On 13 June in the Maronite saints calendar we remember an early female martyr from Lebanon. From the earliest Christian times saints have come from that blessed lands.
Byblos (also known as Jbeil) was a very important Phoenician Port and was where St Aqulina was from. She lived in the third century and at that time Christians in the Phoenician City were undergoing great persecution under the Emperor Diocletian. She was raised in a Christian family.
At twelve years old, she encouraged a pagan friend to embrace Christianity. The authorities found out and she was taken before the governor Volusian, where she was asked to reject her faith. She refused to renounce her faith. She was tortured and asked, “Where then is your God? Let Him come and take you out of our hands.” But she answered, “The Lord is here with me invisibly, and the more I suffer, the more strength and endurance will He give me.” She was tortured and died.
Later, her relics were taken to Constantinople and placed in a Church named in her honour. The Church became a place of healing. Saint Joseph the Hymnographer, later composed a holy canon for the Martyr;
“the gushing forth of your blood extinguished the fire of polytheism, and the streams of your miracles washes away diseases.”
Let us not forget the great sacrifices of our ancestors who bore witness to the Christian faith. Let us be inspired by the young 12 year old St Aquilina and always carry our faith wherever we go. Amen
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