Saint of the Day Quote: Saint Mary the Slave

GOD, who, in the distribution of his graces makes no distinction of condition amongst men, raised an humble female slave to the dignity of martyrdom: and, in the proud capital of the world, the boasted triumphs of its deified conquerors and heroes were all eclipsed by the admirable courage and virtue of a weak woman. Mary was slave to Tertullus, a Roman senator, a Christian from her cradle, though the only person in that great family who was favoured with that grace. She prayed much and fasted frequently, especially on all the idolatrous festivals. This devotion displeased her superstitious mistress; but her fidelity, diligence, and approved probity endeared her to her master. Dioclesian’s bloody edicts against the Christians filling all places with terror, Tertullus privately made use of every artifice to engage Mary to renounce her faith. But neither the caresses and promises of an indulgent master, nor the apprehension of his indignation and chastisements, could shake her constancy. The senator fearing to lose her if she fell into the hands of the prefect, out of a barbarous compassion, in hopes of making her change her resolution, caused her to be unmercifully whipped, and then to be locked up in a dark cellar for thirty days, where no other sustenance was allowed her but bread and water. Prayer, in the mean time, was her comfort and strength, and it was her joy to lose all the favour she could promise to herself in this world, and to suffer torments for Christ. The matter at length taking wind, the judge made it a crime in Tertullus, that he had concealed a Christian in his house, and the slave was forthwith delivered up to him. At her examination her answers were firm, but modest. The mob in the court hearing her confess the name of Christ, demanded with loud clamours that she should be burnt alive. The martyr stood praying secretly that God would give her constancy, and said to the judge: “God, whom I serve, is with me; and I fear not your torments, which can only take away a life which I desire to lay down for Jesus Christ.” The judge commanded her to be tormented; which was executed with such cruelty, that the inconstant giddy mob tumultuously cried out that they were not able, any longer to bear so horrible a spectacle, and entreated that she might be released. The judge, to appease the commotion, ordered the lictors to take her from the rack, and committed her to the custody of a soldier. The virgin, fearing chiefly for her chastity, found means to escape out of her keeper’s hands, and fled to the mountains. She finished her course by a happy death, though not by the sword. She is styled a martyr in the Roman and other Martyrologies, that title being usually given by St. Cyprian in his epistles, and by other ancient writers to all who had suffered torments with constancy and perseverance for Christ. See her genuine acts published by Baluze, Miscel. t. 2, p. 115. Also the Martyrologies of Bede, Ado, Usuard, &c.

Butler’s Lives of the Saints

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  1. We are less likely to face a Diocletian than a Julian the Apostate (361-363). He proposed to eliminate the Faith by licensing teachers throughout the Empire (something even the Tetrarchy had left to local authority). To get a license, you had to swear to teach the tales of the Olympian gods as true, something no Christian (teacher or parent) could accept. Either Christian kids wouldn’t go to school or Christians wouldn’t teach, and so be kept out of elite employment: forever “deplorable”, so to speak. Fortunately, the Persians got him first.

  2. Tom Byrne, You comment on Julian the Apostate made me think of the upcoming election in my state of Virginia. The School Boards of Fairfax County and Loudon County have passed and/or proposed some policies on sex education that are contrary to Christian teaching with no opt outs permitted. The results of the School Boards elections will impact education are the elementary level. Many parents are applying for home schooling. Of course they will still be supporting public education through their state taxes. Will some teachers refuse to teach the materials and therefore lose their jobs? We shall know by midnight of the 5th.
    PS This trend is not just in No Virginia.

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