Dec 30th - Anysia of Salonika
Anysia was a pious woman of wealth known for her prayer, her vow of chastity, and her charity. She lived during the Diocletian persecution at a time when Maximian (co-emperor) had issued an edict stating that anyone had the right to kill Christians with no fear of punishment. I can only imagine the fear she lived under as the bodies piled up around them.
The story goes that one day, on her way to liturgy, she was stopped by a Roman soldier demanded that she come along to the festival of the sun to offer sacrifice. It is reported that she refused and when the soldier grabbed her and attempted to tear the veil from her head, she shoved him, spit in his face and said, “My Lord Jesus Christ forbids you!” Either from that slight or from the mere fact that she may have crossed herself in fear, he knew she was a Christian and killed her with his sword.
On a historical note, Roman coins of the first century show the civic virtue of pietas (Latin for "piety") is personified as a woman with a veil as well as the personification of pudicitia ("modesty" or "chastity"). The veil was also seen as the sign of a husband's authority over his wife. Because of these customs I would guess that the Roman soldier understood that a woman under a veil was fair game when he approached her. Trying to remove her veil was certainly an action of violence against her vow.
It is the two-fold problem of the powerful over the weak and the dehumanization of others, especially of women. Anysia falls victim to both, and for that reason we should spend some time thinking about the exercise of authority, in our own lives, and by those we trust to keep order.
There are so many saints that East and West share, a sign to us that we should be more willing to share all of our Faith with one another.
Anysia, pray for all victims of violence and pray that we may understand the violence we cause and allow to happen for our own self interests.
Your lamb Anysia, O Jesus,
Calls out to You in a loud voice:
I love You, O my bridegroom,
And in seeking You, I endure suffering.
In Baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You,
And died so that I might live with You.
Accept me as a pure sacrifice,
For I have offered myself in love.
By her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.
-- Troparion (Tone 4)
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