Spirituality for Today – April 2014 – Volume 18, Issue 9

Saint of the Month
St. Irene

April 3

A photo of Saint IreneSaint Irene

Irene and her older sisters, Agape and Chionia, were the daughters of pagan parents. The three young women owned a number of volumes of the Holy Scriptures that they read and studied daily. In 303, Emperor Diocletian issued a decree that made owning Christian writings a crime punishable by death. Rather than give up the sacred texts, Agape and Chionia fled to the mountains without their father's knowledge.

Upon their return, the three were arrested for refusing to east food that had been offered to the pagan gods. Irene, Agape and Chionia declared that they would rather die than offend God. They also denied possessing copies of the Scriptures. Even so, Agape and Chionia were burned alive, and the youngest, Irene, was imprisoned.

After the executions, the emperor ordered a search of the woman's house. When Christian writings were discovered there, Irene was brought before the emperor. This time, she was found guilty of not only offending the pagan gods, but also of owning Christian Scriptures. Dioceltian condemned Irene to die slowly by being chained in a brothel.

Miraculously, the soldiers left her alone. But when Irene again refused to deny her Christian faith, she was put to death on April 3, 304. Her courage, even more heroic because of her youth, inspired many Christians suffering persecutions in the centuries that followed.

Dear God,
I wish to follow the example of blessed St. Irene
who refused to succumb
to the pressures and the indignities
thrust upon her.
Her courage was mature beyond her years,
Her purity remained untouched
Because her spirit was guided by Your great love.
I pray that I may be fearless
when faced with obstacles that seem insurmountable.
I beseech Your grace.

From Ordinary People Extraordinary Lives