AGAPE, CHIONIA and IRENE

AGAPE, CHIONIA and IRENE d. 304. Martyrs of Thessalonica. The Greek passion of Agape, Chionia and Irene, already known through a Latin translation, was published by P. Franchi de’ Cavalieri ST 9, Rome 1902. Victims of Diocletian’s edicts of persecution 304, and the only Christians of their family, Agape, Chionia and Irene withdrew to a mountain near their city of Thessalonica, taking with them all the Christian writings they owned to keep them from being destroyed. Returning to the city a few days later and found out as Christians, they were brought before the governor of the city, Dulcitius. The principal accusation was their obstinate refusal to eat the food consecrated to the gods idolothytes. Remaining firm in the faith, they were condemned to be burned alive, Agape and Chionia first, then Irene. Their martyrdom took place on 1 April, which is why on or near that date their memory has customarily been included in the Synaxaria and martyrologies of East and West. The Greek passion names three other women with the first three Cassia, Philippa and Eutychia and a man, Agatho, but gives no details of their fate. A Latin passion relates the martyrdom of the three sisters to that of Anastasia and Chrysogonus, consequently placing it in Aquileia. A document of this recension inspired the Benedictine nun Rosvita 10th c. to write her play Dulcitius PL 137, 993-1002. P. Franchi de’ Cavalieri: ST 9, Rome 1902, 3-19; DHGE 1, 876 n. 2; BS 1, 303-304; BHL IV Nov. Supp. 118-119; PG 117, 222-224; LCI 5, 42; Atti dei martiri, G. Caldarelli ed., Cinisello Balsamo 1985, 664-6764.
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