Febronia, Saint

FEBRONIA, SAINT

A fourth-century nun who was martyred (feast day, 1 Abib). We do not know if the notice in the regarding Febronia was derived from the original Syriac text (cf. Simon, 1924) or from the Greek.

The story of Febronia is told by Muslim as well as Christian historians (Al-MAQRIZI, 1853, Vol. 2, p. 493; Al-Makin, 1625, p. 99).

The notice in the is rather banal and gives little information. While she was very young, Febronia was conducted to a monastery in Nisibis in Mesopotamia, of which her aunt was superior. When Diocletian’s persecutions began, the emperor’s messengers came to the convent and seized the superior, but Febronia said to them, “Take me, and leave that old woman.” They led her off to the town, where she confessed her faith before the governor. He tried to coax her but did not succeed in shaking her. He had her tongue cut out and her teeth drawn; her limbs were cut and she was roasted; finally, the weary governor ordered her throat to be cut. A rich believer took her members and placed them in a gilded chest.

THE ARMENIAN reports another story, which is said to have taken place at Dayr al-Hamidat at the time of Marwan and the Bashmurites, who assisted him in the war against the Abbasids. Febronia was a nun in the convent that was besieged by the Bashmurites. She pretended to possess an unguent which rendered her invulnerable and proposed to make a trial of it, but she died by the sword, and thus saved her sisters. The story is found in the narrative concerning KHA’IL I (744-767), but without topographical details (History of the Patriarchs, Vol. 1, pt. 3, p. 162). It is a well-known theme of folklore, the exact origin of which, however, is not known (Cerulli, 1946, pp. 439-81).

BIBLIOGRAPHY

  • Cerulli, E. “La conquista persiana di Gerusalemme e altre fonti orientali cristiane di un episodio dell’ Orlando furioso.” Orientalia 15 (1946):439-81.
  • Delehaye, H. Ecclesiae Constantinopolitanae. Brussels, 1902.
  • Al-Makin. Historia Saracenica, ed. T. Erpenius. The Hague, 1625. Ramzi, M. Al-Qamus al-Jughrafi lil-Bilad al Misriyyah, 3 vols. in 6 pts. Cairo, 1953-1968.
  • Simon, J. “Note sur l’original de la Passion de Sainte Fébronie.” Analecta Bollandiana 42 (1924):69-76.

RENÉ-GEORGES COQUIN