Saturday, July 26, 2014

Novena to Saint Afra - Martyr for Conversion

As the wife of a convert, I have an affinity for the saints tasked with converting souls for the Church Jesus brought to us in His human role. During our lives, we are all in need of conversion from our sinful ways, as well. Two obvious favorites, Saint Monica and Saint Augustine, quickly come to mind. However, there are other, less commonly known saints to petition as well. One example is Saint Afra whose feast day is August 5th. How fitting, then to pray for the intercession of this former pagan for the next nine days.

This former barmaid and prostitute's character was so nefarious that she was instrumental in the corruption of many youths in her city of Augsburg, in Bavaria. Yet Divine Grace triumphed when this most wretched creature was brought, from the very lowest abyss of disrepute, to the glory of martyrdom.

Tradition holds that Saint Afra and her entire family, as well as her three servants, were converted by the holy bishop, Saint Narcissus. It appears that, for the rest of her life, she recollected and was tortured by her past crimes against God. This lead her to liberally give to the poor, who sometimes refused her charity because they considered it the wages of sin. She would then fervently pray to God for remission of her offenses and beseech them to accept her gifts.

Saint Afra was arrested during the persecution of Diocletian, and brought before a judge, named Gaius, who said to her: “Come now, sacrifice to the gods; it is better to live than to die amid torments.”

Saint Afra replied: “The sins which I have committed before I knew the true God are sufficient; wherefore I cannot now do that which thou commandest. I never will do so: it would be adding a new insult to my God.”

When the judge ordered her to repair the temple, she answered, “My temple is Jesus Christ, whom I have continually before mine eyes, and to whom I every day confess my sins. Since I am unworthy to offer him any other sacrifice, I am anxious to sacrifice myself, in order that this body, with which I have offended him, may be purified by torments; this reflection shall make me suffer most willingly.”

Some accounts relate that Saint Afra was martyred by being burned alive, while others say she was beheaded. Her feast day is August 5th. Read more of her story at Catholic Saints and Catholic Answers.  

Feel free to leave your intentions in the combox. Start on Sunday, July 27. Will you join us in praying this prayer as well as an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the next 9 days?

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          Prayer to Saint Afra for Conversion - Daily for 9 Days beginning Sunday, July 27

Lord Jesus Christ, most merciful Savior of the World, we humbly beseech you, by your most Sacred Heart, that all the sheep who stray out of your fold may one day be converted to You, Shepherd and Bishop of their souls, Who lives and reigns with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, world without end. Amen.
Saint Afra, pray for the conversion of souls. Saint Afra, we beseech you to intercede on behalf of [mention your intention]. Saint Afra, pray for us! 
Say the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.