Saint Irene of Rome

Saint Irene of Rome

Orphaned at a young age, the sisters Agape, Chionia, and Irene led pious lives under the direction of a priest called Xeno. They to marry and remained virgins.

According to legend, Irene attended to the wounded St. Sebastian after he was shot full of arrows.

In 303, Emperor Diocletian issued a decree making it a capital offense to possess Christian scriptures. The sisters were in possession of the scriptures, but they did hide them.

Irene and her sisters were arrested eventually, for offending the Imperial cult by not eating food that had been sacrificed to the gods. They were brought before Emperor Diocletian, who could not persuade them to renounce their faith, and as he was leaving for Macedonia, brought them with him. There they were taken to the court of Dulcitius, governor of Thessalonica.

The sisters repulsed the governor's indecent advances. Annoyed with Dulcititus as ineffectual, Diocletian turned the three young women over to Count Sisinus for trial. He imprisoned Irene, the youngest; and making no headway in getting the older two to recant, ordered them to be burned. Afterwards the decedents appeared to be merely asleep as neither their clothes nor bodies had been scorched. After the deaths, their house was searched and the scriptures found and publicly burned.

Sisinus ordered Irene to be taken to a brothel, but on the way the escort was intercepted by two soldiers who told them to abandon her on a mountain. When they returned, Sisinus grew angry as he had given no such orders to abandon Irene. He pursued Irene and she was wounded in the throat with an arrow, at which point she died.

Four other individuals were tried with the sisters: Agatho, Casia, Philippa and Eutychia. Of these, one woman was remanded as she was pregnant. The fates of the other three are unknown.

The story of their martyrdom is the subject of a 10th-century medieval Latin drama by the secular canoness, Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim.

The island of Santorini is named after a cathedral established honoring Irene in the island village of Perissa.

Other Saints of the Day
1. Saint Richard of Wyche
2. Saint Agape
3. Saint Attala
4. Saint Fara
5. Saint Nicetas

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