Antonia and Alexander

Saints Antonia and Alexander were Christian martyrs of 313, and they are saints whose acta are legendary. The story of the two is nearly identical to that of Saints Theodora and Didymus.

Diocletian, in order to increase the number of native-born Roman citizens, made intentional celibacy among women a crime. All Roman women of suitable age were commanded to marry and, if possible, produce young. At the same time, Diocletian persecuted Christians. The legend of Antonia and Alexander has the former being forced to a brothel (the penalty for women who refused to wed), where a Christian soldier named Alexander came to her in the guise of a customer. Instead of deflowering her, he traded clothes with her, allowing Antonia to escape. Alexander was discovered very soon after, and both Antonia and Alexander were executed by being burned alive.

"Antonia" and "Alexander" may be mnemonic device names that made oral repetition of the tale easier, and so it is possible, if not likely, that they are invented names. Whether Theodora and Didymus were the originals or not, it is possible that these legends are shadows of an actual martyrdom that had been lost to the story tellers. The feast day of Antonia and Alexander in the Roman Catholic Church is May 3.

The theme of the story might reflect the institution of Religious prostitution, prevalent in the ancient Middle East, as remebered in a highly-dispproving Christian tradition.

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