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St. Perseveranda, Virgin-Martyr, of Spain

Commemorated on June 26

St. Perseveranda (also known as Pecinna or Pezaine) was born in Spain of a noble family in the seventh century. She had two sisters, Sts. Columba and Magrina. They gathered other religious young women around them and led an ascetic and devotional life, until the fame of their sanctity attracted the attention of King Oliver, who reigned in one of the western provinces of Spain and was a fierce persecutor of Christians.

In 726, St. Columba told her sisters and their friends that they were to become the victims of persecution. She had hardly finished speaking when letters were brought, ordering them to appear before King Oliver. St. Columba, after directing her sisters to be firm in the faith, departed. The king asked her who she was and of what religion, and when she answered that she was a Christian, he told her she would not be harmed if she would renounce her faith. One of the bystanders told him this woman was not to be compared for beauty to her two sisters, and the king at once ordered his guards to go and seize the other women, swearing by the pagan gods that he would take them for his slaves.

Meantime, Perseveranda and Magrina, warned by a dream, gave themselves over to the protection of God and fled. They travelled for seven days, but Perseveranda died, exhausted with hunger and fatigue. Christians happened to come to the spot, and saw a dove, surrounded by a celestial light, hovering over the body. As they knew the noble birth and piety of the maiden, they buried her with honor in Poitou, which was renamed after her.

The messengers returned to the king and told him they could not find the holy maidens. He was furious and set off in search of them. One of the king’s followers found the body of St. Perseveranda and attempted to bring it to King Oliver; but was struck blind.

The relics of St. Perseveranda were afterwards translated to Niort, and eventually to St. Queutiu.

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