Saints Flora and Mary of Cordoba (died 851),Virgin Martyrs of the Church. Both Flora and Mary lived at a time when Christians were actively persecuted in Muslim lands. Despite this danger, both young women held firm to their Christianity, led courageous lives, and ultimately were beheaded for their faith.
Saint Flora was the product of a religiously mixed marriage, which was rather uncommon at that time. Her mother, a Christian from the village of Ausianos (west of Cordoba), married a Muslim from Seville. Her father died while Flora was quite young, and therefore, her mother raised her in pious Christianity. The laws at that time, however, prohibited children of mixed marriages to be raised anything but Muslim, and Flora and her mother prayed and maintained their faith in secret. Such were the times that they even were forced to keep Flora’s Christian faith a secret from her older brother!
The strain and tension in the family home of maintaining such a secret grew too great for Flora. More and more she was called to live her faith visibly, and in service to the Lord, both preach and minister to the poor. She eventually decided to run away from home to protect herself from her brother, accompanied by her sister. Her brother, however, by then an influential member of the Cordoba Muslim community, sought her return home, and began putting pressure (via persecution) on the fledgling Christian community. Obediently, Flora returned home, but refused to recant her faith. His pleading and threats fell on deaf ears, and she maintained her ardent love for Christ. Unsuccessful, her brother turned her over to the authorities.
Saint Mary was born into a mixed marriage as well. Her father was a Christian landowner, and her mother, a Muslim woman who had converted to the Christian faith. Because of her mother’s apostasy, the family had been forced to flee their home, and came to live in a village near Cordoba. The strain of the move led to her mother’s death, and her father decided to live a life of solitude and penitence. Saint Mary’s brother, named Walabonsus, was sent to study at the local monastery of Saint Felix, and she was sent to the convent in Cuteclara. Upon ordination, Mary’s brother was appointed one of the convent’s priests, and the pair was reunited in the joy of Christ. However, not long afterwards, Walabonsus was martyred for refusing to practice Islam and recant his Christian beliefs.
After the events of Flora’s life forced her to flee, the two lived in exile for a brief period. However, the witness of Mary’s brother was a constant reminder to them, and the two returned to Cordoba to state their faith and suffer whatever consequences might follow. They were immediately imprisoned by the Muslim magistrate. While in prison, they had communion with Saint Eulogius, already imprisoned, who later wrote a remarkable record of the Christian martyrs of those times (before his own martyrdom). Shortly before the two were removed from prison, Saint Eulogius wrote:
“Flora seemed to me an angel. A heavenly light surrounded her; her face lightened with happiness; she seemed already to be tasting the joys of the heavenly home… strengthened by her speech, I returned less sad to my somber cell.”
Like yesterday's martyr, Blessed Miguel Augustin Pro, Saints Flora and Mary of Cordoba demonstrated unwavering faith, courage, and sacrifice for our Lord. We are reminded that throughout the history of the Church, the faith has been spread and strengthened through the blood and pain of our holy Catholic martyrs. We pray today for the strength and courage to live our lives in faith—visible for all.
Prayer for Courage
Dear God, give me courage,
for perhaps I lack it more than anything else.
I need courage before men against their threats
and against their seductions.
I need courage to bear unkindness,
I need courage to fight against the devil,
against terrors and troubles, temptations,
attractions, darkness and false lights,
against tears, depression, and above all fear.
I need Your help, dear God.
Strengthen me with Your love and Your grace.
Console me with Your blessed Presence
and grant me the courage to persevere
until I am with You forever in heaven.
Year 2: Day 327 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Courage of our convictions; Lives built on strong faith.
Requested Intentions: Blessings on overseas employment (M); Healing of mother (L); Successful employment for husband (G); Successful employment, personal fulfillment (C); Health and recovery of ill sister (A); Resolution of legal issues; Grace and protection (E); Successful and meaningful employment (S); Restoration of a marriage (A); Peace and tolerance in a family, support for those with Parkinson’s Disease (M); For the restoration of a daughter’s marriage, end to debt (S); Employment and continued strength (K); Successful examinations for a son (J); Employment and blessings of a child (S); Employment and financial security (F); Successful work placement, continued health (A); Grace and healing for a family (P); Healing of a father (M); Academic success for son, employment for husband and brother (B); Freedom from anxiety and panic attacks (R); Health and healing in preparation for surgery (C); Healing of a chronic illness (P); Safety of a family during storms (A); Successful home ownership (P); Healing of a marriage (M); Employment for a husband, blessings for a marriage (E); Successful examinations for a daughter, healing of a relationships (V).
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."