St. Tatiana, whose feast we celebrate today, belongs to the order of deaconesses. As we know from the Holy Gospel, there were women who followed Jesus along with the Apostles, and were led by these faithful women with a missionary fervor (see Luke 8:1-3).  They helped the Apostles in a variety of ways in their difficult task, women like St. Phoebe, who was ordained a Deaconess in the Church of Corinth by St. Paul himself.

From the Apostolic era, women deaconesses were established in the Christian Churches.  Forty Deaconesses were said to have served in the Church of Hagia Sophia in Constantinople.  One of the most famous deaconesses for her work in Constantinople was St. Olympia, who served under St. John Chrysostom.  The Deaconesses were chosen by the Bishop to assist him in the missionary and charitable work of the Church.  They undertook specific and invaluable missions that could best be accomplished by a woman, such as ministry and service for and baptism of women.

In this class of Deaconesses was St. Tatiana, who was ordained by the Bishop of Rome and was a jewel for the Church of Rome.  She lived in the early part of the 3rd Century, born to an aristocratic family in Rome.  Her father served as Consul of the Empire three times (the highest political position after the Emperor himself).  As a result, St. Tatiana grew up with wealth and the honor that her family enjoyed, but she was not satisfied with this.  When she came to know Christ, she imitated St. Paul in seeing all these riches as worthless and nothing before the superior treasure she gained by knowing Jesus Christ as her Lord (see Philippians 3:8-9).  This is why she dedicated her entire life to Christ and the Church.  We can only imagine the depth of her zeal that she possessed as a Deaconess of Christ!  She used her wealth to help the poor, the sick, the orphaned, and many other suffering people.  Through her word and example, many pagans (including aristocrats) were attracted to Christ.  As a result of her family connections, exemplary Christian life, and passion for service, St. Tatiana became well known among Christians.

But her actions angered the pagans, who saw many people reject sacrifices to the pagan gods and embrace Christ.  This is why in the Christian persecutions of the Emperor Severus, they reported her work for Christ to the Emperor.  He ordered St. Tatiana to be brought before him, thinking he would persuade her to return to the religion of their ancestors.  He even brought her to a pagan temple for this purpose.  At the temple, however, the Saint, deep in prayer to Christ, shook the axes of the pagan idols and tore them to the floor.  Because of this she was tortured.  They beat her and scratched her eyes with iron nails.  They then hung her up and shaved her head.   She was thrown into a fire, but she was not harmed.  They then threw her to hungry wild beasts, but they did not touch her.  Finally, the pure saint was beheaded, allowing her to enter the joy of the Lord with a crown of glory.

It is remarkable that the daughter of the Imperial Consul, the highest position under the Emperor in the whole Roman Empire, should choose to be baptized as a Christian.  Such an act was bold enough, when the Law called for Christians to be executed, but St. Tatiana went further.  She engaged in an Official Service in the Church.  To be so decisive, with no consideration of the danger she was in.  Her warm love for Christ made such threats as nothing, as St. Paul the Apostle writes:  "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? (Romans 8:35).  "I am persuaded that neither death nor life ... or any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (verses 38-39).  And for her love for Christ she gave her blood.

My dear brothers and sisters, may the fiery love of Christ possessed by the Holy Martyr St. Tatiana also burn our hearts.  Let us not allow anyone or anything opposed to God cut us off from love for Christ.  Let us also be inspired by the witness of the Deaconess St. Tatiana in risking her life as a minister of the Church.  May this divine zeal motivate us to imitate her in her selflessness, humility, and devotion to service for the various needs of the Church, under the guidance of our Church Spiritual Fathers. Amen.


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