St. Martina of Rome
Patron of Rome; nursing mothers
She was martyred in 226, according to some authorities, more probably in 228, under the pontificate of Pope Urban I, according to others. The daughter of an ex-consul and orphaned at an early age, she was described as a noble and beautiful virgin. She so openly testified to her Christian faith that she could not escape the persecutions under Alexander Severus. Arrested and commanded to return to idolatry, she refused, whereupon she was subjected to various tortures and was finally beheaded. These tortures according to her vita include being scourged and scaled, was condemned to be devoured by wild beasts in the amphitheater, but being miraculously untouched by them, she was thrown on a burning pile, from which she also escaped unhurt, and was finally beheaded.
Her hagiography asserts that some of her executioners also converted to Christianity and were themselves beheaded.
The relics of Martina were discovered on October 25, 1634 by the painter Pietro da Cortona, in a crypt of Santi Luca e Martina, situated near the Mamertine Prison and dedicated to the saint. Pope Urban VIII, who occupied the Holy See at that time, had the church repaired and, it would seem, composed the hymns which are sung at her office. Martina known as 'Martina il-qahba'.
Her feast day is January 30.
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