Lives Of The Saints
September 23.—ST. THECLA, Virgin, Martyr.
ST. THECLA is one of the most ancient, as she is one of the most illustrious, Saints in the calendar of the Church. It was at Iconium that St. Paul met St. Thecla, and kindled the love of virginity in her heart. She had been promised in marriage to a young man who was rich and generous. But at the Apostle's words she died to the thought of earthly espousals; she forgot her beauty; she was deaf to her parents threats, and at the first opportunity she fled from a luxurious home and followed St. Paul. The rage of her parents and of her intended spouse followed hard upon her; and the Roman power did its worst against the virgin whom Christ had chosen for His own. She was stripped and placed in the public theatre; but her innocence shrouded her like a garment. Then the lions were let loose against her; they fell crouching at her feet, and licked them as if in veneration. Even fire could not harm her. Torment after torment was inflicted upon her without effect, till at last her Spouse spoke the word and called her to Himself, with the double crown of virginity and martyrdom on her head.
Reflection.—It is purity in soul and body which will make you strong in pain, in temptation, and in the hour of death. Imitate the purity of this glorious virgin, and take her for your special patroness in your last agony.