Virgin-martyrs Archelais, Thecla, and Susanna, beheaded at Salerno

Commemorated on June 6

The Holy Virgin Martyrs Archelais, Thekla and Susanna sought salvation in a small monastery near Rome. During the persecution by Diocletian (284-305), the holy virgins dressed themselves in men’s clothing, cut their hair and went to the Italian province of Campania. Settling in a remote area, they continued to pursue an ascetical life of fasting and prayer. They received the gift of healing from God, and treated the local inhabitants, converting many pagans to Christ.

When the governor of the district heard about them, he had them brought to Salerno. He threatened Saint Archelais with torture and death if she did not offer sacrifice to idols. With firm hope in the Lord, the saint refused to submit to the command, and she denounced the folly of worshipping soulless statues. Then the governor ordered the saint to be torn apart by hungry lions, but the beasts meekly lay at her feet. In a rage the governor ordered the lions to be killed, and locked the holy virgins in prison.

In the morning, having suspended Saint Archelais, the torturers began to rake her with iron utensils and pour hot tar on the wounds. The saint prayed even more loudly, and suddenly a light shone over her and a voice was heard, “Fear not, for I am with you.”

The saint was defended by the power of God. When they wanted to crush her with an immense stone, an angel pushed it to the other side, and it crushed the torturers instead. A judge ordered soldiers to behead the holy virgins, but the soldiers did not dare to put their hands upon the saints. Then Saints Archelais, Thekla and Susanna said to the soldiers, “If you do not fulfill the command, you shall have no respect from us.” The holy martyrs were beheaded in 293.

In the nineteenth century, Saint Susanna appeared to a disciple of Elder Boniface saying, “We must pray to God with the soul, the mind, and the heart.” She is described as a maiden of untold beauty, with a soft, pleasant voice.

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