Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saint Aquilina the Virgin Martyr of Byblos

St. Aquilina (Akylina) of Byblos (Feast Day - June 13)


Brilliantly prepare Your bridal chamber, Bridegroom,
Aquilina is cut asunder for You as a young Bride.
For Your sake Aquilina's head was severed on the thirteenth.

Aquilina was born in the late third century in the city of Byblos of Phoenicia to the renowned Avtolmios the magistrate of Palestine, during the reign of Emperor Diocletian (284-305).

When she was five years old she was baptized by Bishop Evthalios, which was arranged by her father in order for his daughter to have a firm Christian faith. Indeed, from a young age Aquilina began to preach the word of God with fiery zeal, and did good deeds for others with philanthropy. In her tenth year she managed to convert to the Christian Faith other girls of the same age who were pagans and instructed them to keep away from the deception of idols.

In 298 news of this was reported to the Proconsul Volusian (Oulosianos) by a certain man named Nikodemos. Brought before the enraged deputy, Aquilina remained firm in her faith upon being questioned, and for this she was beat without mercy and her limbs were torn asunder. Then they punctuated her ears with flaming iron rods, causing blood to flow from her nose and appearing to be dead. It is said that Volusian, thinking her dead, ordered her body to be carried outside the city and thrown upon a dung heap for the dogs to consume. But, an angel of God appeared to her at night and said to her: "Arise, and be whole!" And the virgin arose and was whole and for a long time she offered up praise of thanksgiving to God imploring Him not to deprive her to fulfill her martyrdom. A voice from heaven was heard: "Go, it will be to you as you pray" and Aquilina set out for the town. The gates of the town opened on their own accord before her and she entered like a spirit into the palace of the deputy and appeared before his bed. The deputy was seized with unspeakable fear, seeing the virgin alive whom he thought was dead.

Having endured all the pain and torment with courage, in her tender youth, Aquilina was then sentenced to die by the sword. The young maiden was beheaded, and now forever is a blessed and pure bride of Christ, bearing the trophy of victory and receiving the unfading crown of martyrdom.

Her feast day commemorating her martyrdom was especially celebrated in Constantinople in a church bearing her name and containing her relics in the vicinity of the Cistern of Philoxenos, near the Forum of Constantine. Her relics and holy shrine were reputed to be a wellspring of healing for those afflicted with diverse maladies. Saint Joseph the Hymnographer, who composed a holy canon for the Martyr, sings, "the gushing forth of your blood extinguished the fire of polytheism, and the streams of your miracles washes away diseases."

Kontakion in the Third Tone
You ascended to the heights through martyrdom, all-honorable Aquilina, having purified your soul through the virtues of your virginity. You were wounded with love for Christ your bridegroom, before whom you stand rejoicing with the angels; together with them unceasingly pray for us all.

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