Saints Agape, Chionia, and Irene

Virgins and Martyrs (entered heaven in 304)

My dearest niece Irene,

Life in this prison of a cubicle is often quite oppressing, but whenever I get sad, I just think of all the blessings God has given me, including a niece like you.  I do so wish that I had a Bible here, though. Not only did they take my tattered pocket version, but they have blocked all Internet access to on-line Scriptures. May God forgive them.  That reminds me of today’s saints (may they keep you in their prayers). They loved the Scriptures. One even died for them. In the year 303 that misguided Roman emperor Diocletian had made it a capital crime to possess even a page of the Christian Bible.  The three sisters Agape, Chionia, and Irene (they lived in Greece) happened to have some Biblical texts in their possession, so they hid them away. God permitted them to be arrested after they refused to eat meat that had been sacrificed to pagan gods. They were imprisoned and interrogated, but they wouldn’t budge; they valiantly defended the faith as the governor Dulcitius tried to make them abandon it.  Agape and Chionia were burned at the stake as punishment, but Irene was kept in prison (they hoped she would weaken after her sisters’ gruesome martyrdom). Meanwhile a search of their house uncovered the hidden Scriptures, and Irene was called again before the governor. Asked who had ordered her to keep the documents, in direct defiance of the emperor’s edict, she gave brave testimony: “Almighty God, who has commanded us to love him unto death.  For that reason we prefer to be burnt alive rather than give up the Holy Scriptures and betray him… They were hidden in the house, but we dared not produce them: we were in great trouble because we could no longer read them day and night as we had been accustomed to do.” What love for God’s Word those saintly young women showed! And how carelessly we treat the Bible, now that it is found in every bookstore and every hotel room and every church pew.  We have so many editions, translations, and versions, and we don’t read any of them! Ah, now I know how St Irene felt! I’m counting on your prayers, and keeping you in mine. Uncle Eddy

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