Holy icon of the Saints Timothy and Maura, from here
Orthodox Church in America
Saints Timothy and Maura suffered for the faith during the persecution under the emperor Diocletian (284-305). Saint Timothy came from the village of Perapa (Egyptian Thebaid), and was the son of a priest named Pikolpossos. He was made a reader among the church clergy, and also a keeper and copyist of divine service books.
Saint Timothy was denounced as a keeper of Christian books, which the emperor ordered to be confiscated and burned. They brought Saint Timothy before the governor Arian, who demanded that he hand over the sacred books. They subjected the saint to horrible tortures for his refusal to obey the command. They shoved two red-hot iron rods into his ears, from which the sufferer lost his eyesight and became blind.
Saint Timothy bravely endured the pain and he gave thanks to God, for granting him to suffer for Him. The torturers hung the saint head downwards, putting a piece of wood in his mouth, and they tied a heavy stone to his neck. Saint Timothy’s suffering was so extreme, that even those who tortured him implored the governor to ease up on the torture.
About this time they informed Arian that Timothy had a young wife named Maura, whom he had married only twenty days before. Arian ordered Maura to be brought, hoping that with her present, they could break Saint Timothy’s will. Saint Timothy urged his wife not to fear the tortures, but to follow his path. Saint Maura answered, “I am prepared to die with you,” and she boldly confessed herself a Christian. Arian commanded that the hair be torn from her head, and to cut the fingers off her hands.
Saint Maura underwent the torment with joy and even thanked the governor for the torture, which she endured so that her sins might be forgiven. Then Arian gave orders to throw Saint Maura into a boiling cauldron, but she did not feel any pain, and she remained unharmed. Suspecting that the servants had filled the cauldron with cold water out of sympathy for the martyr, Arian went up and ordered the saint to splash him on the hand with water from the cauldron.
When the martyr did this, Arian screamed with pain and drew back his scalded hand. Then, momentarily admitting the power of the miracle, Arian confessed God in Whom Maura believed as the True God, and he ordered her to be released. But the devil still held great power over the governor, and soon he again began to urge Saint Maura to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. Having gotten nowhere, Arian was overcome all the more by a satanic rage and he came up with new tortures. Then the people began to murmur and demand a stop to the abuse of this innocent woman. But Saint Maura, turning to the people, said, “Let no one defend me. I have one Defender, God, in Whom I trust.”
Finally, after torturing them for a long time, Arian ordered the martyrs to be crucified. For ten days they hung on crosses facing each other.
On the tenth day of martyrdom the saints offered up their souls to the Lord. This occurred in the year 286. Later, a solemn celebration of the holy martyrs Timothy and Maura was instituted at Constantinople, and a church was built in their honor.
St. Mavra's church (OrthodoxWiki)
A church dedicated to St. Mavra can be found on the island of Zakynthos, Greece. St. Mavra's miracle-working icon is located there. The icon was originally from Egypt. In Zakynthos, a shepherd had found the icon in a small ravine when he saw a bright light emanating from the area. Three times he took the icon with great reverence back to his village but each time it would miraculously return to the spot where he had found it. It was determined that it should be left there and a church should be built on that spot, where it still stands today (the village of Maherado).
The present church was rebuilt in 1631 after a great earthquake destroyed most of the original church. In 1953 another great earthquake damaged the church, but it was rebuilt by the devout Christians of the island. Along with the feast day on May 3, the island of Zakynthos also celebrates another feast for the saints on the Sunday after Pentecost.
Brooding fortress of Santa Maura commands views over lagoons of Lefkas Island, Greece (from Greek Island)
No visitor can miss the brooding castle of Santa Maura, or Agia Mavra, as it commands the Drepanos Channel between the island of Lefkas and the Greek mainland.
Originally built in 1300, the castle has suffered more than most from earthquakes, fire, invasions and the ravages of time but it has undergone major renovation and what is left today is remarkably well preserved.
How the castle got its name is a little confused. Some say that the Frankish knights who conquered Lefkas island in 1294 named it Sainte-Maure after their home area in the Loire Valley in central France.
Others maintain that it's named after the 15th century church of Agia Mavra, inside the grounds, that was built by one of the rulers in homage to the island patron saint Agia Mavra.
Either way, the name stuck and, until the Venetians took in over in the 16th century an, the whole island was called Santa Maura, a name which still features on ancient maps.
When the Ottoman Turks conquered the island the leaders installed themselves in the castle and in 1487, the Sultan Bagiazit ordered the construction of an aqueduct and bridge over the lagoon.
More than just a bridge, it was a small town in itself with around 360 rooms built into the archways and a large water tower in the middle. It would have made an impressive site but it couldn't survive a series of earthquakes. The remains can still be seen resting on the bottom of the lagoon.
Next to occupy the castle were the Venetians and they decided to build a new town on the other side of the lagoon, the modern-day capital of Lefkada, when the population of the island rose sharply.
The Venetian strengthened the fortress walls, built ammunition stores and imported cannons to guard the entrance to the lagoon.
They also added new churches and many other buildings such as schools, a barracks and government offices. The castle eventually served as a small town in its own right with houses, chambers and underground cisterns for storing rainwater.
Unfortunately an explosion in one of the munitions depots in 1888 was followed by a fire that destroyed most of the castle's interior buildings.
After major renovation work the castle served as a refugee camp until World War II. The thick walls may have been strong enough to survive several earthquakes but they suffered badly in Italian bombing raids.
Briefly occupied by the French and British, even more renovation work was carried out at the castle and it is now a popular visitor attraction as well as a venue for several cultural events.
The church of Agia Mavra, patron saint of Lefkas, host a huge feast day on May 3rd each year and tourists who stroll the battlements can enjoy views across the lagoon to the coastal Mili area with its windmills gracing a wetland habitat, home to many species of protected birds and other animals.
The castle is surrounded by two lagoons, which are classed among the most significant wetlands in the Greek Islands. As well as a wide variety of fish found there, they are the permanent habitat of many seagulls and herons as well as providing a stopover point for a huge variety of migratory birds such as duck, moorhen, pelicans and even swans.
Troparion (Tone 4)
- Your holy martyrs Timothy and Mavra, O Lord,
- Through their sufferings have received incorruptible crowns from You, our God.
- For having Your strength, they laid low their adversaries,
- And shattered the powerless boldness of demons.
- Through their intercessions, save our souls!
- You accepted many humiliations,
- And deserved to be crowned by God.
- Great and praiseworthy Timothy and Mavra,
- Intercede with the Lord for us
- That we may celebrate your most pure memory;
- That He may grant peace to our land and people,
- For He is a powerful stronghold for the faithful!