Potamiaena and Basilides

(d. c. 208)

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(d. c.208),

martyrs. Almost all we know of these martyrs comes from Eusebius, who stated that they were among the disciples of Origen. Potamiaena was much honoured among her people of Alexandria, both for the preservation of her chastity and for her torments and death for Christ. When interrogated by Aquila, prefect of Egypt, about her beliefs, she answered in a way that was contrary to the Roman religion, but her exact words have not been recorded. She was sentenced to death and was insulted by the crowd. A soldier called Basilides protected her, showing compassion and kindness. She thanked him, urged him to be of good heart, promised her prayers, and said she would soon repay him for his kindliness. She was then tortured by boiling pitch being poured over every part of her body: this is the first recorded example of this torment.

Basilides, now a Christian, declared it openly in spite of his fellow-soldiers' incredulous mockery, and was imprisoned. He told the other Christians who visited him that he had seen Potamiaena in a vision and that she had placed a crown on his head. He received the Eucharist and was beheaded the next day. Feast: 28 June.

Eusebius, H.E., vi. 5; A.C.M., pp. xxvii–xxviii, 132–5; Palladius, Lausiac History, c. 3; AA.SS. Iun. V (1809), 355–7.

Subjects: Christianity.

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