Four days ago, on July 24, was the feast day of two inspirational and incredible saints. Both were named Christina, both have the same feast day, but they lived in different times.
St. Christina of Bolsena was a virgin martyr who lived in third century Tuscan Italy, as the daughter of a powerful Roman magistrate. Her father was devoted to the false gods and persecuting Christians. Through witnessing these persecutions, St. Christina found her faith. She saw the courage, the unwavering faith of martyred Christians and the patience in which they bore their torments. At no older than eleven years old, she sought out instruction in the Catholic faith and became baptized.
Her father was furious. He threatened and pleaded with her to give up her faith but she refused, so he locked her in their house with the order to sacrifice and give incense to the gods. She broke his expensive gold and silver idols instead and threw them out the window for the poor. St. Christina's father had her brought before him in court. She was scourged and iron combs were used to widen her wounds. However, she prayed much to God and bore her sufferings. She even told her father, 'Do with me whatever you like, my dear Father. You can take my life, but the faith of Christ, you cannot tear out of my heart. My Saviour will strengthen me to suffer patiently all that you have threatened.'
Next, she was covered in oil, stretched out on a wheel and set on fire. The fire had no effect on St. Christina, but burned those who were tormenting her. Everyone was unsettled by what they saw. St. Christina's father put her in a dungeon for the night to decide what to do. The next day, her wounds were found to be healed, yet this did not soften his heart towards his child. He gave orders to drown her in the lake, with a huge stone around her neck, but she appeared miraculously on the shore. Still hardened after all he had seen, he put her in the dungeon again with plans to torture her the next day, but he died that night of a heart attack.
The governor that succeeded him, put her in a boiling bath of tar and pitch. This had no effect. He had her brought to the temple to offer incense to the gods. She made the Sign of the Cross and the statue of Apollo broke into a thousand pieces. This governor suffered a heart attack as well. Nearly three hundred people converted right there. These were the guards and people who came to her tomb.
The third governor left her in a furnace for five days and she was untouched by the flames. People saw her walking around, praising God and believed her to be a witch. So, her tongue was torn out and she was thrown into a pit of wild beasts. The animals did not touch her. She still continued to speak quite clearly and finally asked God to take her life in glorious martyrdom. She was then shot with arrows and one of them pierced her heart, ending her life.
St. Christina of Bolsena became a saint through her witness of Christian behaviour and the opening of her heart to faith and she was rewarded with eternal bliss in Heaven. Her father and everyone who did not convert, hardened their hearts against the one true God and suffer eternally in Hell all the actions committed against an eleven-year-old girl and more. The take home message is this: so much depends on rightly using opportunities in this life to increase your faith and escape Hell. Do not miss those opportunities.
The other St. Christina, known as St. Christina the Astonishing, was born in twelfth century Europe. She died from an epileptic seizure at the age of twenty-one but in the middle of her funeral Mass, she was remarkably raised back to life. Everyone ran out of the church, except for her older sister and the priest. St. Christina flew to the rafters and sat there until the end of Mass.
She later told people she had gone to Purgatory and given a choice. Our Lord had told her she could enter Heaven or return to Earth and suffer the most frightful penances on behalf of the souls in Purgatory. She had a special grace from God to do that for the next fifty years. She lived in caves and tombs, in freezing conditions. She would enter the water and it would freeze around her, trapping her for weeks. She would enter furnaces and people could see her wounds but she would emerge miraculously healed. She would throw herself into packs of wild dogs and be ripped to pieces but emerge unharmed.
She could also smell the stench of people's sins and would often fly up into the trees to escape. She would experience ecstasies and lead souls from death to Purgatory or from Purgatory to Heaven. Many people thought her to be insane and she seemed to suffer from autism or a mental illness but she was a very charitable and holy woman.
So, we have two Saints named Christina whose lives were very similar to each other, even though they lived about thousand years apart. St. Christina the Astonishing died on July 24, on the feast day of St. Christina of Bolsena, the virgin martyr. They both suffered terrible torments and flames but would be healed. St. Christina of Bolsena was trapped with beasts who would not touch her, St. Christina the Astonishing would give herself to the beasts to be ripped apart but would emerge, no longer wounded. Both gave themselves to God to suffer and convert many people around them. Both were free from worry.
If we give our own lives to God to do as He wills, then we too, will not be worried or upset or afraid of losing something because we have surrendered everything to Him. We do have our own suffering that God sends to us sometimes but if we make use of it and give it back to Him (with the intercession of the Saints to help us), then we too, shall enjoy eternity in Heaven.
St. Christina of Bolsena & St. Christina the Astonishing (Feast Day 24 July)