Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October 22 - Alodia and Nunilo, Martyrs, Brides of Christ

Alodia and Nunilo despaired that their mother was marrying another Muslim man. Their father had died only recently. Their mother found security by marrying another powerful man but this man had little tolerance for his step-daughters' variations from his expectations. When he found out that his step-daughters were Christians like his sister-in-law, he was furious. Their mother could do little to protect them as he began a process of abuse and persuasion meant to convert them away from their Christian faith. He threatened them and pleaded with them. He beat them and bribed them.Nothing he could do convinced either of them to abandon their faith. One night, they silently left the house and fled to their aunt's house. Upon arriving, they were welcomed by their Christian aunt and invited to live with her. However, the story doesn't end here.

Their apostasy from Islam became wide-spread knowledge as their step-father told their story to others.Their father had kept it as secret as possible but their step-father held no similar reservations. Soon, people knew that this devout man's step-daughters were Christians and they became increasingly unwelcome within the culture. They were harassed and assaulted and life became more restricted and dangerous. Finally, they were dragged before a Moorish judge and charged with apostasy. This was a charge that they would not deny.

The judge began by reasoning with them. He pointed out all that they stood to lose by continuing to profess their Christian faith and all that they could quickly regain if they would only deny their faith. When this proved unproductive, he offered them wealth and the promise of wealthy and influential husbands. He offered them security while they faced indecision and death but they refused his offer. Finally, he resorted to threatening them with death if they would not deny their faith. They asked him, "How can you threaten us with death as if it is something to be feared?" They insisted: "for having given and entrusted our youth into Jesus' keeping, we hope eventually to become his bride?" They laughed and asked, "Would you threaten us with a glorious wedding day? Would you try to offer us something less in exchange for something far greater?"

The judge had a clever idea. He would not kill them. Instead, he would separate them from each other and forcibly put them into homes where they would serve under influential Muslim women. They were assigned to families and became servants and students to these women. Daily, they received education about Islam and were cajoled to renounce their Christian faith in favor of the Muslim teachings. They neither resisted nor fled their assignment. They listened.

Years later, they were brought back before the judge and he asked how they now felt? Without a moment's hesitation, they professed their faith in Jesus and thanked their captors for whatever hospitality had been offered to them. At these words, they were taken out to the courtyard and beheaded for apostasy.

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