September 10, 2013

Holy Virgin Martyrs Menodora, Metrodora, and Nymphodora

Sts. Menodora, Nymphodora, and Metrodora (Feast Day - September 10)


Menodora, Metrodora considered,
Like Nymphodora, the torments of the flesh as gifts.
On the tenth were slain the three whose names mean gift and they died.

The Holy Virgins Menodora, Nymphodora, and Metrodora (305-311), were sisters from Bithynia (Asia Minor). Despite their beauty, and distinguished for their special piety, they wanted to preserve their virginity for the love of Christ and avoid worldly associations. They chose a solitary place for themselves in the mountains called Pythia where there were hot water springs, and spent their lives in fasting and prayer, cultivating the divine virtues and delighting in the honey of contemplation.

Having acquired the grace of the Holy Spirit, reports of the holy life of the virgins soon spread, since healings of the sick and those possessed by demons began to occur through their prayers. The Bithynia region was governed at that time by a man named Frontonus, who ordered that the sisters be arrested and brought before him.

At first he tried to persuade them to renounce Christ, promising great honors and rewards. But the holy sisters steadfastly confessed their faith before him, rejecting all his suggestions. They told him that they did not value the temporal things of this world, and that they were prepared to die for their Heavenly Bridegroom, for death would be their gateway to eternal life.

Flying into a rage, the governor took out his wrath on Menodora, the eldest sister. She was stripped of her clothes and beaten by four men, while a herald urged her to offer sacrifice to the gods. The saint bravely endured the torments and cried out, “Sacrifice? Can’t you see that I am offering myself as a sacrifice to my God?” Then they renewed their torments with even greater severity. After two hours the martyr cried out, “Lord Jesus Christ, joy of my heart, my hope, receive my soul in peace.” With these words she fainted and gave up her soul to God, going to her Heavenly Bridegroom.

Four days later, they brought the two younger sisters Metrodora and Nymphodora to the court. They showed them the battered and naked body of their older sister to frighten them. The virgins wept over her, but remained steadfast and their determination to die for Christ was increased by the example of their sister.

Then Metrodora was tortured by being hung up and burnt with torches, then having her limbs shattered by heavy bars of iron. She died, crying out to her beloved Lord Jesus Christ with her last breath. Then they turned to the third sister, Nymphodora. Before her lay the bruised bodies of her sisters. Frontonus hoped that this sight would intimidate the young virgin.

Pretending that he was charmed by her youth and beauty, he urged her to worship the pagan gods, promising great rewards and honors. Nymphodora scoffed at his words, and underwent the same torments of her older sisters. She was tortured and beaten to death with iron rods, then numbered with her sisters in Paradise.

The bodies of the holy martyrs were to be burned in a fire, but a heavy rain extinguished the blazing fire, and lightning struck down Frontonus and his servant. Christians took up the bodies of the holy sisters and reverently buried them at the so-called Warm Springs at Pythia (Bithynia).

Skull of St. Metrodora

The holy skull of Saint Metrodora is preserved in Asomaton Monastery in Petraki, that of Saint Nymphodora in the Monastery of Saint Paul in Mount Athos, and that of Saint Menodora in Great Lavra Monastery in Mount Athos. Further relics of Saint Menodora are in  Panagia Goumenissa in Kilkis. Relics of Saint Metrodora are in Pantocrator Monastery in Mount Athos, Panagia Goumenissa in Kilkis and Agathonos Monastery in Fthiotida; her right hand is in Zerbitsa Monastery in Sparta. Panagia Goumenissa Monastery also has relics of Saint Nymphodora.

Apolytikion in the First Tone
Let all who rejoice at their triumph honor these three virgin martyrs, who are united to God as sisters and who pour forth fair streams of grace: Menodora, Metrodora, and Nymphodora, who were in all things courageous; they ever pray to the Trinity for us.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
Invincible in your struggles for the Holy Trinity, and through your love for each other as sisters, you defeated the foe of your spiritual life, and with the five virgins, entered victoriously into the Heavenly Mansions where you ever rejoice with the angels in the presence of the King of All.