September 6, 2017

Saint Regina, Courageous Virgin and Martyr

Saint Regina

According to tradition September 7th is the feast of St. Regina (Reine) who after undergoing many cruel torments, was beheaded for the faith at Aliza, formerly a large town called Alexia, famous for the siege which Caesar laid to it, now a small village in the diocese of Autun in Burgundy. Her martyrdom occurred under the persecution of Decius, in 251, or possibly Emperor Maximian Herculius in 286. 
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The life of Saint Regina is shrouded in obscurity; all that we know about her is found in the acts of her martyrdom which are considered rather unreliable in their details. She was born in the 3rd century in Alise, the ancient Alesia where two hundred years earlier Vercingetorix had fought so valiantly against Caesar. Her mother died at her birth, and her father, a prominent pagan citizen, entrusted the child to a Christian nurse who baptized her.

When he learned of this fact, the father flew into a rage and repudiated his own daughter. Regina then went to live with her nurse who possessed little means. The girl helped out by tending sheep, where she communed with God in prayer and meditated on the lives of the saints.

In 251, at the age of fifteen, she attracted the eye of a man called Olybrius, the prefect of Gaul, who determined to have her as his wife. He sent for the girl and discovered that she was of noble race and of the Christian Faith. Chagrined, he attempted to have her deny her faith, but the saintly maiden resolutely refused and also spurned his proposal of marriage. Thereupon, Olybrius had her thrown into prison.

Regina remained incarcerated, chained to the wall, while Olybrius went to ward off the incursions of the barbarians. On his return, he found the saint even more determined to preserve her vow of virginity and to refuse to sacrifice to idols. In a rage, he had recourse to whippings, scorchings, burning pincers, and iron combs - all to no avail as the grace of God sustained the saint. All the while, she continued to praise God and defy Olybrius. In the end, her throat was severed and she went forth to meet her heavenly Bridegroom. Saint Regina, pray for us.

Adapted excerpt from the Lives of the Saints by Father Thomas J. Donaghy.

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