On June 8, we celebrate the feast of Saint Calliope (also known as Kalliopi), virgin and martyr of the Church. She was executed in 250, under the reign of Emperor Decius, for refusing to marry a pagan suitor.
Calliope was a beautiful young woman, who from an early age had consecrated her virginity to Christ. She dedicated her life to God, spending time performing charitable and religious works. Many suitors sought her hand in marriage, given her beauty and grace, but she remained chaste, saving herself for her Lord and Savior.
However, one pagan suitor refused to take “no” for an answer. Despite Calliope’s decisive statements that she would never marry him, he continued to pursue her. Growing tired of her refusals, he threatened to have her arrested, if she did not submit to his proposal. Remaining true to her faith and her vow to Christ, Calliope refused, and was arrested. She was brought to trial before the magistrate, where she was accused of a wide range of criminal activities, including mockery of the pagan faith and treason against the government—all of which were attested to by a steady stream of well-paid witnesses.
Following the testimonies, her accuser offered to drop the charges if she would simply reject her faith and marry him. Calliope courageously refused, stating that the only mockery that had occurred was the mockery of justice evident in the trial. She also witnessed to all present, stating strongly and firmly that she believed in Christ and would not succumb to this man’s lies and wicked attempts to force her to marry him.
Consequently, she was imprisoned and tortured in the public square, flogged until her clothing and flesh hung from her body in tatters. Her beautiful face was scarred with branding irons, and salt was rubbed into her open wounds. Broken and tortured, she was given one last opportunity to disavow her faith, but courageously refused. With that, she was beheaded.
Being truly beautiful in form, O virgin, you were shown to be beautiful and spotless in soul by Christ the King of the heavens, not having spot or wrinkle, but being aflame with divine love, with the fragrance of purity as from the wondrous incense, and having angelic purity in your heart. Therefore being betrothed to your immortal Bridegroom, you struggled astonishingly for Him, and were steadfast amidst many pains, and trampled upon the ancient enemy. And you ever partake of the joy of your Bridegroom, O all-famed Kalliope; intercede on behalf of those who honor you.