November 1

Saint of the day:

Saint Susanna and the Elders
(Book of Daniel: deuterocanonical book from the Septuagint or Apocrypha)

Saint Susanna and the Wicked Elders' Story

A fair Hebrew wife named Susanna was falsely accused by lecherous voyeurs. As she bathes in her garden, having sent her attendants away, two elders, having previously said goodbye to each other, bump into each other again when they spy on her bathing. The two men realize they both lust for Susanna. When she makes her way back to her house, they accost her, demanding she have sex with them. When she refuses, they have her arrested, claiming that the reason she sent her maids away was to be alone as she was having sex with a young man under a tree.

She refuses to be blackmailed and is arrested and about to be put to death for adultery when the young Daniel interrupts the proceedings, shouting that the elders should be questioned to prevent the death of an innocent. After being separated, the two men are cross-examined about details of what they saw but disagree about the tree under which Susanna supposedly met her lover. In the Greek text, the names of the trees cited by the elders form puns with the sentence given by Daniel. The first says they were under a mastic tree (ὑπο σχίνον, hypo schinon), and Daniel says that an angel stands ready to cut (σχίσει, schisei) him in two. The second says they were under an evergreen oak tree (ὑπο πρίνον, hypo prinon), and Daniel says that an angel stands ready to saw (πρίσαι, prisai) him in two. The great difference in size between a mastic and an oak makes the elders' lie plain to all the observers. The false accusers are put to death, and virtue triumphs.







the Catacombs of Priscilla
Via Salaria, 430, 00199 Roma RM, Italy

Susanna and the Wicked Elders fresco