Pastoral Letters

Pastoral Message July 17, 2022

Adorned with the beauty of Purity, O Virgin; crowned with the stigmata of martyrdom; stained with the blood of your struggles; and brilliantly radiant with healing wonders, piously, O Marina, you received the trophy of victory for your struggles.

Kontakion Hymn of St. Marina

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Tomorrow, as we gather for Sunday Services, we will commemorate one of the most popular and well-known Woman Martyr Saints, St. Marina of Antioch. She, along with others like Ss. Barbara, Katherine, and Paraskevi are remembered for their bravery, grace, witness, and strength.

The Holy Great Martyr Marina was born in Asia Minor, in the city of Antioch of Pisidia (southern Asia Minor), into the family of a pagan priest. In infancy she lost her mother, and her father gave her into the care of a nursemaid, who raised Marina in the Orthodox Faith.

Upon learning that his daughter had become a Christian, the father angrily disowned her. During the time of the persecution against Christians under the emperor Diocletian (284-305), when she was fifteen years old, Saint Marina was arrested and locked up in prison. With firm trust in the will of God and His help, the young prisoner prepared for her impending fate.

The governor Olymbrios, charmed with the beautiful girl, tried to persuade her to renounce the Christian Faith and become his wife. But the saint, unswayed, refused his offers. The vexed governor gave the holy martyr over to torture. Having beaten her fiercely, they fastened the saint with nails to a board and tore at her body with tridents. The governor himself, unable to bear the horror of these tortures, hid his face in his hands. But the holy martyr remained unyielding.

Thrown for the night into prison, she was granted heavenly aid and healed of her wounds. They stripped her and tied her to a tree, then burned the martyr with fire. Barely alive, the martyr prayed: “Lord, You have granted me to go through fire for Your Name, grant me also to go through the water of holy Baptism.”

St. Marina is also known to have been tormented in her prison cell by a demon, manifested as a dragon. Finding a hammer, she beat on the demon, thus identifying her as the “vanquisher of demons.” This is why she is often depicted ichnographically with a cross in one hand, and a hammer in the other.  

Hearing the word “water”, the governor gave orders to drown the saint in a large cauldron. The martyr besought the Lord that this manner of execution should become for her holy Baptism. When they plunged her into the water, there suddenly shone a light, and a snow-white dove came down from Heaven, bearing in its beak a golden crown. The fetters put upon Saint Marina came apart by themselves. The martyr stood up in the fount of Baptism glorifying the Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Saint Marina emerged from the fount completely healed, without any trace of burns. Amazed at this miracle, the people glorified the True God, and many came to believe. This brought the governor into a rage, and he gave orders to kill anyone who might confess the Name of Christ. 15,000 Christians perished there, and the holy Martyr Marina was beheaded. The sufferings of the Great Martyr Marina were described by an eyewitness of the event, named Theotimos.

Up until the taking of Constantinople by Western crusaders in the year 1204, the relics of the Great Martyr Marina were in the Panteponteia Monastery. According to other sources, they were located in Antioch until the year 908 and from there transferred to Italy. Now they are in Athens, in a church dedicated to the holy Virgin Martyr. Her venerable hand was transferred to Mount Athos, to the Vatopedi monastery.

As we learn of the lives of the saints, it is my prayer that we acquire strength and inspiration from their tribulations, and intercessions before God through their pious prayers. St. Marina, pray for us!

Please be advised that this week, we will celebrate two weekday services. On Wednesday, we will celebrate the Feast of The Great Prophet Elias, and on Friday, two other pillars of the Church’s synaxis of women saints: St. Mary Magdaline, Myrrh Bearer and Equal to the Apostles, together on the shared Feast Day of the Virgin Great Martyr Markella of Chios. Both services begin with the Orthros at 8:00 am followed by the Divine Liturgy at 9:00 am. 

With Much Love in Christ,

Fr. Anthony Savas