St. Pherbutha and her Sister, Martyrs


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Commemorated on April 4

The Holy Martyr Pherbutha and her sister and servants were martyred for Christ between the years 341 and 343. Their brother, Bishop Simeon of Seleucia, also suffered for Christ under Persian Emperor Sapor around this same period.

Both sisters and their servants had been brought to the court by the empress to attend to her. St. Pherbutha was distinguished by her extraordinary beauty, and the empress suggested that she marry in order to gain a high position. The saint refused, since she had made a vow of virginity and total service to God.

Soon the empress fell ill. The sorcerers who were brought in to treat the empress saw St. Pherbutha and were struck by her extraordinary beauty. One of them asked her to become his wife. The saint answered that she was a Christian and had vowed to remain a bride of Christ.

The offended sorcerer reported to the emperor that the empress’s sickness was caused by poison given to her by the servants. By order of the emperor, St. Pherbutha, her sister, and the servants were all put on trial. At the trial, the holy martyrs fearlessly declared that they were innocent of any crime, and that they were prepared to accept death for Christ.

The chief judge, the sorcerer Mauptis, was captivated by the beauty of the holy virgin Pherbutha, and he secretly sent his servant to her in the prison offering to free her and her companions, if only she would consent to become his wife. The two other judges secretly made similar offers to the holy virgin, one after the other.

St. Pherbutha resolutely refused all these offers, saying that she was a bride of Christ and could never consent to an earthly marriage.

The martyrs were found guilty of being Christians and of working magic in poisoning the empress, and they were sentenced to death. The pagan priests ordered the bodies of the Christians to be cut into pieces, placing three pieces on one side, and three pieces on the other side. They then told the empress to walk between the body parts in order to receive healing. The bodies of the holy martyrs were thrown into a ditch, from which Christians secretly retrieved them and buried them.

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