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Bible Dictionaries

A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography

Dorothea, Virgin Martyr


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Dorothea, virgin, martyred with Theophilus the Advocate, and two other women, Christa and Callista, at Caesarea, in Cappadocia. Some doubt is entertained about these names, as they occur in no Greek menology or martyrology; but they are found in ancient Roman accounts; and details are given by the monk Usuard, bp. Ado, and Rabanus. They are celebrated on Feb. 6. Baronius, Bollandus, and Tillemont all place the death of Dorothea in the persecution of Diocletian.

She was a young girl of Caesarea in Cappadocia, famed so widely for Christian piety that when the governor Fabricius, Sapricius, or Apricius arrived he had her brought before him and tortured. Unable to persuade her to marry, he sent her to Christa and Callista that they might induce her to give up her faith. She converted them; whereupon the governor put them to death in a boiling cauldron.

Dorothea was again tortured, and shewed her joy for the martyrdom of Christa and Callista and for her own sufferings. The governor, insulted and enraged, ordered her head to be cut off. On her way to execution an advocate named Theophilus laughingly asked her to send him some apples and roses from the paradise of her heavenly bridegroom. The legend states that these were miraculously conveyed to him, although Cappadocia was then covered with snow. Theophilus was converted, tortured, and decapitated.

Dorothea's body is said to have been taken to Rome, and preserved in the church across the Tiber which bears her name. On her festival there is a ceremony of blessing roses and apples. Migne, Dict. Hagiograph. i. 779; Bollandus, Acta Sanct. Feb. i. p. 771; Tillem. Hist. eccl. p. 497 (Paris, 1702).

[W.M.S.]


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Bibliography Information
Wace, Henry. Entry for 'Dorothea, Virgin Martyr'. A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hwd/d/dorothea-virgin-martyr.html. 1911.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 26th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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