St. Chryse (Zlata) of Bulgaria
Commemorated on October 13
This “golden vessel of virginity and undefiled bride of Christ” was born in the village of Slatena on the border of Bulgaria and Serbia, while Bulgaria was under the rule of the Turks.
From her youth, Zlata displayed an unusually strong character, a firm faith in Christ, and was chaste and beautiful. A Turk was obsessed with her, and seized her one day as she was gathering wood. He carried her off to his house, repeatedly trying to seduce her, and forcing her to accept Islam. Since persuasion did not work, he began to threaten her with torture.
The glorious martyr was not frightened by these threats, but said she would never deny Christ no matter what was done to her. For six months the impious Hagarenes tried to make Zlata accept Islam, but she remained steadfast. They then ordered the saint’s parents and sisters to convince her to become a Muslim. Otherwise, they would kill Zlata and torture them.
The parents and sisters of the saint wept and urged her to deny Christ “just for the sake of appearances” so that they all might be spared torture and death. St. Zlata was unmoved by their pleas, and replied, “You who incite me to deny Christ are no longer my parents and sisters. Instead, I have the Lord Jesus Christ as my father, the Theotokos as my mother, and the saints as my brothers and sisters!”
When the Muslims saw that they could not weaken her resolve, they tormented St. Zlata for three months, beating her with clubs. Later, they peeled strips of skin from her body so that the earth was reddened by her blood. They then heated a skewer and passed it through her ears. Hieromonk Timothy of Stavronikita Monastery on Mt. Athos was nearby, and she sent word to him to pray that she would successfully complete the course of martyrdom. It was he who recorded these events.
Finally, the Muslims became angry at having been conquered by a woman, so they tied her to a tree and cut her to pieces with their knives. Her pure soul was received by Christ, Who bestowed on her the double crowns of virginity and martyrdom. Christians secretly gathered her relics and buried them with reverence. St. Zlata suffered for Christ in the year 1795.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)