Saints Peter and Dionysia
IN the Decian persecution the blood of the Christians flowed at Lampsacus, a city of Asia Minor. St. Peter was the first who was led before the proconsul and condemned to die for the name of Christ. Young though he was, he went joyfully to his torments. He was bound to a wheel by iron chains, and his bones were broken, but he raised his eyes to heaven with a smiling countenance and said, “I give Thee thanks, O Lord Jesus Christ, because Thou hast given me patience, and made me victorious over the tyrant.” The proconsul saw how little suffering availed, and ordered the martyr to be beheaded. But a little later, in the same city, the virgin Dionysia showed a like eagerness to suffer. St. Dionysia gained the crown which an apostate lost, and his history may teach us that those who lose Christ rather than suffer with Him lose all.
With the strength that was left he cried out, “I never was a Christian. I sacrifice to the gods.” Therefore he was taken down, and he offered sacrifice. But he was possessed by the devil, whom he had chosen for his master. He fell to the earth in a fit, bit out his tongue, and so expired. He escaped a little pain, and instead he went to the endless torments of hell, and forfeited eternal rest. “O wretched man!” Dionysia cried, “why have you feared a little suffering and chosen eternal pain instead?” She was seized and led away to horrible outrage, but her angel guardian appeared by her side and protected the spouse of Christ. Escaping from prison, she still burned with the desire to be dissolved and to be with Christ. She threw herself upon the bodies of the martyrs, saying, “I would fain die with you on earth, that I may live with you in heaven.” And Christ, Who is the crown of virgins and the strength of martyrs, gave her the desire of her heart.
The martyrs were even like us, with natures which shrank from suffering. They were patient under it because they looked to the eternal recompense, and endured as seeing Him Who is invisible.