The New Martyr Argyra: A Patron for the Kidnapped Nigerian Girls
A month after their abduction, the 300 Nigerian girls are finally in the news world-wide. Nearly all of these girls are Christians, but in a new video released today, the girls were forced to convert to Islam and were shown praying to “Allah”.
Unfortunately, Islam has ties to serious violence all throughout history. We have many martyrs under the Ottoman Empire, which include many young men and women who died for Orthodoxy. St. Argyra is one of those who, like the Nigerian girls, had a Muslim man try to have relations with her and convert her to Islam.
May she pray for the Nigerian girls’ safe return home to their families.
The holy New Martyr Argyra lived in Proussa, Bithynia, and came from a pious family. She was a beautiful and virtuous woman. When she was eighteen, she married a pious Christian, and they moved into a neighborhood inhabited by many Moslems.
After only a few days, she was approached by a Turkish neighbor, the son of the Cadi (magistrate). He boldly declared his love for her, and tried to convert her to his religion. She rejected his advances, saying that she would rather die than be married to a Moslem. She did not tell her husband, fearing that he would go after the Turk and then be punished for it.
The Moslem brought her to trial and testified that she had assented to his advances, but then had laughed and said she was only joking. His lies were corroborated by false witnesses, and Argyra was sent to prison.
The saint’s husband, hoping to get her a fair trial, appealed to Constantinople. There the accuser repeated his lies before the judge. St Argyra said that she was a Christian, and that she would never deny Christ. The judge ordered her to be flogged, then sentenced her to life in prison.
She was often taken from her cell, interrogated, beaten, then returned to prison. This continued for seventeen years. The saint was also insulted and tormented by the Moslem women who were incarcerated for their evil deeds. The Evil One incited them to annoy St Argyra with these torments and afflictions, but she endured all these things with great courage and patience.
According to the testimony of many Christian women who were in prison with her, she humbled her body through fasting. Her heart was filled with such love for Christ that she regarded her hardships as comforts.
A pious Christian named Manolis Kiourtzibasis sent her word that he would try to have her released, but St Argyra would not consent to this. She completed her earthly pilgrimage in the prison, receiving the crown of martyrdom on April 5, 1721.
After a few years her body was exhumed, and was found to be whole and incorrupt, emitting an ineffable fragrance. Pious priests and laymen took her body to the church of St Paraskeve on April 30, 1735 with the permission of Patriarch Paisius II.
Her relics remain there to this day, where they are venerated by Orthodox Christians from all walks of life, to the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.