Before we get to the saints. Monday is Clean Monday and marks the beginning of Great Lent in the Eastern Orthodox Church. The first week is known as clean week which is a nod to the spiritual cleansing which is encouraged through fasting, prayer, repentance, reception of the sacraments or Holy Mysteries and seeking forgiveness. Fasting is very strict this first week. Great Lent last forty days in total and ends on Lazarus Saturday which begins Holy Week.
Serenus the Gardener or in France Cerneuf (died c. 302)
There isn’t much that is really known about Serenus but the legend surrounding him is great. According to the legend Serenus was a great gardener, hence his descriptor, one day he found the wife of imperial guard for walking in his garden and he went up and torn into her. She told her husband who went and told the Emperor Maximian. Serenus was put on trial and the Governor found him innocent of insulting the guard’s wife, but had Serenus beheaded for refusing to sacrifice to the Roman Gods.
Aba I or Mar Aba I or Mar Abba the Great (died 552)
Aba was the Patriarch of Seleucia-Ctesiphon, he was in the East and introduced different Eucharist prayers and ancient liturgies to the Persian Church. Aba grew up a Zoroastrian and while working as a secretary to the governor of Beth Garmai, Aba came across a Christian. Aba was so impressed with Christian’s simplicity and humility the it inspired him to become a Christian. When Aba was Patriarch it was a time of division as many of the remote areas had elected their own bishops. He was influential at stopping this schism and reuniting the area back together.
Pope Alexander of Alexandria (26 February or 17 April 326 or 328)
Alexander was the leader of the Coptic Church. Not much is really known about his early life but as a young priest he experienced the tale end of the Christian persecutions in the Roman Empire. When he became Patriarch Alexander faced three big problems, when Easter is, an ongoing conflict with Meletius of Lycopolis, and Arianism. Arianism was his biggest problem as Alexander’s predecessor had allowed Arius back into the church and gave him the oldest church, which meant that Arius had a lot of influence and his message could go further. All three issues would lead up to the first Council in Nicaea. At Nicaea Alexander brought a deacon to help Athanasius and we know what happened next the council did a great deal to basically end the heresy of Arius. The date of Easter was set as well.