Born in the Italian city of Aquilea, these three sisters were left orphaned at an early age, and raised each other as best they could. Each led a pious, Christian life, turning down offers of marriage to remain pure and consecrated to Christ. As they grew, the sisters found a spiritual director in a local priest, name Xeno. Father Xeno soon died, but not before predicting that the three young women would suffer and die for their faith. Similarly, Saint Anastasia the Martyr predicted the same fact, visiting the women and encouraging them.
Agape, Chione, and Irene lived their lives fearlessly, but it was not long before the were arrested and brought before the Emperor Diocletian for possessing books containing the Holy Scriptures-- an offense punishable by death during the persecution of Christians. The emperor, for his part, was moved by the youth and beauty of the sisters, and personally encouraged them to deny the faith and sacrifice to the pagan gods. He went as far as to promise each of them a lavish wedding to a powerful groom from his inner circle. The women replied that their only Bridegroom was Christ, for whom they were ready to suffer.
Diocletian ordered the sisters be taken to a mountain retreat in Thessalonica (modern Greece), to the court of the governor, Dulcititus, there. When this man saw their beauty, he was aroused with impure passions, telling the sisters that they would receive their freedom if they agreed to fulfill his desires. Again, they replied that they were prepared to die for Christ.
Beginning with the youngest sister, Irene, the magistrate berated her to no effect. She stood courageously before the court, separated from her sisters, but full of confidence and faith in the Lord. Having no luck, she was thrown into prison. The magistrate attempted the same process with Saints Chione and Agape, again failing to make them renounce the faith. Frustrated, he ordered them burned to death, upon which the sisters gave thanks to God for allowing them to die for Him. Saints Agape and Chione died peacefully in the fire, praising the Lord. When the fire went was extinguished, all those present saw that the bodies of the holy martyrs and their clothing had not been scorched, and their faces were beautiful and peaceful, as if they were asleep.
The next morning, the magistrate brought Saint Irene back to court. He threatened her with the fate of her older sisters and urged her to renounce Christ. He then threatened to hand her over for defilement in a brothel, but the holy martyr answered, “Even if my body is defiled by force, my soul will never be defiled by renouncing Christ.”
“Your master commands you to take this virgin to a high mountain and leave her there, and then return to him and report that you have fulfilled his command.” The soldiers did as instructed, but the magistrate flew into a rage, having given no such order. The soldiers returned to the mountain and found Saint Irene, saved from physical defilement, in prayer. One of the soldiers then wounded Saint Irene with an arrow. She cried out “I mock your impotent malice, and I go to my Lord Jesus Christ pure and undefiled,” and offered her soul in praise to God.
Sisters in the flesh united in the Spirit,
you wrestled with the prince of evil and endured your martyrdom.
Holy and blest Agape, Irene, and Chione,
pray to Christ our God to save our souls.
Becoming beautiful brides of Christ,
You offered to Him a gift of blood and sacrifice,
O passion-bearing maidens,
Irene, Agape and glorious Chionia,
Rightly entering the bridal chamber,
Ever filled with ineffable enlightenment.
Therefore celebrating in spirit
Your precious and holy memory,
We give glory to the Savior
And cry out in piety:
Pray to the Lord for us.
Year 2: Day 93 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Lives full of courage and sacrifice for the Lord
Requested Intentions: Healing of a daughter with congenital heart disease (F); Healing and an end to suffering (J); For the children (M); For a son fighting a rare immune system disease (R); Freedom from imprisonment (J); Employment and end to depression (H); Successful employment (A); Health for a soon to be delivered baby (T); Financial security (L); Healing of tooth pain (A); Health of expectant mother and child (R); Purification of the souls in Purgatory (A); Guidance in studies (J); Healing and security for a displaced family (C); Healing of high blood pressure; Recovery of brother following surgery (A); For a sister in trouble, that she may make better decisions in the light of Christ (M); Health of expectant mother and child (R); Attainment of funds for surgery (J); Freedom from financial difficulties (E); For employment and college acceptance (E); Recovery and healing of a friend (C); For successful outcome to surgery (C); Healing for brother (M); Successful employment (C); For the victims of the Japanese tsunami/earthquake (J); Healing (E); For a son struggling with depression (B); Successful conception (M); Freedom from social anxiety; confidence in the Lord (J); Improved success in employment and studies (D); Freedom from illness (T); For a wife’s employment (E); Healing of a husband’s knee (M); Freedom from sickness (R); Healing (C); Restoration of marriage (F); Freedom from medical difficulties, employment, successful relationship (D); Healing of a father following stroke (S).