St. Drosis, the Daughter of Emperor Trajan


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Commemorated on March 22

St. Drosis was daughter of Emperor Trajan, a fierce persecutor of Christians. In 99 AD, he revived an earlier law which forbade secret gatherings that was indirectly aimed against the Christians. In 104, he issued a special law against those who believed in Christ. The persecutions continued until the end of his reign.

During this same time, the bodies of martyred Christians often remained unburied in order to intimidate others. Five virgins, Aglaida, Apolliniaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Thais, took upon themselves the task of burying the bodies of these holy martyrs. They secretly gathered up the bodies, anointed them with spices, wrapped them in shrouds, and buried them. When she learned of this, Drosis, a secret Christian but not yet baptized, asked the holy virgins to take her with them.

On the advice of the court dignitary, Adrian, a guard was set over those who had been killed to arrest anyone who tried to bury them. On the very first night, St. Drosis and the five virgins were caught. Learning that one of the captives was his own daughter, Trajan gave orders to hold her separately, in the hope that she would change her mind.

The remaining holy virgins were sentenced to burn in a copper furnace. They bravely accepted execution and were granted crowns of martyrdom. The copper mingled with the ashes of the martyrs, and was used to make tripods for a new bathtub for Emperor Trajan. As long as these tripods stood in the bathhouse, no one was able to enter due to an invisible force. Those who succeeded in crossing the threshold fell down dead. When the pagan priests realized why this was happening, they told the emperor to remove the tripods from the tub.

Adrian recommended that the tripods be melted in order to make five statues of naked virgins, in the likeness of the martyrs, with the statues being placed at the entrance to the imperial bath. Trajan agreed. When the statues were installed, the emperor saw in a dream five pure lambs pastured in Paradise, and the Shepherd who said to him, “O most wanton and wicked Caesar! Those whose images you placed there to be mocked have been taken away from you and brought here by the Good and Merciful Pastor. In time your daughter, the pure lamb Drosis, shall also be here.”

When he awoke, Trajan flew into a rage and ordered that two huge furnaces be heated. At the ovens, an imperial edict was posted: “You who worship the Crucified, save yourselves many agonies, and spare us also from these labors. Offer sacrifice to the gods. If you do not wish to do this, however, then let each of you voluntarily cast himself into this furnace.” Many Christians willingly went to their martyrdom.

When she heard of this edict, St. Drosis also decided to endure martyrdom for Christ. In prison, she prayed to the Lord to release her from the prison walls.. God heard her prayers, and the guards fell asleep. St. Drosis escaped and walked towards the ovens, but began to wonder, “How can I go to God without a wedding garment (i.e., without being baptized), for I am impure. But, O King of Kings, Lord Jesus Christ, for Your sake I give up my imperial position, so that I may be the lowliest handmaiden in Your Kingdom. Baptize me Yourself with your Holy Spirit.”

After praying in this manner, St. Drosis anointed herself with chrism, which she had taken along with her, and immersing herself in water three times, she said: “the servant of God Drosis is baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” For seven days the saint hid, spending her time in fasting and prayer. Christians found her and learned from her everything that had occurred. On the eighth day, the holy Martyr Drosis went to the red-hot ovens and cast herself into the fire.

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