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Italy - Rome - Santa Susanna Church - 1966

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Click below to The Church of Santa Susanna Web Site

Santa Susana was a Roman Virgin, who, on the 11th day of August in the year 290, was beheaded by order of her uncle the Emperor Diocletian. She incurred his displeasure by refusing to break her vow of chastity and marry his adopted son, Maximilian Galerius.

This is the simple story of a Christian martyr of the third century. It is a story of love for Jesus Christ, repeated many times through the centuries, a love so exalted and complete in its dedication that there was no place in it for another. In her consecrated life of virginity Santa Susanna had no thought of marriage. She would marry no one, not even the adopted son of the Emperor.

If Diocletian knew that Susanna, a staunch believer in Jesus Christ, had consecrated her virginity to Him by vow, he did not let it influence his judgment. It was his order that she marry Galerius. She had led, many faltering pagans to the doors of the Church and to the saving waters of Baptism. Now faced with the Emperor's command she had to make a choice of life or death, not an unfamiliar one in those days. To refuse the offer of marriage might well mean death, but she who had been a source of courage and constancy to others must not falter herself. It was with fury and disbelief that Diocletian heard Susanna had refused to marry his choice, or for that matter anyone's choice.

The Empress Serena, herself a Christian, interceded for her during the next several months, every effort was made to persuade Susanna to change her mind. After repeated failures Diocletian gave the order which made of his young cousin a martyr to the faith in the home of her father. She died by beheading.

On the night of her death, August 11th, 290, the Empress Serena visited the home of our martyred Saint and reverently carried the body away. At her order the corpse was placed in a tomb next to that of Saint Alexander in the catacombs of Saint Felicitas. Early next morning Pope Saint Caius said a Mass in her place of martyrdom, the present site of the Church of Santa Susanna(Not Saint Susanna Church of Plainfield.

Historians say that the Emperor was neither for nor against the Christians personally. His adopted son and military aide, however, was violently opposed to the new faith, nor did Diocletian stay his hand. When Galerius felt that the tenets of this new religion had denied him a most desirable bride, his anger was boundless. It may well be that the refusal of Santa Susanna to marry the Emperor's choice was the single incident that touched off the bloodiest persecution the Christians had thus far known. It was to claim many others of Susanna's immediate family including her father, Gabinius, and her uncle, Pope Caius.

Through her death, and in the very place where her youthful blood spilled on the earth, rises the church which today, and for many centuries, has borne her name--the Church of Santa Susanna.

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