The 17th Day of the Blessed Month of Bashans
Departure of St.Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus
On this day, of the year 402 A.D., the great father St. Epiphanius, Bishop of Cyprus, departed. He was born to Jewish parents, his father died, and left him with a sister and their mother brought them up well. His father left him an untrained donkey and his mother asked him to sell it. He met a Christian man called Philotheus who wanted to buy the donkey, but the donkey kicked Epiphanius in his thigh, and he fell down on the ground unconscious. Philotheus made the sign of the cross over the place of injury and Epiphanius was cured of his pain instantly. Then Philotheus cried out over that donkey asking God that the donkey would die God answered his prayer, and the donkey fell down and died. Epiphanius inquired about the secret of the donkey's death and Philotheus told him that it was the cross. He guided him to the crucified Christ, the Son of God, Whom the Jews crucified in Jerusalem by His own will for the Salvation of the world. This remained in the mind of Epiphanius. When one of the rich Jewish men died and had no one to inherit him, he left all his inheritance to Epiphanius. He used this inheritance to spend on the teachers of religion and Law. Once, when he was walking in the road, he saw a poor man asking for charity from one of the monks, and as the monk did not have any money to give, he took off his garment and gave it to him.
As the poor man took this garment, St. Epiphanius saw a white dress coming down from heaven upon the monk instead off the garment that he gave away. He was astonished and went to the monk and asked him: "Who are you and what is your faith?" The monk told him that he was Christian. He asked the monk to guide him to the facts of the Christian faith. The monk brought him to the bishop who taught him the law of the Christian faith and baptized him. Epiphanius desired to become a monk, and the bishop sent him to the monastery of St. Lucianus. He became a disciple to St. Hilarion, and the grace of God was with him. He excelled in the church subjects, monastic virtues, and its cannons. St. Hilarion prophesied that he would become a bishop and commanded him to go to Cyprus, and not to refuse the office of bishop if it was offered to him. When the bishop of Cyprus departed, it happened that Epiphanius entered the city to buy certain necessities, and he had two monks with him. A saintly bishop was inspired to go to the market place to choose the monk that had two clusters of grapes, whose name was Epiphanius, to ordain him a bishop for Cyprus. When the bishop went to the market, he found him with the other two monks, with two clusters of grapes in his hand. He asked him about his name and he knew that he was the chosen one by God. He took him to the church and ordained him deacon, priest, then bishop. He revealed to the people his vision about him and the prophecy of St. Helarion was fulfilled.
St. Epiphanius followed a right course of conduct in his diocese, which was well pleasing to God. He wrote many books and discourses and he always preached about mercy. It happened that John, bishop of Jerusalem, was not merciful, so St. Epiphanius borrowed from him some of his gold and silver table vessels, and sold them and gave its price to the poor and the needy. When Abba John asked him to return them, he struck him in his eyes and he became blind. John asked the Saint to pray to heal him, and he prayed, and God opened one of John's eyes. In the year 402 A.D., Empress Eudoxia called Epiphanius to help her to drive out St. John Chrysostom (Of the Golden Mouth) from Constantinople. However, he tried to reconcile them together, but he failed. She threatened him that she would open the temples of idols and close the churches if he did not work on his removal. But since he could not reconcile the differences between her and St. John, he returned to Cyprus and departed in the same year. (His body was relocated on the 28th. of Bashans).
May His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.