground. He was a comely and delicate youth, and therefore set about to mortify and harden himself. His food was a few figs and some porridge of vegetables, and this he ate not before set of sun, but his prayer was unceasing. Till his time neither Syria nor Palestine knew of the monastic life, so that Hilarion was the founder of it therein, as Anthony had been in Egypt. He had built many monasteries, and become famous for miracles, when, in the eightieth year of his age, he fell sick. As he was gasping for his last breath, he said : Go out, my soul; what art thou afraid of? And so he gave up the ghost.

Grant, we beseech thee, O Lord, that the prayers of thy holy Abbot, blessed Hilarion may commend us unto thee : that we, who have no power of ourselves to help ourselves, may by his advocacy, find favour in thy sight, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

On October 21st is also commemorated holy Ursula and he Companion-Martyrs, who are presumed to have died sometime in the third century ; for an ancient inscription at cologne giveth proof that certain Virgins were there martyred for Christ in the early days ; and these same were natives of Britain, returning from Palestine, and many number, under the leadership of holy Ursula.
O God, who among the manifold works of thine almighty power hast bestowed even upon the weakness of women strength to win the victory of martyrdom : grant, we beseech thee, that we, who on this day recall the heavenly birth of blessed Ursula thy Virgin and Martyr ; may so follow in her footsteps, that we may likewise attain unto thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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