Saint Dorothy of Caesarea
Saint Dorothy of Caesarea lived in the region of Cappadocia, which today is east central Turkey. She lived during the time of Christian persecution by the Roman emperor, Diocletian. Accused of being a Christian, Dorothy was led before the regional governor of Cappadocia named Fabritius. She was questioned about her faith and asked to repudiate her beliefs. She would not. There was a young lawyer at the trial named Theophilus. As Fabritius sentenced Dorothy to death, she fearlessly told the governor that she had no fear of death because she looked forward to entrance into Paradise.
Theophilus overheard the whole exchange and cried out in ridicule, “Going to Paradise, Dorothy? Make sure to send me back some of its fruits and flowers!”
As Dorothy knelt and awaited the sword, she prayed for Theophilus. There approached a child about four years old holding a basket of three fruits and three roses. Dorothy told him emphatically, “Take these fruits and flowers to Theophilus!”
The executioner then martyred Dorothy. Meanwhile Theophilus was busy telling his friends about Dorothy’s hearing before the Governor. Laughing loudly and in camaraderie, Theophilus’s friends were eager to hear more when the young child interrupted them. He walked straight up to Theophilus and said, “These are the fruits and flowers you asked the holy Dorothy to send you. I have brought them at her request from the garden of her Divine Spouse (Jesus).” No sooner had the child made his delivery, then he vanished. Theophilus marveled at the gift, “Where did these come from? It is midwinter. There are no fruits and flowers like these in February!” He quickly became convinced what Dorothy had spoken about God and the heavenly kingdom was true. The friends he had been laughing with about Dorothy were now trying to dissuade him from believing, but Theophilus was convinced that his gift was divine. So convinced was he, that he became a Christian. In due time Theophilus stood before the Governor accused of becoming a Christian. He confessed and died a martyr’s death. Saint Dorothy’s feast day is February 6. Sometimes Saint Dorothy is depicted in art as crowned and holding a basket of fruit and flowers. She is a patron saint for florists, gardeners, and newly wedded couples.
Saint Casilda of Toledo
An early flower account in the lives of the saints comes from Toledo, Spain. A young Muslim princess, Casilda, daughter of the Imam of Toledo felt compassion towards the Christians that were prisoners in her city. From the castle where she lived, she could see the depraved conditions the prisoners suffered from. At times she risked her father’s disapproval to bring food to them. Inevitably, on one occasion, her father noticed her carrying a bulky bundle and inquired about it. She went to show him, but the bread was transformed into roses and flowers! One account states that after her father dismissed Casilda, the flowers changed back into provisions for the captives. This miracle greatly surprised and influenced Casilda.
As a young woman, Casilda experienced a prolonged illness. The malady may have been dysentery or hemorrhaging. As she grew weaker even with the best advice, she concluded that she would have to get help outside the kingdom. Casilda was told that the waters of the lake at San Vincenzo could help her. San Vincenzo was in Christian territory in northern Spain. Her father arranged for safe passage for Casilda to San Vincenzo. After bathing in the spring, Casilda was healed! She sought baptism to become a Christian and desired to remain at San Vincenzo. She lived a life of prayer and penance in a little hut by the lake.
In one account of Casilda’s life it is said that when Casilda didn’t return to Toledo, her father and brother retaliated against Christians because of her conversion to Christianity. During a time when Casilda’s brother was flogging Christians, the Virgin Mary appeared in a fig tree. The brightness from her apparition momentarily blinded him and shackles fell off the prisoners.
Casilda’s brother was baptized Petran (Peter).
Casilda never returned to Toledo and lived into old age, perhaps attaining 100 years old. Records indicate her death in 1047. Paintings from the seventeenth century show Casilda as a princess with roses sketched in the folds of her dress. Her feast day is April 9.