Saint of the Day – 7 September – Saint Regina (3rd Century) Virgin Martyr – also known as Sainte Reine (in French). Patronages – poor people, shepherdesses, torture victims.
Saint Regina was the daughter of a pagan aristocrat named Clement, in Alise, Burgundy. When her mother died in childbirt,. Regina’s father placed her upbringing, in the care of a Christian nurse attached to the family, who, secretly baptised her. Regina was driven from her family’s home because of her faith and lived as a poor, prayerful shepherdess, together with her governess. She worked in the fields by day, tending sheep, to help support the household. In the fields, Regina grew closer to the Lord, meditating and contemplating His love and mercy and praying to better emulate the lives of the holy saints and martyrs.
At the age of fifteen, Regina caught the eye of the prefect of Gaul, Olybrius, a man of great importance . He became obsessed with the young woman and was determined to take her as his bride. He delighted in her noble upbringing but was deeply disturbed to find that she was practising the Christian faith. At that time, Christians were being violently persecuted and killed, under the direction of the Emperor Decius. Olybrius attempted to persuade her to deny her faith, so as to not only save her from persecution but to secure her as a wife. She declined, refusing to recant her faith and professing it all the louder. In retaliation, Olybrius had her imprisoned.
Regina was chained to the walls of a dark prison cell by means of an iron belt that was bolted to the wall. There she was left while Olybrius participated in several military campaigns against invading barbarians, returning to his daily activities. After an absence of some time, he returned, hoping she may have changed her mind. On the contrary, her imprisonment had served to strengthen her resolve to live like the saints and martyrs and maintain her chastity for the Lord. She refused to sacrifice to idols and he angrily ordered her tortured. Regina courageously withstood whippings and scourging over the back of a wooden horse, raking with iron combs, burning with hot pincers and torches, and crucifixion. None of these could cause her to doubt the Lord or recant her faith and as she continued to praise God. Lastly, she was beheaded, ending her life and her conversion of many witnesses present who observed a solitary dove hovering atop her head during her torture.
The relics of Saint Regina are enshrined in Flavigni Abbey, having been translated there in c 864. Since that time, numerous miracles have been attributed to their presence and frequent pilgrimages are made by the faithful to venerate them.
Given the accounts of her Martyrdom, in art, Saint Regina is portrayed as a maiden bound to a cross with torches applied to her sides, imprisoned with a dove appearing on a shining cross, scourged with rods, or in a boiling cauldron. She is greatly venerated at Autunand Dijon, France and in southern Germany.
Honoured in many Martyrologies, Regina’s feast is celebrated today, or in the Archdiocese of Paderborn on 20 June. In the past, a procession was held in her honour in the town of Dijon. The history of the translation of Regina was the subject of a 9th-century account.
There are many places in France named Sainte-Reine after her.