Thursday, June 13, 2013

June 13 - Aquilina, Martyr, Adolescent, Willing to Suffer

Aquilina was another subject of the expansive Roman empire at the end of the third century. She was born in Byblos in what we now know as Lebanon. Her family was Christian and so she was raised in the faith of her parents and the Apostles. That which she received had been passed down for many years from mouth to ear with a hopeful faith that God would guard and guide the transmission of it time after time after time. So, she received the story through catechism from the Bishop of Byblos--from a man called by God and appointed by the Church named Euthalios--and it changed the way she looked at everything. When she first heard the sublime notes of that sweet story, her heart leaped in her chest and she could no more than affirm it with her every word and breath. She became enamored with the sweet and simple truth of it and took to her studies with vigor and eagerness. Though she was only twelve she somehow sensed that her faith must grow and increase for the days that were to come. Days that for a twelve-year-old girl were coming all too quickly.

She preached in the streets because she could no more hold in the story she had learned than she could simply stop being. This preaching was effective and many people her own age found themselves enthralled by her honesty and sincerity. But because of the preaching she did in the streets she attracted the attention of the magistrate Volusian. Volusian was under the command of Diocletian and knew that Christians were being punished throughout the empire. He asked her, "Out in the streets--why do you preach the story of the Christians?"

She responded, "I am a Christian. That's why." This was confusing to Volusian who could not fathom such a young girl easily accepting a Gospel that taught the only way to live was to die and that it was better to perish painfully than to renounce faith in Jesus whom had been crucified.

In his confusion, Volusian said to Aquilina, "Don't you see that you're leading your friends and peers down a road that leads to death? It leads them away from faith in the gods of Rome to faith in one who was crucified at the hands of Rome. Don't you know that the empire condemned your 'God' to death and even now condemns all of his followers to follow him in death? You should leave this mistake behind and place your faith in the gods of Rome. If you won't, even though you are but a little girl, then you will suffer a horrible death."

Aquilina responded, "You don't understand, I'm not afraid to suffer. I'm not afraid in the least. Rather, I look forward to it because I know that in it I will be able to be like Jesus. In that glorious death, I will find resurrection and glory." Volusian then ordered that she be tied to a post and flogged. As the ministrations of Rome tore at Aquilina's flesh, Volusian insisted she deny her faith. Aquilina, however, responded "Not even Satan himself would be able to make me suffer enough to break my faith--not with the help of my Lord Jesus. So, what makes you feel like you can break my faith?"

Volusian had her young body raked with metal claws and then she was thrown in prison for the night. They pierced her eardrums with hot spikes and further beat and abused her.When Aquilina still refused to deny her faith, she was beheaded in the morning on the morning of the thirteenth of June in the year 293.

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