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September 23, 2016

Holy Virgin Martyr Rhais of Egypt

St. Rhais the Virgin (Feast Day - September 23)


Longing to see God’s beauty Rhais gave,
The beauty of her flesh to the sword.

Rhais* was from a place in Egypt called Batan (or Tamman), and the daughter of a Christian priest named Peter. At the age of twelve she dedicated her life to the Lord in virginity along with other maidens.

When Prefect Culcianus,* who was known for his numberless executions of Christians in Egypt during the reign of Emperor Maximinus (308-313), had taken a number of Christians prisoner, which included presbyters, deacons and male and female monastics, Rhais together with other maidens had gone out to draw some water at a well and beheld the bound prisoners on a ship far off. When she learned after an inquiry that they were bound on behalf of their Christian faith, the soul of Rhais became full of courage, and she placed herself among the other maidens who had been taken prisoner. The prison warden, seeing that she was a youth, advised her to take care of her own life and not die an untimely death with the other maidens.

The blessed Rhais not only did not heed the advice of the prison warden, but she even stood before the prefect in Antinopolis, and ridiculed his gods. When the prefect mocked the Christian faith and said, "I spit upon the Christian God," Rhais spat on his face without fear. For this she faced many tortures, and in the end was beheaded by a sword. In this way she received from the Lord the crown of the contest.


* Her name, though Raidos in Greek, is variously spelled in English as Rais, Iraida, Irais, Herais and Rhais.

** The Synaxarion actually calls him Lucianus, but Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical History (9, 11) calls him Culcianus.