The Holy Martyr Solangia of Berry
The Holy Martyr Solangia of Berry (880)
Feast Day: May 10
Saint Solangia (or Solange) was born to a poor but pious family in the small market town of Villemont, twelve kilometers from Bourges, in France. A pious child, at age seven, she consecrated her virginity to the Lord. As she shepherded, she remained in constant prayer, and was bestowed gifts; some claimed that even her presence healed the sick and cast out demons. Endowed with great beauty, she rejected the advances of a nobleman, Bernard of the Gothic people, the son of the count of Poitiers, who was smitten by her beauty and popularity. He argued with her to become his wife, and finally decided to kidnap her. At night, he prevailed over her on his horse. Solangia struggled violently and slipped from the horse while he was crossing a stream. Vexed, he cut off her head. According to legend, her severed head three times invoked the name of Jesus, and like some other saints, she picked up her severed head and walked with it to the Church in the village of Saint-Martin-du-Crot, where she dropped her head and then truly fell dead. Many miraculous healings are attributed to her intercession such that in 1281, a new church was built dedicated to her, and the town changed its name to Sainte-Solange, the only town in France with this name. In times of drought or other great stress, the locals processed through the town with the reliquary containing her head.
She is the patroness of Berry and Bourges France, and is invoked for rain, rape victims and shepherds.
As a victim without blemish, O Lord, Thou hast received thy ewe lamb, who by love immolated herself in order to keep herself for Thee alone; she, who pastured her sheep, became the guardian of a spiritual flock which, giving thanks for her miracles, cries out: O blessed Solangia, intercede for us who celebrate wholeheartedly thy sacred memory.
8th tone (Plagal 4th)
She who watched her sheep at Villemont, the shepherdess Solangia became the spouse of the great King, honoring as a virgin her vow of purity and as a martyr giving her life for the Savior; wherefore, in thanksgiving for his blessings, the people of whom she is the protectress, cry out: Rejoice thou, O martyr of a chastity vowed to Christ.
With soul and body that has kept guilelessness
And from heaven thou hast found, O Solangia, splendor;
Thou who hast preserved the purity of an angel,
Receive, O martyr and virgin, our humble praise:
Rejoice thou, who was the spouse chosen by the Master,
Rejoice thou, who hast defied the carnal frenzy,
Rejoice thou, who hast known to resist the seducer,
Rejoice thou, shepherdess friend of the supreme Shepherd.
Rejoice thou, who didst not wish to be the prey of the evil one,
Rejoice thou, who has chosen the true Joy,
Rejoice thou, who disdained instant pleasure,
Rejoice thou, who hast preferred the eternal Springtime.
Rejoice thou, whose renown was found to increase,
Rejoice thou, who hast kept thy hand to the plough,
Rejoice thou, who for honor hast perished by the sword,
Rejoice thou, O blessed patron of Berry.
Rejoice thou, martyr of a chastity vowed to Christ.
On 10 May, we remember the blessed virgin-martyr Solangia, the patroness of Berry.
Verses: Knowing her virginal virtues, for what do I wait
to celebrate the life of the famous Solangia?
–It is her death which, on the tenth day, involves my praise.
Translated by Schema-Archimandrite John (Lewis) +2007
From the French Akolouthia composed in 2003 by Hieromonk Denis (Guillaume) +2008
Published here with written permission of the author.
Synaxaria augmented by Mother Andrea