Oil dedicated to Martyr St Febronia on prayer cloth
Martyr St Febronia was the niece of St. Bryene and had been raised in the community since the age of two. Nourished by the communal life, the young girl’s mind and entire outlook had become heavenly. As she grew to womanhood, she possessed unsurpassed beauty of body and soul. It was St. Febronia’s obedience to serve as reader. Because she zealously studied the Scriptures and teachings of the Church, she read with understanding and illumination and, thus, the hearers were edified. The young nun was held in awe by her sisters not only for her beauty, but because of her purity of soul and angelic countenance. She also became known in the city for her beauty, humility and learning.
Around 304, an entourage sent by Emperor Diocletian (284-305) arrived in Mesopotamia to “silence” the Christians. Seized with fear, all Christians in the area, including bishops, priests and monks, fled and hid in the mountains. Most of the nuns under St. Bryene followed the example of their hierarchs and abandoned the monastery. However, St. Febronia had become ill, and her loving aunt intended to stay put and remain steadfast, trusting that God would protect them. St. Thomaïs, the next in authority and supposed author of the life of St. Febronia, also chose not to flee.
The senior nuns were very concerned for their beloved spiritual daughter. They feared that St. Febronia might be defiled by the pagans and lose courage in the face of evil and torture. They reminded her that Jesus Christ, the true Bridegroom, bestows immortality upon those betrothed to Him with all their hearts. They counseled the young nun to remain faithful and keep the promises she had made to the Lord Jesus.
When soldiers forcibly entered the monastery, they decided to arrest the most beautiful nun, St. Febronia. She was shackled and brought to the prefect to stand trial. The prefect offered the young maiden wealth and liberty if she would but renounce Christianity and agree to marry. St. Febronia refused. Furious, he commanded that she be mercilessly tortured. She was stripped naked, then beaten, whipped and burned with fire. The tortures were so horrific that even the crowd implored them to stop. Deaf to their pleas, the soldiers literally stripped her skin from her bones. The prefect ordered that St. Febronia’s tongue be removed, but instead some teeth were knocked out. After this, he had St. Febronia’s limbs severed and then ordered that her head be cut off.