On December 22nd the Greek Orthodox Church commemorates Agia Anastasia Pharmakolitria, Saint Protector of poison and other harmful substances.
The Great Martyr Anastasia the “Deliverer from Potions”, also Anastasia the Healer or Anastasia of Sirmium was martyred in Sirmium (Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia), and is known by the Greek term “the Pharmakolitria “since she has long been venerated by the church as a healer and exorcist.
Anastasia was from Rome. She was the daughter of Praepextatus and Fausta and was beautiful in appearance, virtuous and from a wealthy family. Her mother instructed her in the faith of Christ. After her mother’s death, she was given in marriage to a pagan named Publius Patricius. He subjected his wife to beatings and would keep her slaved in the house. She endured these torments for a short time since Publius drowned early in their marriage.
As a young widow, she never remarried and secretly dedicated her time to the poor, those in prisons and served their needs daily. She would wash their wounds and especially console them during their anguish.
Through her intercessions and prayers, she healed many from the effects of potions, poisons, spells and other harmful substances. This is how she received the honour of Deliverer of Potions. Her deeds and miracles spread throughout the area and her fame brought about her arrest under Diocletian’s persecutions. She was tortured and endured many torments and was eventually put to death by fire in the year 290.
In the fifth century, the relics of the saint were transferred to Constantinople, where a church was built and dedicated to her. This was the church where St. Andrew the Fool-for-Christ was brought to be cured of his foolishness, there St. Anastasia appeared to him in a dream and encouraged him to continue his ascetic feat.
Later her head and one of her hands were transferred to the Monastery of St. Anastasia the Pharmokolitria, Halkidiki of Greece.
Today is also the name day of those with the name Anastasia.