St. Antonina was from the city of Krodamos (in present day Asia Minor). She was arrested for being a Christian, and was brought before Governor Festus. He urged her to worship the pagan gods and promised to make her a priestess of the goddess Artemis. She bravely confessed Christ and urged the governor to renounce the worship of demons in the form of idols. Festus gave orders to strike the saint on the face and lock her up in prison.
St. Antonina spent all her time in prayer, eating and drinking nothing. One day she heard the voice of God saying, “Antonina, fortify yourself with food and be brave, for I am with you.” When she was led before the governor again, the martyr continued to stand up for the Christian Faith and to denounce the pagans.
Governor Festus ordered that the holy virgin be defiled by the soldiers, but the Lord inspired one of them, St. Alexander. He sought permission to go in to her on the pretext that he might be able to convince her to obey the Governor's will. While he was alone with her, St. Alexander suggested that she put on his military attire and escape. The Lord ordered St. Antonina to agree.
She subsequently walked out of the prison, not being recognized because she was dressed like a soldier. The remaining soldiers entered the prison and found St. Alexander alone in the cell. He was led before the Governor, where he refused to respond to questioning. Hearing that St. Alexander had been brought for questioning before the Governor, St. Antonina returned and stood by his side.
On May 3, 313, Governor Festus ordered that their hands be cut off, and they were then smeared with pitch and thrown into a pit where a fire was burning, where they received the crowns of martyrs. When the fire went out, snakes were thrown into the pit, so that Christians would not be able to gather up their bones.
Returning from witnessing these tortures, Governor Festus became numb, and was unable to eat or drink. He died after seven days of terrible torment.
In the Prologue, Sts. Antonina and Alexander’s feast day is celebrated on June 10. The relics of the saints were eventually transferred to Constantinople and placed in the Maximov Monastery.
By permission of the Orthodox Church in America (www.oca.org )