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Holy Virgin Martyr Anastasia the Roman


You endured behead­ing with a mighty heart, Off­spring of Rome Mar­tyr Anas­ta­sia. On the twen­ty-ninth Anas­ta­sia sub­mit­ted to a sharp sword.

The Ven­er­a­ble Mar­tyr Anas­ta­sia the Roman was born in Rome of well-born par­ents and left an orphan at the age of three. As an orphan, she was tak­en into a wom­en’s monastery near Rome, where the abbess was one Sophia, a nun of a high lev­el of per­fec­tion. She raised Anas­ta­sia in fer­vent faith, in the fear of God and obe­di­ence. After sev­en­teen years, Anas­ta­sia was known to the Chris­tians as a great ascetic and to the pagans as a rare beauty.

The per­se­cu­tion against Chris­tians by the emper­or Decius (249–251)* began around that time. The pagan admin­is­tra­tor of the city, Probus, heard of her and sent sol­diers to bring Anas­ta­sia to him. The good Abbess Sophia coun­selled Anas­ta­sia for two hours on how to keep the faith, how to resist flat­ter­ing delu­sion and how to endure tor­ture. Anas­ta­sia said to her: “My heart is ready to suf­fer for Christ; my soul is ready to die for my beloved Jesus.” Blessed by her abbess to suf­fer for Christ, the young mar­tyr Anas­ta­sia humbly came out to meet the armed soldiers.

Brought before the gov­er­nor Probus, Anas­ta­sia open­ly pro­claimed her faith in Christ the Lord. Probus asked for her name. She replied: “My name is Anas­ta­sia [“Res­ur­rec­tion”], because the Lord res­ur­rect­ed me, so that I could shame you today, and your father the dev­il.” On see­ing her youth and beau­ty, Probus first attempt­ed flat­tery to make her deny Christ and dis­suade her from the faith, “Why waste your youth, deprived of plea­sure? What is there to gain by endur­ing tor­tures and death for the Cru­ci­fied One? Wor­ship our gods, mar­ry a hand­some hus­band, and live in glo­ry and hon­or.” The holy maid­en stead­fast­ly replied, “My spouse, my rich­es, my life and my hap­pi­ness are my Lord Jesus Christ, and you will not turn me away from Him by your deceit! I am ready to die for my Lord, not once but — oh, if it were only pos­si­ble! — a thou­sand times.”

Probus then sub­ject­ed Anas­ta­sia to fierce tor­tures. The holy Mar­tyr brave­ly endured them, glo­ri­fy­ing and prais­ing the Lord. First she was struck in the face, then they stripped her naked, to humil­i­ate her. She cried out to the judge: “This dis­rob­ing isn’t shame­ful at all for me, because it’s a bril­liant, most fit­ting adorn­ment. I’ve been stripped of the old per­son and have donned the new, in right­eous­ness and truth. I’m now ready to suf­fer this death you hope to ter­ri­fy me with. I want it so much. Even if you cut up my mem­bers, rip out my tongue, my nails and my teeth, you’ll be grant­i­ng me an even greater bless­ing. I devote my whole being to my Cre­ator and Sav­ior. I desire that He be glo­ri­fied in all my mem­bers. I’ll present them to him as jew­els, with the adorn­ment of faith.”

The gov­er­nor then ordered that four posts be dri­ven into the ground, on which they stretched out the Mar­tyr and tied her, face-down. Under­neath, they lit a fire with oil, pitch and brim­stone, as well as oth­er inflam­ma­ble mate­ri­als, by which her breasts, stom­ach and inter­nal organs were burned. From above, the heart­less tor­tur­ers beat her back with sticks. She suf­fered and was thus tor­tured for a good long time and her spine and all her back were cut to pieces from the beat­ing. On her front, the flesh, the veins and her blood were all thor­ough­ly burned and she under­went such pain and agony that it was fright­en­ing to hear her. Only with her prayers, which were like dew, was she able to mod­er­ate the fierce­ness of the heat, because she remem­bered God’s for­mer mir­a­cles, such as the Baby­lon­ian furnace.

When the bru­tal and inhu­man beast saw that the Mar­tyr was not cowed by these tor­tures, he ordered her to be tied to a wheel. No soon­er said than done, and, when the wheel was turned by some mechan­i­cal device, all the Saint’s bones were shat­tered, her ten­dons and joints stretched, her body was pulled out of its nat­ur­al, har­mo­nious shape and she became a piti­ful sight.

When the tyrant saw that the Saint was able to with­stand this dread­ful tor­ture, he deter­mined to defeat her immense resilience with oth­er tor­tures. So he had all her teeth and nails pulled out and her breasts cut off. Again, the Saint thanked the Lord that she had become a shar­er and par­tic­i­pant in His suf­fer­ings. At the same time, she cursed the tyrant’s gods, call­ing them forces of dark­ness, demons and perdi­tion for the soul.

The judge could not bear to hear such words and, because the light was so hate­ful to his fee­ble eyes, he ordered that her tongue be torn out from the root. Yet again, the Saint was not cowed by this pun­ish­ment; she mere­ly asked for a lit­tle time in which to glo­ri­fy the Lord with her organs of speech. Hav­ing fin­ished her prayer, she told the exe­cu­tion­er to set about his work, which he did, cut­ting off her tongue. She faint­ed from the pain and a Chris­t­ian called Cyril gave her a lit­tle water to drink. When Probus heard this, he was so enraged that he ordered his head to be cut off.

An Angel of God appeared to Anas­ta­sia and upheld her. The peo­ple, see­ing the inhu­man and dis­gust­ing treat­ment of the Saint, became indig­nant, and the ruler was com­pelled to end the tor­tures. She was final­ly behead­ed with the sword out­side the city. The body of the Saint was thrown out beyond the city to be eat­en by wild ani­mals, but the Lord did not per­mit her holy relics to be dis­hon­ored. At the com­mand of a holy Angel, Abbess Sophia went to find Anas­tasi­a’s muti­lat­ed body, and with the help of two Chris­tians buried it in the earth.
In this man­ner, Saint Anas­ta­sia received the crown of mar­tyr­dom. Her feast day is cel­e­brat­ed on Octo­ber 29th.** Her shin­bone with skin on it as well as her right hand are kept today at Gre­go­ri­ou Monastery in Mount Athos.

* Some say it was dur­ing the reign of Diocletian.

** There is anoth­er Roman mar­tyr named Anas­ta­sia who is cel­e­brat­ed on Octo­ber 12th, but it is like­ly the same per­son. How­ev­er, this Anas­ta­sia should not be con­fused with Saint Anas­ta­sia the Phar­makoly­tria cel­e­brat­ed on Decem­ber 22nd.

Apoly­tikion in the Fourth Tone

O holy Vir­gin Anas­ta­sia, thou didst red­den thy robe of puri­ty with the blood of thy mar­tyr’s con­test. Thou dost illu­mine the world with the grace of heal­ing, and inter­cede with Christ our God for our souls.

Kon­takion in the Third Tone
Puri­fied by the streams of thy vir­gin­i­ty, and crowned by the blood of mar­tyr­dom, thou dost grant heal­ing to those in sick­ness, and sal­va­tion to those who lov­ing­ly pray to thee. For Christ has giv­en thee strength which flows to us as a stream of grace, O Vir­gin Mar­tyr Anastasia.