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.

Friday, December 14, 2012

December 14 -- Feast of Saint Drosis

Here's a legend about which the details begin to vary widely.  I think at the foundation we start with Antigone, and then we work up from there.

Antigone, you may recall, was one of the four children of King Oedipus of Thebes and his wife, Jocasta. Unbeknownst to Oeddie, Jocasta was also his mother.  The fact that Jocasta and her son/husband was not carrying some recessive gene was not much relief, since Oedipus was carrying the curse of the House of Atreus, which is far worse than a harelip or webbed toes.  Long story cut to size, the parents are dead and the brothers kill each other fighting for control of Thebes.  The new king declares it illegal to bury one of Antigone's brothers, whom he considers a traitor.  Out of respect for her brother, Antigone buries him anyway and Greek Tragedy ensues.

Trajan's daughter, according to legend
Fast forward for several centuries.  The Emperor Trajan issued a couple of edicts with negative repercussions for the Christians.  First, he outlawed secret gatherings.  That means that religious services couldn't be held, since a tenet of the Christian faith is the rejection of all other gods, and Trajan's other edict was the death penalty for those who denied the old Roman gods.  Not burying the executed Christians was a good reminder to others that making a big show of a sacrifice to Jupiter was a good way to keep the ravens from your entrails.

Five dedicated virgins -- Aglaida, Apolliniaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Thais -- started burying the martyrs, just like Antigone had.  They collected corpses under the cover of night, prepped them for burial, and interred them within the grounds of their common home.  I suppose it was a nunnery, of sorts, though the word seems an anachronism in this context.

When Trajan's daughter, Drosis, learned of their activities, she slipped out to help.  Her fiance, to get in tight with his emperor, boss, and future father-in-law, set a watch over the fresh corpses so they could bust the outlaw undertakers.  In an elegantly tragic twist that you saw coming, he busted his own betrothed with her virginal companions.

Yeah, probably sculptures like this
The five nuns were roasted in a furnace that was being used to make copper fixtures for a new bathhouse.  Drosis was locked up at home in hopes that she'd come to her polytheistic senses and marry Adrian the Ambitious Watchman.  [Spoiler: she doesn't.]  The grand opening of the new bathhouse was spoiled by the death of the first Roman to enter.  The death was sudden and mysterious, as was the death of the second, third, and fourth Roman to enter.  And so on, until they agreed that they probably shouldn't go in their until the cursed copper fittings were removed.  Not wanting to seem like he was backing down, Trajan ordered the copper to be used to make five statues of naked Christian women -- that'll show 'em.

Trajan started having nightmares.  The women mocked him in his sleep.  What good is being the Emperor if you victims can return to haunt you and deny you rest?  They even told him he would lose his daughter if he didn't knock it off.  Yet I think I mentioned that he wasn't one to back down, so he set up two furnaces at the opposite ends of the city and invited Christians to surrender themselves rather than be discovered and tortured before execution.  Business at the furnaces was surprisingly good as Christians lined up to be roasted to death.  Among those who queued up to get killed: Drosis, who had baptized herself since there was no functioning Church to assist her. 

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