THE HOLY FEMALE MARTYRS AGAPE

April 16

From the Prologue

All three were sisters from the vicinity of Aquileia. When Emperor Diocletian was staying in Aquileia he ordered that the distinguished spiritual father Chrysogonus be killed. At that time, an aged Presbyter Zoilus had a vision in which the location of the unburied body of Chrysogonus was revealed. Hurrying, the elder found the martyred body of Chrysogonus, placed it in a sarcophagus and kept it in his home. Thirty days later, St. Chrysogonus appeared to him and informed him that, in the course of nine days, those three maidens would suffer martyrdom and that he, too, would also die at that time. The same news was received in a vision by Anastasia, [ a woman endowed with moral and spiritual insight], who had followed the example of her teacher, Chrysogonus. Indeed, after nine days the Elder Zoilus died and those three sisters were brought to trial before the emperor. The emperor urged these three maidens to worship the idols, but they all refused and confessed their steadfast faith in Christ. Irene said to the emperor: "How stupid it is to worship things made of stone and wood, which were ordered for an agreed price and made by the hands of a mortal man." The enraged emperor cast them into prison. When the emperor departed for Macedonia, all slaves and prisoners were taken with him, among whom were these three saintly maidens. The emperor turned them over to a certain Commander Dulcitius for torturing. This commander, inflamed by dark passion, wanted to defile the virgins however, when the commander attempted to enter the prison while the virgins were praying to God he went insane. He fell among the black cauldrons and pots before the gates and began to embrace and kiss them and departed sooty and blackened. The emperor upon hearing about this incident ordered that another commander, Sisinius, take over the trial of these sisters. After prolonged torture, the judge condemned the first two sisters to death by burning and he detained Irene for a while longer hoping to defile her. But, when he sent Irene to the brothel with the soldiers, an angel of God saved this chaste virgin and staved off these soldiers and brought her to a hill. The next day, the commander with his soldiers went to this hill and were unable to ascend it. He then ordered that Irene be shot with arrows. St. Anastasia [the disciple of Chrysogonus] gathered the bodies of these three sisters into one place and honorably buried them. They all suffered honorably for Christ the King and Lord about the year 304 A.D.





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