Wednesday, June 6, 2012


St. Martina of Rome

also known as Prisca, Tatiana

Feast day: January 30
Died: 228

Virgin martyr of Rome. A basilica was erected in her honor at the Roman Forum. Her remains were discovered there in 1634. There is considerable doubt about her recorded sufferings. Her cult is now confined to her Roman basilica.

 feast day was formerly January 20; Martina was removed from the general Roman Calendar in 1969, but not from local ones. In 1634, Pope Urban VIII decided to rebuild an ancient church in honor of Saint Martina that stood under the Capitoline Hill in Rome, overlooking the Forum. The workmen discovered a Christian tomb containing the bones of a Roman lady and her two brothers. These were believed to be the remains of Saints Martina, Concordius, and Epiphanius. Bernini created a magnificent bronze shrine for these relics and today, in the church of Santi Luca e Martino, Rome, lamps burn continually around the shrine. In 1558, Pope Sixtus V added Saint Luke the Evangelist as co-titular of the church, when he gave it and the neighboring building to the Accademia di San Luca.

 Although we know little about her, she remains one of the patron saints of the city of Rome itself. Her fabulous acta, which can be traced to the 7th century, closely resemble those of Saints Prisca and Tatiana--they may all be the same person. According to this story, the virgin Martina, born of an illustrious family, was orphaned at an early age. She is said to have been a Roman martyr under Alexander Severus (222-235 AD). It is said that at her martyrdom, milk flowed from her body rather than blood. There is no evidence for an early cultus of a Tatiana or Martina in Rome, and Prisca is difficult to identify (Attwater, Attwater2, Benedictines, Bentley, Coulson, Sheppard).

 Saint Martina is pictured as a maiden with a lion. She may be shown beheaded by a sword or martyred with a two-pronged hook, receiving the palm and lily from the Virgin and Child

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