Saint Matrona of Thessaloniki
Celebration date: 27/03
Osia Matrona lived in Thessaloniki and is counted among the Martyrs of the first centuries of our Church, during the period of persecutions. He was a follower of a rich and noble Judean woman, named Padilla or Pautilla, who was the wife of the centurion of Thessalonica. Every day she accompanied her lady to the town’s synagogue, where she did not go herself, because she secretly fled to a Christian temple to pray.
Fatefully, however, because Matrona had been deceiving her mistress for a long time, a wrong move caused her identity to be revealed. On a Jewish holiday, during which they used to eat bitter herbs and unleavened bread, Matrona was late in returning from the temple and when she arrived at the synagogue the ceremony of Epitimia was taking place. One of Padilla’s servants denounced that Matrona was a Christian and that she was deceiving her mistress, making sure that every time she came to the synagogue, she went to Church. This infuriated Padilla, who did not hesitate, bursting into cries, to accuse her of being hostile to her. He immediately ordered her arrest, and after she was arrested and bound, they began to flog her. The Matron, however, defiantly declared that she was a Christian and that, although her mistress had authority over her body and her very life, she could not convince her of what she believed.
Padilla, after chaining her, ordered her imprisoned and the door of her cell sealed. After three days, early in the morning, she herself went to see if Matrona was alive. She was surprised to find that she had been freed from her bonds and was standing bright and chanting, without the slightest trace of trauma or torture. Enraged, Padilla ordered the Matrona to be tied up again and whipped mercilessly. She, surprised at the special cruelty of her mistress, asked her why she was torturing her, confessing her faith in Christ. Worn out by torture and unable to stand on her own two feet, Matrona was once again imprisoned.
Three days later, when Padilla visited Agia’s prison cell, she witnessed the same sight. The Martyr freed from her bonds, with the same bright face, despite the torture and hunger she suffered for fourteen days. Then her mistress, filled with rage, ordered the Matrona to be tied to oak trees and tortured. Exhausted from the scourgings and with her body full of scars, the Saint chanted a few words of prayer in a weak voice and gave up her spirit.
Padilla then ordered someone named Stratonikos to wrap the saint’s relic in leather and then throw it outside the city walls. Her holy relic was received by the Christians and reverently buried near the Avenue, i.e. Egnatia Street. After the end of the persecutions, the Bishop of Thessaloniki, Alexander, took the body of the Martyr and carried it inside the city and, after building a church, deposited it inside it.
At the time of the Frankish occupation, however, the shroud of the Saint was transferred to Barcelona and deposited in a church, which was destroyed during the Second World War.
Outside the walls of Thessaloniki there was also a monastery dedicated to Agia Matrona.