Born to pagan parents during the tumultuous time of Diocletian’s persecution of the Christians, St. Marina stands as a timeless example of true Christian heroism and strength. Through God’s providence, St. Marina’s widowed father unwittingly gave her over to the care of a Christian governess after Marina’s mother died (either during childbirth or shortly thereafter). Unbeknownst to her father, St. Marina decided at a very young age to pursue a chaste and pure life. However, this laudable choice did not remain secret for long. Her father found out and angrily disowned her.
Not long after, Olymbrios, the Roman prefect in Pisidia, Antioch, saw Marina in passing and attempted to flatter and seduce the beautiful fifteen year-old girl. Yet he soon found her firm decision quite the barrier to his lustful desires. For a man who usually got everything he wanted, this situation was hardly satisfactory. Infuriated, Olymbrios’ lust for blood soon overwhelmed his lust for Marina. He ordered his guards to torture and mutilate the girl whose beauty he once fancied. Marina suffered innumerable, nearly fatal tortures. Yet each time the prefect thought her dead, the Archangel Michael appeared and comforted and healed her.
It is said that a demon visited Marina in the prison to test her, after observing Olymbrios’ failed attempts. But the demon’s twisted visit was short-lived, for Marina immediately took up a hammer and beat the demon until he left her. After this, Olymbrios attempted one last string of tortures: to burn her with fire, then lower her into boiling water. Yet both of these attempts, like others before, were transformed into a means of God’s grace. For Marina may have been burned with fire externally, but the fire of the Holy Spirit filled her soul internally. As she was lowered into the boiling water, she called upon God to use the torturous waters as means of life — of Holy Baptism — to cleanse her soul, although it would disfigure her skin. Hundreds witnessed this event (including Theotimos, who later recorded it) and converted to Christianity. Olymbrios, on the other hand, was at his wit’s end and quickly beheaded the newly converted witnesses as well as the brave Marina.
To this day, St. Marina is remembered as Great among the martyrs and her relics are considered miracle-working by Christians and non-Christians alike. Even the Muslims refuse to destroy her remains. Although torn and abused during life on this earth, she remains untouched now — perfected in Christ.
Troparion — Tone 4
Your lamb Marina calls out to You, O Jesus, in a loud voice: “I love You, my Bridegroom, and in seeking You I endure suffering. In baptism I was crucified so that I might reign in You, and I died so that I might live with You. Accept me as a pure sacrifice, for I have offered myself in love.” Through her prayers save our souls, since You are merciful.
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