The Martyress Anastasia of Rome (1st century) was a saint who suffered for Christ in Rome in the 1st century AD together with St. Basilissa.

The accounts of St. Anastasia’s martyrdom survived only in the hagiographic sources. The story of the saints’ torments, included by Metropolitan Macarius in the mid-16th century into the Great Menaion Reader, tells us that Anastasia and Basilissa were virtuous girls from noble and wealthy families. They were disciples of the holy apostles. At nights Anastasia and Basilissa buried the bodies of people tortured by Emperor Nero’s command. When the emperor found out about that he ordered that the girls be tied up and brought to him. He attempted to convince Anastasia and Basilissa to deny Christ. Failing to do so, Emperor Nero ordered that they be locked up in prison. Having endured torture, Anastasia and Basilissa were beheaded.

In Byzantine art, the martyress Anastasia the Roman was portrayed as a virgin with dark hair and bare-headed. In Russian medieval art St. Anastasia is depicted as a martyress, wearing a himation and omophorion, often red-colored, holding a cross, sometimes with a sudarium on the head. There being several martyresses named Anastasia, it is often hard to establish their identities. Researchers often fail to identify images with lost inscriptions, such as a 13th century icon of The Mother of God of the Sign. The Martyress Julianna of the first half of the 13th century from the State Tretyakov depicting the holy women, one of which is believed to be Anastasia. An icon of The Deesis with Etimasia and the Saints dating back to the late 14th – early 15th century from the State Tretyakov Gallery features on the bottom margin what is believed to be St. Anastasia.

Anastasia the Roman is commemorated on April 28 (April 15, O.S.).

Zhanna G. Belik,

Ph.D. in Art history, senior research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum, custodian of the tempera painting collection.

Olga E. Savchenko,

research fellow at the Andrei Rublyov Museum.


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