St Snandulia of Persia

Saint Snandulia of Persia is mentioned in the account of the martyrdom of Sts Joseph the priest and Aithalas the deacon. The historian Sozomen also describes their sufferings in his CHURCH HISTORY (Book 2, ch. 13).

Snandulia was a devout Christian of the city of Arbela who visited those who suffered in prison for the sake of Christ. When she learned that Sts Joseph and Aithalas were in the prison, she went with her servants by night and bribed the guards with gold. They allowed her to take the saints to her home until daybreak. They were barely alive and unable to speak. She took them home and put them to bed, tending their wounds, and kissing their shattered hands and feet.

St Joseph recovered consciousness and saw Snandulia weeping. He told her that the compassion she had shown for him and for Aithalas was pleasing to God, but he thought that her bitter lamentations were contrary to Christian hope.

She replied, “When one is moved by compassion, it is natural to weep.”

“Nevertheless,” St Joseph said, “you should not weep for us, for tortures born for the sake of Christ are followed by eternal joy.”

The two saints were returned to prison the next morning, as promised. After six months their wounds had healed to some extent. They could stand and walk a little, but Aithalas’s hands hung at his side limp and useless.

Zerothus was appointed as a judge, and he entered the city offering sacrifice to the gods in the various temples. Some of the priests told him about Sts Joseph and Aithalas, who had been tortured on the orders of Prince Ardasabor, the head of all the Magi of Persia. They explained to Zerothus that their execution was being delayed until they recovered from their wounds.

When he heard this, Zerothus ordered that the martyrs be brought before him. He used flattery and then threats in an attempt to persuade them to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. When this proved unsuccessful, the judge had them beaten for a long time.

When they were brought before the judge again, Zerothus tried to get the saints to eat food which had been offered to the idols, but they refused. Then the judge had them beaten again, and ordered other Christians to stone them. Soldiers went to the homes of the Christians to force them to come to the judgment hall. They dug a hole and placed St Joseph in it, then put stones in the hands of the Christians and compelled them to stone him.

St Snandulia was among these Christians, but she refused to throw stones at the aged priest. Then they gave her a lance and told her to kill St Joseph. She said that she would rather drive the lance into her own heart than to wound the saint with it.

St Joseph was eventually killed by all the stones that were thrown at him, and the holy deacon Aithalas was also stoned in the same way.

St Snandulia stretched forth her arms to needful works and opened her hands to the needy (Proverbs 31:19-20), but she refused to lift her hands to do evil against St Joseph.