Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saint Christiana, Servant

illustration of Saint Nino of Georgia by Mikhail Sabinin, 1882; swiped from Wikimedia CommonsArticle

The Roman Martyrology writes of Saint Christiana as follows: “In Armenia, on the other side of the Black Sea, the feast of the holy servant, Christiana, who, at the time of Constantine, converted the people of that country to the Christian faith, by the power of the miracles God wrought through her.” These few words contain much that is great and wonderful. Jesus Christ, who, while on earth, chose twelve Apostles to convert many cities, lands and kingdoms, chose, at the time of Constantine the Great, an humble servant-girl, to convert an entire kingdom to the true faith. This happened thus. The infidels, who dwelt in the interior of Armenia, had made an inroad into the neighboring Christian states, and had taken Christiana, otherwise called Nina, prisoner. They sold her in Armenia as a slave, and to make her misfortune still greater, her masters at first treated her most cruelly, gave her labor that was beyond her strength, and scarcely allowed her a moment of rest. Notwithstanding these hard- ships, Christiana submitted to the decrees of Providence, and in her misery and captivity, she obeyed her savage masters, for the love of God, without complaint or murmur, and bore all her sufferings patiently. In the very midst of paganism, she remained constant in her faith and led the life of a true Christian. Although ceaselessly at work, she never omitted her prayers, but performed them most devoutly, not only mornings and nights, but also during the day, whenever it was possible to do so. The days appointed by the Catholic Church for fasting and abstinence she observed most carefully, adding to them many fasts of her own free will. Although she had constantly to be in the midst of people full of vice, her conduct was angelical in modesty and purity. The heathens soon perceived that her life was different from theirs, and asked why it was so. Her reply was: “I am a Christian, and as such, am bound to serve Christ, the true God, in all I do.” Making use of this opportunity, she spoke to them of the Saviour, of whom the barbarians had never heard.

The son of king Mirian, who reigned over the entire land, became sick some time after; and, according to the custom of the country, the child was taken from house to house, and everyone was asked for a remedy to cure him. They came to the house where Christiana served, and asked her if she knew any remedy that would restore the prince to health. Her answer was that she did not know anything that would be beneficial to him. Inspired, however, by the Almighty, she took the sick child in her arms, and having laid him upon a penitential cloth of woven camel’s hair, she prayed, with all the trust of a believing heart, to our Lord and Redeemer for him. And behold, the prince immediately recovered, and was carried back to his father’s palace with great rejoicing. The fame of this miracle spread over the entire kingdom, and caused the Christian faith to be greatly esteemed. Not long after this, the queen herself became very sick, and suffered great pains. Immediately sending one of her servants to Christiana, she requested the Saint to come and see her. The humble maid politely excused herself from obeying the queen’s command. The latter, therefore, was carried to the hut of Christiana, where she besought the holy, servant to restore her to health. Christiana replied, that she had not power to do this, but would pray for her to the true God. She did so with great faith, and the queen’s pain immediately ceased and her health was restored. The queen gave thanks to the handmaid of the Lord, and promised her a rich reward; but Christiana, improving the opportunity, explained to her who Christ was, whose aid she had requested for her and her son. When the queen had returned to the court in perfect health, and had told the king how and by whom she had been cured, the latter sent a large sum of money and other gifts to Christiana. She, however, returned all to him, saying that she was, in Christ and through Christ, rich enough, and that she expected still greater riches in heaven, adding that her greatest happiness upon earth would be to see the king and queen converted to the God who had restored both the queen and the young prince to health. The king seemed not unwilling to become a Christian, and the queen spared no pains to persuade him; but hearing that his conversion might cause a revolt among his people, he remained in the blindness of idolatry until the Almighty saw fit to use other means to open his eyes. He was one day hunting with his courtiers, when suddenly a dense fog descended from the mountains, while, at the same time, the sky was so covered with heavy, dark clouds, that day seemed to have been turned into night. All were greatly frightened and fled away in all directions, leaving the king entirely alone. He sought a way to escape, but found none, and the fear of being attacked by wild beasts increased his terror. In this anxiety he called loudly on his gods for aid, naming one after another; but all his prayers were in vain. Seeing that his gods had forsaken him, he turned to the God whom the pious Christiana had addressed, and promised to recognize and confess Him, without farther hesitation, as the only true God, if -He would save him from this danger. Hardly had the king made this promise, when the mist and darkness fled as suddenly as they had appeared, leaving the sky brighter and clearer than it had been before. The king returned to his palace, related the event to his spouse, sent for the Christian servant, announced to her his resolution and the promise he had made, and requested to be instructed in the Christian faith. Christiana was inexpressibly happy, and began forthwith to explain to him the mysteries of her faith, in which she was well instructed, desiring, at the same time, that the king should build a church in honor of the true God.

The king, who was greatly delighted with the Christian faith, called first the nobility and then the people together, and related to them what had happened to the prince, the queen and himself, and said that, in consequence, he had determined to embrace Christianity. All manifested great satisfaction at the king’s resolution, and promised to follow his example. Hence, the building of a church was immediately commenced and continued with great zeal. A new miracle which took place strengthened all in their good resolutions. Already two high columns had been raised to support the roof of the sacred edifice, but with the third they encountered great difficulty, and notwithstanding all the pains they took, they could not succeed in raising it. Meanwhile night came on, the laborers went home, and only Christiana remained upon the spot, praying to God that He would assist with His grace this work which was undertaken to honor His holy Name. God heard the prayer of His handmaid. When day broke, the people saw with amazement that the third column had been raised without having been touched by a human hand. The rest of the work was accomplished without difficulty, which caused great rejoicing, and increased the eagerness of the people to receive holy baptism. Christiana had already advised the king to send a deputation to Constantine the Great, to make an alliance with him, and request him to send some teachers of the Christian faith to his dominions. The king followed this advice, and Constantine sent several apostolic men, who instructed the king and his people in the Christian religion, and received them into the Church of Christ by holy baptism. In this manner the entire land was converted through the means of one pious servant. How long Christiana lived after she had accomplished this great deed is not known, but there is no doubt that she ended her pious life by a holy death.

Practical Considerations

• Saint Christiana, in all her hardships, willingly submitted to the decrees of the Almighty, and profiting by her misery, captivity, work and suffering, neither complained nor murmured against God or men. Oh! that all domestics would follow the example of this holy virgin. Although neither in slavery nor captivity, yet they have to suffer much hardship, especially if their masters are hard and merciless. Many become impatient, discontented with their lot, and imagine that they are the most unhappy of all men. Hence they complain, and murmur not only against men, but also against the Almighty. They seek to rid themselves of their supposed miseries by rash and imprudent marriages. And how many servants are guilty of great sin before they attain this object! But are they happier by this change? have they bettered themselves? Daily experience and repentance that comes too late prove the contrary. I beg of you, dear reader, should God have placed you among servants, to be content with the divine decree. Make a virtue of necessity, and profit by your work with Christian patience. “Wast you called being a bondman? care not for it,” says Saint Paul. (1 Corinthians 7) This means, be not sorrowful, nor troubled, nor low-spirited; but believe that this station was the one in which God foresaw that you could be most easily saved. He did not place you there for your punishment, but for your good; and it is not in the eyes of the Almighty what it is in the eyes of the world. Christ, the Lord, Himself honored this station, and preferred it to all others; for according to the words of the holy Apostle, He took the form of a servant, and not of a great Lord; and He says, that He did not come to be ministered unto, but to minister, (Matthew 20) You can, in this station, live as piously, and as surely go to heaven as a religious in his convent, a hermit in his desert: but you can much more easily live piously in it, and much more easily gain life everlasting than the greatest Lords or Ladies in the world. What else can you desire?

• Saint Christiana most willingly obeyed her savage masters out of love to God. A voluntary obedience must be the virtue of a Christian servant: but he must not only practise this when his masters are kind and good, but also when they are unkind and violent. “Servants,” exhorts Saint Paul, “be obedient to them that are your Lords according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as to Christ: not serving to the eye, as it were pleasing men, but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart.” (Ephesians 6) Saint Peter says: “Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” (1 Peter 2) In these words is announced to servants the divine command. You must obey your masters, but you must do this willingly. In order to obey willingly, obey for the love of God; think that you serve the Lord; that God asks of you what your master commands, if it is nothing wrong; and that God Himself will reward you, as Saint Paul says in the following words: “Know that you wilt receive the reward of the inheritance of the Lord. Serve Christ the Lord!” (Ephesians 6) Whoever considers this rightly will willingly obey. Saint Christiana was obliged to live among heathens, but did not allow herself to be disturbed in the exercise of her religious duties, but practised them without fear. Should Catholic servants be obliged by necessity to serve for a time in non-Catholic families, they must omit nothing that the Catholic faith and the Catholic Church require of them. In word and deed they must confess their faith and not allow themselves to be misled either by the derision, laughter or persuasions of those who are not of their own faith. They must not read the prayer-books or hymns, the catechisms or bibles of their masters; nor dispute with them about religion. To remain longer than is necessary in such a service can seldom be done without committing sin and being in danger of losing one’s soul. Saint Christiana lived among the most unchaste people, and yet remained innocent and pure. If you cannot escape the society of such people, pray fervently to the Lord, and earnestly do all in your power. God will, in that case, surely protect you, and your conscience will remain pure from sin. Saint Christiana worked miracles by her prayers, she received from God what she asked. And why? Because she prayed with great trust in God, with due devotion and reverence. This is the manner in which you have to perform your prayers, if you desire anything of God. Pray with attention and deep reverence, with a clean heart and great confidence. If you are in mortal sin, without repenting of it, or if you offend the Lord daily, how can you expect that He will give you what you ask? “How shall God hear us,” asks Origen, “if we do not hear Him? How can we hope that He will do what we wish, if we do not His will?” In like manner speaks Saint Salvian, saying: “We say that we honor God, and yet obey Satan, and though we add evil to evil, we wish that God should do good to us. We desire that God should grant our wishes, while we are not willing to do His will.” “Dearly beloved, if our heart do not reprehend us, we have confidence towards God. And whatever we shall ask we shall receive of him.” (1 John 3)

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saint Christiana, Servant”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 3 June 2018. Web. 24 September 2018. <>