St Marina was born around the mid to late 3rd Century in Pisidia, Asia Minor. Her father was a pagan priest and her mother died when she was very young. Her nursemaid is the one who raised her in the Christian faith.
When her father learned about Marina being a Christian, he disowned her. At about fifteen years of age, Marina was arrested and thrown in prison for being a Christian. This was during the reign of the Emperor Diocletian (284-305) who was very brutal towards Christians. Marina was held in custody in the district ruled by Governor Olymbrios.
He tried to persuade Marina to renounce Christ and become his wife. She refused and was subjected to brutal tortures. These included: being nailed to a board with her flesh being lashed at with tridents and being violently beaten. Yet, miraculously the Lord completely healed her wounds. Her healed body would, however, be temporary since she was soon tied naked to a tree and burnt alive.
As her flesh was burning, Marina beseeched the Lord to permit her to be baptized in water. The Governor overheard her say the word water and so ordered her to be drowned in a cauldron. Marina besought the Lord to make this torture acceptable as her baptism.
The moment Marina was forced down into the water, a light shone from above and a dove descended from Heaven upon her with a golden crown in its beak. This is reminiscent of the Lord’s Baptism in the Jordan River: and immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove (Mk 1:10). Miraculously, the fetters on Marina miraculously broke off and she glorified the Holy Trinity: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
When she emerged from the cauldron, once again Marina’s body was completely healed. Those who witnessed this glorified God and became Christians. For Christ Himself said: let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven (Mt 5:16). Those who do good works are not to be praised and glorified, rather the works bear witness to God that He may be glorified. The Governor was outraged and ordered the execution of all Christians in that region. A total of 15,000 Christians were martyred for the True Faith that day. St Marina was among the martyrs, she was beheaded.
From infancy you were consumed with wholehearted love for Christ the Bridegroom, O virtuous maiden. So you ran to Him, like a thirsty gazelle to ever-flowing springs, and you preserved your-self in the contest, and as a glorious bride you reached the truly eternal chamber of your Creator, decorated, adorned, crowned, glowing as a torch-bearing victor; and you were given the award, as if a gold medal, as a winner in the martyric game (Festal Oikos).
The relics of St Marina are deposited in a church dedicated to the Theotokos in Athens. Her venerable hand was transferred to the Vatopedi monastery in Mount Athos. St Marina’s intercessions are sought especially for deliverance from demonic possession. There is an icon of St Marina, depicting her shattering the Evil One with a hammer. This is similar to that of the icons of St George and St Demetrios. Both these Saints are depicted shattering evil with a spear in lieu of a hammer.
In a time of distress and uncertainty, we look upon St Marina as an example of resilience and piety. Her faith in Christ only increased the more she was tortured. Her purpose in life was simply to serve Christ. Saint Marina experienced one torture after the other, not knowing what was to come next. All she knew was that she believed in Christ and would contest her faith in Him, even to the point of death.
All-laudable martyr Marina, neither the fire of torments nor the enjoyment of pleasure, nor worldly graces, nor the delight of youth, separated you from the love of Christ! You desired to reach the surpassing beauty of your holy Bridegroom: You were made worthy of this, most divinely-blessed one (Stichera of Festal Vespers)!
Many miracles have occurred by this Saint. There was one particular story that Saint Marina appeared during an operation in a hospital. The parents of a sick child had heard from an abbot at a monastery in Andros about St Marina. The monastery was named after the Saint and the abbot told the parents about many miracles that occurred by Saint Marina. So, in fervent prayer, the parents sought the intercessions of the Saint.
The family was from Cyprus and travelled to the United States where the operation was to be performed. On the day of the operation, St Marina was assisting the surgical team perform a very risky and difficult bone marrow transplant on the young boy. No one knew who she was as she worked anonymously until someone noticed later that she signed the medical record as Marina from Andros.
Having read about this true story (which you can read here
), my wife and I decided to name one of our daughters Marina. Up until the day of her delivery, one of my twin daughters wasn’t positioned properly in the womb and causing a risk to the delivery. The doctor said that a caesarean section was the only possibility and that there may be complications. My wife and I prayed to both Saints Marina and Barbara for their intercessions before the Lord. So, that morning of delivery, one last sonogram was done and a miracle occurred.
The one daughter, known as Twin B, turned into the cephalic position and both daughters soon entered into the world safely and healthy. Naturally, Twin B was named Marina. Every year on their birthday we keep it as a family tradition to remember this great miracle as part of our personal synaxarion. All we could say is: we were surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1). Glory be to God for all things!
May we all seek the intercessions of the Great Martyr, Saint Marina, before the Lord our God, for health and well-being.
With a voice of rejoicing and with psalms of great jubilation, let us praise Marina the martyr; She destroyed the delusion of idols on the earth! Manfully she trampled on the enemy! Having been perfected she ascended into the heavens, bearing a crown of victory and crying out: I long for You, my Bridegroom! With desire for Your love, and for Your sake I gave my body to the fire! Therefore, I shall dwell in the eternal mansions, the abode of those who rejoice (1st Doxastikon of Festal Vespers)!
A graduate of Long Island University, College of Pharmacy, and Saint Vladimir's Orthodox Theological Seminary, John works to share the richness and beauty of the Orthodox Faith with the wider community.
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