Marana and Cyra

After having written of the lives of these heroic men, I believe it is useful as well to mention some women who have fought just as well, if not with more strength. Indeed, they merit the greatest of praise, for these women, of a more feeble nature than men, have equalled them in courage and have liberated their sex from hereditary dishonour. ….I would now mention Marana and Cyra, who have surpassed all others with their exploits of endurance. Their country is Beroea, their family its emblem, their upbringing typical of their origins……
But scorning all these advantages, they made themselves a little enclosure at the entrance to the town, lived inside it and blocked up their gate with mud and stones ….they themselves have no house or cabin, but live in the open air.
Relationship with visitors
Instead of a gate, they made a narrow opening through which needful food may be passed, and they can receive women who come to see them. But visits are only allowed during Pentecost, for the rest of the time they live in silence. Moreover, Marana alone meets visitors; no one has ever heard heard the voice of the other…..
Their penitences: Theodoret’s intervention
They are burdened with chains and carry such a weight that Cyra, the weakest of them, has a body which is bent to the ground and cannot stand up straight. They wear very long garments [p237] which form a train at the back and completely cover their feet; at the front, they are gathered at a belt and completely hide the face, the neck, the chest and the hands…..
I have often seen them inside their enclosure. For they have opened the gate for me, because I am the bishop. Thus I was able see that they carried a weight of chains that not even the fittest man would be able to lift. Begging them, I was able, for a moment, to persuade them to take them off; but after our departure, they bound themselves again: the collar of iron around the neck, the belt around the hips, the chains around their arms and feet……
Their contemplation
And they have led this kind of life not for five, ten, or fifteen years alone, but for forty-two years. And after such a long time they labour with as much zeal as if they had just engaged in their struggle. In effect, in contemplating the beauty of the Bridegroom, they endure with the greatest of ease the fatigue of the process and are eager to arrive at the end of their struggle, when they will see the Well-Beloved before them to present to them the crown of victory. By this grace, they are able to bear the assault of the rain, the snow, the sun, without sadness or complaint, but taking consolation from what would seem to be afflictions….
Pilgrimages to Jerusalem and the tomb of Saint Thecla
In imitation of the blessed Moses’ fast, three times they have remained without eating as long as he, for it was not until after forty days that they took a little food. And three times also they imitated the abstinence of the divine David for three weeks, and then gave their bodies food. One day, desiring to contemplate the places made holy by the redeeming suffering of Christ, they made their way towards Aelia [Jerusalem], eating nothing on the way, but, once arrived in the town and their devotions accomplished, they took food, then resumed their fast on the return journey, which took no less then than twenty days of travelling. Also, following their desire to see the tomb of the victorious Thecla in Isauria, in order to light the fires of divine love in all places, they fasted on their way and on their return, such had the longing for the divine taken them out of themselves, such had the divine love of the Bridegroom made them mad!
By such a way of life have they become an ornament of the feminine sex and a model for other women. May the Master light their brows with crowns of victory.
As for me, who has profited from this, after having received their blessing, I will pass on to another account.