|Sant'Irene di Tessalonica, ora pro nobis|
October 16th is the patronal Feast of Sant’Irene di Tessalonica, Virgin and Martyr. She is sometimes called Sant'Irene Megalomartire (the Great Martyr), or Sant’Irene di Lecce, to differentiate her from the other Sant’Irene di Tessalonica who was martyred in 304 AD with her virgin sisters Agape and Chionia.
Patroness of young girls and the town of Trentinara in Provincia di Salerno, she is invoked against storms, earthquakes, and lightning. The Trentinaresi also honor her on Easter Monday and February 24th, in remembrance of a terrible storm that struck the town in 1924. Widely venerated throughout Southern Italy, her Liturgical feast day is May 5th.
According to tradition, Sant’Irene (born Penelope) was the daughter of an overprotective Lord named Licinius (in some versions of the story he was a petty King in Persia). At the age of six, she was locked away in a tower by her father because of her great beauty. Secretly instructed in the faith by an angel, she converted to Christianity and destroyed the pagan idols in her bedchamber. Baptized by St. Timothy, he gave her the name Irene (Peace).
Enraged, Licinius had his daughter bound and dragged behind a runaway horse. Miraculously, she survived the ordeal completely unscathed. When the horse was retrieved, it violently trampled Licinius to death. Praying for her father, he rose from the dead, causing the witnesses to convert en masse. Spreading the Word of God she healed the sick, exorcised demons and converted thousands of people.
Accusing Sant'Irene of sorcery, the city prefect summoned the girl to his court and demanded that she renounce her faith. When she refused to apostatize and make a sacrifice to the gods, he had her tortured and beheaded. Other accounts say she was burned at the stake or buried alive in a cave.
In celebration, I’m posting a prayer to Sant’Irene di Tessalonica in Italian. The accompanying photo, courtesy of Anthony Scillia, was taken at Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City, New Jersey. Evviva Sant’Irene di Tessalonica!
Preghiere a Sant'Irene di Tessalonica
O vergine e martire Sant'Irene, che in cielo godi l’eterna beatitudine, volgi lo sguardo pietoso su di noi, Fa' che, seguendo il tuo esempio, non ci allontaniamo dalle massime cristiane e dal retto sentiero che conduce a Dio. Come te, vogliamo conoscere, amare e servire Dio; concedici quindi quella fede ferma per cui tu desti la vita; ardente carità verso Dio e verso il prossimo, fatta di opere e di bontà; speranza fiduciosa nei beni eterni del cielo. Ottienici dal Signore la grazia di sfuggire le insidie del demonio e tutto ciò che possa contristare il suo Cuore Divino e contaminare la nostra anima. Dopo Maria, sii per noi celeste avvocata, principale protettrice, valida difesa. Allevia le pene del nostro cuore e le ansie del nostro spirito; asciuga le lacrime dei nostri occhi, vieni in nostro aiuto. Impetraci da Gesù, tuo celeste sposo, che, compiuto il corso del terreno pellegrinaggio, giungiamo a vederlo e a godere con te quella gloria ineffabile preparata ai giusti per tutta l’eternità. Amen.