Commemoration of the martyrs Vera, Hope, Love, and their mother Sophia

Augustin Sokolovski, Doctor of Theology, Priest

On the last day of the first month of autumn, the Church commemorates the martyrs Vera, Hope, Love, and their mother Sophia. The three daughters are also called in Latin Fides, Spes and Caritas.

Tradition has preserved many similar accounts of the witness of the suffering of the martyrs Sophia, Faith, Hope and Love. Similar accounts of Christian martyrs - mothers and daughters - bearing these names were/are preserved in different cities and countries. At the same time, the belief of the first generations of Christians called for witnessing to faith in Christ even unto death, regardless of gender, age, intelligence, and background. 

One such account tells us that Faith, Hope and Love and their mother Sophia were Roman Christians who lived in first-century Rome. According to the Life, they themselves had rushed to suffer for Christ in the witness of faith. They did it despite the canonical rules, which recommended to Christian to hide themselves in times of persecutions. Poetically speaking, the four martyrs hurried to Heaven. For Christianity means that life is not here.

Thus, in the case of three sisters, the memory of the Church has preserved not only their names, but also the inimitable detail of their voluntary testimony for Christ. 

More recent information from the time of the Roman Bishop Gregory the Great (+604) indicates that Sophia was a widow from Milan. After giving away her possessions there, she moved to Rome. Her daughters were the first to suffer for Christ. Mother Sophia buried them on the Appian Way and died of grief three days later. 'Is not the day of the Lord darkness but light? it is darkness, and there is no radiance in it' (Amos 5:20).

Perhaps one of the most amazing paradoxes of human language is the limited number of names. The constant desire of every human being for his own uniqueness always, or almost always, corresponds to the repetitiveness of names. After all, even the rarest names are repeated, and those unique, new, creatively invented names that parents sometimes call their children so that they can thus distinguish themselves particularly, are often too 'ordinary'. In fact, each name is the antipode of a homonym. For behind it, repetitive, multiple, found in many and so different people, there is always a single, unique, genuine, individual person. 

If we continue with this logic, each person, indeed all of humanity, is a homonym in relation to one another. A paradoxical, tragic, singular, and unrepeatable homonym that God Himself intended.  Unrepeatability as the definition of the image of God. Inimitable and indestructible as man himself. 

The names Faith, Hope, Love correspond to the names of Christian theological virtues. Sophia in Greek means wisdom, that is, human and philosophical wisdom, and at the same time it points to the Divine Wisdom - Christ. 

The Church of the Lord Jesus is the Society of people who believe in Christ. It is the Community of Christ, and essentially the fellowship of names sanctified in the Name of the Lord Jesus. Some of the names, like Faith, Hope and Love, owe their origin to Christianity, others to human and divine virtue, like Sophia.

In Baptism one does not simply acquire a name, but also brings his own name, given by his parents, into the great Communion of Names. These are the names of all those who henceforth participate in the Communion of Saints, who from now and forever, having been joined to the prayerful intercession of the inexhaustible Ocean of Saints, is now granted the gift of interceding for others. For holiness is the gift of intercession; it is the boldness, or better, the audacity, to call by name Him, without Whose name 'it is impossible for human being to be saved' (cf. Acts 4:12).