Each year, our brethren in the East, specifically within the Manichaean Church in the East, commemorate the memory of St. Darius of Spain, also known as “St. Darius the Hermit.” This year, the Mother Church in Iran encouraged brethren in the West, to commemorate this and three other saints beginning this year.
St. Darius was a Hearer and hermit who resided in the north-eastern region of Spain, where he occupied a very small, one room home. He was under the spiritual guidance of Mar Marcus of Memphis, circa 400 C.E. His days were filled with incessant prayer, the copying of Scriptures and epistles, and helping other Manichaeans in Spain and France during perilous times. Many would visit Darius at his humble hermitage, under the cover of darkness, to receive the blessing of his knowledge of the holy texts. Although he had very little food of his own, he would share whatever he had with any of his brethren who would visit.
The Mother Church said that St. Darius was responsible for assisting fellow Manichaeans who were being persecuted. He was able to bring food to his brothers and sisters, and help them find suitable shelter while they passed through the area where he was residing. He is credited for assisting at least thirty families who were fleeing for their lives.
At one time, when men came to remove Darius from his hermitage, an angelic being took him by the arms and lifted him up above and behind a large tree. The men entered the hermitage and ransacked it. After going back outside, they saw a freshly dug grave. They discussed among themselves that Darius must have died, but were not sure. In all, the men came to the hermitage three times, in three days, but eventually decided the hermit must have died. After the third day, the angel placed Darius back on the ground and told him that the Scriptures could be found in what the men had perceived to be a grave. The copies of the Manichaean texts were placed in the ground for safe-keeping.
St. Darius is known for rising in the morning and closing all his prayers with the words: “For God, His Kingdom, His Word, and His living Prophet.” He once said, “My prayers and praises are toward God, and for the coming of His Kingdom. I will reside in the word that He has spoken through His Messengers, and I will give forth praise for His Prophet-Messenger Mani… It is my duty to pray for my brethren, the followers of Mani, for my Bishop Marcus, and for all the world and for strength in my bones to continue the work for which I was called.” This beloved servant of God passed away somewhere in the area known today as Catalunya (Catalonia) at the age of seventy-three. Mar Mani Khaila said, “The holy servant Darius of Spain, upon the expiration of his physical body, entered immediately into the heavens and was granted a place among the other hermits who, during their lives on earth, served their Lord until their very last breath.”
The colour associated with this saint is light blue. His flower is Scilla hispanica (Spanish bluebell). On the day of his commemoration, the Church in the East honours this saint by giving to charity, giving the Scriptures to the less fortunate who otherwise would be unable to purchase copies, and by general fasting. Blue flowers are placed on or near the Bema in his honour for three days, to recall the miracle of the angelic being lifting him up in the air for three days. This year, we remember St. Darius on Wednesday, 2 March.
The Mother Church declared that Darius of Spain is the patron saint of hermits. Mar Mani Khaila said, “It is my prayer that others who have yet to take up their vocation as hermits, will be inspired by the account of St. Darius the Hermit, and that they will be able to take their calling more seriously.”
Photo by FoeNyx, Creative Commons License