Marina the Monk
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|Saint Marina the Monk|
Marina (in red) being brought to a monastery by her father Eugenius. 14th century French manuscript.
|Born||Circa 5th century AD|
|Died||July 19 508 AD|
|Honored in||Maronite Catholic and Coptic Orthodox churches.|
Born Mariam, the daughter of wealthy christian parents. Marina's mother died when she was very young and she was raised in devout christian life by her father Eugenius. As her age of marriage drew near her father wished to retire to the Monastery of Qannoubine in the Kadisha Valley of Lebanon after he had found her a husband. When Marina learned of her father's plan she asked why he intended "to save his own soul and destroy mine?" When asked by her father "what shall I do with you? You are a woman." Marina answered that she would renounce womans clothing and live as a monk, in the "garb of a man." After which she immediately shaved the hair from her head and changed her clothes. Her father, seeing his daughter's strong determination gave all his possessions to the poor and traveled with her to the Kadisha Valley to live in monastic life, sharing a cell with her.
After ten years of prayer, fasting and worship together her father died, leaving her alone. Marina increased her level of asceticism and continued to conceal the fact that she was a woman. The other monks attributing her soft voice to long periods of prayer and strict ascetic life. One day, the abbot of the monastery sent her with three other monks to attend to some business for the monastery. As the journey was long, they were forced to spend the night at an inn. Also lodging there was a soldier of the eastern Roman front. Upon seeing the beauty of the inn keepers daughter the soldier defiled her virginity and impregnated her, instructing the daughter to say that "it was the monk, Father Marina, who has done this to me."
Accusations and punishment
After some time, it was discovered that the inn keepers daughter was pregnant and, as was agreed, she told her father that Marina was to blame. On hearing the story, the man went furiously to the abbot of the monastery. The abbot calmed the man and told him that he would see to the matter. He called for Marina and reprimanded her severely. When she realized what was happening she fell to her knees and wept, admitting to the sin and asking forgiveness. The fact that there was no attempt to deny the fault made the abbot so furious that he told her to leave the monastery. She left at once and remained outside the gates as a beggar for quite a long time. When the inn keeper's daughter gave birth, he took the child and gave him to Marina. She fed the child sheeps milk provided by the local shepherds and remained caring for him outside the monastery for ten years. Finally the monks convinced the abbot to allow Marina to return, but he also imposed heavy penalties upon her. She was to perform hard labour in cooking, cleaning and carrying water in addition to her regular monastic duties.
At the age of forty, Marina became ill. Three days later she died. The abbot ordered that her body be cleaned, her cloths changed, and that she be transferred to the church for funeral prayers. While cleaning and changing her, the monks discovered that she was, in fact a woman, and became very distressed. The monks informed the abbot, who came to her side and wept bitterly for the wrongs he had done. The abbot then called for the inn keeper and informed him that Marina was actually a woman. The inn keeper went to where her body lay and also wept for the pain and suffering which he had unjustly brought upon her. During the funeral prayers, one of the monks who was blind in one eye, after he touched the saint, received full sight again. Legend says that God also allowed a devil to torment the inn keeper’s daughter and the soldier. This caused them to travel to where the Saint was buried. There they both confessed their iniquity in front of everyone and asked for forgiveness.
Marina is venerated in the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church. Her legend is sometimes confused with that of Saint Pelagia of Antioch, "Pelagia" being a Greek translation of the Latin-derived name Marina.
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- Hourani, Guita (2013). "The Vita of Saint Marina in the Maronite Tradition". Notre Dame University (Lebanon) (Academia.edu). p. 22. Retrieved 2013-07-29.