This calendar of saints is drawn from several denominations, sects, and traditions. Although it will no longer be updated daily, the index on the right will guide visitors to a saint celebrated on any day they choose. Additional saints will be added as they present themselves to Major.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

December 15 -- Feast of Susanna the Deaconess

S/he could pass...
Susanna's life was a study in booms-and-busts, though the bust must have been pretty flat if she passed as a guy for years.  [Sorry -- bad joke but I'm not cutting it.]

She was the daughter of a wealthy pagan priest, Arthemius, and a Jewish mother, Martha, in Palestine.  After they died, she accepted Christian baptism, freed her slaves, and gave away her wealth.  She then cut her hair, put on men's clothes, and called herself John.  True, she never sported a five o' clock shadow, but no one guessed her secret.  The lady, to paraphrase Steven Tyler, looked like a dude.

She joined a monastery, where everyone figured she was a eunuch.  In time, she proved to be such a model monk that she rose to the office of abbot.  A visiting nun got the hots for Abbot John, but finding that yearning unrequited, she cried rape.  Bishop Kleopas of Eleutheropolis showed up with two angry deaconesses to investigate.  John called the ladies aside and introduced himself as Susanna.  Case closed, and one red-faced little nun had a lot of time saying penitential novenas to say.  

Now that he didn't exist, John could no longer be abbot, so Susanna accompanied Kleopas back to Eleutheropolis.  She was appointed deaconess out of respect for her wise administration, but soon after this Emperor Julian the Apostate, cursed be his name, outlawed Christianity and commenced another persecution.  Susanna was tortured and, when she didn't break,  left in prison to die of starvation.


  1. One minor problem: The icon is that of the Old Testament Susanna - the one from the deuterocanonical portion of the book of Daniel.

    1. Thank you. That's not so minor a problem. It is good to call readers' attention to it.