St. Phocas

The Gardener

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.

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St. Phocas
St. Phocas


  1. Charmian Griffiths on September 22, 2021 at 3:56 am

    What a beautiful poignant story & today is his special day in the Roman Catholic & Orthodox churches. I learnt about him on Prayer for the Day but they dud not mention his digging his own grave in the night while the Roman soldiers enjoyed his hospitality.

    My beloved mother Lois Mary Porteous, nee Roome, would be 104 years young but she was taken from us just 15 days after her 36th birthday by a coronary thrombosis.

  2. FRANK HERBERT on September 18, 2023 at 8:28 am

    St John Chrysostom, in the 4th century, wrote about St Phocas:
    “Our saint joining prayer with his labour, found in his garden itself an instructive book, and an inexhausted fund of holy meditation.
    His house was open to all strangers and travellers who had no lodging in the place; and after having for many years most liberally bestowed the fruit of his labour on the poor, he was found worthy also to give his life for Christ. Though his profession was obscure, he was well known over the whole country by the reputation of his charity and virtue.”

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