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December 2 Saints of the Day – Myrope and Bibiana

On this day in 1901, Gillette patented the first disposable razor. They had waited until Movember was over.

MyropeMyrope (d. 251) lived with her mother in Ephesus (unless it was Alexandria), where she daily visited the grave of St. Hermione, the daughter of Philip the Apostle (which makes Alexandria unlikely — that’s a long hike). There she would collect the fragrant, healing myrrh that streamed from the tomb, and carry it to the sick, whom it would fragrantly heal.

This way of life was not to last, however. When Emperor Decius cranked up his complex persecution machine, Myrope’s mom, who is unnamed in my sources (actually the saint’s name may also be forgotten — “Myrope” derives from “myrrh” and thus may be descriptive) moved the two of them to property she had inherited on the island of Chios. But the long arm of the law reached even to that island paradise. There, the military conscript Isidore was martyred by his commanding officer Numerius for not sacrificing to the idols. His body and head were separately thrown into a field, and a guard was set to prevent Christians from stealing them for burial.

Hearing of this martyrdom, Myrope enlisted (no pun intended) the help of a soldier named Ammonios, and under cover of night the two of them stole and buried the body. Hearing of this theft, Numerius threw the two guards in jail to await cephalectomy. Hearing of this sentence, Myrope was distraught that others might die for what she had done, so she betook herself to the commander and confessed the deed (she didn’t implicate Ammonios, but he was martyred later, as it turns out). “Kill me; I did it,” she said. Hearing this confession, Numerius asked, “Why?” “Because I hate your unbelief and I spit on it!” she replied. (Only one source has this, but that’s good enough for me.)

Numerius ordered every single bit of her body flayed (multiple sources mention this thoroughness), after which Myrope was thrown in jail to die. Suddenly a heavenly light shone, and a band of angels appeared singing the Trisagion. With them was Isidore, who assured Myrope that she would soon be with the blessed. And he wasn’t kidding, for upon hearing that, she surrendered her soul (“died” for the poetry-challenged). Her relics were removed in the sixteenth century to St. Mark’s in Venice, but a portion was returned to Chios in 1967.

BibianaBibiana (d. ca. 361), aka Vivian, was the daughter of a Roman prefect name Flavian. During the persecutions of Julian the Apostate, Flavian was tortured and sent into exile, where he died from his wounds, and his wife Dafrosa was beheaded. Vivian and her sister Demetria were handed over to a woman named Rufina, who tried to force them into prostitution, but they were uncooperative, as is befitting, I hope you’ll agree. They were stripped and locked in a house to die of starvation, but starvation refused to cooperate. They spent their time in prayer and fasting, which seems reasonable as they had no food. This went on a good while.

When it was discovered that they weren’t dying nearly as conveniently as had been hoped, they were brought before the governor, Apronianus. Demetria confessed her faith and fell down dead, but Vivian was made of tougher stuff. When she refused to renounce her faith, Apronianus ordered her taken back to the house, tied to a pillar, and scourged, which she endured with constancy and joy. This finally accomplished what starvation had been loath to do. Her body was thrown to the dogs, but the dogs were as uncooperative as starvation, and after two days she was buried in the house. A series of churches were built on the site; the current one, Santa Bibiana, in 1624. It contains the aforementioned pillar and the relics of the martyrs Dafrosa, Demetria, and Vivian, which were discovered in a sarcophagus during the restoration and moved to an alabaster urn. A miraculous plant once grew on the church grounds; it had the power to cure headaches, for which reason Bibiana is the patroness of people suffering from hangovers.


Copyright © 2013 Alex Riggle. All Rights Reserved.


Bibliography
This Day in History for 2nd December
The Great Collection of the Lives of the Saints, Vol. 4: December (book on paper) – Main source
Saints Isidore and Myrope the Great Martyrs of Chios (May 14) (Orthodox Metropolitanate of Hong Kong and South East Asia)
Icon of Myrope from the Hong Kong site (copyright unknown)
Saint Bibiana (Wikipedia) – Main source
Saint Bibiana (SQPN)
Santa Bibiana (Wikipedia)
Photo of statue of Bibiana, from the Church of Santa Bibiana in Rome (detail) by Wikimedia contributor Wikipaintings used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0) license . Use does not imply approval of image owner of this page or this use.

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About Your Intrepid Blogger

I live in the Tacoma area. When not writing things some people think are funny, I teach technology to 7th and 8th graders at a local middle school.

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