Sometimes when I’m looking at the stories of people to feature as a saint of the week, I’m struck by their unique lives and service to the church. The fancy word for these stories is hagiography. This word is a combination of the Greek words hagios meaning holy or sacred and graphe meaning to write. Often these hagiographies feature grand stories of the person’s service to the church, often including their martyrdom. This week, I found myself drawn to a story not because it was especially unique or impressive. I was struck by the power in it’s simplicity.
This week’s saints are the Five Martyred Nuns in Persia, Thekla, Martha, Mariamne, Enmatha and Mary
The Holy Women Martyrs Thekla, Martha, Mariamne, Enmatha and Mary were beheaded with a sword during the reign of the Persian emperor Sapor II on June 6, 346.
That was the whole story for these women who are remembered in the Orthodox church on June 9th. At first I passed by the story thinking it was too simple and not interesting enough. But then my mind began to wander and wonder about these five women.
Who were they? Where did they come from? How did they become Christians? What led up to their martyrdom? Why did they become nuns? How did they serve the Church and other Christians? Did they have families?
On and on I began to think more and more about these women who I now know only by name and that they were beheaded for their faith. I wanted to know more, but I could not find anymore information about them. Then I realized something.
We know practically nothing about most of the Christian’s who died for their faith.
Most of the Christian’s in the Church throughout history, whether martyred or not, we will never hear about.
There are Christian’s living now under the threat of persecution and possible martyrdom and they suffer unknown to most other Christians.
These five women martyrs reminded me that the Christian faith continues not because of the great saints and witnesses we all know and respect. The Christian faith persists because of the faith of regular, everyday people like this. Men and women who choose to follow Christ and serve the Church without anything remarkable or distinctly miraculous ever happening to them. We will never hear their stories because we wouldn’t necessarily consider them noteworthy. But, I think it is important to take time to recognize that while the stories might not be long and notable, they are an essential part of the body of Christ. While we do not know anything else about these five women other than their names and the method of their martyrdom, we know that they were our sisters in Christ and witnesses for the Gospel.
That is enough to take a moment and remember their life and dedication to the Church.
I pray we would realize that the most important people in the church are the regular, everyday people like ourselves. The parents who pass the faith to their children, those who serve as witnesses amongst coworkers and neighbors, and those who are martyred in obscurity. I pray that we would take a moment and recognize our lives as important and necessary to the body of Christ. I pray that we might remember the Christians who we will never hear about, but that were essential for the Gospel to reach us.
Orthodox Church in America – 5 Martyered Nuns Beheaded in Persia