Concepts create idols; only wonder grasps anything. - St Gregory of Nyssa

Thursday, March 22, 2012

St Drosida

      The Holy Martyress Drosida, together with Five Virgin-Martyrs Agalida, Apollinaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Taisia: Saint Drosida was daughter of the emperor Trajan (98-117), a fierce persecutor of Christians. In the year 99 he re-activated an earlier existing law which forbade secret gatherings and was indirectly aimed against Christians, and in the year 104 he issued a special law against Christians.
      Beginning with this year, the persecutions continued until the end of his reign. During this time the bodies of killed Christians often remained unburied for the purpose of scaring others. Five Christian virgins: Aglaida, Apolliniaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Taisia, took upon themselves the task of burying such Christians. They secretly gathered up the bodies of martyrs, anointed them with aromatics, wrapped them in shroud-cloths and buried them. Having learned of this, the imperial Drosida, secretly a Christian but not yet having accepted Baptism, asked the holy virgins to take her with them, when they would go to make burial of Christians.
      On the advice of the fiancee of Saint Drosida, the court dignitary Adrian, a guard was set nearby those killed, to arrest those who would bury them. And on the very first night Saint Drosida and the five virgins were caught. Having learned that among the captives was his own daughter, Trajan gave orders to hold her separately, in the hope that she would change her mind. The remaining holy virgins were sentenced to burning in a copper-foundry furnace. They bravely accepted execution and were vouchsafed martyrs crowns. From the copper, mingled with the ashes of the martyresses, were molded tripods for a new bath of Trajan. But as long as these tripods stood in the bath-house, no man was able to enter there: anyone crossing the threshold fell down dead. When the pagan priests perceived from whence this happened, they gave advice to remove the tripods.
      Then Adrian suggested to the emperor to remelt the tripods and to make from them five statues of naked virgins, resembling the executed martyresses, and for mockery and jeering to place these statues in front of the entrance to the imperial bath. Trajan agreed. When the statues were set up, the emperor saw in a dream five pure lambs pastured in paradise, and the shepherd which did say to him: "O most wanton and wicked Caesar! Those, the depictions of whom thou intended to set up for mockery, the Good and Merciful Pastor hath snatched away from thee and settled here, whither in time shalt also be the pure lamb Drosida, thine daughter". Having awakened, the wanton Trajan went into a rage and gave orders to fire up two huge furnaces and to fire them up daily. At the ovens was put up an imperial edict: "Men of the Galileian, ye worshiping the Crucified, deliver yourselves from a great many agonies, and us also from these labours: offer sacrifice to the gods. If ye however wish not to do this, then let each of you voluntarily, by whatever manner he wanteth, cast himself into this furnace". Many Christians voluntarily went to martyrdom.
      Having learned of this, Saint Drosida decided likewise to accept a martyr's death for Christ. In her imprisonment she offered up prayers that the Lord would help her exit from the prison. And God heard her prayer: the guards fell asleep. Set free, Saint Drosida went off towards the ovens, but began to ponder within herself: "How can I go to God, not having upon myself the wedding garb (i.e. not having been baptised), since I am impure. But, O King of kings Lord Jesus Christ, on account of Thee I do forsake my imperial position, so that Thou might vouchsafe me to be the very least doormaid in Thine kingdom. Do Thou Thyself baptise me with Thine Holy Spirit". Having thus prayed, Saint Drosida anointed herself with myrh (chrism), which she had taken along with her, and thrice submerging herself in water, pronounced: "the servant of God Drosida is baptised in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit". For seven days the saint hid herself, devoted to fasting and prayer. During this time Christians found her and learned from her the account of everything that occurred. And on the eighth day the holy Martyress Drosida went to the red-hot ovens and cast herself into the fire.


No comments: