Saint Porphyrius

Saint Porphyrius was an early 5th century bishop of Gaza, from 395 to 420, which makes him an a propos patron for that troubled region. That was back before Islam got its grip on the Middle East. Gaza was then predominantly pagan, which Porphyrius spent his energies extirpating. He called upon the power of the state – in the form of the Easter empire and Empress Eudoxia – to stamp out paganism, destroying their temples and shrines, and proscribing its practices. We may demur at such in our modern egalitarian era, but the region did become Christian – we hope more by persuasion than violence – until the rise of Muhammad. And the rest, as they say, is history.

A life of Saint Porphyrius – Vita Porphyrii  – was written by a contemporary, Mark the Deacon, whose historicity is disputed. Whatever its genre – hagiography or history or a bit of both – it does give us a window into that region in its origins, as well as into the life of the saint, and we may pray to him that peace, one day, may reign again.