Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Martyrdom of Saint Afra

In the late 3rd century, Afra's pagan family journeyed from Cyprus to Augsburg. She was dedicated to the service of the goddess Venus, by her mother, Hilaria.

She was originally a prostitute in Augsburg, and is reputed either to have run a brothel in that town or worked as a hierodule in the Temple of Venus

As the persecution of Christians during the reign of Roman Emperor Diocletian began, Bishop Narcissus of Girona (in Spain) sought refuge in Augsburg and lodged with Afra and her mother, Hilaria. Through his teachings, Bishop Narcissus converted Afra and her family to Christianity.

 "The Baptism of Saint Afra" oil on Canvas. (after) Jacopo Bassano (Jacopo Da Ponte)

She continued to hide the bishop from the authorities. When it was learned that Afra was a Christian, she was brought before Diocletian and ordered to give glory to the pagan idols. She refused, and was condemned to death by fire on a small island in the Lech River,

The Martyrdom of Saint Afra,  Paolo Veronese (Caliari)

Saint Afra, by the Master of Messkirch, c. 1535-1540

Her remains were buried at a distance from the place of her martyrdom. Her mother and her maids (viz., Ligna, Eunonia, and Eutropia) later suffered the same fate, for interring her in a burial vault.

Saint Afra

Friedrichshafen, Pfarrkirche St. Petrus Canisius, Altarbild aus Kloster Löwental
Detail: Hl. Afra

The three Augsburg city's patron saint St. Simpert, St. Urlich, St. Afra... 1516, Braunschweig, Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum

Tomb of Saint Afra in Augsburg

The abbey of Saint Ulrich and Saint Afra