This week, we’ll look at the life of St. Febronia of Nisibis whom we commemorate on June 25th.
Unlike other hagiographies of woman saints, the life of St. Febronia stands out uniquely, for it was written by a fellow woman, the nun Thomais. Febronia lived during the reign of Diocletian, which saw great persecution of Christians. Their convent is ransacked, and while the rest of the nuns escape, Febronia, the Abess Byrene, and her friend Thomais are left at the mercy of soldiers. The hagiography is one of the tougher texts to read; not only is it quite gruesome in the description of physical torture, but it also depicts the shaming of the chastity of Febronia, who is exposed naked in public by her persecutors. Mort Febronia remains unfazed through her tribulation, finding comfort in the promise of the Heavenly Kingdom and the True Bridegroom.
The story also depicts the bond of spiritual motherhood between Febronia and the Abess Byrene. This kinship is the personification of the bond we must all share with the Holy Church. Likewise, today take a moment to remember the other spiritual mothers, like our Sunday School teachers who struggle to share the faith with us.
May the intercession of St. Febronia the martyr of Nisibis be our fortress.
- Sebastian P. Brock and Susan Ashbrook Harvey, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient
- Dr. Mani Rajan Corepiscopo, Martyrs, Saints and Prelates of the Syriac Orthodox Church
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