St Anastasia - An Ancient Commoration for Christmas Day


I offer the following as a complement to your celebrations of the Nativity of Our Lord, not as a replacement! Like someone whose birthday is on Christmas Day, St Anastasia is not often commemorated. At one time, a separate Mass for her was said on December 25th, according to New Advent. I understand that now there is a mention of her in the earliest Mass of the day on the 25th and not mention in the Novus Ordo.  I suggest that perhaps in order to revive her momory, as one of the saints of the Roman Canon, we could find a way of adding a veneration to her without distracting from the Nativity - perhaps through the insertion of her name at the prayers of the day in the Mass or the Divine Office in placess where there is flexiblity in prayer, or through a veneration of her icon in the processions in such a way that it supports, rather than distracts from the main focus of the day, the Nativity of the Lord. Perhaps we could take a lead from the Eastern Church which always commemorates the saints of the day even in Sunday liturgy by the singing of the multiple troparia (one-verse hymns) of the day at the appropriate juncture.

Not much is know about the saint, except that she was a Roman by birth who was martyred at Sirmium in modern-day Serbia during the persecution of the Emporer Diocletian. You can read about her in New Advent here.

This Western depiction of her shows her with the idealized features of a Greek goddess as would have been the norm in the neo-classical art of, for example, the High Renaissance or of the early 19th century.

Eastern icons of her show her with a bottle as 'deliver from potion' symbolising the power of her prayers to cure the sick.

This is one of a series of articles written to highlight the great feasts and the saints of the Roman Canon. All are connected to a single opening essay, in which I set out principles by which we might create a canon of art for Roman Rite churches, and a schema that would guide the placement of such images in a church. (Read it here.) In these, I plan to cover the key elements of images of the Saints of the Roman Canon - Eucharistic Prayer I - and the major feasts of the year. I have created the tag Canon of Art for Roman Rite to group these together, should any be interested in seeing these articles as they accumulate. For the fullest presentation of the principles of sacred art for the liturgy, take the Master’s of Sacred Arts, www.Pontifex.Uni