JANUARY 18. Prisca, who god robed in sunbeams
Prisca was a young Roman girl whose parents were Christians of noble birth. Afraid of the authorities who persecuted Christians in those days, her family likely attended church in the secret chapels (aka “gloomy catacombs”) dug deep underground beneath the city (and directly below the authorities’ feet). Unlike her parents, Prisca was unafraid to proclaim her faith and she became known as a “firm little Christian maiden.”
TRANSFORMED INTO AN ACTUAL STAR
Soon the authorities seized her and took her to face the cruel emperor. He ordered his men to bring her to Apollo’s ornate temple, where they prodded her to cast grains of incense into fire as an offering to the Sun God. Prisca refused, and again she was hauled before the emperor. Because she was only a child, onlookers sobbed and begged the emperor to spare her. Suddenly, before the eying crowd, Prisca became robed in a gown made of sunbeams. She appeared to be an actual star. Though awed by this miracle, the emperor ordered the small child’s imprisonment.
CALM AMIDST ALL THE TORTURES
While jailed, she bore many tortures with calm fortitude. These included flogging, being defenstrated from a twelve story window, getting covered in boiling tallow, starving, burning on a pyre, having chunks of her flesh torn off with hooks, and succumbing to the rack.
BB LION TAMER
Next, Prisca was taken to a sold-out amphitheater, with crowds of faces looking down on her. Prisca knelt in the sand and prayed to have courage. Tiny and barefoot, Prisca was ready to be torn to pieces. When a great yellow lion stalked into the arena and saw the kneeling maiden, he showed no rage; instead, he licked the child’s feet and paused to guard her. She stroked his mane, whispering that she knew he wouldn’t harm her because the Lord had “closed his mouth.”
Impressed at her bravery, the emperor gave Prisca a last chance to make offerings to the pagan gods, but she still refused. In the end, executioners dragged Prisca to the sea, where she was beheaded. The moment she died, a gigantic eagle swooped down from the heavens, assaulting any pagans who neared her small corpse. Eventually the Christians came to bury her, and the eagle relented.