Who is St. Demiana

St. Demiana

church

 

(The Life of Saint Demiana from the Coptic Synexarion)

How many of us ever stand up and tell other people what we

believe about Jesus Christ? How many of us are really convinced

that our faith is so completely a part of what we are that is worth

proclaiming happily to those who question us? Being one of Jesus’

disciples can not be easy, for as Jesus once said:

“Beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils… You will

be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, and bear

testimony before them and the Gentiles… Do not be anxious how

you are to speak or what you will say… It will be given to you in

that hour… You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he

who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:16)

 

Toward the end of the third century, there lived a Christian man

named Marcos. He was the ruler of the Borolos and Zahfaran

districts in Egypt. Marcos had only one daughter called Demiana.

Her beauty and good character were legendary. Her father loved

her dearly, and he did his best to raise her up in a true Christian

way.

 

Demiana loved to pray and read the holy books in the seclusion of

her room. She often cried, while praying, as she felt the love of her

Savior the Christ fill her little heart.

 

When Demiana was old enough, her father wanted her to get

married to one of his noble friends, but Demiana refused. She said

that she gave herself up as a bride to Christ, and that she intended

to live without marriage all her life, so she could serve the Lord

Jesus Christ. Demiana also asked her father to build a house for

her on the outskirts of the city, so that she could live in it, with her

friends, as a nun away from the world and its temptations.

 

Knowing her deep desire for a righteous life, her father reluctantly

granted Demiana her wish, and built her a large palace. Demiana

changed the palace into a convent, and lived in it with forty of her

friends. They were all unmarried girls, and the Lord’s hand was

with them, giving them strength and comfort.

 

At that time Diocletian, the Emperor, began to torture and kill the

Christians who refused to worship his idols (Apollos and Artemis).

When Marcos was invited to kneel before the statues and offer

incense, he refused. But Diocletian convinced him by promising to

give him a higher position in the Roman Empire.

 

When Demiana heard that her father had knelt before the idols,

she left the palace and went immediately to him. She said, “How

could you deny your Savior who shed his blood to save you, and

kneel down to stone idols dwelled by satan. What you did, my

father, is cowardly and shameful.” When Marcos heard his

daughter’s words he came back to his senses. He said, “Woe to

me, how could I fall in the Devil’s trap and worship those idle

statues.”

 

Then he got up immediately, and went to Diocletian. He crossed

himself in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in

front of everybody, and cried with a loud voice, “Let every one

know that I worship the God of heaven and earth, my only God

and Lord Jesus the Christ.” Diocletian was troubled and tried his

best to change Marcos’ mind, but this time the Holy Spirit had filled

his heart, and he testified even boldly that he was willing to die

than to deny his Savior. Diocletian got really infuriated, and

ordered the soldiers to kill him.

 

When the Emperor learned that it was Marcos’ daughter Demiana

who had changed her father’s mind, he ordered one of his

commanders to take one hundred soldiers and attack the palace.

“First, try to convince her to worship our idols”, said Diocletian.

“But, if she refuses, threaten her, torture her, and even kill her so

that she will be an example for the other Christians.”

 

When Demiana saw the soldiers approach the palace, she prayed

to God to strengthen their faith until death. Then she told her

friends, “If you are willing to die for Jesus’ sake you can stay, but if

you can not stand the torturing of the soldiers, you would better

hurry and escape right now.” The forty virgins answered that they

would not lose the eternal life just to enjoy a few moments in this

evil world.

 

When the commander relayed Diocletian’s message to Demiana,

she answered, “How can I leave my Lord and God Jesus Christ and

bow in front of blind, dumb, and deaf statues! You and your

Emperor should be embarrassed of your shameful deeds, and I am

telling you that even if you kill me, my faith will not be shaken.”
The commander was very embarrassed, and he ordered the

soldiers to torture Demiana in different cruel ways. As she felt the

terrible pain through her body, she lifted her face up toward

heaven, and prayed, “My Lord Jesus, the Son of the Most High who

was crucified in order to save me, give me the strength to stand

the pain.” The forty virgins were watching and crying, but Demiana

told them, “Do not cry, my sisters, our Lord Jesus Christ was

tortured and killed because He loved us, even though He did not

commit one sin. How much more should I welcome death in His

name, especially if I am sure of the heavenly glory awaiting me!”

 

After the soldiers got tired of torturing Demiana, they threw her

half-dead body in jail. But the Archangel Michael appeared to her,

touched her with his heavenly wings, and healed her wounds. The

next day, the commander thought that she had died, but when she

stood in front of him in perfect health he was very puzzled. When

some people saw what had happened, they cried, “We are

Christians. We believe in the God of Demiana. We have no other

God but Jesus Christ.” The commander was even more troubled,

and killed all of them.

 

The torturing of Demiana continued in an even crueller way for

many days, but again, and again the Archangel Michael appeared

and healed her.

 

On the last day before her martyrdom, our Lord Jesus Himself

came to her and told her, “Have courage, my chosen one. I have

prepared for you the crown of your wedding in heaven. Your name

will be remembered forever as it will be the cause for many

miracles, and in this place a great church will be built to honor your

blessed name.”

 

Finally the commander ordered the soldiers to behead Demiana by

the sword, along with the forty virgins. The total number of people

who were martyred with Demiana was about four hundred.

 

Few years later, when King Constantine (the first Christian king)

came to power, he sent his mother Queen Helena to Demiana’s

palace. Helena buried all the bodies that she found in great honor.

She put Demiana’s body on a bed made of ivory and decorated it

with silk linen, and in the same place she built a church.

 

Saint Demiana has also a great convent in Belkas and many

churches in Egypt bear her name.

 

May the prayers and the blessings of this great martyr, Saint

Demiana be with us all. Amen