Saint Afra (died 304), Martyr of the Church. Saint Afra worked as a prostitute, but kindly hid her local bishop during the persecution of Christians. From his influence, she converted to the faith, dedicated herself to acts of charity, and was eventually persecuted and executed for her beliefs. The life of Saint Afra reminds us that true conversion and repentance for past sins is always possible, and that Our Loving Father calls us to Him regardless of the sins we have committed in the past!
Afra declared: “I was a great sinner before I knew God; but I will not add new crimes, nor do what you command me. My capitol is Jesus Christ, whom I have always before my eyes. I every day confess my sins; and, because I am unworthy to offer him any sacrifice, I desire to sacrifice myself for his name, that this body in which I have sinned may be purified and sacrificed to him by torments.”
Gaius persisted, referencing her former profession, and urging her to recant her faith. “I am informed,” he said, “that you are a prostitute. Sacrifice, therefore, as you are a stranger to the God of the Christians, and cannot be accepted by him.”
“Our Lord Jesus Christ hath said, that he came down from heaven to save sinners. The gospels testify that an abandoned woman washed his feet with her tears, and obtained pardon, and that he never rejected the publicans, but permitted them to eat with him.”
Gaius said, “Jesus Christ will have nothing to do with you. It is in vain for you to acknowledge him for your God: a common prostitute can never he called a Christian.”
Afra replied, “It is true, I am unworthy to bear the name of a Christian; but Christ hath admitted me to be one.”
Growing frustrated, the judge ordered her again: “Sacrifice to the gods, and they will save you.”
“My Savior is Jesus Christ, who upon the cross promised paradise to the thief who confessed him. The only subject of my confusion and grief are my sins.”
Having run out of patience, Gaius declared, “I am ashamed that I have disputed so long with you. If you do not comply, you shall die.”
Afra replied: “That is what I desire, if I am not unworthy to find rest by this confession. Let that body which hath sinned undergo torments; but as to my soul, I will not taint it by sacrificing to demons.”
Throwing up his hands, Gaius sentenced Afra to death. “We condemn Afra, a prostitute who hath declared herself a Christian, to be burnt alive, because she hath refused to offer sacrifice to the gods.”
“O Lord Jesus Christ, Omnipotent God, who camest to call not the righteous, but sinners to repentance, accept now the penance of my sufferings, and by this temporal fire deliver me from the everlasting fire, which torments both body and soul. I return thee thanks, O Lord Jesus Christ, for the honor thou hast done me in receiving me a holocaust for thy name’s sake; thou who hast vouchsafed to offer thyself upon the altar of the cross a sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, the just for the unjust, and for sinners. I offer myself a victim to thee, O my God, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost world without end. Amen.”
Having prayed and handed her life over to her creator, Saint Afra died. Her mother and her servants rescued her body and interred her relics in a selpuchre. In the process of this act they were caught, and refusing to sacrifice to the pagan gods, were likely executed.
Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful Savior of the world, we humbly beseech You, by Your most Sacred Heart, that all the sheep who stray out of Your fold may in one days be converted to You, the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end.
Year 2: Day 217 of 365
Prayer Intentions: True conversion and repentance.
Requested Intentions: For a family’s intentions (T); Successful examination results (B); Healing of a friend with cancer, for all those who help others (B); Healing and love (L); Grace and healing (V); Healing of a heart, consecration of a marriage (M); Health of a family, intentions of apostolate (H); For repentance (J); For a family in trouble (R); Healing, successful relationships for son, financial success (J); Success of a company (L); For a religious society (J); Healing of a husband, strength as a faithful caregiver (D); Healing of a son (T); Financial security, Healing and guidance (M); Healing of a heart and relationship (V); Employment for daughter (J); For a marriage that glorifies the Lord (K); Resolution of family situation, parents’ health (A); Positive results (C); For a son’s employment, faith, and relationships (S); Restored family relationships (A); Healthy conception and delivery of children (J); For a girlfriend’s recovery from a debilitating mental illness (J); For a daughter’s successful examination results (A); Occupational success, health and safety of family (S).
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."