Drosis of Antioch
St. Drosis, the daughter of the Roman Emperor Trajan is commemorated on March 22.
According to Orthodox Christian ecclesiastical traditions St. Drosis was the daughter of the Emperor Trajan (98-117 AD). In 99 AD Trajan revived a decree prohibiting secret gatherings which was in truth a ruse to prohibit Christian rituals. In 104, a special law was issued against those who believed in Christ and who denied obedience to imperial idols. Many Christians were martyred for disobeying this law. As visible deterrent for other Christians these martyrs were kept unburied. Five nuns, Aglaida, Apolliniaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Thais, assumed the task of burying these holy persons. They secretly gathered their bodies, anointed them with spices, wrapped them in shrouds, and buried them in their nunnery. When Drosis learned about the nuns she secretly left the palace to assist them in collecting the martyred Christians.
Adrian, one of Trajan’s advisors, was engaged to Drosis. In order to advance himself Adrian obtained Trajan’s permission to set guard over those who had been killed and arrest anyone who tried to bury them. St. Drosis and the five nuns were eventually apprehended.
Trajan sentenced the five nuns to death by throwing them into a furnace used for preparing copper fixtures for a public bath project. Trajan excluded his daughter from this punishment ordering she be held separately within the palace. He hoped her feelings about Christianity would change.
Many roman non Christian citizens were invited for the opening ceremonies of the baths. The first idol worshiper who entered the facility immediately died as did the subsequent idol worshiper until it was impossible for any unbeliever to enter the facility. The priests suspected a magical spell so Adrian recommended that the copper fixtures be removed and melted. In order to disgrace the nuns the copper was used to create five naked statues in their likeness which were placed at the entrance to the baths. After their installation Trajan dreamt of five pure lambs in Paradise while an Awsome Shepherd said to him “Irreverent Caesar! Those whose images you placed there to be dishonored have been taken away from you by the Good Shepard Christ and brought to this fine paradise where in time your daughter, the pure lamb Drosis, shall also be.” Awakening and enraged that these holy women could mock Trajan’s after their deaths he ordered two huge furnaces be placed at each corner of the city. An imperial edict was posted which said: “Galileans who worship the Crucified, rid yourselves many tortures and spare us also from these labor and let each of you voluntarily cast himself into this furnace.” Many Christians willingly went to their martyrdom. St. Drosis was one of them.
In her seclusion St. Drosis prayed for her release. Her prayers were heard. While the guards fell asleep, St. Drosis, dressed in her royal attire left the palace and heading to the ovens. Since St. Drosis was not yet baptized she wondered, “How can I go to God without a wedding garment that is 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 you can make me gatekeeper of Your Kingdom. Baptize me Yourself with your Holy Spirit.” After praying in this manner, St. Drosis anointed herself with chrism she had taken along with her, and after 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, fasting and praying. Christians found her and told them her story. On the eighth day, the holy Martyr Drosis went to the scorching ovens and cast herself into the fire.
- Patrologia Orientalis Tome XXII Fascicule 2, No. 108. Les Homiiae Cathedrales De Severe D’Antoche, Homolie C, pages 230 – 248
- The prologue from Orchid. Lives of the Saints and Homilies by Bishop Nicolai Velimirovic (Translated by Mother Maria). Part one January, February, March, Lazarica Press 1985
- CΥΝΑΞΑΡΙCΤΗC ΤΩΝ ΔΩΔΕΚΑ ΜΗΝΩΝ ΤΟΥ ΕΝΙΑΥΤΟΥ, ΤΟΜΟC ΤΕΤΑΡΤΟC ΜΑΡΤΙΟC-ΑΠΡΙΛΙΟC. ΕΚΔΟCΕΙC ΟΡΘΟΔΟΞΟΥ ΚΥΨCΕΛΗC