May 2010 - St. Irene

May 5    

Saint Irene (1st c.)


Saint Irene was born in Macedonia, the daughter of a pagan Roman nobleman called Licinius.  Her parents named her Penelope.  She learned about the Christian faith as a young girl from her teacher, Appelianus, and through a divine revelation she was converted to faith in Christ and was baptized by St. Timothy the Disciple and Bishop of Ephesus.  She was renamed Irene, meaning ‘Holy Peace of God’.  As a teenager she angered her parents by refusing to enter into an arranged marriage with a pagan nobleman.  In her zeal for piety she broke to pieces all the idols of pagan god’s in her father’s home. 


When her father discovered that she was a secret Christian, he commanded her to renounce her faith.  When she steadfastly refused, he commanded that she be trampled underfoot by horses.  But while she remained unharmed, one of the horses rose up and cast down her father, killing him.  By her prayer she raised her father to life again, and he believed and was baptized.  Afterwards, she undertook many missionary journeys to spread the Gospel.  Throughout her missionary journey Saint Irene suffered torments and punishments for her faith, but was preserved by the power of God, while working many miracles and converting many thousands of souls.


At last she arrived at the home of the Virgin Mary at Ephesus, where she died in peace, in the first half of the second century. Two days after her death, her gravestone was found lifted off, and her grave was empty.  


At least two churches were dedicated to St Irene in Constantinople, and she is the patroness of the Aegean island of Thera, which is commonly called Santorini, a corruption of "Saint Irene."  




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