Acts 11:19–26
Psalm 119:97–104
Matthew 11:25–30

Preface of Epiphany

PRAYER (traditional language)
Embolden thy church, O God, with the stories of thy saints Catherine, Barbara, and Margaret, that we might face all trials and adversities with a fearless mind and an unbroken spirit, knowing that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who strengthens us. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

PRAYER (contemporary language)
Embolden your church, O God, with the stories of your saints Catherine, Barbara, and Margaret, that we might face all trials and adversities with a fearless mind and an unbroken spirit, knowing that we are more than conquerors through Jesus Christ who strengthens us. Through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

This commemoration appears in Lesser Feasts & Fasts 2018

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Last updated: 22 Sept. 2018

Lessons revised at GC 2009.


MARTYRS, c. 300

On this day are remembered three women martyrs who were some of the most popular saints in ancient and midiaeval times, but who are today regarded as of doubtful historicity. Nevertheless, their stories have inspired Christians over the centuries.

St. Catherine, by Bernardino LuiniCatherine of Alexandria, is, according to tradition, a Christian saint and virgin, who was martyred in the early 4th century at the hands of the pagan emperor Maxentius. According to her hagiography, she was both a princess and a noted scholar, who became a Christian around the age of 14, converted hundreds of people to Christianity, and was martyred around the age of 18.

According to modern scholarship, the legend of Catherine was probably based on the life and murder of the Greek philosopher Hypatia, with reversed roles of Christians and pagans.

When the persecutions began under Maxentius, she went to the emperor and rebuked him for his cruelty. The emperor summoned 50 of the best pagan philosophers and orators to dispute with her, hoping that they would refute her pro-Christian arguments, but Catherine won the debate. Several of her adversaries, conquered by her eloquence, declared themselves Christians and were at once put to death. Catherine was then scourged and imprisoned. The emperor ordered her to be imprisoned without food, so she would starve to death. Upon the failure of Maxentius to make Catherine yield by way of torture, he condemned Catherine to death on a spiked breaking wheel, but, at her touch, it shattered. Maxentius ordered her to be beheaded. Catherine herself ordered the execution to commence.

Angels transported her body to the highest mountain (now called Mt. Saint Catherine) next to Mount Sinai. In the 6th century, the Eastern Emperor Justinian established there what is now Saint Catherine's Monastery.

More at Wikipedia

Torture of St. Barbara

Torture of St. Barbara

Barbara of Nicomedia, or Great Martyr Barbara, was an early Christian Greek saint and martyr. Accounts place her in the 3rd century in Heliopolis of Phoenicia, present-day Baalbek, Lebanon. There is no reference to her in the authentic early Christian writings nor in the original recension of Saint Jerome's martyrology. Her name can be traced to the 7th century, and veneration of her was common, especially in the East, from the 9th century.

Saint Barbara is often portrayed with miniature chains and a tower. As one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, Barbara continues to be a popular saint in modern times, perhaps best known as the patron saint of armourers, artillerymen, military engineers, miners and others who work with explosives because of her old legend's association with lightning.

According to the hagiographies, Barbara, the daughter of a rich pagan, was carefully guarded by her father who kept her locked up in a tower in order to preserve her from the outside world. Having secretly become a Christian, she rejected an offer of marriage that she received through her father.

Dragged before the prefect of the province, Martinianus, who had her cruelly tortured, Barbara held true to her Christian faith. During the night, the dark prison was bathed in light and new miracles occurred. Every morning, her wounds were healed. Torches that were to be used to burn her went out as soon as they came near her. Finally, she was condemned to death by beheading. Her father himself carried out the death-sentence. However, as punishment for this, he was struck by lightning on the way home and his body was consumed by flame. Barbara was buried by a Christian, Valentinus, and her tomb became the site of miracles.

More at Wikipedia

St. Margaret & the Dragon
St. Margaret & the dragon

Margaret, known as Margaret of Antioch in the West, and as Saint Marina the Great Martyr in the East, is said to have been martyred in 304, but was declared apocryphal by Pope Gelasius I in 494; however devotion to her revived in the West with the Crusades.

According to the version of the story in Golden Legend, she was a native of Antioch and the daughter of a pagan priest named Aedesius. Her mother having died soon after her birth, Margaret was nursed by a Christian woman. Having embraced Christianity and consecrated her virginity to God, Margaret was disowned by her father, adopted by her nurse, and lived in the country keeping sheep with her foster mother (in what is now Turkey). Olybrius, Governor of the Roman Diocese of the East, asked to marry her, but with the demand that she renounce Christianity. Upon her refusal, she was cruelly tortured, during which various miraculous incidents occurred. One of these involved being swallowed by Satan in the shape of a dragon, from which she escaped alive when the cross she carried irritated the dragon's innards.

The Sisters of St. Margaret were named for this St. Margaret.

more at Wikipedia