Saint Demiana

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The Martyrdom of St. Demiana. (May 20th)

On this day also, St. Demiana was martyred. This chaste and fighter virgin, was the daughter of Mark, Governor of El-Borollus, El-Zaafran, and Wadi Al-Saysaban(1) in the Northern delta of the valley of the Nile. She was the only daughter to her parents. When she was one year old, her father took her to the church of the monastery of Al-Maymah. He offered alms, candles and oblations so that God might bless her and keep her in His care. When she was fifteen years old, her father wanted her to be wed. She refused, and told him that she had vowed herself a bride to the Lord Christ. When she saw that her father was pleased with her intention, she asked him to build her a place where she could worship God in seclusion with her virgin friends. He fulfilled her wish and built her the house that she wanted. She lived in it with forty other virgins. They spent their time reading the holy scripture and in worship. Shortly after, Emperor Diocletian sent for Mark, St. Demiana's father, and ordered him to worship the idols. He refused at first, but after the Emperor appeased him he obeyed his order and worshipped the idols and forsook the Creator of the Universe.

When Mark returned to his official seat, and St. Demiana knew what had transpired, she rushed to meet him. She did not greet him, but said, "What is it that I heard about you? I would have preferred to hear about your death rather than to hear that you have renounced your faith and forsaken the God Who created you from non-existence into being, to worship gods made by hands. Take note that if you do not return to your first faith and renounce the worship of stones, you are not my father and I am not your daughter," and she left him. Her father was greatly moved by the words of his daughter, and he wept bitterly. In haste, he went to Diocletian and confessed the Lord Christ.

When the Emperor could not convince him with threats and promises, he ordered him beheaded. When Diocletian knew that the one who turned Mark from worshipping the idols was St. Demiana, his daughter. He sent her a prince to try first gently to convince her to worship idols, and if she disobeyed him to behead her. The prince went to her with two hundred soldiers and the instruments of torture. When he arrived at her palace, he said to her, "I am a messenger sent from Emperor Diocletian. I came to call upon you according to the Emperor's orders, to worship his gods, so that he can grant you all that you want." The saint shouted in his face saying, "May God denounce the messenger and the one by whom he was sent. Don't you have any shame at all to call stones and wood gods which are inhabited by devils? There is no god in heaven or on earth except one God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, the Eternal Creator, the Everlasting, Who is everywhere, Who knows all the secrets, and Who can throw you in hell where is the everlasting torment. As for me, I am the maidservant of my Master and my Savior Jesus Christ, and His Good Father and the Holy Spirit, the Holy Trinity, Him I confess and upon Him I depend, and in His Name I die, and by Him I live forever."

The prince became exceedingly angry and ordered her to be placed in the Hinbazeen (the squeezing press), until her blood poured out of her body on the ground. The virgins were standing weeping over her. When they put her in prison, the angel of the Lord appeared to her, touched her body with his illumined wings, and she was healed of all her wounds. The prince used all his evil imagination to torture St. Demiana, once by tearing her flesh and another time by placing her in boiling oil. Through it all the Lord raised her up safely. When the prince saw that all his attempts were in vain, before the steadfastness of this pure virgin he ordered her beheaded, and all the other virgins with her. Thus, they all received the crowns of martyrdom.