Saint Marina the Monk (also known as Marina the Ascetic, 6th century, dates unknown), a most interesting young woman who disguised her gender and changed her name so as to enter a monastery and serve the Lord. Saint Marina is remembered for her devotion, prayer, and willingness to accept punishment for a crime she did not commit, so as to save others. Her love of the Lord, and life of prayer and penance, raised her to saintliness and wrought miracles at her tomb. She is considered a female "Desert Father,” the first Christian hermits, ascetics, and monks who left pagan cities to contemplate the glories of the Lord, building the Church through their great faith and sacrifice.
Born in Lebanon to wealthy Christian parents, Mariam, as she was named, grew in devotion to the Lord quickly. From a young age she practiced penance and self-deprivation, and spent many hours in prayer. Upon the death of her mother, Mariam’s father—himself quite old—announced his intentions to enter the nearby monastery of Qannoubine in Lebanon. Miriam is reported to have exclaimed, “O my father, why would you save your own soul, and destroy mine?” He answered her, "What shall I do with you? You are a woman.” At that moment, Miriam told him, “I will take off my woman’s dress and will put on the garb of a man.” She quickly shaved her head and dressed herself like a shepherd. Her father, noting her piety and determination, sold his possessions, gave the money to the poor, and together they sought entrance to the monastery. She became known as Marina.
As she grew, she was often sent to minister to the community with other monks by the Abbot. One such incident led to a time of great trial for Marina. She was lodged in a public inn with three of her brothers one evening, during which time a number of the king’s soldiers were also staying there. During the night, one of the soldiers defiled the young innkeeper’s daughter, instructing her to blame it upon the Monk Marina. When the young woman’s father discovered the indiscretion, his daughter did as she was told, and Marina was blamed. The innkeeper stormed to the monastery, lodging his complaint. Marina, despite the impossibility of the situation, did not defend herself to spare the innkeeper’s daughter the truth, and in her humility and concern for the young woman, chose instead to beg forgiveness. Further, Marina was inclined to accept the Will of God, ready to accept whatever punishment, hardship, and suffering were given to her. She wept and bowed down and said, “I am young, I have sinned, forgive me O my father.” The abbot cast her out of the monastery, and for three years she lived outside the gates, begging for food, and seeking companionship and help from the shepherds who lived in the region.
For the remainder of her life, Marina lived a life of penance and service. In reparation for her perceived sins, she was assigned the heaviest of labors, completing the cooking, cleaning, watering, and housekeeping, as well as her regular duties. During that time, she never once complained and sought additional ways in which to deprive herself.
“Lord have mercy!” and informing the Abbot, marveled at her piety, patience, meekness, and humility, and wept in despair for how they had treated her. The innkeeper was summoned, who, too, wept and begged forgiveness. The brothers who cared for her body—including one who had been blind in one eye—were miraculously healed of their ailments and returned to health. As the monks prayed over her body, begging for forgiveness, the monastery bells were reported to have rung of their own accord.
Saint Marina’s body was entombed at the monastery, and numerous miracles were reported via her intercession there. Eventually, in the thirteenth century, her relics were translated from Constantinople to Venice, and are venerated there in a church which bears her name.
Saint Didacus of Cadiz, bravely defend the faith like Saint Joan of Arc, have profound visions like Saint Margaret of Cortona, or work numerous miracles like Saint Isidore the Farmer. We don’t often think of the quiet saints, those who remain in the background, modeling the Christian virtues of patience and humility, meekness and obedience before the Lord. These saints, like Saint Marina, recognize the greatness of God, and our place of worship before Him. How frequently do we allow ourselves to experience these less obvious virtues? How much better could our lives be—could our service to others be—if we, like Saint Marina the Monk, lived lives of patience humility?
Inspired by the origins and spiritual history of the Holy Rosary, we continue our meditation on the psalms, one each day, in order, for 150 days. Saint Marina remained patient and confident in the Lord, despite her eviction from the monastery and ostracism from society. As we contemplate Psalm 54, we are reminded of her steadfast faith and confidence.
Today’s Psalm: Psalm 54: Confident Prayer in Great Peril
1 Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might.
2 Hear my prayer, O God;
listen to the words of my mouth.
3 Strangers are attacking me;
ruthless men seek my life—
men without regard for God.
4 Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
in your faithfulness destroy them.
6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
I will praise your name, O LORD,
for it is good.
7 For he has delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.
Day 169 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Patience and humility; For those wrongly accused; For those who are misunderstood or judged.
Requested Intentions: Prosperity, health, healing, and conversion for a family (M); Health and healing of a mother (A); Healing of heart and mind (T); Healing of a new relationship before marriage (K); Healing of a relationship (T); Eternal rest for the dearly departed, end to financial struggles, successful sale of home, ability to travel on pilgrimage (L); Financial security of a family, healing of relationships, end to addiction, direction for a family member (L); For healing of a stomach illness (L); For the repose of the soul of a sister (C); Vocational security for family, Financial security for daughter beginning college (M); Vocational guidance, courage and strength (I); Reconciliation of a relationship (M); Strength, financial security, motivation, repose of a loved one (V); Recovery of left shoulder fracture (E); Financial recovery (A); The repose of a lonely soul (L); Health for an ailing nephew (A); Those suffering from depression (J); Successful adoption (S); Healing of a father battling cancer (S).
Psalm: Psalm 54: Confident Prayer in Great Peril
Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?
Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."
To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."
As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."