Euphemia

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Saint Euphemia
Martyrdom of St. Euphemia.jpg
Mural depicting the martyrdom of St. Euphemia (Church of St. Euphemia, Rovinj, Croatia)
Virgin, Martyr
Died303 A.D.
Chalcedon, Bithynia
Venerated in Catholic Church, Orthodox Church, Church of England
Major shrine Orthodox Patriarchal Cathedral of St. George, Istanbul, Church of St. Euphemia, Rovinj, Croatia
Feast September 16 (martyrdom)
July 11 (miracle)
Attributes Clothed as a pious woman with her head covered, surrounded by one or a few lions, often holding a wheel or a cross

Saint Euphemia (Greek : Ευφημία Late Koine Greek [efiˈmia]), "well-spoken [of]", known as the All-praised in the Orthodox Church, is a Christian saint, who was martyred for her faith in 303 AD. According to Christian tradition, this occurred at Chalcedon.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

The Greek language underwent pronunciation changes during the Koine Greek period, from about 300 BC to 300 AD. At the beginning of the period, the pronunciation was almost identical to Classical Greek, while at the end it was closer to Modern Greek.

Eastern Orthodox Church Christian Church

The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 200–260 million baptised members. It operates as a communion of autocephalous churches, each governed by its bishops in local synods, although roughly half of Eastern Orthodox Christians live in Russia. The church has no central doctrinal or governmental authority analogous to the Bishop of Rome, but the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople is recognised by all as primus inter pares of the bishops. As one of the oldest surviving religious institutions in the world, the Eastern Orthodox Church has played a prominent role in the history and culture of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, the Caucasus, and the Near East.

Contents

According to tradition, Euphemia was arrested for refusing to offer sacrifices to Ares. After suffering various tortures, she died in the arena at Chalcedon from wounds sustained from a lion. Her tomb became a site of pilgrimages. She is commemorated on September 16.

Ares Ancient Greek god of war

Ares is the Greek god of war. He is one of the Twelve Olympians, the son of Zeus and Hera. In Greek literature, he often represents the physical or violent and untamed aspect of war, in contrast to his sister, the armored Athena, whose functions as a goddess of intelligence include military strategy and generalship.

Historical background

Euphemia's name and year of death are recorded in the 5th century Martyrologium Hieronymianum , the earliest extant list of Christian martyrs. The year, 303, was the first year of the Great Persecution under Roman emperor Diocletian. The Fasti vindobonenses , a collection of liturgical documents from the 4th to 6th centuries, says she died on the 16th of October. Other than this, there is no verifiable historical information about Euphemia. [1] Egeria, who made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land about 381-384 and wrote an account of her travels, relates being shown the site of Euphemia's martyrdom in Chalcedon. [1] Euphemia became a famous saint and stories about her accumulated; the Golden Legend, a collection of hagiographies from about 1260, includes an account of her martyrdom. [1]

<i>Martyrologium Hieronymianum</i>

The Martyrologium Hieronymianum or Martyrologium sancti Hieronymi is an ancient martyrology or list of Christian martyrs in calendar order, one of the most used and influential of the Middle Ages. It is the oldest surviving general or "universal" martyrology, and the precursor of all later Western martyrologies.

Diocletianic Persecution

The Diocletianic or Great Persecution was the last and most severe persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. In 303, the Emperors Diocletian, Maximian, Galerius, and Constantius issued a series of edicts rescinding Christians' legal rights and demanding that they comply with traditional religious practices. Later edicts targeted the clergy and demanded universal sacrifice, ordering all inhabitants to sacrifice to the gods. The persecution varied in intensity across the empire—weakest in Gaul and Britain, where only the first edict was applied, and strongest in the Eastern provinces. Persecutory laws were nullified by different emperors at different times, but Constantine and Licinius's Edict of Milan (313) has traditionally marked the end of the persecution.

The Fasti vindobonenses are two sets of late antique consular annals ("fasti"), found in the Vindobonensis manuscript MS. 3416, together with the Chronography of 354. They were previously known as Anonymus Cuspiniani, since they were published by Johannes Cuspinianus in 1553, and are part of the Consularia Italica collection.

Hagiography

Saint Euphemia, Andrea Mantegna, tempera on canvas, 1454 Mantegna, santa eufemia, capodimonte.jpg
Saint Euphemia, Andrea Mantegna, tempera on canvas, 1454

St. Euphemia lived on the cusp of the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. According to tradition, she was the daughter of a senator named Philophronos and his wife Theodosia in Chalcedon, located across the Bosporus from the city of Byzantium (modern-day Istanbul). [2] From her youth she was consecrated to virginity.

Bosporus strait that forms part of the boundary between Europe and Asia

The Bosporus or Bosphorus is a narrow, natural strait and an internationally significant waterway located in northwestern Turkey. It forms part of the continental boundary between Europe and Asia, and divides Turkey by separating Anatolia from Thrace. The world's narrowest strait used for international navigation, the Bosporus connects the Black Sea with the Sea of Marmara, and, by extension via the Dardanelles, the Aegean and Mediterranean seas.

Byzantium ancient Greek city

Byzantium was an ancient Greek colony in early antiquity that later became Constantinople, and then Istanbul. The Greek term Byzantium continued to be used as a name of Constantinople during the Byzantine Empire, even though it only referred to the empire's capital. Byzantium was colonized by the Greeks from Megara in 657 BC, and remained primarily Greek-speaking until its fall in 1453 AD.

Istanbul Metropolitan municipality in Marmara, Turkey

Istanbul, formerly known as Byzantium and Constantinople, is the most populous city in Turkey and the country's economic, cultural and historic center. Istanbul is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, straddling the Bosporus strait between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. Its commercial and historical center lies on the European side and about a third of its population lives in suburbs on the Asian side of the Bosporus. With a total population of around 15 million residents in its metropolitan area, Istanbul is one of the world's most populous cities, ranking as the world's fourth largest city proper and the largest European city. The city is the administrative center of the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality. Istanbul is a bridge between the East and West.

The governor of Chalcedon, Priscus, had made a decree that all of the inhabitants of the city take part in sacrifices to the deity Ares. Euphemia was discovered with forty-nine other Christians hiding in a house and worshipping God, in defiance of the governor's orders. [2] Because of their refusal to sacrifice, they were tortured for a number of days, and then, all but Euphemia, sent to the Emperor for trial. [3] Euphemia, the youngest among them, was separated from her companions and subjected to particularly harsh torments, including the wheel, in hopes of breaking her spirit. She was placed in the arena, where lions were sent out to kill her, but they instead licked her wounds. It is believed that she died of wounds from a wild bear in the arena. [2]

A governor is, in most cases, a public official with the power to govern the executive branch of a non-sovereign or sub-national level of government, ranking under the head of state. In federations, governor may be the title of a politician who governs a constituent state and may be either appointed or elected. The power of the individual governor can vary dramatically between political systems, with some governors having only nominal or largely ceremonial power, while others having a complete control over the entire government.

Torture intentional infliction of physical or mental suffering upon a person or an animal

Torture is the act of deliberately inflicting severe physical or psychological suffering on someone by another as a punishment or in order to fulfill some desire of the torturer or force some action from the victim. Torture, by definition, is a knowing and intentional act; deeds which unknowingly or negligently inflict suffering or pain, without a specific intent to do so, are not typically considered torture.

Breaking wheel Torture device used for capital punishment

The breaking wheel or execution wheel, also known as the Catherine wheel or simply the Wheel, was a torture method used for public execution primarily in Europe from antiquity through Middle Ages into the early modern period by breaking a criminal's bones and/or bludgeoning them to death. The practice was abolished in Bavaria in 1813 and in the Electorate of Hesse in 1836: the last known execution by the "Wheel" took place in Prussia in 1841. In the Holy Roman Empire, it was a "mirror punishment" for highwaymen and street thieves but was also set out in the Sachsenspiegel for murder and arson that resulted in fatalities.

Eventually, a cathedral was built in Chalcedon over her reputed grave.

Cathedral Christian church that is the seat of a bishop

A cathedral is a church that contains the cathedra of a bishop, thus serving as the central church of a diocese, conference, or episcopate. Churches with the function of "cathedral" are usually specific to those Christian denominations with an episcopal hierarchy, such as the Catholic, Anglican, Orthodox, and some Lutheran and Methodist churches. Church buildings embodying the functions of a cathedral first appeared in Italy, Gaul, Spain and North Africa in the 4th century, but cathedrals did not become universal within the Western Catholic Church until the 12th century, by which time they had developed architectural forms, institutional structures and legal identities distinct from parish churches, monastic churches and episcopal residences.

Miracle during the Council of Chalcedon

The Council of Chalcedon, the Fourth Ecumenical Council of the Christian Church, took place in the city of Chalcedon in the year 451. It repudiated the Eutychian doctrine of monophysitism, and set forth the Chalcedonian Definition, which describes the "full humanity and full divinity" of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

Present at the council were 630 representatives from all the local Christian Churches. The meetings were quite contentious, and no decisive consensus could be reached.

According to the Synaxarion of Constantinople, a collection of hagiographies, both parties wrote a confession of their faith and placed them on the breast of Saint Euphemia within her tomb. After three days the tomb was opened and the scroll with the Orthodox confession was seen in the right hand of St Euphemia while the scroll of the Monophysites lay at her feet. [1]

Relics

Sarcophagus containing some of the relics of Saint Euphemia in Rovinj, Croatia. Saint Euphemia Sarcophagus in Rovinj, Croatia 2006-08-28.JPG
Sarcophagus containing some of the relics of Saint Euphemia in Rovinj, Croatia.

When the persecution of Diocletian ended, the Christians laid Saint Euphemia’s reputed relics in a golden sarcophagus, placed within a church that was dedicated to her. Her relics attracted crowds of pilgrims for centuries.

Russian-made reliquary of Saint Euphemia in the Church of St. George in Istanbul. St. Euphemia Reliquary.JPG
Russian-made reliquary of Saint Euphemia in the Church of St. George in Istanbul.

Around the year 620, in the wake of the conquest of Chalcedon by the Persians under Khosrau I in the year 617, the relics of Saint Euphemia were transferred to a new church in Constantinople. There, during the persecutions of the Iconoclasts, her reliquary was said to have been thrown into the sea, from which it was recovered by the ship-owning brothers Sergios and Sergonos, who belonged to the Orthodox party, and who gave it over to the local bishop who hid them in a secret crypt. The relics were afterwards taken to the Island of Lemnos, and in 796 they were returned to Constantinople. [3] The majority of her relics are still in the Patriarchal Church of St. George, in Istanbul.

Feast days

The primary feast day of Saint Euphemia, celebrated by both Eastern and Western Christians is September 16 in commemoration of her martyrdom. Additionally, Eastern Orthodox Christians commemorate her miracle at the Council of Chalcedon on July 11.

St. Euphemia is a widely venerated saint among all Eastern Orthodox Christians, not only for her virginity and martyrdom, but also for her strengthening of the Orthodox Faith, and her feast days are celebrated with special solemnity. Churches in her honor have been erected at many places in the Christian world.

Other

A minor planet is named Euphemia.

In the Japanese anime series Code Geass, a major character is named for St. Euphemia.

In Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? , the protagonist names his pet goat Euphemia.

See also

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References

  1. 1 2 3 4 Castelli, Elizabeth A. (July 15, 2000). "Chapter 39: Asterius of Amasea,Ekphrasis on the Holy Martyr Euphemia". In Valantasis, Richard (ed.). Religions of Late Antiquity in Practice. Princeton University Press. p. 464. ISBN   978-0691057507.
  2. 1 2 3 "St. Euphemia the All-Praised", Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese
  3. 1 2 "Greatmartyr Euphemia the All-praised", Orthodox Church in America