Today, Catholics honor St. Phocas the Gardener who lived in Turkey during the third century.
A protector of persecuted Christians, Phocas grew crops in his garden to help feed the poor.
Phocas is remembered for his hospitality and generosity; his garden played an essential part in living both of those virtues.
When Roman soldiers were sent to kill him, they could not find shelter for the night.
Naturally, when Phocas encountered them, he not only offered them lodging but a meal made from the bounty of his garden. During the meal, Phocas realized they had come for him. While the soldiers slept that night, he dug his own grave and prayed for the soldiers. In the morning, Phocas told the soldiers who he was, and the soldiers, who could conceive of no other option, reluctantly killed him and buried him in the grave he had dug for himself.
Although gardening can be a solitary activity, Phocas, the gardener, paved the way, showing us how to use our gardens to connect us to others through generosity and hospitality.