Martyr Aquilina of Byblos in Syria

The Holy Martyr Aquilina, a native of the Phoenician city of Byblos, suffered under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Her parents raised her in Christian piety. When the girl was only twelve years old, she persuaded a pagan friend to convert to Christ. One of the servants of the imperial governor Volusian accused her of teaching others not to follow the religion of their fathers. The girl firmly confessed her faith in Christ before the governor and said that she would not renounce Him. Volusian tried to influence the young confessor through persuasion and by flattery, but seeing her confidence, he ordered her to be tortured.

They struck her upon the face, then they stripped her and beat her with whips. The torturer asked, “Where then is your God? Let Him come and take you out of my hands”.

The saint answered, “The Lord is here with me invisibly, and the more I suffer, the more strength and endurance will He give me.”

They drilled through the martyr’s ears with heated metal rods. The holy virgin fell down as if dead. The torturer thought that the girl had actually died, and he gave orders to throw her body outside the city to be eaten by dogs.

By night a holy angel appeared to St Aquilina, roused her and said, “Arise and be healed. Go and denounce Volusian, so that he and his plans may come to nothing.”

The martyr went to the court of the governor and stood before Volusian. Seeing St Aquilina, he called for his servants and ordered them to keep watch over her until morning.

In the morning he sentenced St Aquilina to death, saying that she was a sorceress who did not obey the imperial decrees. When they led the saint to execution, she prayed and gave thanks to God for allowing her to suffer for His Holy Name.

A voice was heard in answer to her prayer, summoning her to the heavenly Kingdom. Before the executioner could carry out the sentence, the martyr gave up her spirit to God (+ 293). The executioner feared to disobey the governor’s orders, so he cut off her head although she was already dead.

Christians piously buried the martyr’s body. Later, her relics were taken to Constantinople and placed in a church named for her.