Irene of Tomar

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Irene of Tomar
Saint Irene depicted on the seal of a school in Portugal
Virgin and Martyr
Bornc. 635
Tomar, Portugal
Diedc. 653
Scalabis (Santarém), Portugal
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church
Feast 20 October
Attributes as a nun, with the palm of martyrdom
Patronage Tomar, Portugal; Santarém; Santa Iria de Azóia  [ pt ], Loures

Saint Irene of Tomar (in Portuguese: Santa Iria) (c.635 – c.653) was a Christian who was martyred for her faith in Visigothic Portugal. The legend of her life is possibly little more than that. [1]

Portuguese language Romance language that originated in Portugal

Portuguese is a Western Romance language originating in the Iberian Peninsula. It is the sole official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Angola and São Tomé and Príncipe. It also has co-official language status in East Timor, Equatorial Guinea and Macau in China. As the result of expansion during colonial times, a cultural presence of Portuguese and Portuguese creole speakers are also found in Goa, Daman and Diu in India; in Batticaloa on the east coast of Sri Lanka; in the Indonesian island of Flores; in the Malacca state of Malaysia; and the ABC islands in the Caribbean where Papiamento is spoken, while Cape Verdean Creole is the most widely spoken Portuguese-based Creole. A Portuguese-speaking person or nation is referred to as "Lusophone" (Lusófono).

Martyr person who suffers persecution and death for advocating, refusing to renounce, and/or refusing to advocate a belief or cause, usually a religious one

A martyr is someone who suffers persecution and death for advocating, renouncing, refusing to renounce, or refusing to advocate a religious belief or cause as demanded by an external party. In the martyrdom narrative of the remembering community, this refusal to comply with the presented demands results in the punishment or execution of an actor by an alleged oppressor. Accordingly, the status of the 'martyr' can be considered a posthumous title as a reward for those who are considered worthy of the concept of martyrdom by the living, regardless of any attempts by the deceased to control how they will be remembered in advance. Originally applied only to those who suffered for their religious beliefs, the term has come to be used in connection with people killed for a political cause.

Portugal Republic in Southwestern Europe

Portugal, officially the Portuguese Republic, is a country located mostly on the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe. It is the westernmost sovereign state of mainland Europe, being bordered to the west and south by the Atlantic Ocean and to the north and east by Spain. Its territory also includes the Atlantic archipelagos of the Azores and Madeira, both autonomous regions with their own regional governments.


The murder of Irene, lithography by Manuel Macedo and Alfredo Roque Gameiro, 1904. Murder of Irene of Tomar.jpg
The murder of Irene, lithography by Manuel Macedo and Alfredo Roque Gameiro, 1904.


Legend says that Irene was born in Nabância, present-day Tomar, Portugal. She was born into an influential family, and her parents, wishing to protect her, sent her to a convent school and a private tutor. The only times she left her house was to attend Mass or pray at the sanctuary of Saint Peter. A young nobleman named Britald saw her once and fell in love with her. Every time she left to go to church, he would follow her. Eventually he came forward with his proposal to court her; however, Irene made it clear that she would never marry him. When Britald became depressed, Irene hastened to make it clear to him that the reason for her celibacy was that she had given herself to God as a nun. [1]

Tomar Municipality in Centro, Portugal

Tomar, also known in English as Thomar, is a city and a municipality in Santarém District in Portugal. The town proper has a population of about 20,000. The municipality population in 2011 was 40,677, in an area of 351.20 km².

A tutor, also called an academic tutor, is a person who provides assistance or tutelage to one or more people on certain subject areas or skills. The tutor spends a few hours on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis to transfer their expertise on the topic or skill to the student. Tutoring can take place in different settings, such as a classroom, a formal tutoring center, or the home of the tutor/learner. As a teaching-learning method, tutoring is characterized by how it differs from formal teaching methods on the basis of the (in)formality of the setting as well as the flexibility in pedagogical methods in terms of duration, pace of teaching, evaluation and tutor-tutee rapport.

Mass (liturgy) type of worship service within many Christian denomination

Mass is the main eucharistic liturgical service in many forms of Western Christianity. The term Mass is commonly used in the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches, as well as in some Lutheran, Methodist, Western Rite Orthodox, and Old Catholic churches.

Meanwhile, her tutor, a monk named Remigius (or Remígio) made improper advances to her, and when she declined, quit and spread vicious rumors about her. When asked why he was no longer tutoring the girl, he replied that he had left upon having learned that she was pregnant. In addition, he managed to give her a drink that brought about her belly to inflate. All these news circulated around the town, and eventually Britald learned of her supposed infidelity. Enraged, he hired a mercenary soldier to kill her. So, as Irene was returning home from visiting an elderly disabled man, the assassin approached from behind and killed her with a single stroke of his sword. [1]

A physical disability is a limitation on a person's physical functioning, mobility, dexterity or stamina. Other physical disabilities include impairments which limit other facets of daily living, such as respiratory disorders, blindness, epilepsy and sleep disorders.

A sword is a bladed weapon intended for slashing or thrusting that is longer than a knife or dagger, consisting of a long blade attached to a hilt. The precise definition of the term varies with the historical epoch or the geographic region under consideration. The blade can be straight or curved. Thrusting swords have a pointed tip on the blade, and tend to be straighter; slashing swords have a sharpened cutting edge on one or both sides of the blade, and are more likely to be curved. Many swords are designed for both thrusting and slashing.


Her body was thrown into river Nabão, that flows into River Tagus. Later, it was recovered uncorrupted from this river by Benedictines near the town of Scalabis. Legend says that her uncle abbot Celius had received from Christ a revelation about the true story of her niece and the location of her body. The monks gave her a proper burial, and spread her cultus. Eventually, so great was the reverence paid to the virgin saint, that the name of the town of Scalabis was changed to Santarém ("Saint Irene"). [1]

Tagus Longest river in the Iberian Peninsula

The Tagus is the longest river in the Iberian Peninsula. It is 1,007 km (626 mi) long, 716 km (445 mi) in Spain, 47 km (29 mi) along the border between Portugal and Spain and 275 km (171 mi) in Portugal, where it empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Lisbon. It drains an area of 80,100 square kilometers (30,927 sq mi). The Tagus is highly utilized for most of its course. Several dams and diversions supply drinking water to places of central Spain and Portugal, while dozens of hydroelectric stations create power. Between dams it follows a very constricted course, but after Almourol it enters a wide alluvial valley, prone to flooding. Its mouth is a large estuary near the port city of Lisbon.

Incorruptibility the supposed miraculous preservation of the corpses of some Christian saints

Incorruptibility is a Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox belief that divine intervention allows some human bodies to avoid the normal process of decomposition after death as a sign of their holiness. Bodies that undergo little or no decomposition, or delayed decomposition, are sometimes referred to as incorrupt or incorruptible.

Benedictines Roman Catholic monastic order

The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict, are a monastic Catholic religious order of monks and nuns that follow the Rule of Saint Benedict. They are also sometimes called the Black Monks, in reference to the colour of the members' religious habits.

Thus, Irene is the patron saint of Tomar and namesake Santarém. Feast Day is October 20th.

Patron saint saint regarded as the tutelary spirit or heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family, or person

A patron saint, patroness saint, patron hallow or heavenly protector is a saint who in Roman Catholicism, Anglicanism or Eastern Orthodoxy, is regarded as the heavenly advocate of a nation, place, craft, activity, class, clan, family or person.

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  1. 1 2 3 4 Encyclopedia of Catholic Saints, Vol. 10, (1966) Chilton Books, pp. 99–100