Persecution at Home
St. Flora lived in ninth century Spain. Her mother was a Christian, and her father was a Muslim. The household was Muslim until her father died when Flora was very young. Her mother than proceeded to raise Flora in the Christian faith.
Flora's older brother, however, was a fervent Muslim and forced Flora to act as if she were a Muslim. Despite his abuse, Flora continued to hold fast to the Catholic faith.
When she was a young lady, Flora decided that in order to truly practice her Catholic faith, she must leave her home, and she fled to a Christian settlement.
Her brother was able to have the Catholic priests who were friends of Flora arrested and punished. When Flora realized that this was done in retaliation for her leaving home, she came out of hiding and met with her brother. She boldly challenged him to try to tear her from her faith in Christ because she was prepared to die rather than renounce her Lord.
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Taken to Court
Her brother than had Flora dragged before the Muslim court where he accused her of apostasy for abandoning the Muslim religion. When the judge asked Flora if what her brother said was true, she replied, "Do you call that wicked man my brother? Everything he said was a lie. I have never been a Muslim. From my infancy I have known none but Christ. He is my God and I have consecrated myself to Him as His bride."
She was convicted by the judge and ordered to be scourged in order to have her change her mind. She fainted under the severe punishment. When she recovered, the judge handed her over to her brother in order that he would make her into a good, practicing Muslim. Her brother kept her imprisoned and had a scholar come to instruct her in the Muslim religion. Eventually, Flora escaped to a town in the mountains.
In the town, at the church of Saint Acisclus, Flora met a woman named Maria who had recently lost her younger brother who was martyred for the faith. The two women decided to present themselves before a Muslim judge and clearly renounce any affiliation with Islam and be martyred if that was God's will.
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Boldly Proclaiming The Catholic Faith
The judge heard them and in retaliation was prepared to force them into prostitution as punishment for their crimes. At that moment, both Flora and Maria had doubts about what they were doing and began to reconsider while they were returned to prison.
St. Eulogius, a priest who was also imprisoned, learned of their situation and wrote them a letter of encouragement that helped give the two women the courage to press on despite their fears. When the two women were again presented to the judge, they reaffirmed their allegiance to Christ and Him alone.
The judge then ordered Flora and Maria to be beheaded on the 24th of November in 851. Their bodies were left outside for a day as a lesson to others before being thrown into the river.
Before their deaths, both Flora and Maria promised to pray in Heaven for the release of the other prisoners. Within a week after they were martyred, the other men and women in the prison were freed.
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