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November 24

St Flora - November 24

Saints Flora and Mary

Laywomen, Virgins, Martyrs

(8th Century – 851)

I have never been a Muslim. From my infancy I have known none but Christ. He is my God and I have consecrated myself to him as his bride.

Saint Flora

Saint’s Life Story

Her Early Life

Flora and Mary’s birth date are unknown and assumed to be around the 8th century. She grew up in Córdoba, in southern Spain. She lived during the reign of Abderramene II, king of the Saracens, a Muslim Caliphate that had little tolerance for Christians. Flora was born to a Muslim parents.  However, her mother was a secret Christian, raising Flora secretly in the faith. After her father died, her mother continued to form Flora in the faith.   Flora took a private vow of chastity and ministered to Christian prisoners. 

Her older brother, a totally committed follower of Mohammed, forced her to go through the motions of practicing Islam. She was often abused at home for her faith.

Betrayed by Her Brother

In order to help him climb a few rungs on the social ladder, Flora’s brother denounced her as a Christian to the city officials. The judge decided that severe punishment would correct such an intelligent young woman. Flora was scourged and beaten on the head until some parts of her skull were bare. The judge put in her brother’s custody that he might persuade her to be a good Muslim. 

Escaped

Flora made her escape by climbing over a high wall and withdrew to a town in the mountains. Here, she laid low for a while. Later, while praying in St. Acislus Church, she met Mary, another young Christian woman. Mary ‘s brother was a deacon who recently had been executed for refusing to give up his faith.

Returned to Córdoba

Together, Flora and Mary decided it would be better to make a public profession of their faith as Christians rather than continue their frantic attempts to stay concealed. They presented themselves to the court of the cadi. In jail, Flora was offered a full pardon if she “returned” to Islam, but she explained that the only beliefs she had ever held were Christian. 

When the judge heard their profession, he threatened to sell both Flora and Mary as prostitutes. So, they both considered backing down rather lose their purity.  Saint Eulogius of Córdoba, himself in prison, heard of their temptation. So, he wrote Flora an encouraging letter. Even if their bodies were violated, he said, their souls would remain pure. So, Flora and Mary gathered their strength and endured shameful suffering in a brothel.

Their Death

Flora and María were found guilty of two different crimes: Flora was executed for apostasy and María for blasphemy. They wer beheaded on November 24, 851. Their bodies were left in the open for a day then thrown into the river. The body of Mary was recovered and taken to the convent, while Flora’s body was never recovered. Their heads were buried at the church of St Acisilus in Cordoba.

Flora and Mary were the first two of nine female Martyrs of Córdoba described by Saint Eulogius of Córdoba in his Memorial of the Saints. Their example inspired other Christians to become martyrs.

Born:                  8th Century in Córdoba, Spain

Died:                  November 24,  851 in Córdoba, Spain

Beatified:           Pre-Congregation

Canonized:        Pre-Congregation

Feast Day:         November 24

Patron Saint:    Abandoned People; Betrayal Victims; Converts; Martyrs; Single Laywomen

Source:

Reflection

Saint Flora stated “I was ill-treated some time ago in the most cruel manner by the Muslims because I refused to renounce Christ. Since then I have been weak enough to hide myself. But today, full of confidence in my God, I am not afraid to come forward to declare, as resolutely as before, that Christ is God. . . .”. With great faith, Saint Flora and Mary handed themselves over to the Muslims. They professed their Christian faith knowing that the a certain death awaited them. Their superior faith did not eradicate their natural fear. They wavered and trembled on their way to the glory of martyrdom by beheaded – the ultimate testimony of their love for God. May we all be willing to die for Him.

Are there times when you are afraid of the consequences of professing your faith? Even Saints Flora and Mary had their moments when they felt weak and tried to avoid a fearful situation. So even though your daily battles may seem hard, they are far from incapacitating.  Therefore, keep your chin up and turn your fears into useful prayer and action. 

Prayers

Saint Flora, you certainly experienced division from your Muslim family caused by your faith.  Especially, when your brother betrayed you and had you beaten before he attempted to convert you to Islam. May your words and the actions, serve to strengthen us during the times when we are faced with such persecutions from our own relatives and friends. Amen. 

Saints Flora and Mary, Pray for us. Amen.

 

Saint Links 

Bartleby – Rev. Alban Butler Volume XI: November. The Lives of the Saints. 1866. November 24 SS. Flora and Mary, Virgins and Martyrs

Catholic Exchange – Saints Flora and Mary

Catholic Online – St. Flora & Mary

CatholicSaints.Info – Saint Flora of Cordoba

Loyola Press – Saint Flora Feast Day November 24

RC Spirituality – St Flora and St Mary

The Nun’s Garden – Saint Flora

Wikipedia – Flora and Maria

Video Link

St Flora – YouTube Video (St. Malachy Catholic Church)

Prayer to Saints Flora and Mary – YouTube (Divine Mercy Prayer)