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.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 16 -- Feast of Saint Euphemia of Calcedon

One Tough Virgin Martyr
Protracted martyrdom, abbreviated.

If there is a benefit of canonization, which in the Roman Catholic Church comes posthumously, then Euphemia is fortunate that the Council of Calcedon was held in her hometown.  Given the economic benefits of living in a pilgrimage destination, the Calcedonians were also fortunate to have Euphemia to venerate.  

Her story is not dissimilar to many Christian virgin martyr stories.  Although the daughter of a senator, she visited and offered comfort to Christians during a persecution.  She herself was arrested and tortured.  No matter what they did to her, she refused to apostatize.  In fact, torturing Euphemia proved to be a dangerous occupation.  

They tried to chain her to a red hot iron wheel, but the wheel burst asunder and killed the operator.  Then an angel swooped down and set her on a high perch where she would be safe from the burning wreckage.  The guards brought a ladder to fetch her down, but one crippled up while climbing and the other lost his wits.  

When they recovered her, the prefect ordered her hung by her hair.  For a week.  That didn't work, so the plan was to sandwich her between two massive stones.  That was the only sandwich in the room, since they also weren't going to feed her.  For a week.  The angel showed up again and pulverized the stone without harming Euphemia, and then served up enough food to keep her going (saints aren't gluttons, after all).  

Euphemia, one sleeve too many
When all else fails, send in the lions.  As with many other saints, the ferocious beasts quickly settled down, even allowing the saint to nestle warmly among them while they all slept.  This particular stage of the legend runs counter to the version told at the saint's reliquary.  As you can see in the photo, one lion took an arm before it settled down.  And true to the genre, a guard then climbed down into the beast pit and stabbed the saint, killing her.  It should surprise no one that a lion then got up and killed the guard.  Conversions to Christianity followed by the hundreds and thousands.  

Her relics (body) were venerated until the iconoclast emperor favored his faith over the economic benefits of pilgrimage tourism.  He ordered her body thrown into the sea.  Fishermen recovered it and took it to Lemnos, where it was preserved until the Empress Irene brought to Constantinople.  Of course, by then everybody and his aunt had a bone or two believed to have been part of Euphemia.  Rovignj, Croatia claims to have the whole saint, except of course the arm the lion took.  So who's really under the mask in the photo?  

Saint Euphemia, of course.  Just go to Rovignj and see for yourself. 

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