The Monastic Martyr Anastasia the Roman lost her parents when she was three years old, and was taken to be raised by the Igoumeness of a women’s monastery, whose name was Sophia, a nun who had attained a high degree of spiritual perfection. She raised Anastasia in fervent faith, in the fear of God, and obedience. After seventeen years, Anastasia became known as a great ascetic, and she was very beautiful.
The Emperor Decius (249-251) began his persecution of Christians at that time. The city administrator, Probus, following the Emperor’s orders, commanded that Anastasia be brought to him. Blessed by her Igoumeness to suffer for Christ, the young martyr Anastasia went out to meet the armed soldiers. Seeing her youth and beauty, Probus first tried flattery to make her deny Christ.
“Why do you waste your youth deprived of pleasure?” he asked. “What is to be gained by enduring tortures and death for the Crucified? Worship our gods, marry a handsome husband, and live with glory and honor.”
While Saint Anastasia stood before the ruler, her mind stood before Christ, and with her spiritual eyes, she beheld the comeliness of her Bridegroom.
The Saint replied, “My spouse, my riches, my life and my happiness are my Lord Jesus Christ, and you cannot turn me away from Him by your deceit!”
Probus had her stripped of her clothing, in order to humiliate her. She told him, “You can have me whipped, beaten, and cut to pieces, and then my nakedness will be hidden by my wounds, and my blood will cover my shame.”
Probus subjected Anastasia to horrible tortures. The holy martyr bravely endured all of them, glorifying and praising God. When she became thirsty she asked for some water, and a Christian named Cyril gave her a drink. She thanked him, but Probus had him beheaded.
Then her tormentors cut off her breasts and ripped out her tongue, while an Angel held her upright. When the people witnessed the inhuman and disgusting treatment the Saint received, they became indignant, and Probus was forced to end the tortures by having her beheaded. In this manner, Saint Anastasia received the unfading crown of martyrdom.
Saint Anastasia’s body was thrown outside the city limits to be eaten by wild animals, but the Lord did not permit her holy relics to be dishonored. By the instructions of a holy Angel, Igoumeness Sophia found Saint Anastasia’s mutilated body. With the help of two Christians, she buried it in the earth.
Her right tibia with the skin is at Grigoriou Monastery on Mount Athos, and pieces of her relics are at the Saint Alexander Nevsky Lavra in St. Petersburg.
Saint Anastasia the Roman should not be confused with Saint Anastasia Pharmakolytria, who is commemorated on December 22.
Saint Anastasia, who was young in age and lived in a convent, was seized by the impious. Confessing Christ openly and with boldness and enduring manifold torments, she was beheaded in the year 256, during the reign of Valerian.
She was born in Rome of noble parents, and was left an orphan at the age of three. As an orphan, she was taken to a convent near Rome where the abbess was Sophia, a nun of the highest level of perfection. After seventeen years, Anastasia was well known–among the Christians as a great ascetic, and among the pagans as a rare beauty. Probus, the pagan governor, heard of Anastasia and sent his soldiers to bring her to him. For two hours, the good Abbess Sophia counseled Anastasia how to keep the Faith, how to resist flattering deceits, and how to endure torture. Anastasia said to her: “My heart is ready to suffer for Christ; my soul is ready to die for my Sweet Jesus.” Brought before the governor, Anastasia openly expressed her faith in Christ the Lord, and when the governor tried to turn her away from the Faith–first by promises and then by threats–the martyr said to him: “I am ready to die for my Lord not only once, but–oh, if it were only possible–a hundred times!” When they stripped her naked to humiliate her, she cried out to the servants: “Whip me, cut me up and tear me apart, cover my naked body with wounds and cover my shame with blood!” She was beaten, torn and cut up. On two occasions she felt a great thirst and asked for water, and a Christian, Cyril, gave her a drink, for which he was blessed by the martyr of Christ and beheaded by the pagans. Anastasia’s breasts and tongue were severed, but an angel of God appeared and sustained her. Finally, she was beheaded outside the city. Blessed Sophia found her body and buried it honorably. Anastasia was crowned with the wreath of martyrdom during the reign of Decius.
Kontakion of Martyr Anastasia
Made most pure, O righteous one, with chaste virginity’s waters, and washed in martyric blood, O Anastasia, thou grantest unto those in need the healing of every illness, and to those who come with love thou grantest salvation; for the well-spring of unfailing grace, even Christ God, bestoweth power on thee.
Source: oca.org / goarch.org / westserbdio.org