She lived and suffered during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian. She lived in dangerous times. Christians not only faced harsh penalties from the state but were also vulnerable to vigilante action from ordinary citizens. To further intimidate believers in Christ, Emperor Diocletian enacted a decree making it legal for any citizen to harm and kill a Christian at will. In these harsh circumstances, the virgin martyr Anysia presented an example of dignity, endurance and steadfastness that inspired many to convert to Christ.
She grew up in a noble family but lost her parents at an early age. Orphaned, she gave away her riches and estate to the poor and dedicated herself to a life of fasting and prayer. The imperial decree that legalized the murder of Christians by civilians resulted in multiple deaths. Multiple bodies of Christian martyrs lay unburied along the empire's roads. This did not stop the virgin martyr from going to church to worship Christ.
One day as she was walking to church in the middle of a Pagan festival, a Roman soldier stood in her way. He demanded of her to accompany him to the festival and make sacrifices to the Pagan gods. She refused politely and withdrew from him. Yet the soldier insisted. He grabbed her by her arm and attempted to pull off her veil. She pushed him away, spat in his face and said, "My Lord Jesus Christ forbids you". The wrathful soldier pushed his sword through her, killing her on the spot.
In the age of Saint Anysia, thousands of Christians were brutalized and massacred, and the names of many are not known. Saint Anysia had every chance to remain one of those nameless victims – the only factual evidence of her great feat that has survived to this day is her given name. But she, together with the other martyrs, lives forever in the name of God. Her innocent weakness trumps the brutal force, bringing its bearers to remorse and repentance.
The spiritual message of the icon revealed itself with time. It promises eventual forgiveness to the Russian people and the return of the supreme power from the Holy Theotokos after a long period of suffering and repentance.
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