Martyr Alexandra the Empress, wife of Diocletian

The Holy Empress Alexandra was the wife of Diocletian (284-305). Her supposed death was described in the Martyrdom of Saint George, which was written immediately after his death. The empress, however, received the crown of martyrdom several years later, in 314.

Many events occurred during these years. In 305 the emperor Diocletian resigned the throne and power passed to his co-ruler Maximian Galerius (305-311), a fanatic pagan, as well as a coarse and fierce soldier. His wife was St Valeria, the daughter of the holy Empress Alexandra, whom Diocletian had given in marriage against her will.

St Alexandra raised her daughter in Christian piety. When Galerius died, the emperor Maximinus sought her hand in marriage. When he was refused, he banished St Valeria to Syria, where she lived with her mother.

After the death of Maximinus in 311 the mother and daughter arrived in Nicomedia, trusting in the mercy of the emperor Licinius (311-324). Together with St Constantine, he had subscribed to the Edict of Milan, which gave Christians the freedom of religion, but secretly he remained an enemy of Christianity. Licinius gave orders to execute the holy Empress Alexandra and her daughter Valeria. They were beheaded, and their bodies thrown into the sea.