Sophia the Martyr

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For the 4th-century martyr, see Sophia of Rome.
Saint Sophia the Martyr
Sophia the Martyr.jpg
Saint Sophia and her three daughters: Faith, Hope and Love (Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow)
Born no birth date on this page.
Died ~137 AD
Venerated in Roman Catholic Church; Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast May 15 (Catholic Church); September 17 (Orthodox Church)
Attributes A woman accompanied by her three small daughters. Often she or all of them will hold crosses

Saint Sophia the Martyr (died 137 AD) is venerated in the Eastern Orthodox Church on September 17. Born in Italy, Sophia had three daughters: Faith, Hope and Love, who were named after virtues mentioned by Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 13.[1]

The daughters are said to have been martyred during the reign of Hadrian (117–138). The guards took Sophia's daughters one by one, from the oldest to the youngest and beat and tortured them to death in an attempt to force their mother, Sophia, to renounce her faith in Christ. Afterwards, Sophia buried her daughters' bodies and remained by their graves for three days until she died herself.

According to tradition, in 778 part of their relics was transferred to the women's convent at Eschau in Alsace.[2]

The Bulgarian capital city of Sofia is named after the Church of Saint Sophia. The ancient name of Sofia was Serdica or Sardica. In 343 AD, the Council of Sardica was held in the city, in a church located where the current 6th century Church of Saint Sophia was later built. The city, known earlier as Sredets (Средец) in Bulgarian, was renamed Sofia in 1376 after the famous church.

In general, in the Eastern Orthodox tradition, Hagia Sophia (Greek: Ἁγία Σοφία, Latin: Sancta Sophia) as the name of a church refers to the "Holy Wisdom", i.e. "The Holy Wisdom of God" which is also the patron name of the Sofia church. Nevertheless, since recent times, the city's holiday is on September 17, and there is a 20m-tall statue of the saint in the Bulgarian capital's city centre.

Statue of Saint Sophia in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Troparion of St. Sophia and her 3 daughters (Tone 5):

Thou didst blossom in the courts of the Lord as a fruitful olive tree, O holy Martyr Sophia; in thy contest thou didst offer to Christ the sweet fruit of thy womb, Love, Hope and Faith. With them intercede for us all.


  1. ^ Sophia's name means "wisdom" in Greek. Her daughter's names are rendered in Greek as Pistis, Elpis, and Agape. In Ukrainian, they are called Віра, Надія і Любов (Vira, Nadia and Lyubov'). In Russian, they are called Vera, Nadezhda, and Lyubov. In Bulgarian, they are called Вяра, Надежда и Любов (Vyara, Nadezhda and Lyubov).
  2. ^ Ekkart Sauser (2000). "Fides, Spes und Charitas: hl. Märtyrerinnen". In Bautz, Traugott. Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German) 17. Herzberg: Bautz. col. 381. ISBN 3-88309-080-8. 

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