Posted by: anna | January 4, 2011

St Anastasia of Rome

several more icons at WSIP

Today (22 December) I can’t find any British commemorations (P.S. however, of course there are several on celt-saints), but a Roman virgin martyr is an important saint for today in the Orthodox calendars: Great-Martyr Anastasia of Rome. The Catholic Encyclopedia says, ‘This martyr enjoys the distinction, unique in the Roman liturgy, of having a special commemoration in the second Mass on Christmas day. This Mass was originally celebrated not in honour of the birth of Christ, but in commemoration of this martyr, and towards the end of the fifth century her name was also inserted in the Roman canon of the Mass.’ From Miss Dunbar:

St. Anastasia (5), Dec. 25, V. M. 304. Patron of Zara ; of Santa Severina, in Calabria ; and of weavers. Called in the Greek Church, ‘The great martyr Anastasia, the dissolver of charms [or indeed chains]; called in the Graeco-Slav. Martyrology, given in the AA.SS., vol. 3, ‘Dissolver of chains and parmacolytria.” One of the great patrons of the Western Church. Her name is in the canon of the Mass. It is also in the Sacramentary of St. Gregory, and other ancient catalogues of martyrs. A very old church in Rome is dedicated in her name. In the Acts of St. Chrysogonus. which, however, are not of undisputed authenticity, it is said that he was her spiritual director ; that she visited him in prison ; and that she was tortured and burned alive, by order of the prefect of Illyricum, in 304. Her body was removed to Rome, and buried in the church which bears her name; but afterwards translated to Constantinople. The Popes anciently said their second Mass on Christmas night in the church of St. Anastasia, whence a commemoration is made of her in the second Mass. The story of her persecution and martyrdom is given, with variations, by Vega and Villegas, quoting Ado of Treves, Bede, and other ancient hagiographers. According to these legends, she was the daughter of Protasius, or Pretaxato, a heathen Roman nobleman, and FAUSTA, or Flavia, who was secretly a Christian. Anastasia was brought up in the faith of her mother, with the assistance of St. Chrysogonus, a venerable priest of the Christians, whom both mother and daughter visited and assisted when he was obliged to conceal himself from the persecutions of the heathen. Fausta being dead, and Chrysogonus in prison, Protasius married St. Anastasia, against her will, to Publius, a heathen. He was so angry at her unconcealed dislike to the marriage, and at the report that she belonged to the despised and suspected sect of Christians, and used to go secretly, with her maid, disguised in men’s clothes, to visit the prisoners of her religion, that he at once imprisoned her, intending to starve her to death, and take possession of her property. During her imprisonment, she was comforted by letters from St. Chrysogonus, who encouraged her to suffer all things rather than renounce her religion. At her husband’s death she was brought out of prison with her three maids, who had shared her captivity, and who were immediately put to death. The judge who condemned them was found dead in his bed next morning. His successor, trying to persuade Anastasia to abjure her religion, was struck blind, and, calling on his gods for help, was answered by the devil, ” Because you have insulted the spouse of Christ, you shall be tormented by us in hell.” He died the same day. Another judge, knowing that she had great possessions, said, ” Give me all your riches, then you will be a true Christian ; I will let you go and worship whom you please, and your poverty will please your God.” Anastasia replied, “My Master would have me sell what I have, and give to the poor; but you are not poor, and would spend all in sinful luxury.” He condemned her to die of hunger. She was fed by angels, or by the spirit of her friend ST. THEODORA, or THEODOTE, who had formerly helped her, but who had before this time suffered martyrdom. Anastasia was next put in a boat, with a number of other Christians, and set adrift on the sea; they were safely cast ashore on the island of Palmaria, where other Christians already lived. The whole community were edified by the conversation of St. Anastasia, who was soon remarked by the authorities as an irrepressible Christian, and condemned to be roasted alive. She said she did not fear pain, because she had Christ in her heart; so the governor ordered her heart to be brought to him after her death ; and he found the name of Jesus written on it. 270 companions of her martyrdom in Palmaria are honoured with her. Other accounts place the scene of her martyrdom in Rome, and say she was buried by her friend APOLLONIA in her garden under the Palatine hill. Others say Apollonia buried her in Dalmatia, whence she was translated to different places. A laughable story is told of her three maids, AGAPE, CHIONIA, and IRENE. RM. Golden Legend. Villegas. Vega. Butler. Baillet. Greek and Russian calendars, Dec. 22. Mrs. Jameson.

Acta Sanctorum entry is largely in Greek, which I don’t have, but it summarises a bit more of her martyrdom in Latin: ‘Ignem S. Anastasia sustinet et ungulas ferreas. Amputatis mamillis, evulsis unguibus, exsecta lingua, excussis dentibus horrendum torquetur. Aquam petenti propinat S. Cyrillus et accipit palmam. Denique S. Virgo gladio percussa a beata Sophia magistra sepelitur.’ – St Anastasia survived the fire and the iron hooks (‘iron’ is a nice pun with ‘cruel’). By her breasts having been cut off, her nails pulled out, her tongue cut out, her teeth cast out, she was horribly tortured. She asked for water; St Cyril gave her to drink and himself accepted the palm [of martyrdom]. Then the holy virgin, having been pierced with a sword, was buried by the lady (or teacher) Sophia.

Orthodox Way of Medicine
Wild Babushka

‘Parmacolytria’ should be ph/farmakolitria, medicine-for-poisons, to do with her powers to dissolve poisons – and thus spells, as potions and charms were often associated – Αγία Αναστασία η Φαρμακολύτρια.

The Oct 28 and Dec 25 Anastasias are not the same person according to Miss Dunbar, but sometimes one has both or either feast day… I’m confused. The Bollandists only give one, on 28 October.

Troparion – Tone 4

Your lamb Anastasia, calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice:
“I love You, my Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure suffering.
In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, and I died so that I might live with You.
Accept me as a pure sacrifice,
for I have offered myself in love.”
Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.

Kontakion – Tone 2

Those in temptations and afflictions hasten to your temple
And are restored by the grace that dwells in you,
For you ever pour forth healings for all the world,
O great Martyr Anastasia!

Troparion – Tone 5

As a martyr you emulated the deeds of the martyrs,
To whom you ministered,
And, striving valiantly, you overcame the enemy.
You are an abundant and overflowing source of grace
For all who come to you, O godly-minded Anastasia!

Holy Anastasia, pray to God for us.


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