18. A heavenly sunbeam
(The Great Martyr Saint Christina)
Like a heavenly sunbeam the only daughter of General Ourvanos was born and raised in the city of Tyre in Syria, around 200 AD. Everyone from far and wide spoke about her wonderful beauty, but also about this young noble girl’s good manners.
Her father, being a supreme general was often away in the East with the troops of King Severus and fearing that someone would dare to hurt her during his absence, built a tall tower. He enclosed his little girl in this together with many servants to look after her.
The greatest fear of her pagan father was that someone would introduce Christianity to his daughter. So that's why he filled this tower with dozens of gold and silver statues of pagan gods. In this tower, there was everything, so that his daughter would not need to come out at all, that's why he strictly ordered her not to leave the tower.
The young noble girl, besides beauty and kindness, had much prudence and wisdom. Many times, when she saw the beauty of heaven and earth, the forests, the flowers, the sea, the rivers and the lakes, she wondered who their true omniscient Creator was. She could not believe that one of the twelve false gods of Olympus could be the great creator of this wonderful world. She felt disgust for these false gods, with the immoral acts in their lives and major weaknesses they had and often felt shame when she heard about them. She was anxiously asking, therefore, to know who was the real Creator of the world, but also the legislator of innate love of moral values and virtue.
The most merciful God, seeing the anguish and longing that this young girl had to know the truth, sends one of His angels in human form, to teach her the mystery of the Holy Trinity, the one and true God the Father, His only begotten Son and the holy Spirit, and the wonderful way in which He created all the world and mankind.
The young girl was moved when she learnt that God the Father, in order to save mankind from sin and the bondage of Satan and bring them back to His heavenly kingdom, sent to earth Ηis only-begotten Son, to be born as a man, to teach the holy Gospel and finally to be crucified, taking upon Himself all the sins of the world. The Holy Spirit begins to flood her soul and her heart glows with divine love, which makes her want to live only for God the Father and her beloved wounded Jesus.
The sacrifice of Christ makes her love and adore Him so much that she wants to be His bride. Christ accepts the proposal of love and adoration of His small daughter and tells her that the new name she will be given will be a sign of her holy decision. From now on you will be called Christina, He said to her, and for the sake of this love you will suffer many tortures and martyrdoms, but you will become the reason why many people will return from the darkness of paganism to the light of the true God.
After the heavenly revelation which Christina had her soul surrendered completely to the love and worship of her well-beloved Jesus. Her mind was continuously thinking about her Beloved One and in her heart was burning a flame of divine love. The only thing that interested her from now on was only to do the will of her heavenly Love.
The next day, when her parents came to see her, they were surprised by the sweetness and beauty of her face. Her father asked her to offer a sacrifice to the false gods, which in his opinion, had decorated her with such ethereal beauty and grace. Christina refused and with her childish simplicity explained to them that she had met the true God the Father and Ηis only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, and that her new name is Christina. Her father got so very angry that he closed her in a room, to consider her mistake and to regret it. Otherwise, she would have to face sorrows, pains and tortures.
Alone now in her room Christina begs her well-beloved Jesus to give her strength, to be able to endure the tortures that would be inflicted on her. Then the guardian angel of her soul appeared in front of her and tells her not to be afraid, because the grace of the Holy Spirit would flood her soul and make her strong. He revealed to her that she will be brought in front of three rulers, to confess her true faith and because of the miracles that will be performed many people will learn about Christ and will praise Him. Then he gave her to eat from the heavenly bread he brought to her.
Christina then felt so strong, that she came out of her room and after breaking all the statues of the false gods with an axe, she threw them out of the tower.
The next day, when her father came and saw what his daughter had done, he became very angry and ordered the soldiers, first to behead the maids and then to beat his daughter mercilessly until they were tired. Then he passed a chain around her neck and locked her in prison.
The next morning she was led to court and in front of many people he tried, under the threat of tortures, to change her mind. When he failed, he ordered that she be hung up and her flesh ripped with iron nails. Then, after tying her onto an iron wheel, a fire was lit from below, so, as the wheel was turning, the body of the young Christina was burning. At the same time, they were pouring hot oil on to her body to make the tortures more painful. Christina was praying fervently, asking help from her beloved Jesus.
Then the fire was scattered and burned many of the pagans, and the Saint was freed from the wheel. Her father full of anger and rage locked her in prison, to die of hunger. There she was visited by three angels and after healing her wounds, they gave her heavenly bread to eat.
When night fell, soldiers came, and tied a large stone to her neck and threw her into the sea to drown. Angels, however, again appeared and rescued her. Christina then walked upon the sea praising God. She asked her Lord to be baptized in these waters and for all her sins to be forgiven.
Christ heard the prayer of His young bride and came Himself among crowds of holy angels, to baptize her with His own hands. Then, after handing her over to the Archangel Michael, to guide her, our Saint found herself near her home. When her father saw her, he was even more furious and, after locking her in prison, he decided that she would be beheaded the following day. That night, however, he died and our Saint was saved from his tortures.
The new ruler, named Dion, also tried to persuade Saint Christina, but in vain. First of all he ordered them to whip her mercilessly and after lighting a large fire asked that she be thrown into a cauldron full of tar, resin and oil to burn her. The Lord, however, again saved His servant from the new torment. The wicked tyrant had new outbursts of rage and now ordered them to shave her head and to parade her naked throughout the town to humiliate her more. Then he imprisoned her.
In the morning, in order to shame the false gods Christina, said to the prefect to take her to the temple of Apollo. The ruler rejoiced because he thought that she wanted to worship his god.
In front of the statue of Apollo, however, Christina ordered the demons that lived in the temple to leave and the statue to become debris. Then they heard sorrowful cries from the evil demons that were fleeing, while the statue fell on its own and smashed.
Three thousand idolaters who were there, immediately believed in Christ, while Dion died from unhappiness.
A new ruler, called Julian, was appointed, who undertook to continue the tortures of our Saint. He ordered a furnace to be heated up for three days and to throw our Saint in there and leave her for five days, so that nothing would remain of her. During this time everyone heard heavenly melodies coming from the furnace. Angels had come close to our Saint and did not allow the fire to hurt her. On the sixth day, when Julian saw that Christina had not suffered anything, he ordered them to throw her into a nest of poisonous snakes. But the snakes, not only did not hurt her, but began to lick her feet and to wipe her sweat! When a servant by Julian's order, wanted to stir them up against Christina, they attacked and killed him. Then the Saint took pity on him and after praying she resurrected him. This miracle made many pagans believe in Christ.
Julian was so enraged by the miracle, that he ordered them to immediately cut off Christina's breasts and to lock her in prison. In the evening her beloved Jesus visited her in prison and announced to her that by the next day and thereafter her soul would be with Him in His heavenly kingdom. Christina was so happy that her heart was ready to break from endless happiness.
In the morning the tyrant cut out her tongue, so she could no longer speak to Christ and glorify Him. Our Saint took her severed tongue and threw it in the face of Julian, who was immediately blinded. Despite having no tongue a voice came out of her mouth and said: "Unbeliever Julian, because you cut out my tongue, by which I glorified the Lord, you also lost your sight."
Then Julian, full of wrath against our Saint ordered his soldiers to kill our Saint Christina with a bow and arrows.It was 24th July, a Thursday, when the arrows struck her saintly heart and so her saintly soul flew into the hands of her beloved king Jesus.