St. Irene the Great Martyr was first called Penelope, but her name was changed at baptism by St. Timothy, the disciple of the Holy Apostle Paul. Irene means “peace” in Greek. She lived in the town of Magedon in the Balkans. Her father, a pagan, tortured her after she had converted to Christianity and refused to marry, but he died unexpectedly, and was raised to life from the dead by Christ through the prayers of his daughter, and he, too, converted.
St. Irene was tortured in various ways and by many kings and rulers, but God kept preserving her over and over again. This obviously miraculous power of God, her patient sufferings, and her fearless profession of the Faith of Christ in the midst of the pagans who saw these miracles, caused over 100,000 pagans to convert to the Christian Faith. It was providential that her name was peace, for she had to choose to be peaceful so many times when hated, feared, and tortured by the authorities who could not understand why they couldn’t kill this simple maiden St. Irene. We, too, need to learn to be patient in our smaller sufferings and disappointments, and find in Christ “the peace that passes all understanding.”