- "excerpts taken from Victories of the Martyrs," by St. Alphonsus de Liguori
Taken from the Acts of St. Anastasia, who is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass, and commemorated by the Church [old calendar] on December 25, St. Anastasia was a spiritual child of St. Chrysogonus (also martyred). The time frame is during the Diocletian persecution in the fourth century perhaps the year 304 A.D.
St. Anastasia was a Roman lady of noble descent. Her father was an opulent and noble pagan; but her mother, who was a Christian, caused her to be baptized in her infancy, and secretly reared her in sentiments of Christian piety, in which she made great progress.
St. Anastasia had been married to a noble Roman, named Publius, who was a pagan; he loved his wife much, but having discovered her acts of piety, and that she was a Christian, from a loving husband he became a cruel tyrant, confined her to the house, and treated her like a slave. The saint, rejoiced that she could suffer for the love of Jesus Christ.
Publius, her cruel husband, having been appointed by the emperor ambassador to the King of Persia, gave orders to his domestics that they should maltreat his wife during his absence and that there should be no fear if she would be found dead upon his return. But God ordained that Publius met with an untimely death upon his journey; while the saint, having regained her pious labors in behalf of the prisoners of Jesus Christ.
St. Anastasia, inflamed with the love of God, occupied her time in consoling and succoring the Christians, particularly those who were in prison, who she exhorted to suffer for the faith. Having heard of the arrest of St. Chrysogonus, she hurried to his prison, and esteemed herself fortunate in having it in her power to be of service to him in this trial. He had been in prison for one year, during which he instructed his fellow-prisoners who were Christians, and converted many pagans to the faith. St. Anastasia rendered him such assistance, by reason of her extraordinary works of charity.
St. Chrysogonus, by order of Diocletian on November 24 in the year 303, was beheaded, but St. Anastasia continued her mission to the prisoners. One day upon an errand of charity, and having found that all the holy confessors had been butchered by order of the emporer, she wept bitterly. When officers of the court asked why she wept, she replied "I weep because I have lost my brethren, who have been cruelly put to death." Hence she was arrested and brought before the prefect, Florus, who got no satisfaction from her defence and so then he sent her to the emperor Diocletian. Diocletian was unsuccessful in exhorting her to abandon a religion which was proscribed thoroughout the empire, and so sent her back to the prefect Florus. He sent her to the pontiff of the capitol, Upian, in the hope that he could convince her to sacrifice to the gods.
Upian having used all his arts of persuasion in vain, said to her: "Now I shall give thee but three days to determine." Anastasia replied: "They are three too many; thou mayest imagine them already past. I am a Christian, and am anxious to die for Jesus Christ. From me thou shalt never get any other answer."
Upian then employed the assistance of three idolatrous women; but this having proved ineffectual, he made a second attempt himself, in which he had the effrontery to be guilty of some immodest action. This was instantly punished by the Almighty; for he was struck blind upon the spot, and seized by convulsions that within an hour terminated his life.
Florus, enraged at the death of Upian, caused the saint to be shut up in prison, with the intention of starving her; but the Lord miraculously preserved her life. Florus transferred her to another prison thinking the jailer had transgressed his orders to starve her - but she continued to live without food. Florus then ordered her to be put on board a ship with 120 idolaters - the ship was bored with holes and was supposed to sink. The ship soon filled with water, but instead of sinking went ashore; and the miracle worked the conversion of all these persons, who afterwards had the glory of suffering martyrdom for Jesus Christ. St. Anastasia was then conducted to the island of Palmarola, under sentence of death; she consummated her triumph in the flames.
A Christian lady obtained her body, and gave it honourable burial near Zara, in Dalmatia; but about the year 460, under the Emperor Leo, her relics were transferred Constantinople, and placed, as Cardinal Orsi writes, in the celebrated church of the Resurrection, called The Anastasia.
PS There is also another St. Anastasia recorded in the same book who was martyred in the year 249 AD. She was martyred along with St. Cyril of Rome under the Valerian persecution. This St. Anastasia is often referred to as the Elder to distinguish her from St. Anastasia, widow, above.
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