April 4, 2017

Holy Martyrs Pherbutha, her Widowed Sister and her Maidservant of Persia

St. Pherbutha and those with her (Feast Day - April 4)


To Pherbutha.
You formed me simply Christ of double nature,
By a sword you have me Pherbutha doubled.

To her Sister and her Maidservant.
Both are servants of the Master God,
Servant and mistress were sawn by a saw.

The Holy Martyr Pherbutha (Phermoutha, Pherfutha) and her sister were sisters of Bishop Symeon of Seleucia (Apr. 17), who suffered for Christ under the Persian Emperor Shapur II between the years 341-344.

Both sisters and the maidservant had been brought to the court by the empress to attend her. Pherbutha was distinguished by her extraordinary beauty, and the empress suggested that she marry in order to gain a high position. The Saint refused, since she had made a vow of virginity and total service to God.

Soon the empress fell ill. The sorcerers who were brought in to treat the empress, saw Pherbutha and were struck by her extraordinary beauty. One of them asked her to become his wife. The Saint answered that she was a Christian and had vowed to remain a bride of Christ.

The offended sorcerer reported to the emperor that the sickness of the empress was caused by poison given her by servants. By order of the emperor Saint Pherbutha, her widowed sister who refused a second marriage, and the maidservant were brought to trial.

At the trial the holy Martyrs fearlessly declared that they were innocent of any crime, and that they were prepared to accept death for Christ.

The chief judge, the sorcerer Mauptis, was captivated by the beauty of the holy virgin Pherbutha, and he secretly sent his servant to her in the prison offering to free her and her companions, if only she would consent to become his wife. The two other judges secretly made similar offers to the holy virgin, one after the other.

Saint Pherbutha resolutely refused all these offers, saying that she was a bride of Christ and could never consent to an earthly marriage.

After this, the Martyrs were found guilty of being Christians and of working magic in poisoning the empress, and they were sentenced to death. The magi said that the bodies of the Christians should be sawn in half, from the neck down through the torso. They placed three pieces on one side which they nailed to wood, and three pieces on the other side. Then they told the empress to walk between the body parts in order to receive healing. After she was healed through the grace of the Holy Martyrs, their bodies were then thrown into a ditch, from which Christians secretly retrieved them and buried them.


By St. Nikolai Velimirovich

The handmaiden of the Lord, the virgin Pherbutha,
As an innocent lamb, to the slaughter, remained silent,
Neither says she: Woe! Nor says, woe is me!
But with joy received and endured the suffering.
She despised earthly illusions and falsehoods,
For to her, the Lord was more dear than the whole world,
In the royal court: sickness and emptiness
Without wondrous faith in the Son of God;
Among the soothsayers; the cursed darkness
Without the knowledge of the Creator and the heavenly world.
The beauty of the flesh - a stumbling block,
Without God's love, faith and hoping
Therefore, Pherbutha totally sacrificed herself for Christ,
To the world she surrendered all, except her pure soul.
Her bodily cage, the tormentor crushed
But the living soul, he cannot enslave;
The cage [her body] was cut up; the soul to Paradise flees,
Into true freedom from false freedom.
The blood splattered upon the earth, and the body became earth,
And, in eternity, Pherbutha remained alive.