Faith, Hope, and Charity, Ss.

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A legend states that three sisters, Faith, Hope, and Charity (Latin: Fides, Spes, and Caritas; Greek: Pistis, Elpis, and Agape), at the tender ages of 12, 10, and 9, were boiled in pitch and then beheaded for the faith under the second-century Emperor Hadrian. Their mother, Wisdom (Sapientia or Sophia), was cut down while praying over their bodies. This legendary story was probably inspired by one of two family groups that suffered martyrdom and were buried near Rome: either a family, whose members had the Greek names and were martyred under Hadrian and buried on the Aurelian Way, or a second group with the Latin names, buried in the cemetery of St. Callistus on the Appian Way. The cult of SS. Faith, Hope, and Charity did not exist before the sixth century. The church of St. Sophia in Constantinople was named in honor of the Holy Wisdom of God, Christ the Word, not the Sophia of the legend.

Feast: Aug. 1 (Roman Martyrology).

Bibliography: a. butler, The Lives of the Saints, ed. h. thurston and d. attwater (New York 1956) 3:238239.

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