Lives of the Saints
St Dorothy
Virgin and Martyr
ST. ALDHELM relates from her acts, that Fabritius, the governor of Caesarea, in
Cappadocia, inflicted on her most cruel torments, because she refused to marry or to
adore idols; that she converted two apostate women sent to seduce her; and that
being condemned to be beheaded, she converted one Theophilus, by sending him
certain fruits and flowers miraculously obtained of her heavenly spouse. She seems
to have suffered under Dioclesian. Her body is kept in the celebrated church which
bears her name, beyond the Tiber, in Rome. She is mentioned on this day in the
ancient Martyrology under the name of St. Jerome. There was another holy virgin,
whom Rufin calls Dorothy, a rich and noble lady of the city of Alexandria, who
suffered torments and a voluntary banishment, to preserve her faith and chastity
against the brutish lust and tyranny of the emperor Maximinus, in the year 308, as is
recorded by Eusebius and Rufinus; but many take this latter, whose name is not
mentioned by Eusebius, to be the famous St. Catharine of Alexandria.
The blood of the martyrs flourished in its hundred-fold increase, as St. Justin has
well observed: "We are slain with the sword, but we increase and multiply; the more
we are persecuted and destroyed, the more are added to our numbers. As a vine, by
being pruned and cut close, shoots forth new suckers, and bears a greater
abundance of fruit, so is it with us." Among other false reflections, the baron of
Montesquieu, an author too much admired by many, writes, "It is hardly possible
that Christianity should ever be established in China. Vows of virginity, the
assembling of women in the churches, their necessary intercourse with the ministers
of religion, their participation of the sacraments, auricular confession, the marrying
but one wife: all this oversets the manners and customs, and strikes at the religion
and laws of the country." Could he forget that the gospel overcame all these
impediments where it was first established, in spite of most inveterate prejudices
and of all worldly opposition from the great and the learned; whereas philosophy,
though patronized by princes, could never in any age introduce its rules even into
one city. In vain did the philosopher Plotinus solicit the emperor Gallienus to rebuild
a ruined city in Campania, that he and his disciples might establish in it the republic
of Plato: a system, in some points, flattering the passions of men, almost as
Mahometism fell in with the prejudices and passions of the nations where it
prevailed. So visibly is the church the work of God.