OCTOBER 20. IrIA of tomar, WHOSE LIFE ENDED AT "CONCEPTION"
Lived 635 to 653
Patroness of raped and murdered women, women falsely accused, women maligned by rumor, of those falsely accused of impiety and unchaste behavior, and of those who knew and trusted men who then abused that trust. She is also the patroness of young studious girls who wish to learn, for whom learning trumps other concerns, and of all those who will not allow even death to stop their noble goals.
Iria was born into an influential family, and her parents, wishing to protect her, sent her to a convent school and hired a monk as a private tutor. The only time she ever left her house was to attend mass or a procession or to pray at a sanctuary.
PURSUED BY A NOT-SO-NOBLEMAN
Iria was on a rare outing when a nobleman spotted her and fell desperately in love. He kept watch over her and memorized her habits. Every time she left home en route to church, he trailed her. Eventually he asked to court Iria, but she made it clear his love was to go unanswered. When the nobleman fell ill with depreession, she hastened let him know that she was a virginal nun. He took the news poorly, swearing he would kill her if she ever loved another.
LIFE ENDS AT "CONCEPTION"
Meanwhile, a monk/tutor made improper advances on Iria. When she spurned him, he spread rumors that she was pregnant. In addition, he managed to serve her a "tea-tasting strange liquid" or potion that inflated her waist and gave her the appearance of a baby-filled womb. When the nobleman heard tale of his beloved's "infidelity," he hired a murderer to kill her with a dagger to her throat. As Iria was returning home from visiting an elderly cripple, or by other accounts, praying by a river, the assassin approached her from behind and felled her with a single stroke of his sword. Iria's dead body toppled into the stream and she floated away.
THE OPENING SEAS
The locals assumed that Iria had fled town alive out of shame for her ballooning waistline, but her uncle learned of the truth through a revelation from Christ. He went to the river, followed by holy men and aristocrats, and the waters opened for him, revealing her body in an eerie, underwater tomb. Despite their might, they could not displace her corpse, so they left her submerged in the grave.
A SAINT WILL FIND A WAY
One blogger writes: "In time, even her existence has come to be doubted, suggesting that she never existed, that her life was mere legend or myth, that she was invented to fulfill a need or a fantasy. Thus in death as in life she is abused. Yet a Saint will endure. A Saint will not be denied. A Saint will find a way."