Home  »  Volume VII: July  »  SS. Thea and Valentina, Virgins, and St. Paul, Martyrs

Rev. Alban Butler (1711–73). Volume VII: July. The Lives of the Saints. 1866.

July 25

SS. Thea and Valentina, Virgins, and St. Paul, Martyrs

IN the year 308 there were at the same time six emperors, successors of Dioclesian, namely in the East Galerius, Licinius, and Maximinus; in the West Constantine, Maxentius, and his father, Maximian Herculeus, who had reassumed the purple. Firmillian, the successor of Urbanus in the government of Palestine, under Maximinus II., carried on the persecution with great cruelty. When fourscore and seventeen confessors, men, women, and children, out of an innumerable multitude of Christians who were banished a long while before to the porphyry quarries in Thebais, were brought before him, he commanded the sinews of the joint of their left feet to be burnt with a hot iron; and their right eyes to be put out, and the eye-holes burnt with a hot iron to the very bottom of the orb. In this condition he sent them to work at the mines in Palestine about mount Libanus. Many others were brought before this inhuman judge from different towns of Palestine, and were tormented in various ways.  1
  Among the Christians taken at Gaza, whilst they were assembled to hear the holy scriptures read, was a holy virgin named Thea, whom the judge threatened with the prostitution of her chastity in the public stews. She, to whom her virtue was most dear, reproached him for such infamous injustices. Firmilian, enraged at her liberty of speech, caused her to be inhumanly scourged, then stretched on the rack, and her sides torn with iron hooks till the bare ribs appeared. Valentina, a pious Christian virgin of Cæsarea, who had also by vow consecrated her chastity to God, being present at this spectacle, cried out to the judge from the midst of the crowd: “How long will you thus torment my sister?” She was immediately apprehended, and being dragged by force to the altar, she threw herself upon it, and overturned it with her feet, together with the fire and sacrifice which stood ready upon it. Firmilian, provoked beyond bounds, commanded her sides to be more cruelly torn than any others. Being at length wearied with tormenting her, he ordered the two virgins to be tied together and burnt. This was executed on the 25th of July, 308. One Paul, an illustrious confessor, was beheaded for the faith on the same day, by an order of this judge. The fervour with which he prayed at the place of execution for the emperor, the judge who condemned him, and his executioner, drew tears from all that were present. Soon after one hundred and thirty Egyptian confessors, by an order of Maximinus, had one eye pulled out, and one foot maimed, and were sent, some to the mines in Palestine, others to those in Cilicia. See Eusebius de Martyr. Palestinæ, c. 8. Tillemont, t. 5. Fleury, l. ix. Orsi, t. 4.  2