Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Gruesome Copper Tripods of Emperor Trajan That Flowed With Grace

When the emperor Trajan reigned [98-117 AD], he not only killed Christians on a daily basis who confessed Christ, but the cursed man threw their holy relics into dishonorable and impure places. At that time there were five nuns [Agalida, Apollinaria, Daria, Mamthusa and Thais] who lived as ascetics in a hermitage and kept the commandments of God. In addition to other virtues, this was also their indispensable labor: collecting the honorable bodies of holy martyrs, anointing them with perfumes, wrapping them in shrouds, and burying them in their hermitage.

Learning of this, Drosis, the daughter of the emperor Trajan, sneaked out of the court one night, and went to these nuns, carrying with her expensive coverings, and asked them to go together and collect some relics of the martyrs.

Adrian, Drosis's fiance, who was an imperial adviser, informed the soldiers that the autocratic ruler had ordered them to guard the bodies of the murdered Christians, and they were to find out who was stealing their bodies. Standing guard, the soldiers captured the five nuns along with the emperor's daughter Drosis.

In the morning they were brought before the emperor. Seeing his daughter, the emperor was startled, and ordered that she be well guarded, hoping she would repent. Regarding the five nuns, he gave the order to heat a big furnace and throw the nuns into it, and at the same time throw in a lot of copper, so that it melts and mixes with the melted bodies of the nuns, and thus obtains a mixture from which copper tripods are to be made for the public bath, which he was building and which was to be solemnly opened on the festival of Apollo.

A Roman tripod from the time of Emperor Trajan.

When this was done, and the tripods made, the bath was heated, and the soldiers announced everywhere, saying: "Whoever of you are friends of the merciful gods, come to the opening of the public bath!" - And immediately everyone came down. However, the first who came and approached the first door of the bath fell to the ground and expired; so did all the others who came close to the bathhouse, and no one could enter.

After learning about it, the emperor called the servants of his gods and asked them: "Tell me, did the Christians do some magic, so no one can enter the bath?" And they answered: "No, emperor, but those copper tripods, in which there are relics of those nuns, they do that miracle. Therefore, order to make other tripods, and the plague will end."

After this was done, Drosis's fiance Adrian said to the emperor: "Order, emperor, to make naked statues from those tripods, which will have the appearance of those nuns, so that in this way they can be shamed and humiliated. And let those statues be placed in the public bath."

The emperor ordered this immediately, and it would be done. And when they placed the statues of the naked nuns in the bathhouse, the emperor saw in a dream five pure lambs grazing in a clearing; and they also saw a fearsome shepherd who was shepherding them, and he said to the emperor: "Most impious emperor, those nuns, whose naked statues you placed in the bathhouse to shame them, the good shepherd Christ, having taken them from you, settled them in this wonderful place of paradise, in which your daughter Drosis, the pure lamb of God, will also come."

Waking up, the emperor became enraged that those holy women were interfering with his plans even after their death. Therefore, out of spite and in order to take revenge on them, he ordered two huge furnaces to be built, one at one end of the city and the other at the other end, to be set on fire and to burn day and night. And he also ordered that his imperial command be written on both of them:

"People of Galilee, who worship the Crucified One, you will free yourself from torment and suffering, if each of you voluntarily throws yourself into any furnace you want."

The daughter of the inhuman emperor Drosis, hearing of this command, that every Christian should voluntarily throw himself into the burning furnace, raised her eyes to heaven and said: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, if it is your holy will that I be saved, and that I be delivered from the foolish faith of my father Trajan, help me to free myself from the betrothal to the impious Adrian, and to ascend to heaven, where there are five nuns, who instructed me in Your fear. Put those who guard me into a deep sleep, so that I can escape without them noticing."

After praying like that, she took off her royal robes and left the palace quietly so that no one would notice. And going to throw herself into one of the hot furnaces, she stopped and said: "How will I go to God, and I don't have a wedding dress? that is, I did not receive holy baptism, without which I am impure? But, O King of kings, Lord Jesus Christ, here I left the kingdom for Your love, to become the gatekeeper of Your kingdom. Therefore, You, who were baptized for us, baptize me with the Holy Spirit!"

Having said that, she took out the myrrh she had been carrying with her and anointed herself with it. Then in a basin that had the shape of a house, she baptized herself, saying: "The servant of God, Drosis, is baptized in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit."

And she kept to herself for seven days, fasting and praying. Some Christ-loving Christians found her, and learned everything about her that the blessed one told them about herself. On the eighth day, praying to God to guide her in what she should do, she cast herself into one of the furnaces, attaining a blessed end, and a martyric crown from Christ the Savior.

(From the Life of Saint Drosis and the Holy Five Nuns with her, who are commemorated in the Orthodox Church on March 22nd.)