Chaldean saints are recognized among the spiritual piety and through devotions, but they have not officially gone through the canonization process. That could soon change. The Chaldean church is asking for the universal recognition of the Chaldean saints, specifically 17 already acknowledged on a weekly basis during mass.
Once acknowledged by Rome, Chaldean saints would be Universal Saints. “It is wonderful to have a devotion to Latin saints but as Chaldeans, it is important to not take for granted our own saints,” said Fr. Matthew from St. George Chaldean Catholic Church.
Below are stories on the saints, submitted to Rome, as well as some commentary from Fr. Matthew.
Today’s Saint is: The Martyrs Mart Shereen (Miskenta) and her two sons
Shereen who was also known as “Miskenta” was a mother of two children and her family lived in the ancient city of Kirkh Slokh, present day Kirkuk. When she came to learn that more than 12,000 faithful Christians became martyrs at the hands of King Yezdegerd, she reinforced the faith to her family of the sacrifice of Jesus. She was captured by Yezdegerd’s emissary and called her to deny her faith for the sake of her children. She instead begged him to have mercy on her and include her in the ranks of the other martyrs. She instead was killed, along with her elder son, by his accompanying soldiers. The soldiers tried effortlessly to calm the younger son and keep him away from the dead bodies of his mother and elder brother, but at the end they killed him, too. They were martyred on August 26, 445 A.D. The Chaldean Church commemorates her annually on September 25. Another commemoration exists in the Chaldean Church in Mosul that is named after her, Mart Miskenta, on the day she became a martyr, August 26.
We turn to this wonderful mother and seek her intercession for all mothers that they keep instilling the faith of Jesus in their children especially during society’s sometime cruel attack against the faith.
March 23rd’s Saint of the Day: Mart Juliet and her son, Qiryaqos
The Roman emperor Diocletion launched one of the worst persecutions of Christians in the West in the early part of the 4th century. During this persecution, a mother named Juliet was arrested along with her three-year-old son named Qiryaqos. When they started torturing his mother, Qiryaqos approached the judge and affirmed his Christian faith. The judge became furious and grabbed him from his feet and threw him violently at the court steps. He hit his head on the steps and crushed his skull. His mother Juliet did not waver from proclaiming her love for Jesus especially after seeing her son martyred. As a result, she was beheaded. The Chaldean Church annually celebrates the martyrdom of Qiryaqos and his mother Juliet on July 15, the day of their martyrdom.
St. Juliet and her son are a great example of a family dedicated to Jesus regardless of the hardships and cruelty that life can bring. St. Qiryaqos is also a great example that you’re never too young to believe in Jesus.
March 20th’s Saint of the Day: Mar Adhorhormizd and his daughter, Anaheed
There was a pagan priest of the Zoroastrian religion named Adhorhormizd. He had had an only daughter named Anaheed. He loved her very much and when she became ill, no one was able to cure her. Her father was informed that there was an elderly wise man named Pithyon who might be able to heal her. Pithyon prayed on Anaheed and she was healed. Two years later, her father wanted to marry her in accordance with the customs of the Persian faith, Zoroastrianism. However, she became ill again and contracted leprosy. He took her to Pithyon again, who healed her. They both became Christian and were baptized. When the news of the two converting to Christianity reached King Yezdegerd II, he ordered one of the pagan scholars to try to convert them back to their forefathers’ faith. When that failed, Adhorhormizd was ordered to be beheaded on April 25. Anaheed had disappeared, but they found her in a cave in a mountain praying. Following her arrest, she was tortured and all her bones were broken. The judge ordered her whole body to be smothered with honey and tossed in the mountains to be stung by countless bees and be poisoned to death. However, the bees did not touch her. A few days later, on June 18, she died peacefully. Some nearby Christians buried her with dignity. Their martyrdom was in 448 A.D. and their commemoration is on the 3rd Sunday of Easter.
The love of God that was revealed in both father and daughter causes us to look to them for strength in our daily need for healing. It is only then that we find our peace.
March 16th’s Saint of the Day: Mar Eugene, Mar John, and his brother Mar Ahha, the Copts
Eugene arrived from the island of Kazma, near Suez, in Egypt. He was a diver who extracted jewels from the sea and distributed them to the poor. This was his job for more than 20 years. Later in life, he felt the call to serve the Lord and found the greatest pearl, Jesus. He accepted the vows of being a monk in the monastery and, along with his friends John and Ahha, went to the mountain Izla. The three revived the religious life of monks and built great monasteries. Flocks of people joined them and many miracles were performed.
Mar Eugene’s commemoration in the Chaldean Church falls on the 2nd Friday before Lent. Mar Ahha’s commemoration date falls on one of the Fridays during the season of Moses in the Chaldean Liturgical Cycle. His brother Mar John is on October 15.
The three saints are a great example of following the call of Christ to serve him regardless of the time in their lives and regardless of the great distance that they sacrificed to make his name known.
March 13th’s Saint of the Day: Mar Shimun Bar Sabbae
Shimun was originally from the city of Sous which is today located in the South-East region of Iraq. As a child, he moved and was raised in the ancient city of Ctesiphon, today located 30 miles south of Baghdad. He was ordained a priest and then a bishop. In 328 A.D., he was made the Catholics (Patriarch) of the Chaldean Church. He led the church with great energy and perseverance until 339 A.D., when the Christian persecutions began in the Persian Empire.
In 344 AD, the situation escalated and the pagan leaders requested from him, by the order of the Emperor, to collect double taxes from the Christians. Mar Shimun refused the Emperor’s order because his congregation was poor and was unable to withstand such a burden and second because he was the shepherd of his congregation not a tax collector. After repeated threats and trying effortlessly to convince him to collect the mentioned taxes, the emperor decided to behead Simeon, all the clergy, bishops, deacons, the faithful followers who were also arrested with him when he was summoned, and every Christian who would affirm his/her faith.
Mar Shimun, along with his 102 followers were killed on Good Friday in 344 A.D. His commemoration is the Friday after Easter and it is also the Friday of All Martyrs and Confessors. He is also remembered on the 6th Friday during the Liturgical Season of Summer. While he was in prison, while the waiting on his death sentence, he wrote many prayers that became part of the Chaldean liturgy. It is of interest to know that his name and life is found in the Roman Church’s list of Martyrology with a commemoration on April 21.
March 9th’s Saint of the Day: Mar Awda the Martyr and those with him
Awda was a priest who lived in the 4th century in the city of Kashkar, which is located in the west bank of the Tigris River in southern Mesopotamia and under the Persian Empire. At the time, there was a persecution of the Christians that lived in that region because of the accusation that they were spies of the enemy — the Roman Empire. It wasn’t long that Fr. Awda was accused of being a spy and he too was arrested, along with many other Christians. They were imprisoned and forced to march to a nearby city while chained. When they refused to bow to the sun god, they each received 100 lashes. Then their cases were transferred to the army general, where he in turn tried to convince them to worship the sun god of the Zoroastrian religion. They refused. So he ordered to behead all of them with the sword. That took place on May 15, 376 A.D. Our Church commemorates them on May 16, because May 15 is always dedicated to the Memorial of Our Lady of the Harvest.
We turn to these great martyrs for their prayers as we again observe many of our Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria and the rest of the world being accused of being enemies to their own country. We pray for their intercession that we may be able to balance our Christian faith with political situations that attack our faith.
March 6th’s Saint of the Day: Mar Qardagh, the Martyr
Mar Qardagh was born in the city of Nimrod, one of the main cities in the Assyrian Empire. He became a skilled army commander and his reputation reached the king who then appointed him as part of his advisors. Later, he was appointed governor of the region from Dugail to Nisibin and later was deployed to Arbil.
When he arrived there, the Christians became very upset, because of his discriminatory reputation in favor of the magi, the Zoroastrian priests, who worshiped the sun. The faithful began praying and begging the Lord to protect his Church from Qardagh’s evil doings and the thirst of the king to slaughter Christians. During one of those nights, while sleeping, he had a vision that he was going to die as a martyr for Christ’s sake. He then met with an elder named Awdisho’ who taught him about Christianity.
He was then baptized and set out to destroy the pagan temples and instead built temples to glorify the messiah. These actions infuriated the king who tried to convert him back to his forefathers’ religion. At the end, he was martyred by stoning at the same site that he had seen in his dream. Many miracles occurred in that same site. He died on the last Friday of that summer of 359 A.D. The church celebrates his anniversary annually on that Friday.
March 2nd’s Saint of the Day: Mar Hormizd the Monk (Rabban)
Hormizd was born during the end of the 6th Century AD. During his 20th birthday, he felt a great urge to denounce all earthly possessions, seek solitude, and live an ascetic life. After becoming a monk, he spent his time praying, worshiping God and dedicated his life to fasting. After consulting with his superiors, he left his monastery to live a rigid life in solitude. He later established a monastery around 640 A.D. in the village of Alqosh. After a life of holiness and fidelity, he passed away at the old age of 87. There is an annual commemoration for him on the 3rd Monday after Easter.
Mar Hormizd is a great example of someone who seeks the vocation to truly deny all earthly possessions and follow Jesus. It is a call that to the religious life and ordained ministry. But it is also a life that needs to be adopted by our families today to seek first Jesus and his beauty and then use all possessions in a tempered manner as a tool and not as a means.