Written by Monica Mikhail~During the reign of the Persian ruler Sapor in 330 A.D., there was a convent that housed five nuns named Thecla, Mariamne, Martha, Mary, and Ennatha who were headed by Father Paul. He was responsible for performing the liturgical services which were attended by the “Kanonike”, also known as the consecrated nuns, as well as managing the treasury of the convent. He was also known throughout the region to personally have many riches.
They went through Nirsee Tahmshabur, the chief magician of Sapor, who learned that a certain Christian priest named Paul had a tremendous amount of earthly treasures. Nirsee realized that if he brought the Father and the five nuns before him, he would be able to confiscate all their wealth for he knew that they would never denounce the Faith so this would be the consequence of their disobedience.
After Nirsee though this over, he summoned for Fr. Paul and the virgins and asked them to bring their valuables. Fr. Paul was taken aside, undergoing examination. Satan then entered into the heart of the priest, beckoning Fr. Paul to ask the chief magician why he was going after his wealth since he had done nothing wrong. Nirsee informed him that he was out rightly going against the decree of the King by practicing Christianity. Fr. Paul was told that if he worshipped the sun and ate of the bloody sacrifices he would be able to keep his belongings Surprisingly, Fr. Paul cast away his priesthood and his salvation and denounced the Faith.
Nirsee’s plan did not unfold the way that he thought it would so he attempted to attain the wealth through the nuns. He brought them to the judgment seat and asked them to follow in the steps of the priest and take up husbands. The nuns were disgusted by such foul language, especially after Paul came up to them and begged them to obey the magician so they could keep the money, telling them that they could go back to the convent afterwards. Repulsed by these words, the nuns spat in his face and rebuked him for the evil that he had done, calling him the second Judas.
According to the command of Nirsee, the nuns were dragged away and beaten a hundred times.
“We worship our Lord Jesus Christ and refuse to obey the imperial command. We shall not exchange our God for the sun. We shall not succumb to the Persian deception by abandoning the Creator for worshipping what He created. Therefore, do with us as thou wilt.”
Unsuccessful, Nirsee decided to get Paul to complete the task of beheading them. In submission for fear of losing his wealth, he slayed each of the five nuns, refusing to listen to their sound words and to return to Christ. On June 9th, the Church commemorates the lives of the holy mothers Thecla, Mariamne, Martha, Mary, and Ennatha.
As for Paul, as he slept in a chamber waiting to meet the ruler on account of his execution skills, Nirsee sent men to hang Paul so it looked like he committed suicide, just as Judas had done. The next day, they brought his body to the dogs and completed the task of taking his wealth.
May the Lord grant us confidence in the Faith, just as the five virgins had, to stand with the risen Lord even when the it seems that many are failing Christ.
The Lives of the Spiritual Mothers. Holy Apostles Convent, 1991.