Orthodox Saint Irene History and Name Day Information

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The lives of the saints are important to Orthodox Christians throughout the world. As a result of this, their feast days are celebrated each year. When someone is named after one of these saints, they celebrate their name day on the saint’s feast day. In some countries, such as Greece, people often celebrate their name days instead of their birthdays!

However, it isn’t enough to just know when the name day is. It is a good idea to know a little bit of the lives of the saints, as well. Saint Irene, also known as Irene of Thessaloniki, is one of these saints. Her feast day is on May 5th of each year. Here’s more information about Saint Irene:

About Saint Irene

Saint Irene was originally born in Persia in a city called Magedon sometime in the 4th Century A.D, but the exact date of her birth and death is unknown. Her father, Licinius, was a pagan king and she was raised to have that belief system. Her parents named her Penelope and her Christian name, Irene (which means peace in Greek) was given to her after she became a Christian. Saint Irene was eventually martyred and was still a virgin when it happened. Later on in church history, Saint Irene and eleven other virgin martyrs appeared to Saint Seraphim of Sarov in 1831.

Saint Irene was considered to be very beautiful. Her father wanted to protect her so he isolated her from other people by placing her in a very high tower. This was in part to shield her from unwanted attention based on her beauty, but the king also wanted to prevent her from getting exposed to Christianity. However, this wasn’t enough. She learned about Christianity from her tutor, Apellian, and eventually became a Christian herself. She received the name of Irene after her baptism, which occurred after she refused someone’s hand in marriage. During her time as a Christian, she walked through the city and performed many miracles. She also preached about Christ and led thousands of people to become Christians. She was arrested and beheaded around 330 A.D.

Hymns of Saint Irene

There are some hymns that can be found in the Orthodox Christian church service that celebrate Saint Irene. Here are the details:

Apolytikion (Fourth Tone)

O Lord Jesus, unto Thee Thy lamb doth cry with a great voice: O my Bridegroom, Thee I love; and seeking Thee, I now contest, and with Thy baptism am crucified and buried. I suffer for Thy sake, that I may reign with Thee; for Thy sake I die, that I may live in Thee: accept me offered out of longing to Thee as a spotless sacrifice. Lord, save our souls through her intercessions, since Thou art great in mercy.

Kontakion (Third Tone)

Being fair adorned before with pure and virginal beauty, thou becamest fairer still in thy brave contest, O virgin; for when thou, in thine own spilt blood, wast stained and reddened, O Irene, thou overthrewest ungodly error. Hence, thou hast received the prizes of thy good vict’ry from thy Creator’s right hand.

Saint Demetrius’s name day is on May 5th of each year. Check the Name Day page for more information about other Orthodox Christian name days.


OrthodoxWiki – Irene of Thessaloniki (Also Source for Photo Credit for Image Above)

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This post was written by Greek Boston