Today, July 5, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Zoe of Rome (died 286), Martyr of the Church gifted with speech through the miraculous intercession of Saint Sebastian. Through her witness, many were brought to Christ
Saint Zoe was a noblewoman, married to Nicostratus, a high Roman court official and jailer. She lived during the early persecution of Christians, under the reign and order of Emperor Diocletian. Saint Zoe’s life is recounted in the acts of Saint Sebastian, whom she interacted with prior to her martyrdom.
As recorded by Saint Sebastian, Zoe was unable to speak for at least six years when she met him. Upon greeting him, Zoe fell at the holy man’s feet, and through pantomime and gesture begged that he restore her ability to speak. Saint Sebastian blessed her with the Sign of the Cross, and she immediately began to speak, preaching to all who would listen, and glorifying the Lord. Saint Zoe then recounted the vision she had received while being healed, that of an angel standing beside Saint Sebastian, holding an open book in which everything he had said was written. Many were present at her healing, and through this miracle, and her subsequent preaching, were brought to the faith.
Zoe and her husband, Nicostratus, asked to be baptized, and Saint Sebastian agreed, urging Nicostratus to serve Christ, rather than the Emperor. The jailer did just that, assembling all the prisoners who believed in Christ, so that they, too, might be baptized by this holy man. Nicostratus instructed that the prisoners be led to his house, where Sebastian spoke to them of the faith, and summoned Saint Polycarp, who prepared them for entrance into the Church.
Claudius informed Nicostratus that the Emperor wanted to know why the prisoners were gathered at his house. Nicostratus told him about the healing of his wife, and Claudius, hopeful for the health of his own children, brought his own sick sons, Symphorian and Felix, to Saint Sebastian. That evening, Polycarp baptized sixty-four new Christians, including Nicostratus and all his family, Claudius and his sons, and also sixteen condemned prisoners. The newly baptized remained in Rome, despite the fact that it was unsafe. Soon, the Emperor was searching for this new Christian community.
Saint Zoe was the first to be arrested, while praying at the tomb of the Apostle Peter, to whom she was especially devoted. At her trial, Saint Zoe bravely confessed her faith in Christ, refusing to recant, and speaking so loudly and zealously that others were inflamed with the love of Christ. Sentenced to death, she was hung by her hair over a fire, and her body thrown into the River Tiber after death. Saint Zoe later appeared to Saint Sebastian—who was awaiting execution in prison—and told him about her death in a vision. He recorded her acts, so that her courage and faith might inspire us even today.
Thy Martyrs, O Lord, by their struggles have received from thee, our God, imperishable crowns; because, acquiring thy strength, they demolished usurpers and crushed the powerless might of Satan. Therefore, through their intercessions, O Christ God, save our souls.
Year 2: Day 186 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Courage in the face of difficulty; Comfort in the truth of our faith.
Requested Intentions: For a daughter’s successful examination results (A); Occupational success, health and safety of family (S); Reduction in anxiety for husband, financial freedom (S); Healing for a sister-in-law (J); For a family experiencing a difficult child custody case (M); Reunification of a family struggling with separation (M): For a son struggling with mental illness (M); Successful examination results (B); To be freed from the chains of sin (J); Admission to a good university (M); For successful surgery (T); For a mother’s mental health and for kindness and forgiveness, for housing problems, for dental health (T); For the soul of a departed friend (X); Restoration of health (D); Successful employment for couple (N); For employment for children (K); For health of friend, for successful relationships for children, for safe pregnancy for daughter (C); For the health of a mother (J); Virtue for daughter (V); Successful acceptance to college for nephew (M); For the health of a cousin (T); Freedom from legal difficulties for husband (S); Husband’s freedom from illness (L).