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A version of the story of today’s saint says that St. Febronia was raised during the reign of the Roman emperor Diocletian by her aunt Briena, the superior of a convent in Sibapoli, Syria.
She was renowned for her beauty, piety and virtue. When she was about 19 years old Diocletian sent the prefect Lysimacus to Sibapoli with the instructions to exterminate the Christians.
Now, Lysimacus was perceived by the emperor to be soft on the Christians because the young man’s mother was a believer. So Selenus, the proconsulate in the East and Lysimacus’ uncle joined the troops to put some “teeth” into the imperial directive.
When the troops arrived at the convent, Febronia threw herself at the feet of the soldiers begging to be the first of her sisters to be martyred. Coming to the attention of the general, Primus, he thought she was beautiful and might make a good wife for Lysimacus.
When Selenus caught wind of this development, he ordered that she first be brought before him. He offered her a deal that if she would renounce her faith and worship the Roman gods she could marry young Lysimacus and become one of the most important women in the empire.
Febronia refused and was scourged. She still refused and was roasted slowly on a gridiron. The sadistic Selenus, not content with the pain he inflicted, had further mutilations and finally decapitation placed upon the girl.
She died on June 25. Lysimacus was so moved when he heard of her fate that he had her body laid in a rich coffin and honorably buried. Selenus, taken by a sudden madness bashed out his own brains.
Febromia is portrayed in one of the statues atop the colonnade in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
Adapted by A.J. Valentini from de Liguori, A. in Roman Catholic Saints, www.roman-catholic-saints.com/saint-febronia.html