The Grand Martyress Anastasia the Roman (the Elder) was a saint who suffered in the mid 3rd century AD.
The accounts of her life survived only in the hagiographic sources. According to her Life, Anastasia the Roman was born in Rome of well-born parents. She left an orphan at the age of three and was raised by women in a Christian monastery. When Anastasia grew up, the governor Probus wanted to marry her off. But Anastasia resisted Probus’ decision, refused to worship pagan gods and openly professed the Christian faith. The enraged Probus ordered that Anastasia be subjected to cruel torture and beheaded.
Years later, in the reign of the Roman Emperor Diocletian there lived the Grand Martyress Anastasia the Healer, nicknamed the Junior, unlike St. Anastasia the Elder. The two saints were merged into one figure as early as ancient times. There were also other holy women by the name of Anastasia – the martyress Anastasia the Roman who suffered under Emperor Nero and Anastasia of Thessaloniki, whose Life distinguishes from the hagiography of St. Anastasia Patricia of Constantinople only by the place of her martyr’s death. Given the lack of an explanatory inscription, it is very hard to establish the saint’s identity. The images of the Grand Martyress Anastasia are sometimes nicknamed “the Roman”, such as an early 16th century icon from the Pskov Museum of History, Architecture and Art. St. Anastasia is often portrayed wearing clerical vestments, holding a cross, such as on a 18th century icon The Venerable Anastasia, the holy martyr Blaise, the martyrs Florus and Laurus from the Andrei Rublev Museum collections.
The Grand Martyr Anastasia the Roman is commemorated on November 11 (October 29, O.S.).
Zhanna G. Belik,
Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.
Olga E. Savchenko,
research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.
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