Saints of the Day – St Anatolia & Victoria (Died 250) Martyrs – Sisters who gave their lives for Christ.
Patronages – against earthquakes, against lightning, against severe weather, 18 cities. Anatolia was first mentioned in the De Laude Sanctorum composed in 396 by Victrice (Victricius), bishop of Rouen (330-409) and they are both mentioned together in the Martyrologium Hieronymianum under 10 July. The two saints appear in the famous mosaics of Basilica of Sant’Apollinare Nuovo, at Ravenna (see image below – 22 martyrs shown offering their crowns of martyrdom to the Christ. ), between Saints Paulina and Christina. A Passio Saints Anatoliae et Audacis et Saint Victoriae of the 6th or seventh century, which added the name of Audax, was mentioned by Aldhelm (died 709) and Bede (died 735), who list the saints in their martyrologies. Caesar Baronius lists Anatolia and Audax under 9 July and Victoria under 23 December.
Saint Victoria and her sister Saint Anatolia are remembered as beautiful Catholic noble women who lived during the reign of Emperor Decius 249-251. They were promised in marriage to noble pagan men who were far from pleased at having heard that they were practising Catholics. Saint Victoria was initially content with marrying the pagan, as she hoped that she would be able to convert him but her sister refused to marry and convinced St Victoria to do the same. They both sought to devote their lives solely to God.
The noble pagan suitors both managed to strike a deal with Roman authorities that allowed them to imprison each sister in their respective houses, in order to hopefully convince them to denounce their faith. Both sisters responded by selling all of their possessions, giving all of their money to the poor and devoting themselves to God. Both sisters, during their imprisonment, converted all of the guards, maids and servants in their respective houses.
Needless to say, the suitors were both furious at the sister’s failure to denounce their faith and acts of converting the guards, maids, etc. Saint Anatolia’s suitor, Titus Aurelius, was furious and hired St Audace, to execute her. He initially locked her in a room with a venomous snake which failed to harm her. Upon seeing this, St Audace converted and was later martyred. Saint Anatolia’s suitor was violently angry and became her murderer himself, by stabbing her to death.
Saint Victoria’s suitor, Eugenius, soon heard of this murder of Anatolia but continued to try and convince Victoria to aposthasise. He went through periods of great kindness towards her followed with periods of extreme ill-treatment. Eventually he renounced his suite and stabbed her to death himself, in a fit of rage. According to legend, he was instantly struck with leprosy and died 6 days later eaten by worms.
The relics of Saint Victoria are enshrined in the church of Santa Vittoria in Metanano, Italy and the relics of Saint Anatolia, as well as those of Saint Audace, are enshrined in the Basilica of Saint Scholastica in Subiaco.