Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Saint Susanna the Deaconess and Martyr

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St. Susanna the Venerable Martyr (Feast Day - December 15)

Commemoration of the Holy Venerable Martyr Susanna, who took on the appearance of a man and changed her name to John.


Susanna, just as the one of old so also the new,
Is slandered but does not flee the ambush.

The venerable martyr Susanna flourished during the reign of Emperor Maximian (286-305). She was a native of Palestine, the daughter of a Greek father named Artemios who was a pagan priest and a Hebrew mother named Martha. She however came to know the Christian faith, and was baptized by Bishop Silouan. Upon the repose of her parents, the blessed maiden distributed her entire inheritance among the poor and freed all her servants. Then she donned men's clothing, cut her hair and went to a men's monastery in Jerusalem, assuming the name John. On account of her many virtues, she was made an Archimandrite of this monastery.

When twenty years passed, she became the victim of serious slander. A certain ascetic woman came to the monastery, and believing Susanna to be a man, she was instigated by the evil one to draw "Archimandrite John" into sin. Because Susanna did not consent, the spurned woman resolved to accuse Susanna of taking her by force. Susanna gladly accepted the slanderous accusation and asked forgiveness from the woman.

However, the Bishop of Eleutheropolis learned of this and went to the monastery, to find out why the Abbot allowed such disorderly things to take place. The Abbot therefore decided to remove the monastic schema from the accused "Archimandrite John". Out of necessity the blessed Susanna came, and asked for two virgins and two female deaconesses, to whom she informed that she was a woman. When the Bishop found out about this, he was astonished, and ordained her a Deaconess. From then on the blessed one worked many miracles in the name of the Lord.

When Alexander, the governor, went to Eleutheropolis and offered sacrifice to the idols there, the Saint voluntarily approached him, and with prayer alone toppled down the idols. Then standing before the governor, she confessed Christ. For this he had her breasts cut off, but they were restored and made well by the power of God. When those who cut off her breasts saw this miraculous restoration, they also believed in Christ. Hence they were beheaded and received the crown of martyrdom. Then molten lead was poured through a funnel into Susanna's mouth and filled up her intestines. Nevertheless, the Saint remained unharmed by divine grace. Wherefore she was beaten, then cast into a fire, where she surrendered her soul to God. Thus she went to the Lord her desired Bridegroom.

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