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Seven Martyrs of Ancyra

Ancyra, Seven Martyrs of, female victims of Diocletian’s persecution, 304. They were unmarried, about 70 years old, and notable for piety and good works. When the persecution was determined upon, Theotecnus, a magician, a philosopher and pervert from Christianity, was dispatched as governor to Galatia to root out Christianity. Among the earliest victims were the seven virgins, Tecusa, Alexandra, Faina, Claudia, Euphrasia, Matrona, Julitta. Theotecnus called upon them to offer incense, and upon their refusal condemned them to the public brothel, from which they escaped scatheless on account of their age, and by the ingenuity of Tecusa their leader. He then ordered them to officiate as priestesses of Diana and Minerva in washing their statues according to the annual custom of Ancyra. They were accordingly carried naked through the streets to a neighbouring lake, where garlands and white garments were offered them in which to fulfil his commands. Upon their refusal Theotecnus ordered them to be drowned in the lake, with heavy stones tied round their necks lest their bodies should be recovered and buried by their fellow Christians. Many legends have gathered round the story. The acts of the seven virgins and of St. Theodotus (a tavern-keeper of Ancyra martyred for rescuing and burying the bodies) are recorded in Gk. in a Vatican MS., purporting to have been written by an eye-witness named Nilus. They are found in Gk. and Lat. in Boll. Acta SS. May 18; cf. also Ruinart, Acta Sincera, p. 336; Ceillier, iii. 15

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