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Saint Eugenia
(183 - 258) Rome

Saint Eugenia

Martyr - Feast-day December 25

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Eugenia was a young noblewoman, by birth a Roman, and lived at Alexandria, where her father, Philip, was sent by the emperor Commodus in the capacity of governor of Egypt. Eugenia received a fine upbringing and was noted for her good disposition and beauty. Many an illustrious youth sought her hand, but she did not wish to marry.

Therefore, in secret from her parents, dressed in men's garb, she set out to a men's monastery. There together with her servants and companions she accepted holy Baptism and entered the monastery as the monk Eugene.

Here she remained living the life of a humble monk until she was elected abbot. She reluctantly accepted the office but "made a little cell for herself by the side of the door of the monastery that she might be continually in it, that she might not be a burden on the brothers who were with her, and be better off in her dwelling than all those who were with her"

One time a rich young woman named Melania turned to her for help. Seeing what before her seemed a young, handsome monk, this woman burned with passion, and upon being spurned, she contrived a slander about a rape. Eugenia came to trial before the governor of Egypt, i.e., her father, and she was forced to reveal her secret.

Her mother Claudia, with her daughter, set out to her estates, situated near Rome. There Eugenia continued with monastic life. After the course of several peaceful years, the emperor Galienus began anew the persecution against Christians, and many of them found refuge with Claudia and Eugenia.

During these times a young Roman girl, named Vacilla, orphaned and of imperial lineage, heard about Eugenia, and wanting to meet her, she wrote her a letter. In answer, Eugenia sent her friends, who enlightened Vacilla, and she accepted the Baptism.

The servant of Vacilla then told her fiancee Pompey, that his fiancee had become a Christian, and Pompey made complaint to the emperor against the Christians for preaching celibacy. Summoned to answer, Vacilla refused to marry with Pompey, and for this they killed her with a sword.

Then they brought by force Eugenia to the temple of Diana, but she did not even enter it. They threw her into the Tiber with a stone about her neck, but the stone plunged downwards and she remained unharmed. Then they cast her into a pit, where she remained for ten days. Then on December 25 of the year 262, the executioner beheded Eugenia with a sword. She is buried in Apronianus cemetery on the Via Latina.

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The glass window is in France, Paris, Notre-Dame de Clignancourt

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