On June 6, the Syriac Orthodox Church of Antioch ♰ commemorates the Martyr-Nuns of Persia. Sts. Thecla, Mariamne, Martha, Mary, and Ennath were martyred in Persia during the reign of Shapur II. They were members of the ‘Daughters of the Covenant’ or ‘Bnāt Qyāmā’. The ‘members of the covenant’ was an ascetical but pre-monastic movement in early Syriac Christianity. These individuals dedicated their lives to the service of the Church, and served within their cities and villages, espousing a lifestyle of charity and voluntary poverty. The Daughters of the Covenant specifically also served as the first all-women choirs, chanting Orthodox hymns in worship. Much has been written about the movement in the writings of the early Syriac Church Fathers.
The ‘Daughters of the Covenant’ were often specially targeted; to be tortured and publicly executed. The five martyr nuns of Persia were no exception. They stood firmly in the face of persecution, and wouldn’t dare compromise their Orthodox faith. From their hagiography we read, “The holy women met a brave death; valiantly did these chaste ladies depart this life to become a sweet savor before their Lord who has doubly rewarded them for their excellent course with glory that surpasses the suffering they underwent.”
References: Holy Women of the Syrian Orient
May their prayers be with us all.
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