Saint Sophia and Her Three Children Faith, Hope, and Love

17 September 12
Saint Sophia and Her Three Children Faith, Hope, and Love

Saint Sophia and Her Three Children Faith, Hope, and Love

Commemorated on September 17

The Holy Martyrs Saint Sophia and her Daughters Faith, Hope and Love were born in Italy. Their mother was a pious Christian widow who named her daughters for the three Christian virtues. Faith was twelve, Hope was ten, and Love was nine. St Sophia raised them in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. St Sophia and her daughters did not hide their faith in Christ, but openly confessed it before everyone.

An official named Antiochus denounced them to the emperor Hadrian (117-138), who ordered that they be brought to Rome. Realizing that they would be taken before the emperor, the holy virgins prayed fervently to the Lord Jesus Christ, asking that He give them the strength not to fear torture and death. When the holy virgins and their mother came before the emperor, everyone present was amazed at their composure. They looked as though they had been brought to some happy festival, rather than to torture. Summoning each of the sisters in turn, Hadrian urged them to offer sacrifice to the goddess Artemis. The young girls remained unyielding.

Then the emperor ordered them to be tortured. They burned the holy virgins over an iron grating, then threw them into a red-hot oven, and finally into a cauldron with boiling tar, but the Lord preserved them.

The youngest child, Love, was tied to a wheel and they beat her with rods until her body was covered all over with bloody welts. After undergoing unspeakable torments, the holy virgins glorified their Heavenly Bridegroom and remained steadfast in the Faith.

They subjected St Sophia to another grievous torture: the mother was forced to watch the suffering of her daughters. She displayed adamant courage, and urged her daughters to endure their torments for the sake of the Heavenly Bridegroom. All three maidens were beheaded, and joyfully bent their necks beneath the sword.

In order to intensify St Sophia’s inner suffering, the emperor permitted her to take the bodies of her daughters. She placed their remains in coffins and loaded them on a wagon. She drove beyond the city limits and reverently buried them on a high hill. St Sophia sat there by the graves of her daughters for three days, and finally she gave up her soul to the Lord. Even though she did not suffer for Christ in the flesh, she was not deprived of a martyr’s crown. Instead, she suffered in her heart. Believers buried her body there beside her daughters.

The relics of the holy martyrs have rested at El’zasa, in the church of Esho since the year 777.

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Martyr Ludmilla, Grandmother of St Wenceslaus

15 September 12

Also commemorated on 16 September:

Martyr Ludmilla the grandmother of St Wenceslaus the Prince of the Czechs

Martyr Ludmilla the grandmother of St Wenceslaus the Prince of the Czechs

The Holy Martyr Ludmilla, a Czech (Bohemian) princess, was married to the Czech prince Borivoy. Both spouses received holy Baptism from St Methodius, Archbishop of Moravia and Enlightener of the Slavs (Comm. 11 May).

As Christians, they showed concerned for the enlightening of their subjects with the light of the true Faith, they built churches and invited priests to celebrate the divine services. Prince Borivoy died early at age 36. St Ludmilla, as a widow, led an austere, pious life and continued to be concerned for the Church during the reign of her son Bratislav, which lasted for 33 years.

Bratislav was married to Dragomira, with whom he had a son, Vyacheslav. After the death of Bratislav, eighteen-year-old Vyacheslav came on the throne. Taking advantage of the inexperience and youth of her son, Dragomira began to introduce pagan manners and customs in the country.

St Ludmilla, of course, opposed this. Dragomira came to hate her mother-in-law and tried to destroy her. When St Ludmilla moved away to the city of Techin, Dragomira sent two boyars in secret to murder her. St Ludmilla was praying at the time, and the two assassins entered the house and carried out Dragomira’s orders.

The relics of the holy Martyr Ludmilla was buried in Techin in the city wall. Numerous healings occurred at her grave. Prince Vyacheslav transferred the body of St Ludmilla to the city of Prague and placed it in the church of St George.