Weninger’s Lives of the Saints – Saints Faith, Hope and Charity

detail from an antique holy card of Saint Sophia with her daughters Saint Faith, Saint Hope and Saint Agape, artist unknownArticle

The Roman Martyrology records today also the names of three holy virgins and martyrs, whose names were Faith, Hope and Charity. Their mother was Saint Sophia, a noble Roman matron, whose feast is kept on the 30th of September. All three were accused of being Christians, and by order of the Roman governor, were most cruelly tortured, and at last, beheaded. Faith, only twelve years old, was first barbarously scourged, after which she had her breasts cut off, and was cast into a vessel filled with melted tar. As she, however, continued to profess Christ fearlessly and remained unharmed, the tyrant ordered her to be beheaded. Hope, ten years old, looked at the torments which her sister endured, without being influenced by them to forsake her faith. The tyrant ordered her to be beaten, with thongs over her whole body, after which she was thrown into a red hot furnace. As she too remained unharmed, they hung her upon a beam and tore her whole body with iron hooks; and when they saw that nothing could induce her to renounce Christ, they beheaded her. The same was done with the third sister, Charity, who had hardly reached nine years. They put her on a rack, scourged her most inhumanly, threw her into a burning furnace, pierced and tore her tender body with unprecedented cruelty; but as she still adhered to her faith and was not injured by the fire, she ended her life, like her sisters, by the sword. God manifested to heathens and Christians, by these three feeble maidens, what those are able to endure who are strengthened from above, as all three showed great joy to suffer for Christ’s sake, and displayed an invincible fortitude. They were greatly strengthened by their mother, who, like the mother of the Machabees, encouraged her children by describing the glory that awaited them in Heaven. She accompanied them to the place of execution; she cheered them to the last moment, entreating them to be faithful to their God. “Oh! happy mother that I am! I have been deemed worthy to honor the most Holy Trinity with my three daughters. O God! how inexpressibly great is the favor Thou hast shown me by taking my beloved children, adorned with the crown of martyrdom, into Thy kingdom.” God ordained that the holy mother should quietly bury the bodies of her three daughters. Three days later, when she went to their graves to pray, her heart became filled with the most intense desire to be with them. “O you three priceless victims!” cried she, “who were sacrificed in honor of the Holy Trinity, take your mother up to you.” She prayed thus till she sank in a swoon to the ground, and God accepting her petition, the holy mother breathed her last upon her children’s grave. This happy death and the martyrdom of the three holy virgins took place in the year of our Lord 120.

Practical Considerations

• God preserved the three holy virgins uninjured in the fire; He did not however, turn the sword aside, but permitted them to be executed by it Thus He delivers His servants, sometimes from one trial and allows them to perish in another. In both He acts justly, though his reasons are unknown to us. Our duty consists in submitting ourselves to His decrees. God called the three holy virgins to Heaven through suffering and martyrdom; their mother died a peaceful death. The former died young; the latter in riper years. He still calls His creatures to Himself by different kiiid^ of death, some early, some late. In this again it be comes our duty to be submissive to His decrees. He knows much better than we what time and what I kind of death is best for our salvation. Saint Sophia desired to honor the Holy Trinity by joyful sacrifice of her three daughters, Faith, Hope and Charity. These names suggest the three virtues by the practice of which you are also enabled to honor the Holy Trinity in a most acceptable manner. Do not neglect it, especially in your morning and night prayers. “Ye that fear the Lord, believe in him; hope in him; love him, says the Holy Writ.” (Ecc. 2)

MLA Citation

  • Father Francis Xavier Weninger, DD, SJ. “Saints Faith, Hope and Charity”. Lives of the Saints, 1876. CatholicSaints.Info. 25 March 2018. Web. 21 September 2018. <>