Saint of the Day – 18 January – Saint Prisca (1st Century) Child Virgin Martyr. Born to the imperial Roman hristian nobility and died by being stabbed with a sword in 275 in Rome, Italy. Also known as – Priscilla, Prisque.
The Roman Martyrology reads: “In the City of Rome, the holy Virgin and Martyr Prisca; after many tortures she gained the Crown of Martyrdom under Emperor Claudius II (about 270).”
Born to Christian parents of a noble family, Prisca was raised during the reign of the Roman Emperor Claudius II. While Claudius did not persecute Christians with the same fervour as other Roman Emperors, Christians still did not practice their faith openly. In fact, Prisca’s parents went to great lengths to conceal their faith and thus they were not suspected of being Christians.
Prisca, however, did not feel the need to take precaution. The young girl openly professed her dedication to Christ and eventually, she was reported to the Emperor. Claudius had her arrested and commanded her to make a sacrifice to Apollo, the pagan god of the sun.
According to the legend, Prisca refused and was tortured for disobeying. Then, suddenly, a bright, yellow light shone about her and she appeared to be a little star.
Claudius ordered that Prisca be taken away to prison, in the hopes that she would abandon Christ. When all efforts to change her mind were unsuccessful, she was taken to an amphitheatre and thrown in with a lion.
As the crowd watched, Prisca stood fearless. According to legend, the lion walked toward the barefoot girl and then gently licked her feet. Disgusted by his thwarted efforts to dissuade Prisca, Claudius had her stabbed to death with a sword.
Seventh-century accounts of the grave sites of Roman Martyrs refer to the discovery of an epitaph of a Roman Christian named Priscilla in a large catacomb and identifies her place of interment on the Via Salaria as the Catacomb of Priscilla.