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St Flora and St Mary
Virgins and martyrs (entered heaven in 851)
Your last note was full of complaints about the horrid state of college culture. It’s uncharacteristic of you to complain so much. I can only infer that something went wrong recently, and it has put you out of sorts. I do wish you had told me what it was, so that I could help you regain a more balanced perspective on the whole thing. Anyway, perhaps it will be of some comfort to consider the lives of today’s saints. College culture in the third millennium may not be particularly virtuous, but Spanish culture at the end of the first millennium was positively deadly – at least for these two college-aged young women.
Flora grew up in Cordova, in southern Spain, which was at the time firmly ruled by a Moslem Caliphate that had little tolerance for Christians. Her mother was a secret Christian (her father was Moslem), and brought her up as a Christian as well. In order to help him climb a few rungs on the social ladder, Flora’s brother denounced her as a Christian to the city officials. She was scourged and put under her brother’s care (he was supposed to convert her). Soon enough she escaped, laid low for a while, and eventually tried to return to her hometown. There, while praying in the church of St Acisclus, she met up with another young Christian lady, Mary by name, whose brother (he was a deacon) had recently been executed for refusing to give up his faith. They took counsel together and decided it would be better to make a public profession of their faith rather than continue their frantic attempts to stay concealed. The magistrate who heard their profession holed them up with a band of loose women, hoping to corrupt them, but to no avail. Eventually, they were beheaded together as obstinate and proselytizing Christians, and a few days later, through their intercession, the other Christians who were still in prison in Cordova were released.
So you see, my faithful niece, your battles, though hard in their own way, are far from incapacitating. Therefore, keep your Christian chin up and turn your useless complaining into useful prayer and action. God bless.
Always your uncle,