Agape, Irene, and Chione

(d. 304)

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(d. 304),

martyrs. These three young women were natives of Saloniki in Macedonia. During Maximian's persecution they left their homes and went to live on a nearby mountain to follow lives of prayer: here they were arrested under Diocletian in late 303. When they were brought with their companions before the magistrate, they refused to sacrifice, that is, eat sacrificial food. Each answered steadfastly that she would rather die than do so. The prefect summed up against them that they were guilty of treason against the emperors and Caesars; as they were obdurate, they would receive the appropriate punishment. Agape and Chione were sentenced to be burnt alive, the other because of her youth to imprisonment. After the execution of the first two, Irene was again cross-examined. She admitted that she had possessed books of the Scriptures and had taken refuge in the mountains without her father's knowledge. As she refused once again to take part in the sacrifice, she was sentenced to be sent naked into the soldiers' brothel, where she would receive daily one loaf of bread from the magistrate's residence. However, no man dared approach her. She too was eventually burnt alive. The day of her death was recorded in her Acts as 1 April, but the feast of the three martyrs together is 3 April.

A.C.M., pp. xlii–xliii, 280–93;AA.SS. Apr. I (1675), 245–50;H. Delehaye, Les Passions des Martyrs (1921), pp. 141–3;B.L.S., iv. 1.

Subjects: Christianity.

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