St. Marina came from a wealthy family of pagans in the city of Antioch. She was raised with no knowledge of Christ in her life. Yet at the tender age of fifteen, Marina defeated the devil and all his snares, through the faith in Jesus Christ. A child born a non-believer, became a believer and defeated the Devil.
At a young age Marina’s parents passed away and she went to live with a nanny, who was a practicing Christian. Each and every night Marina would hear the stories of how ordinary people, with faith in Christ, became martyrs for Christ’s sake. The nanny spoke with such reverence for these “saints” that Marina was inspired and yearned to taste the sweet mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though men were drawn to her beauty, she was drawn to a life with God – to be the Bridesmaid of Jesus Christ.
And it came to pass that one day Marina was indeed tested and tempted by the Devil’s snares. The governor of Antioch, a rich and powerful man who was accustomed to getting what he wanted, fancied Marina and desired her. But when his soldiers came to her, she told them that she belonged to Christ. When the governor heard this, he was distressed for he lusted after her with blinding fire. So he had her brought to him by force and offered her to worship his idols and to forsake God. But she refused.
He demanded to know of her that she could defy him. To which she replied, “I am Christian. I believe in the Lord Christ, and my name is Marina.” He made many promises and promised to marry her, but she still did not heed to his will. When she cursed his idolatry ways and insulted him, he grew angry and ordered her body scraped with iron combs, and then rubbed with vinegar, salt and lime. For to his selfish and greedy view, if he could not have her, then let no one have her. But the governor only saw her from the outside, but God sees us from the inside. God cares not for the beauty of the ever-dying flesh – but for the eternal growth of our spirit inside.
And through this spirit, strengthened by the Holy Spirit, she endured with patience.
Disgusted by their futility, the governor ordered her to be tossed into prison. Their thinking was that she would die from the wounds they had created. But the Lord God sent an angel to heal all her wounds. This is the glory of God. For in our faith and trust of God’s will are we reborn and renewed – that through Him all things that are imperfect are made perfect.
This of course angered the Devil. While she was standing up praying, with her hands extended in the form of a cross, a huge and terrifying serpent came forth. When she saw it she was frightened and her whole body trembled. The serpent swallowed her up, and her soul almost departed from her. She made the sign of the cross and prayed while she was in the belly of the serpent. It split open and fell on the ground dead. St. Marina went out unharmed. There are many times you will feel that the world has swallowed you up, and you have no strength to defeat it. Let not the darkness on the outside of you, penetrate the light inside you. Call upon God to save you, to give you strength and He will make all things impossible – possible.
The next morning, the governor ordered her to be brought before him. When he saw that she was well, he marveled and told her, “Your sorcery has become evident today, so listen to me. Worship our gods and much good would be for you, and I will give you all that I have promised you.” To the unbelieving governor, Marina’s healing was the act of sorcery – for that is all he knew of. In your struggle to unite with God, you will often find people around you with no knowledge of God, Jesus Christ and a life with Christ. They will mock your efforts. Have faith and believe. For in you may the Lord God work His grace to save not just you, but (God willing) those who mock you.
After the governor called God’s work “sorcery”, Marina looked at him and at the dumb idols with contempt and proclaimed, “I worship the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the God of heavens and earth, and whatever you wish to do with me, do, for I will not heed you.” The angered and frustrated governor ordered her hanged on the wheel, the squeezing wheel, and squeezed very tightly. They did and then again cast her in prison, assuming she would die. The angel of the Lord came to her, and healed her yet again. Then the Devil appeared to her and said, “O Marina, if you obey the governor that would be for your good for he is merciless, and he wishes to erase your name from the face of the earth.” She realized that he was the Devil. Straightway she caught the hair of his head, and she took an iron rod and started to beat him, saying, “Stop it O Satan.” Then she bound him with the sign of the cross, not to depart from before her until he told her all about what he does to the human race. When she pressed him, he told her, “I am the one who makes adultery, stealing, blasphemy, and earthly desires, good and desirable to the human. And if I do not overcome him, I steer sleep and laziness against him, so he will not pray and ask for the forgiveness of his sins.”
Herein is the powerlessness of the Devil. Only if we give the Devil power over us, through the temptations of the flesh, does he have influence. But if we ignore his trappings, he tries to cast doubt into our prayer efforts. Faith and doubt are exact opposites. Marina did not care for the death that was to come to her for she knew that her faith in Jesus Christ was greater than anything in this world. Lend her story to your own life, to show how the faith and trust of the Lord God can save and grant you strength to fight all darkness of your present day.
When the governor again saw her healed, he again marveled much, then he ordered to uncover her body, and to fill a large cauldron with melted lead, and to immerse her in it. When they did so, she asked the Lord to make this a baptism for her. The Lord sent his angel in the form of a dove. While being immersed in the boiling cauldron, she prayed, “In the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, one God Amen.” A voice from heaven called her and said, “O Marina you have been baptized in the baptismal water.” She rejoiced exceedingly, and those who were present heard what had happened to the saint. Many of them believed, and the governor ordered to cut off their necks, and afterwards ordered to cut off St. Marina’s holy head. The executioner took her and went outside the city, then told her, “My lady Marina, I see the angel of the Lord and with him a crown of bright light.” She said, “I ask you to tarry on me until I have prayed.” She extended her arms and prayed fervently. Then she told the executioner, “Do what you have been ordered to do.” She bowed her neck to the executioner who told her, “I could not do so.” The saint told him, “If you do not do so, you would not have a share in the Kingdom of God.”
When he heard what she said, he took the sword and cut her neck off then he cut his neck also while he was saying, “I believe in the God of St. Marina.” He fell down beside her and he received the crown of martyrdom in the Kingdom of Heaven. The Lord had manifested from her body many signs and healing miracles.
Her body is presently located in the church of the Lady the Virgin Mary in Haret El-Roum. May her prayers and intercession be with us and Glory be to God forever. Amen.