Female Saints – The History of the Virgin Potamiaena

There was a certain young virgin [called Potamiaena] who was exceedingly beautiful and she was a Christian. She was the handmaiden of a certain worldly man who was given over to a life of pleasure, and she lived in very great luxury, and her master flattered her greatly, wishing to destroy her. And being unable to bring her into subjection to his will, he at length was seized with madness, and he became furiously angry with her and delivered her over to a certain prefect who  lived at that time in Alexandria (i.e., Basilides), saying, ‘She is a Christian, and she reviles the government, and utters blasphemies against the Emperor.’ And he promised to give him much money saying, ‘If she can be persuaded to do my will, keep her for me without disgrace and punishment, but if she persists in her obstinacy of heart, punish her with every kind of torture thou please, and let her not remain alive to laugh at me and at my luxurious way of life.’ And when they brought the valiant woman before the throne of the judges, she was greatly moved, but she was not persuaded; and the prefect tortured the body of the virgin of Christ with many different kinds of tortures. Then again after these things he thought out a crafty plan, and invented a method of punishment by torture which was as follows. He commanded them to bring a huge cauldron which was full of pitch, and to light a fierce fire under it, and when the pitch was melted and was boiling, the judge cried to her, saying, ‘Go and submit yourself to the will of your lord, and know that if you do not then you shall immediately fall into this cauldron.’

Now when she heard this, she sealed her soul, and answered and said, ‘You judge with iniquity, O judge, for you command me to become subject to fornication. I am the handmaiden of Christ, and it is right that I should stand before His throne without blemish.’ And when the judge heard this, he was at once greatly troubled and filled with wrath, and he commanded them to bring her and to cast her into the cauldron. Then the virgin said to him, ‘I adjure thee, by the head of the Emperor, if you condemn me to this thing of your own self, to command them to put me into the cauldron little by little, without stripping my apparel from me, so that you may know the patient endurance which I have through Christ for the sake of my purity.’ And as they were dipping her little by little into the cauldron, for a very short space of time, immediately the pitch reached her neck it became cold. Thus, she delivered her soul unto God, and she was crowned with a good martyrdom. And a great congregation of holy men and women were made perfect (i.e., they suffered martyrdom) at that time in the church of Alexandria, and they became worthy of that land which the meek inherit. [Potamiaena was martyred, with her mother Marcella, in the reign of Septimius Severus.]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.