St. Aglaida (Aglae) of Rome


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Commemorated on December 19

St. Aglaida (Aglae) was a rich Roman woman who carried on an immoral relationship with her slave, St. Boniface. However, they both felt the sting of conscience and wanted somehow to be cleansed of their sins. The Lord granted them the possibility to wash away their sins with their blood and to finish their life in repentance.

Aglaida learned that whoever keeps relics of the holy martyrs in the home and venerates them receives great help in gaining salvation. Under their influence, sin is diminished and virtue prevails. She arranged for Boniface to go to the East, where there was a fierce persecution against Christians, and she asked him to bring back the relics of a martyr, who would become a guide and protector for them.

As he was leaving, Boniface laughed and asked, “My lady, if I do not find any relics, and if I myself suffer for Christ, will you accept my body with reverence?” Aglaida scolded him, saying that he was setting off on a sacred mission, but he did not take her seriously. However, Boniface pondered her words, and during the whole journey he thought that he was unworthy of touching the bodies of the martyrs.

Arriving in Tarsus, Boniface witnessed the sufferings of the martyrs and his heart was changed. He cried out, “I am also a Christian.” He was arrested, tortured, and put to death. Slaves took his body back to Aglaida in Rome.

On the eve of the return of Boniface’s body, an angel appeared to Aglaida in her sleep and told her to prepare herself to receive her former slave, now the brother and fellow-servant of the angels. Aglaida summoned the clergy, and she received the holy relics with great reverence. She built a church on the site of his grave and dedicated it to the holy martyr. There she enshrined his relics, glorified by numerous miracles. After distributing all her wealth to the poor, she withdrew to a monastery, where she spent fifteen years in repentance, then fell asleep in the Lord. She was buried beside St. Boniface. The sins of the one were washed away by his blood, while the other was purified by her tears and asceticism. Both were found worthy to appear unsullied before our Lord Jesus Christ, Who desires not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn from his wickedness and live.

Troparion (Tone 4) –

You fervently followed the way of the martyrs

Confessing Christ before unbelievers, O Boniface.

You gave your body to modest Aglae

As an imperishable treasure.

Healing and mercy flow from it for the world.

Kontakion (Tone 4) –

Willingly you offered yourself as a blameless sacrifice

to the One about to be born of the Virgin for our sake,

holy crown-bearer, all-wise Boniface.

By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org)