Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Holy Great Martyr Anastasia the Pharmakolitria

St. Anastasia the Deliverer From Potions and Bonds (Feast Day - December 22)

                                                             By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

This glorious heroine of the Christian Faith was born in Rome into a wealthy senatorial family of a pagan father and a Christian mother. From her early youth, she clung in love to the Lord Jesus, guided in the teaching of Christ by a devout teacher, Chrysogonus.

Anastasia was forced by her father to enter into marriage with a pagan landowner, Publius. Excusing herself on the basis of a female illness, she in no way wished to enter into physical relations with him. For this, her husband tortured her harshly by confinement and starvation. He inflicted even more tortures upon her when he learned of her secret visits to the prisons of the Christian martyrs: bringing them provisions, ministering to them, bathing their wounds and loosening their bonds. But by God's providence she was freed from her wicked husband. Publius was sent to Persia by the emperor, and while sailing on the sea he was drowned. St. Anastasia then began to minister freely to the tortured Christian martyrs and to comfort the poor, giving them alms from her great inheritance.

At one time the Emperor Diocletian was in the town of Aquileia and ordered that Chrysogonus, the confessor of Christ, be brought to him. St. Anastasia accompanied him on the way. Holy Chrysogonus was beheaded by order of the emperor, and then three sisters - Agape, Chionia and Irene - also suffered (April 16): the first two were cast into fire and the third was shot through with arrows. St. Anastasia took their bodies, wrapped them in white linen, anointed them with many aromatic spices, and honorably buried them.

Following this, Anastasia went to Macedonia, where she helped the sufferers for Christ. There she became well known as a Christian, for which she was seized and brought before various judges for interrogation and torture. Desiring to die for her beloved Christ, Anastasia constantly longed for Him in her heart. A certain chief of the pagan priests, Ulpianus, lustfully tried to touch St. Anastasia's body, but he was suddenly blinded and breathed his last.

Condemned to death by starvation, St. Anastasia lingered in prison for thirty days without food, nourishing herself only on tears and prayer. Then she was placed in a boat with several other Christians to be drowned, but God delivered her even from this death. She was finally tied by the feet and hands to four wheels over a fire, and she gave up her holy soul to God. She suffered and took up her habitation in the Kingdom of Christ in the year 304 [or 290].


A Reflection From Her Life

The merciful God often sends comfort to those pleasing to Him on earth from the other world through his saints. St. Theodota suffered for Christ before St. Anastasia. Anastasia was then cast into a confined and dark prison to die of hunger, according to the judgment of the torturers. During the thirty days of her imprisonment, St. Theodota appeared to Anastasia every night from the other world and strengthened her in her suffering.

Anastasia spoke of many things with St. Theodota and asked numerous questions. One night she asked her how she was able to come to her after her death. Theodota replied that the souls of the martyrs are given special grace from God, so that after departing this world they may return to speak to whomever they desire for the imparting of instruction and comfort.

When thirty days had passed, the torturer brought St. Anastasia out of prison and was amazed to see her still alive. He then condemned her, along with several others, to be drowned in the sea. The Christians were put into a small boat by the soldiers, who set sail in another. When the Christians were brought out into the deep, the soldiers upset the boat, so that the water would enter and drown the condemned. Then a miraculous vision took place: St. Theodota appeared on the water and guided the boat to shore. Thus, all who were condemned to death were saved with Anastasia. Seeing this miracle of God, one hundred and twenty pagans immediately believed in Christ and were baptized.



HYMN OF PRAISE: 
The Holy Great Martyr Anastasia, 
the Deliverer from Bonds

The holy maiden Anastasia serves God;
She shines before God by faith, hope and deeds.
The maiden leaves husband, honor and riches,
And gladly serves the captives, glorifying God.
She looses the bonds, and washes the wounds of the martyrs;
She looses their bonds, giving gifts and not fetters.
She seeks payment neither from men nor from the earth.
Christ God eases her soul and heart.
Her pains have passed, and Anastasia remains in glory;
She now rejoices with the angels in heaven.


Apolytikion in the Fifth Tone
As a martyr you emulated the deeds of the martyrs, to whom you ministered, and, striving valiantly, you overcame the enemy. You are an abundant and overflowing source of grace for all who come to you, O godly-minded Anastasia!

Kontakion in the Second Tone
When they that are found in trials and adversities flee unto thy church O Anastasia, they receive the august and wondrous gifts of divine grace which doth abide in thee; for at all times, O Saint of God, thou pourest forth streams of healings for the world.

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