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The Life and the Martyr's Crown of Saint Tatiana

Fragrant Flower of Purity, Martyr Tatiana

Martyr Tatiana

Rejoice, bird soaring in Heaven;
Rejoice, for your wings are virginity and purity.
Rejoice, choosing God over the world;
Rejoice, dedicating your youth to Christ.
Rejoice, swallow of the Divine garden;
Rejoice, burning with love only for Christ.
Rejoice, serving Him day and night.
Rejoice, fragrant flower of purity, glorious martyr Tatiana.
(Ikos 2 of the Akathist to the Holy Martyr Tatiana)

Holy Martyr Tatiana

Martyrdom is God's greatest gift to His faithful, the lofty souls that soar to heaven, their fervent love for Him unquenchable by sword, fire, hunger, present or future, tribulation, life or death (cf. Romans 8:35–39). God bestowed His crown on Martyr Tatiana. For over 1800 years, the Orthodox Church has celebrated the feat this humble young woman whose ardent love for Him outmatched the madness of rulers, the brutality of tormentors, the fury of idolaters and all other manifestations of the enemy's pride. From her early years, the maiden Tatiana journeyed to her great glory, to the hymn of praise to the Lord Jesus Christ that reverberated in the Roman circus arena.

A virtuous branch stems from a noble root. Tatiana's father, an honourable Roman senator who served three terms, was a secret Christian who raised his daughter in reverence and fear of God. When Tatiana reached adulthood, she resolved to maintain her purity and was ordained as a deaconess in one of Rome's churches. Tatiana's responsibilities included training newly converted women and girls, preparing them for baptism, accompanying presbyters in the baptism of women, visiting sick women, and caring for their needs.

the icon of Saint Tatiana

In this world, the devil rises against the Truth, seeking to devour and defile every Orthodox Christian, a living sanctuary and temple of God, dragging them down to Hades. St. Tatiana likewise passed through the crucible of trials: when persecutions began in the empire during Emperor Alexander Severus' reign, Deaconess Tatiana was imprisoned. She bravely resisted all requests to sacrifice to Roman idols. Neither flattery nor threats broke her resolve. When torture began, each subsequent agony became progressively harsh and horrific. In her anguish, the saint's prayers drew down God's almighty grace, strengthening her as she endured awful pains and revealed the truth about God to countless witnesses of her feat.

St. Tatiana's prayers caused her tormentors to see Angels assisting her in her suffering. Repentant executioners fell at the feet of the martyr, asking forgiveness for the torments they had inflicted, confessing Christ God, and were executed with a sword. Thus, they received baptism in their own blood and became children of God.

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Tatiana endured three days of torture. Instead of blood, milk flowed from her wounds, and a fragrance filled the air. On the following day, her tormented body was unharmed, and the martyr appeared before her persecutors even more beautiful. Thinking it was witchcraft, the tormentors shaved Tatiana's head, believing it would weaken her strength and keep her from resisting them.

Beholding the accomplishment of your feat, we praise your sufferings. For you endured whippings, being nailed crosswise to the ground, laceration of the body, tearing of the breasts, beatings, mockery, imprisonment in darkness, and other torments. Now, having been crowned with the Kingdom of Heaven, you, with all the saints, cry out: Alleluia.

(Kontakion 10 of the Akathist to the Holy Martyr Tatiana)

The Roman emperor wanted to break St. Tatiana's spirit, so he had her brought to pagans' temples and tortured until she worshipped idols. However, contrary to his expectations, the stone edifices crumbled into pieces under the force of the Holy Spirit resting on the saint. The emperor, having exhausted his strength and the efforts of his warped, God-ignorant mind, ordered St. Tatiana's beheading. Her father, like the saint, received the martyr's crown.

The Church of the Holy Martyr Tatiana in Lyublino, Moscow

The Church of the Holy Martyr Tatiana in Lyublino, Moscow

Martyr Tatiana, little known in Rome today, has long been venerated in the Russian Orthodox Church. Russian tsars repeatedly named their daughters after her. For example, the elder sister and youngest daughter of Tsar Michael Feodorovich both had the name Tatiana. Princess Tatiana Mikhailovna was a pious young lady and one of the first residents of Russia to visit the Holy Land.

In 1625, an embassy from the Athonite Vatopedi Monastery arrived in Moscow. As a gift to the Russian Church, they brought a relic of the Holy Martyr Tatiana, the patroness of the princess. This relic was kept in the Moscow Kremlin, and later, the Tsar’s daughter handed it over to the New Jerusalem Monastery, which was built under her patronage.

Translated from Greek, "Tatiana" means "founder" or "builder" and has long been accepted worldwide as a Russian name. Confirmation of this is found in the lives of the Russian saints: in the 20th century, during the persecutions of the Orthodox Church, nine ascetics bearing this name followed in the footsteps of their saint by accepting martyrdom.

Unfortunately, the relics of the holy martyr Tatiana were lost, and only particles remain. In the Russian Church, fragments of her relics are preserved in the Archangel Michael Church of the Pskov-caves Monastery (reliquary with the saint’s right hand), in the Church of All Saints of the former Novo-Alekseyevsky Monastery (Moscow), in the Novospassky Stavropregial Monastery (Moscow), and other churches and monasteries.

Reliquary with the relics of the Holy Martyr Tatiana in the New Monastery of the Saviour

Reliquary with the relics of the Holy Martyr Tatiana in the New Monastery of the Saviour

Notable Russian statesmen also revered the saint. For instance, M.V. Lomonosov, who advocated for the establishment of a university in Russia for a long time, was assisted in realizing this idea by the famous philanthropist and sponsor of scholars, I.I. Shuvalov, who wielded influence at the court. On the birthday of his mother Tatiana Rodionovna Shuvalova, on 25 January 1755, he petitioned the empress to sign a decree for the creation of the first Russian university in Moscow, which Empress Elizabeth Petrovna did on the same day.

Elizaveta Petrovna (1709–1761), Empress of Russia and Count I. I. Shuvalov, a philanthropist

Elizaveta Petrovna (1709–1761), Empress of Russia and Count I. I. Shuvalov, a philanthropist

The feast day of the Martyr Tatiana became the day of Russian students, and St. Tatiana of Rome is considered the patroness of students and people of science. People pray to Martyr Tatiana for enlightenment and help in times of academic difficulty. The timing of the celebration could not be more fitting. 25 January is the last day of the 21st academic week when the first-semester exam session ends and the winter break begins.

In 1791, a church dedicated to the Martyr Tatiana was built for students and faculty of Moscow University. Here they confessed, received communion, were married, baptized their children, and bid farewell to their relatives. Almost all well-known Russian cultural and scientific figures were among the worshippers. Often, funeral services for famous individuals were served in this church. After the Russian Revolution, the church was closed and was not returned to the faithful until 1995.

The Church of the Holy Martyr Tatiana at Moscow State University, Moscow

The Church of the Holy Martyr Tatiana at Moscow State University, Moscow

He who endures to the end will be saved. The faith of Martyr Tatiana, empowered by God, crushed idols and brought saints to the Church. Her life is the triumph of Christ's victory manifested in an individual. May the Holy Martyr Tatiana help us to stand firm in our faith and enter into eternal life.

O, most glorious and great-named Martyr of Christ Tatiana, the golden vessel of virginity and purity! Now mercifully look upon those who pray to you and diligently seek your intercessions before God. Grant us purity of body and soul, deliver us from the torments of sin, so that, crying out to the Lord, we may say: Alleluia.

(Kontakion 13 of the Akathist to the Holy Martyr Tatiana)

Photographs sourced from the internet

Materials used:
1. Life of St. Tatiana (http://st-tatiana.ru/ )
2. Discourse on the feast day of Holy Martyr Tatiana | Holy Trinity Stefan-Makhryshsky Monastery (https://stefmon.ru/ )
3. Holy Martyr Tatiana (Tatiana): life - Pravmir (http://pravmir.ru/ )
4. Holy Martyr Tatiana Roman - Russian faith (http://ruvera.ru/ )
5. Holy Martyr Tatiana – Nikolo-Solbinsky Convent (http://solba.ru/ )
6. January 25, the feast day of St. Martyr Tatiana / Word of God (http://slovobozhie.com/ )

January 24, 2024
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